Journal: Thucydides Trial and Death of Socrates

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¶ … Ancient Greek History

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War -- Many modern scholars consider Herodotus and Thucydides the fathers of modern history because of their strict standards in terms of evidence gathering and analysis. At a time when it was common to embellish based on the winning side, and to give the Gods decision power in shaping events, Thucydides' "realistic approach" makes reading his prose enjoyable, even in a contemporary context. The History of the Peloponnesian War is his account of the almost 30-year war between Athens, Sparta and their allies. One very noticeable difference, though, between modern history, say accounts by Winston Churchill, and Thucydides are the long speeches that seem to be more literary "reconstructions" than actual recounting of events.

To sum up one thesis based on the readings, the complexities between duty, honor, and justice seem to come to the forefront. We come to understand that Athens is a democracy, whereas Sparta more of an oligarchy. One would think that Thucydides would be celebrating Athens above all, but that is not the case. He points out that at times, democracy is inefficient, and that the time and energy it takes to form a consensus are often negative to the cause. For Sparta, even though its citizens have fewer choices, the decisions were quicker and more tactical. Too, it is ironic that Thucydides seems to be saying that the very democracy that liberated Athens and caused more free thinking also permitted people with almost limitless political ambition to come to power. Once these individuals came to power, there was nothing left to do but establish a more imperialistic system, and look upon the rest of Greece as ripe for the taking. Of course, all this was done in the name of democracy. Those who did not wish to become Athenians, commented, "I have come not to harm the Greeks but to free them… my purpose is not to make you our allies by force or fraud; but on the contrary, for us to be your allies against subjugation by Athens" (VI: 86).

The Apology of Socrates is his student, Plato's,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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