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The Peloponnesian War

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  19,989 ratings  ·  442 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 of 3,000)
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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 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 bee ...more
Chris
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
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
Jim
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
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Kenny
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
Nate Huston
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
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
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
Gardner
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
Steven Peterson
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
Mar 29, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Stephy
Apr 28, 2008 Stephy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Darwin8u
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
Clif Hostetler
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,
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Jeremy
Finally finished the whole thing. It's quite a piece, and I highly recommend the Landmark edition which comes with maps and tables that greatly aid in the enormous task of parsing all of these old places and names into a coherent military campaign. While I do admire Thucydides direct, strictly empirical style, there's so much less of the kooky local flavor here which made Herodotus so rich, as a result it can be slow and ponderous at times. That being said, the speeches and dialogues Thucydides ...more
Jeni Enjaian
This was a much welcomed change of pace from the dragging, "classic" fiction I have been reading lately. As an amateur historian this book is fascinating to study for its historiography rather than its historicity. There are far too many names to follow (without detailed charting) the course of the war exactly. This boon reads more like reality than the Iliad-as it should-but has touches typical of the time such as the inclusion of entire (partisan) speeches.
For all history lovers as well as tho
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Elias Vasilis Kontaxakis
“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

I’ll give my readers the same warning Thucydides does: this text is not for the faint hearted. It is not funny, or romantic, or even exciting (odd given how it’s a war story). It took me a year to read because of its difficulty and tedium. It’s the epitome of an ancient, arcane tome no one in our society has time for. Outside of military academies it is n
...more
Czarny Pies
Nov 14, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. It is a basic classic of Western Civilization
Recommended to Czarny by: Professor Keyes and Boake, U of T
Anyone who believes that democracy is a good idea has not read Thucydides' Peloponnesian War. Thucydides blamed the outbreak of the war and the unnecessary prolongation to Athens' democratic system. Unlike the neighbouring states in the Peloponnesian peninsula which were oligarchies of owners of large agriculture estates the affairs of Athens were controlled by merchants who dominated the elections.

As Athens acquired more client states in the region to facilitate its commercial activities, the s
...more
Austin Wimberly
I read this book as part of my on-going pursuit to fill in the yawning gaps in my classical education through sheer autodidacticism. I have to say that I found Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War riveting.

There are so many things to recommend this work, but I'll limit myself to just a few:

1.This is arguably the earliest example of "history as scholastic endeavor" or "scientific approach to history" that we have in the Western canon. In this regard, Thucydides' lucidity is front and cent
...more
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

About two 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,
...more
Ken Moten
For all points and purposes I will clarify now that though I read most of this book this review will center on "The Melian Dialogue". I am going to post the paper that I wrote for class on this particular part of the war because I think it though playing a small part summed up major part of this conflict as a whole:




The Melian Dialogue by Thucydides – Reaction Essay

Melians: But we believe that they would be more likely to face even danger for our sake, and with more confidence than for others,
...more
David Sarkies
Apr 28, 2015 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs
Recommended to David by: My university
Shelves: history
The story of a military disaster
20 July 2010

I really liked this book, but then I generally really like books that deal with ancient history and are a retelling of events that were beyond our lifetimes, such as this one. This book, though incomplete (namely because the author died before he could finish it) tells of a war between the rival Greek city states of Athens and Sparta. I could (and would like to) write a thesis on this book, but I will stick to my main theme, and that is the invasion o
...more
Stuart
Thucydides' classic history of the thirty-year clusterf--k known as the Peloponessian War. Takes you back to 432BC, where the glory of the Persian War is a distant memory and a grasping, ambitious Athens is pushing the limits of their peace treaty with the arch-conservative Sparta. As in World War I, a complex network of alliances turns a conflict between two minor cities into a conflagration that devours the Greek world.

This was a book that I'd been meaning to read since I blew it off in colleg
...more
Zelda
Well, that was a behemoth.

It took 2 months of 5 a.m. study sessions to put this one to bed, but, I have no regrets. In a lot of ways it reminded me of Churchill's memoirs of WW2 with the detailed inventories of soldiers and arms. I have no doubt that Churchill was familiar with this work. I'm not the most devoted follower of military history but I did find myself getting caught up in the stories. The Athenian attempt on Sicily was particularly fraught.

I don't want to give anything away but, we
...more
Jim Coughenour
I bought this handsome edition when it was first published in 1996, dutifully slogged through the first book, then staggered across the room and put it back on the shelf. This spring, encouraged by a group of similarly eccentric aspirants, I read the whole thing. It's magnificent – a founding work of "historical consciousness" (a nod here to the neglected classic by John Lukacs) that is also, astonishingly, one of the best.

This is not easy reading by any means, but the maps and footnotes in Stra
...more
John
Thucydides presents the history of the Peloponnesian War with such delightful grace and nuance that the actors and events come to life. What really strikes me about this text is its philosophical side: though, as a history, it is grounded in a recounting of particular events, the manner of presentation gives the reader a glimpse of some universal facts about human nature. The adventures of Alcibiades, for example, sound like nothing so much as a description of a Cold War spy switching from side ...more
Mike Hankins
There's no reason to "review" Thucydides himself -- he's The primary source for the Peloponnesian War, and his history is incredibly well written, smart, insightful and exciting. It holds up incredibly well and is very readable for the student or they hobbyist today.

The only thing here to "review" is this edition itself, which is just plain awesome. Full of good notes, maps on nearly every page (and the kind of maps you want, they show the area and places being referenced in the text on that pag
...more
bill clausen
perhaps at the same time one of the most tedious and most fascinating books i've read. thucydides relates the history of the war between athens and sparta from 431-404BC. his meticulous attention to detail, tracing every development each year can drive you nuts, but his analysis is brilliant and his writing elegant. in particular, the speeches given by generals and politicians are rhetorical feasts. themes are the expansion of empire, the roles of justice and interest in politics, human nature, ...more
Owen O'Neill
This is not an easy book to get through (no kidding). But it is an amazing one and worth the effort. Thucydides did not want his insights to go be lost, so he set them down in a work that he felt would be for all men, for all time (to paraphrase him). "All time" is a long time, but over 2000 years later, he is still relevant and his insights are still cogent.

Worth reading if for no other reason than to learn that the people of Classical Athens were every bit as sophisticated (actually more so,
...more
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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
More about Thucydides...
On Justice, Power and Human Nature: Selections from The History of the Peloponnesian War History of the Peloponnesian War: Bk. 1-2 (Loeb Classical Library) History of the Peloponnesian War, Bk. 7-8 (Loeb Classical Library) History of the Peloponnesian War: Bk. 5-6 (Loeb Classical Library) The Peloponnesian War, Bk. 2 (Greek and Latin Classics)

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“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.” 238 likes
“For the whole earth is the tomb of famous men; not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men. Make them your examples, and, esteeming courage to be freedom and freedom to be happiness, do not weigh too nicely the perils of war."

[Funeral Oration of Pericles]”
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