The publication of Jacqueline de Romilly’s Histoire et raison chez Thucydide in 1956 virtually transformed scholarship on Thucydides. Rather than mining The Peloponnesian War to speculate on its layers of composition or second-guess its accuracy, it treated it as a work of art deserving rhetorical and aesthetic analysis. Ahead of its time in its sophisticated focus upon the verbal texture of narrative, it proved that a literary approach offered the most productive and nuanced way to study Thucydides. Still in print in the original French, the book has influenced numerous Classicists and historians, and is now available in English for the first time in a careful translation by Elizabeth Trapnell Rawlings. The Cornell edition includes an introduction by Hunter R. Rawlings III and Jeffrey Rusten tracing the context of this book’s original publication and its continuing influence on the study of Thucydides.
Romilly shows that Thucydides constructs his account of the Peloponnesian War as a profoundly intellectual experience for readers who want to discern the patterns underlying historical events. Employing a commanding logic that exercises total control over the data of history, Thucydides uses rigorous principles of selection, suggestive juxtapositions, and artfully opposed speeches to reveal systematic relationships between plans and outcomes, impose meaning on the smallest events, and insist on the constant battle between intellect and chance. Thucydides’ mind found in unity and coherence its ideal of historical truth.
About the Author
Hunter R. Rawlings III is President of the Association of American Universities and Professor of Classics and History at Cornell University, where he served as president from 1995 to 2003. He is the author of The Structure of Thucydides’ History and a number of articles on Thucydides.
Jeffrey Rusten is Professor of Classics at Cornell University, author of The Birth of Comedy: Texts, Documents, and Art from Athenian Comic Competitions, 486–280, and editor of Thucydides (Oxford Readings in Classical Studies).
Elizabeth Trapnell Rawlings is a freelance translator of texts in French, working since 1992. She has degrees from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Iowa. Since 1995, she has translated independently, or with others, a number of books and articles, primarily in the field of Greek and Roman literature and history.
Table of Contents
Editors' and Translator’s Preface
1. Narrative Methods
2. Battle Accounts: Analysis and Narration
3. The Antithetical Speeches
4. Investigating the Past: The "Archaeology"
Conclusion Works Cited
Index of Thucydidean Passages Discussed
What People are Saying About This
"Students at every level, from undergraduates to advanced scholars, will be grateful for this English translation of Histoire et raison chez Thucydide, the best of all Jacqueline de Romilly's many and distinguished publications on Thucydides, and one of the best books on Thucydides of any period and in any language. It was way ahead of its time in its sophisticated examination of Thucydides’ narrative technique."
"This translation is valuable in making more widely available a book which, though half a century old, has endured as a classic of Thucydidean scholarship. Reading this book will give all those who encounter Thucydides, whether in the original Greek or in translation, much more of a feeling for the texture of his language. The chapter on the Archaeology is particularly significant: it remains the most lucid analysis of Thucydides' techniques in this important section of the work."