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The Peloponnesian War

by
3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  24,246 Ratings  ·  570 Reviews
"Thomas Hobbes's translation of Thucydides brings together the magisterial prose of one of the greatest writers of the English language and the depth of mind and experience of one of the greatest writers of history in any language. . . . For every reason, the current availability of this great work is a boon."—Joseph Cropsey, University of Chicago
Paperback, 668 pages
Published October 15th 1989 by University Of Chicago Press (first published -411)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jan-Maat
Towards the end of this book I had a flashback of watching an episode of Mastermind in the 80s, the contestant had chosen the Spartan military as their specialist subject was asked being asked by Magnus Magnusson, the Icelandic Viking who swooped down from the north to Britain as a child to become a TV quiz host, why the Spartans had stopped their campaign on one particular occasion and went home. The correct answer was in response to an earthquake. Judging by Thucydides' history that could have ...more
Alcyone
Jan 10, 2009 Alcyone is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite quote:
"The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest, but if it is judged worthy by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the understanding of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content.
In fine I have written my work not as an essay with which to win the applause of the moment but as a possession for all time." -Thucydides
Michael
Jun 06, 2017 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you ever wanted to tackle Thucydides, this is the way to do it. It's beautifully laid out, with helpful maps and other material. The reading experience is profoundly moving, not really for the style but for the sheer weight of human folly on display. This should be required reading for politicians of all stripes.
Chris
Jan 19, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read Thucydides in college, using Rex Warner's translation in the Penguin edition. As a frosh with little background in ancient history and political science, I didn't have the proper perspective to realize Th.'s critical place in western historiography and political thought. As a junior, I re-read Th., this time in a course on ancient historians. At that point, having had modest exposure to Hobbes, Machiavelli, Burke, Clausewitz and the like, I was better equipped to appreciate Th.'s me ...more
Cleo
Jun 15, 2017 Cleo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably 4.5 stars due to Thucydides dry narrative but an awesome read. Political stupidity has not changed.
Jim
Mar 03, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I love about the best ancient Greek literature is how startlingly modern it could be. This is particularly true of Euripides (whom I regard as a 21st century dramatist) and The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides. The accounts of the Corcycran revolution, the so-called Melian Dialogue (in which Athens shows itself to be somewhat less enlightened than reputed), and the utter disaster of the Sicilian Expedition can just as easily be taking place now in remote parts of the world.

The
...more
Darwin8u
Feb 15, 2012 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
If you are going to read Thucydides, the Landmark version is the best place to start. I read this after I became a fan of Strassler's The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories. For me, there is not much better than Thucydides' speeches. "The Funeral Oration of Pericles", "Diodotus to the Athenian Ecclesia", "Demosthenes to his troops at Pylos" & "Nicias before the last sea fight" are all some of the most interesting, moving and inspiring speeches and harangues EVER written.

Thucydides' HOPW (Lan
...more
umberto
3.5 stars

Finally I could finish reading this book after many intervals of being content with what I knew, I didn’t claim I enjoyed all of eight-book Thucydides’s account. Compared to the other history classic of similar stature, Herodotus’s “The Histories” translated by Aubrey de Selincourt, I think, is more enjoyable and impressive regarding the world as viewed by the Greek historian in the fifth century B.C. Contrastively in a smaller scale, Thucydides has ambitiously depicted the twenty-seven
...more
Bettie☯
BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05s2pbm

Description: 'My work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the taste of an immediate public, but was done to last for ever,' Thucydides

Ancient Greek historian Thucydides' spellbinding first-hand account chronicles the devastating 27-year-long war between Athens and Sparta during the 5th century BC. It was a life-and-death struggle that reshaped the face of ancient Greece and pitted Athenian democracy against brutal Spartan militarism.

Thucydides
...more
Kenny
May 12, 2011 Kenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need more stars! Thucydides is the man. In 1947, George Marshall "doubt[ed] seriously whether a man can think with full wisdom and with deep convictions regarding certain of the basic issues today" without having read this book. The parallels between the Cold War and the Peloponnesian War as T. describes it are certainly striking. My two favorite sections of this book are the civil war in Corcyra, which T. describes as representative of many civil wars going on in the Aegean at the time--and w ...more
Phoenix2
Jan 14, 2014 Phoenix2 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classicals fans history addicts
Shelves: classics
The Peloponnesian War is something that historicly interests me the most from the ancient greek history, so this book was something that I've read with ease. In addition the writing is quite understandable and easy to follow.
Roy Lotz
It has been said that Earthling civilization, so far, has created ten thousand wars, but only three intelligent commentaries on war—the commentaries of Thucydides, of Julius Caesar and of Winston Niles Rutherfoord.
—Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Some years ago, I waded through the Barnes & Noble edition of Herodotus’ Histories. It was one of the most painful reading experiences of my life. I blame 95% of this on the translator (G.C. Macaulay), who broke new ground in dry, prolix, knott
...more
Caroline
But none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger. No, holding that vengeance upon their enemies was more to be desired than any personal blessings, and reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk, to make sure of their vengeance and to let their wishes wait; and while committing to hope the uncertainty of
...more
Clif Hostetler
Jan 05, 2010 Clif Hostetler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Thucydides sounds surprisingly modern for a writer who lived 2,400 years ago. He provides a record of over 21 years in strict chronological order and describes the interests of the two sides with more objective fairness than can be expected today from modern journalists (especially the TV kind). He mentions in the middle of the book that he spent 20 years away from Athens in exile, so that may explain why he can describe the non-Athenian view with such poignancy.

