Term Paper: Thucydides

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[. . .] It is only through critical thinking that man can make impartial decisions; decisions that are based more on reason and objectivity than passion or prejudice. This is an extremely important thing, which needs to be taught at higher educational levels as it empowers students to trust their own reasoning power instead of unproven oral information. "This was recognized by such men as Theodore Roosevelt, who carried a pocket edition of the Peloponnesian War with him on his African expedition, and by Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who once said, "I doubt seriously whether a man can think with full wisdom and with deep convictions regarding certain of the basic international issues today who has not at least reviewed in his mind the period of the Peloponnesian War and the fall of Athens." (Monarch Notes, 1963)

While his work can teach something valuable about critical thinking to students enrolled in any course, it can be particularly helpful to students of history. It is from a close study of his work that one learns that history is not to be trusted blindly; it is read so that it can be argued and then judged in the light of opposing facts and theories in order to assess its validity and accuracy. His work is also essential for the students of political science and theory as Professor Paul Rahe (2000) noted, "First [for education], you need a good foundation. And it seems to me the two most significant things would be a good knowledge of political theory, starting with Plato and Aristotle with Thucydides."

It is very important to bear in mind that Thucydides is not exactly important for the type of life he led, he is known for the great piece of literature he left behind and for his introduction of a different style of history writing. Therefore while we find little information on his life, we find tons of valuable commentaries on his book that help us discover the real Thucydides. It is only through in-depth analysis of his work that we get a glimpse of the real Thucydides and the principles he stood by. Thucydides gave us some important lessons on human nature and war. He believed that man's nature is such that it urges him achieve and conquer. This is what later leads to conflicts and wars. Dr. Srdja Trifkovic pointed out, "Thucydides' warning that war is imminent to the human condition is grim, but true. Human nature is grasping, overreaching, and insatiable, says he, and is reflected in international affairs."

It is not possible to separate Thucydides from war discussions because the man knew more about military skills and techniques than most other ancient writers. Secondly, he understood the psyche of war in much the same way as we understand it today. We can thus say with certainty that Thucydides was well ahead of his time as far as understanding of human nature was concerned. He was intelligent and wise enough to know that man often creates conditions for himself, which lead to conflict and war. He also maintained that internal affairs often create more chaos and are more powerful than external forces. This theory found validation in modern times and thus Thucydides' principles are more valid today than they were in ancient times.


Ancient History Sourcebook: 11th Brittanica: Thucydides


Benjamin Jowett, Thucydides first edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1881), pages 125-135

Thucydides, Works of Thucydides: Sample Essay Questions And Answers. Monarch Notes, 01-01-1963.

Professor Paul Rahe, Advice on Education:


Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, From the Republic of Athens to the Athenian Empire: Athenian Hegemony and its Lessons for America, August, 2000

Thomas Hobbes, On the Life and History of Thucydides. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Thucydides/Hobbes/HL.&H.Thuc.html

THUCYDIDES., The Columbia Encyclopedia, Seventh Edition, 01-01-2002

Thucydides, Works of Thucydides: Background Of The Peloponnesian War, Monarch Notes, 01-01-1963.

Mark Rutkus, Thucydides and the Writing of History:



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