Book I

Dear all,
I have enjoyed reading all of the responses to reading Thucydides.  It is a very inspirational book for Phil and me.  I hope that your reading is continuing to be as enjoyable as mine is.  I have been thinking much on how Thucydides wraps up his first Book, probably the most difficult book to read in the whole history.  We will of course talk more about Book I in detail about a week from now, but I want to leave you with this thought as I depart incommunicado to Kansas for Thanksgiving week.

Why does Thucydides take the time to digress on the fates of both Pausanius, the Spartan hero of Plataea, and Themistocles, the Athenian hero of Salamis in I.129-138?  Is this really necessary to the unfolding of the root causes of the Peloponnesian War?  I really am not sure about this.

Below are Thucydides’ final words for Book I.  They are deliberate and I believe ironic.

“These were the charges and differences existing between the rival powers before the war, arising immediately from the affair at Epidamnus and Corcyra.  Still intercourse continued in spite of them, and mutual communication.  It was carried on without heralds, but not without suspicion, as events were occurring which were equivalent to a breach of the treaty and matter for war” (I. 146).

Happy Thanksgiving! 


02. December 2008 by Arrian
Categories: Commentary, Thucydides | Tags: , | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. <p>Hello Andre and Book Club–<br>I hope you had a wonderful holiday.<br>Thank you for the opportunity to join the group, and to read Thucydides; I look forward to my first book club conference. My reaction to Book 1 was first and foremost regret I could not read the original. But once I realized Book 1 is really an introduction to the rest (the discussion of the war really begins with Chapter 2), several things became clear. The uneven timeline and the focus on Pausanias and Themistocles are necessary, I think, because the introduction lays the groundwork, and since Pausanias — a Spartan — and and Themistocles — an Athenian — were the most famous military strategists of their time, Pausanias in the Median war and Themistocles at Salamis, understanding their contribution in these conflicts is essential to understanding the root causes of Peloponnesian war. The emphasis on Pericles at the end is clearly meant to illustrate his dominant role in persuading Athens to go to war. Taken together, the focus on these the men shows how individuals elevated to the mythic status of heroes drove the thinking of their time. <br>Book 1 also tells us (page 16 of the Landmark edition) that Thucydides has written his work "as a possession for all time." Alas, he also says that "the absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest." My reaction exactly.<br>Carol Curtis <br></p>