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History of the Peloponnesian War

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  26,703 ratings  ·  566 reviews
Written four hundred years before the birth of Christ, this detailed contemporary account of the long life-and-death struggle between Athens and Sparta stands an excellent chance of fulfilling its author's ambitious claim. Thucydides himself (c.460-400 BC) was an Athenian and achieved the rank of general in the earlier stages of the war. He applied thereafter a passion for ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 648 pages
Published 1972 by Penguin Books
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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 gone home. The correct answer was that this was in response to an earthquake. Judging by Thucydides' history ...more
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.

Elie F
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Courage in the face of reality ultimately distinguishes such natures as Thucydides and Plato: Plato is a coward in the face of reality--consequently he flees into the ideal; Thucydides has himself under control--consequently he retains control over things. ------Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Roy Lotz
It has been said that Earthling civilization, so far, has created ten thousand wars, but only three intelligent commentaries on warthe 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, knotty
Jan 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ancient-history
3.5 stars

Finally I could finish reading this book after many intervals of being content with what I knew, I didnt claim I enjoyed all of eight-book Thucydidess account. Compared to the other history classic of similar stature, Herodotuss 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 year
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cajonera
This book is impossible to review but I still wanted to give my opinion on this as I try to do with every outstanding book I come across. I mean impossible because this book is the cornerstone for different disciplines, mainly History and International Relations. This is no surprise as Thucydides was intending to provide a historic account of the greatest war of his time, the war between Sparta and Athens while not focusing on any superstitious beliefs. Being the first historian, he set about ...more

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.

May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 14, 2014 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.
Erik Graff
Sep 08, 2008 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
Dani Rose
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not quite as fun to read as Herodotus' eccentric Histories, but still an important primary source. I could get through it quite well with my limited knowledge of Greek history and the Peloponnesian War, but I would recommend brushing up for context. Also the Jowlett translation from 1881 (which can be found on Perseus online) is the clearest and easiest to follow.
Bogdan Raț
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clif Hostetler
Jan 05, 2010 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
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-greece
Tremendously important book, from a historical point of view. But to be honest: Thucydides brings a boring story: he just gives a sequence of facts; no dramatic depth, no psychological dimension in the speeches, emphasis on the military events.
I also was a bit disappointed by his so-called objectivity: Book 1 is slightly anti-Athenian (imperialism), book 2 light pro-Athenian (Pericles). In comparison with Herodotus for me Thucydides is a little step back, because at least Herodotus gave
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Spartan dogs!, Turkish Taffy, Ive always wanted to use that line from Woody Allens Japanese redubbed into English movie Whats Up Tiger Lilly. Now the Spartans really arent dogs and taffy and Turkey have nothing to do with this book, but this book ranks as one of the greatest books ever written, and its clear that the Spartans were more than just laconic warriors and Athenians might have been lovers of wisdom but were also lovers of hegemonic domination.

It is not necessary to understand all the
Catherine Berry
Let it first be said, in reference to that discipline involving the examination of events which, though passed, may have relevance to, or lessons for, the current era, or even perhaps future eras, that it is my primary interest and avocation to extend my own understanding of the various persons -- statesmen, generals, men of wealth and influence, and others -- who contributed to the origin and who shaped the outcome of these events; and also, when I may reasonably do so, to draw whatever general ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a valuable historical source this is! It has to be placed a little higher even than historians like Tacitus and Livy (who probably had a better idea of what they were doing, given that that they were working as historians in an exisiting field, rather than pretty much creating the field as they went along). There's something quite strange reading about these events from the perspective of someone who doesn't simply want to record history, but also to mention their own part in making it. I ...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. Its 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 ...more
One on the reading bucket list down. A must for the ancient world. Sparta versus Athens. Post Thermopylae history is primarily known because of Thucydides. I am still amazed that this history made it to us over the centuries. I am very happy I picked this one up and finally finished it off.
Steven Peterson
Jun 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2015 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
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Christopher Backa
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The narrator could have been better but the book is interesting
Nicholas Whyte
Mar 19, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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,
May 08, 2007 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
Jon Norimann
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I would have to read it 10 more times to make sense of this book.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic edition. Clear and readable translation with helpful notes and layout. Perfect for my MA dissertation.
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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 ...more

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