May 5, 2020

Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War

Of his account of the great Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, Thucydides wrote, “I have not written this as an essay to win momentary applause, but as a possession for all time.”  The story he tells of this seemingly provincial war is meant to highlight universal themes so as to serve as a storehouse of wisdom about human nature’s propensity to war because of our apparent inability to navigate the tricky relationship between justice and power.  Must wars be waged?  Are there objectively good or bad ways to wage them?  How do they bring out both the best and the beast in man?  These questions and more arise from Thucydides’ compelling narrative of the great war between Athens and Sparta from 431 – 404 B.C.

In this 3-week seminar, we will explore these questions – and any others that arise – by engaging Thucydides’ text closely on our own throughout the week and then together in a live discussion at the end of the week.

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