"I lived through the whole of it,
...more
Karl H.
The Peloponnesian War was, to say the least, a challenging read for me. Thucydides is writing about a war that happened thousands of years ago, in a completely different culture, in an area where I don't know the geography, between a bunch of states that no longer exist. Oh yes, and there is no unified dating system at the time either. It’s also clear from reading the Peloponnesian War that Thucydides was an aspiring general, not an aspiring poet. One review I encountered while searching for a d ...more
Nate Huston
Aug 06, 2012 Nate Huston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fine. I nerded out on this one too. I really liked it. Might I suggest, however, that it is exceedingly beneficial (it was to me, at least) to take a look at Donald Kagan's lectures on the same subject. You can view them or download them at http://oyc.yale.edu/classics/clcv-205.... Lectures 18-21.

Anyhow, while the detail with which Thucydides recounts some of the battles can be tedious at times(though perhaps not to a military historian), the subject matter dealt with is timeless. Pericles's fun
...more
Laura
Apr 24, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
'My work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the taste of an immediate public, but was done to last for ever,' Thucydides

Ancient Greek historian Thucydides' spellbinding first-hand account chronicles the devastating 27-year-long war between Athens and Sparta during the 5th century BC. It was a life-and-death struggle that reshaped the face of ancient Greece and pitted Athenian democracy against brutal Spartan militarism.

Thucydides himself was an Athenian
...more
Nicholas Whyte
This is a classic work of history, about the war between Athens and Sparta in the 430s and 420s BC. I'm not terribly interested in the war itself, or the geographical details (though I would have liked it if my Penguin edition had put useful maps in the text closer to the descriptions of events taking place on obscure islands); I hoped to find out from reading it the extent to which Thucydides' reputation as the first proper historian is justifiable.

What I found was rather different to what I ex
...more
Steven Peterson
Jun 08, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the early classic "histories" written. Of course, Herodotus had written his "History" before. But his acceptance of the role of gods in history renders Thucydides' hard-headed accounts of the Greek internecine warfare a further advance in historiography. Thus, we begin to experience something like a real history in this volume (and that does not denigrate the real contributions of Herodotus).

This is a nice volume. The Introduction by M. I. Finley sets the stage; the translation b
...more
Erik Graff
Sep 08, 2008 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Harold Kintner
Shelves: history
For over three years I was a history major at Grinnell College. In the junior year only one course requirement remained, historiography, a course taught by only one faculty member. That was fine by me until we got to Augustine's City of God which, at the time, I thought was absolutely crazy and unreadable (I've since read it). Having almost completed the requirements for a religion degree as well by then, I switched majors and graduated on schedule.

Although Augustine was unsupportable, I very mu
...more
Stephy
Apr 28, 2008 Stephy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes good stories
Recommended to Stephy by: I guess my Father did
I learned that I already knew the stories. I found this abandoned at the Willie Street Food Co-op in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1985. I hadn't done unpacking yet, all the books were in boxes, I was desperate. I took it home. The introduction was boring and went on forever. I skipped most of it and got on to book one, where things immediately became interesting, as I recognized stories my father told us as children, when we went for long walks, or car rides together.

Today, rereading it once again, th
...more
Gardner
May 08, 2007 Gardner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first great history book. In addition, there are spectacular passages like the Melian Conference where the Athenian envoy states:

For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences- either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us- and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Laceda
...more
Jon Norimann
Aug 07, 2016 Jon Norimann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
One criteria for saying a book is good is if its ahead of its time. Of all books in existence this may be the book most ahead of its time. Reading this detailed description of a war between the city states of Sparta and Athnes it is unbelievable it was written about 2500 years ago. A modern historian describing a current war given similar sources would not do much different. Additionally it is among the best primers on classic Greece, the foundation of modern society.

History of the Peloponnesia
...more
Yann
Jul 20, 2011 Yann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Je m'étais cassé les dents dessus une première fois car trop obscur. Une seconde fois, juste à la suite de "L'enquete" d'Hérodote d'Halicarnasse, le plaisir a vraiment été au rendez-vous. Comme "le prince", on n'en sort pas indemne.
Shelley
4.5
Beth
I struggled with this at first because there’s a lot of information to keep track of, and there are some very dry parts, but it won me over eventually. I deliberately didn’t take a lot of notes on the dry, tactical stuff. Honestly I probably remember those parts as less prominent than they actually are, because the overall impact is so devastating. For the most part, I found it absolutely captivating. I'd call it one of the most relentlessly bleak books in the western canon.

Thucydides’s style is
...more
Wade
Apr 18, 2016 Wade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I slowly worked my way through this behemoth over the course of two months, it is much dryer than The Iliad (duh), but is also much more intriguing. I have been most interested in the ways that this 2400 (ish) year old book connects so directly to our current society. Obviously there are major differences, since civil war was such a way of life for the Greeks (irony?), but the things that they fought over and the issues they debated, and their fears and their hopes are all still echoing around t ...more
Blake Shirk
Apr 23, 2017 Blake Shirk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The History of the Peloponnesian War is truly a masterpiece. I was constantly amazed at the depth of research collected to record the details of this conflict considering that it was written around 400BC. Minute details of the various battles, political intrigue, speeches, personal and national motivations, etc. were all included. This has to be one of the preeminent truly historical works, both in form and function. Thucydides wished to make a timeless work to record the details of this importa ...more
Steve Cooper
Feb 14, 2017 Steve Cooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book inspired an article I wrote for Counterpunch:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/3...
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957
Thucydides (c. 460 B.C. – c. 395 B.C.) (Greek Θουκυδίδης, Thoukydídēs) was a Greek historian and author of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which recounts the 5th century B.C. war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 B.C. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" due to his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect without refere ...more
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