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The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War

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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  23,743 Ratings  ·  550 Reviews
Thucydides called his account of two decades of war between Athens and Sparta "a possession for all time," and indeed it is the first and still most famous work in the Western historical tradition. Considered essential reading for generals, statesmen, and liberally educated citizens for more than 2,000 years, The Peloponnesian War is a mine of military, moral, political, a ...more
ebook, 752 pages
Published September 10th 1998 by Free Press (first published -411)
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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
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
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
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
Jim
Mar 11, 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
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
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
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
Darwin8u
Jun 29, 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
Clif Hostetler
Jan 25, 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 11, 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
May 01, 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
Dec 14, 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
Mar 29, 2013 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
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.
Dylan Grant
This has been, without question, the hardest book I have ever had to read in my life. It is also the most difficult book I have ever had to review in my life.

As I proceed into writing my review of this book, let me just say that I have nothing but reverence for it's author. Thucydides's intellectual tenacity and vigour, his originality, his dedication to his project, his ambition, and his ability to apply his life experience make him worthy of infinite admiration. All of the flaws in this book
...more
Wade
Jul 11, 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
Jeremy
Jul 19, 2014 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Sarkies
Apr 28, 2015 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jon Norimann
Aug 07, 2016 Jon Norimann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
JJ
Dec 09, 2015 JJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Page turner; I even forced the kids to read to me while I drove. This resulted in a history lesson, some googling of the Greek language, and a long conversation over Thucydides' use of the words "specious pretext" together -- one kid felt it equated to a double negative.
Anyway, Archidamus asks, "What then is to be our war?" --- and so should we.
Alexander Rolfe
Jun 08, 2016 Alexander Rolfe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting book! I liked it very much. It was hard to follow at times, but this edition helps a lot. The many appendices at the end are well worth reading, and as pithy as the main work.

(9 3/4) Gerasimos
Apr 26, 2013 (9 3/4) Gerasimos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We read this in school in Ancient Greek. One of the masterpieces of Ancient Greek Literature.
Zachary Taylor
Jun 13, 2015 Zachary Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
We classicists often talk about accessibility. Yes, one cannot truly appreciate Thucydides’s literary style, which is terribly complex, without the Greek in front of her, but The Peloponnesian War in its original Greek would take months for even a dedicated student hell-bent on an authentic experience with the text to plough through it. With The Landmark Thucydides, editor and unaffiliated scholar Robert B. Strassler makes a bold and unquestionably successful attempt to make the Athenian histori ...more
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
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
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Which edition? 3 6 Oct 31, 2016 03:09PM  
  • A History of My Times
  • The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives
  • The Campaigns of Alexander
  • A War Like No Other: How the Athenians & Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War
  • The History of Rome, Books XXI-XXX: The War With Hannibal
  • The Annals of Imperial Rome
  • The Twelve Caesars
  • The Peloponnesian War
  • The Civil War
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire
  • The Histories
  • The Civil Wars
  • The Jewish War
  • The History of Alexander

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