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Thucydides on Imperialism

What is Thucydides' view of imperialism? Where can we see a discussion of imperialism in his work?

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Dear Student,
Here is your solution. You can expand the arguments presented here by reading on current Imperialism discussions relevant to the American-led War on Terror and drawing parallelisms to the Melos Subjugation & the speech at Pericles' Funeral. The Resources I have used are indicated below. Good Luck!

OTA 105878


Understanding Imperialism

Having helped you with your previous post on the methods applied by Thucydides in his research of the past, I shall assume that you have reviewed his work, "The History of the Peloponnesian War" for its historical value and that you have a clear understanding of his methods and the advanced manner by which he employed objective historical research in the context of his time. Your current post seeks to understand a particular revealing detail of his time from his work and being that his work is a chronological discussion of his time from which details of speeches & dialogues are included to present the social story of the times he live by, it is also a possibility that through his work, one can view a personal glimpse of the viewpoints & philosophies he followed. A historian like any social scientist has complete control on the design of his research despite the challenges of the 'open-ness' of the social system from which he gets his data & basis his study. Thucydides employed objectivity and rationality, mapping out his history chronologically and detailing it via a structured mesh of firsthand accounts supplemented by events related to it from a distant past. No doubt though that while he remained at being objective, he as an Athenian Citizen and a soldier holds particular views of the world, particularly the manner by which Athens created and maintain power over her territories as one of the world's earliest Modern Empires.

To understand this, we have to define Imperialism. Imperialism is both the act of empire building and the 'attitude' of building empires. Action-wise Empire building is the forceful manner by which a nation exerts resources to attain political & economic dominance among lesser states. While it has a negative connotation in history, Empire building itself is a manifestation of the stability & ability of the nation in question, much as the first Roman Republic allowed for the establishment of the Roman Empire from Britannia to the Middle East or recently, the once globally mighty British Empire. Imperialism's negative connotation, the subjugation of a group of people to another wherein the former are treated as subjects of a lesser standing is an attitude that much of today's former Colonial nations feel (Philippines to Spain, Indonesia to the Dutch, and Brazil to the Portuguese). The imperialistic excursions of Spain, Portugal & the British made most of today's nations & in the centuries that they were under European dominion, the locals felt that they were robbed of their own culture, traditions, natural resources & identity. While this is understandable, this also explains the 'Attitude' of Imperialism --- that characteristic nature of 'subjugating' & overpowering a people or a culture for ...

Solution Summary

The solution looks at the work of ancient Greek Historian Thucydides, specifically 'The History of the Peloponessian War' to zero in on his views regarding Imperialism, diplomacy, freedom & nation. The solution focuses on the passages in his work regarding the Subjugation of the Melians as well as the Funeral Speech for Greek hero & statesman Pericles to piece together his views & reflect on the message & representations that can be found in Thucydides' monumental work.