Thucydides And The Ancient Simplicity

Overview

Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War is the earliest surviving realist text in the European tradition. As an account of the Peloponnesian War, it is famous both as an analysis of power politics and as a classic of political realism. From the opening speeches, Thucydides' Athenians emerge as a new and frightening source of power, motivated by self-interest and oblivious to the rules and shared values under which the Greeks had operated for centuries. Gregory Crane demonstrates how Thucydides' history ...

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Overview

Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War is the earliest surviving realist text in the European tradition. As an account of the Peloponnesian War, it is famous both as an analysis of power politics and as a classic of political realism. From the opening speeches, Thucydides' Athenians emerge as a new and frightening source of power, motivated by self-interest and oblivious to the rules and shared values under which the Greeks had operated for centuries. Gregory Crane demonstrates how Thucydides' history brilliantly analyzes both the power and the dramatic weaknesses of realist thought.

The tragedy of Thucydides' history emerges from the ultimate failure of the Athenian project. The new morality of the imperialists proved as conflicted as the old; history shows that their values were unstable and self-destructive. Thucydides' history ends with the recounting of an intellectual stalemate that, a century later, motivated Plato's greatest work.

Thucydides and the Ancient Simplicity includes a thought-provoking discussion questioning currently held ideas of political realism and its limits. Crane's sophisticated claim for the continuing usefulness of the political examples of the classical past will appeal to anyone interested in the conflict between the exercise of political power and the preservation of human freedom and dignity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520207899
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Pages: 364
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Crane is Associate Professor of Classics at Tufts University and author of The Blinded Eye: Thucydides and the New Written Word (1995) among other publications.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Sherman at Melos: Realpolitik Ancient and Modern 21
2 Truest Causes and Thucydidean Realisms 36
3 Representations of Power before and after Thucydides 72
4 Power, Prestige, and the Corcyraean Affair 93
5 Archaeology I: The Analytical Program of the History 125
6 Archaeology II: From Wealth to Capital: The Changing Politics of Accumulation 148
7 The Rule of the Strong and the Limits of Friendship 172
8 Archidamos and Sthenelaidas: The Dilemma of Spartan Authority 196
9 The Melian Dialogue: From Herodotus's Freedom Fighters to Thucydides' Imperialists 237
10 Athenian Theses: Realism as the Modern Simplicity 258
11 Conclusion: Thucydidean Realism and the Price of Objectivity 294
Bibliography 327
Index 343
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