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Thucydides & the Peloponesian War

In the introduction to his history (1.1-23), Thucydides both directly and indirectly lets the reader know how he has conducted his research. What methods does he use to research the distant past? What methods does he use for the more recent past? How do these two methods compare to one another?

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Dear Student,
Here is your solution. While I know that I could have just as easily given you the answer you sought in a single paragraph,I felt that it was my duty as your teaching guide to introduce you further into the historiographical practices pioneered by Thucydides by presenting his background and the factors that he had to take account as well as his influences in creating his scholarly work. Your principal inquiry as answered in the very last paragraph becomes more enlightened by the information that is provided before it, I sincerely hope. Thank you for using BrainMass. A word version of this solution is attached.

OTA 105878


Thucydides & his 'History of the Peloponnesian War'

Historiography, the science of researching, writing and putting together a historical account point to Thucydides early work as among the 'pillars' of historiography that established it as a social science. His account of the 2 decade-Peloponnesian War that took place between Spartan-led Peloponnesian League & Athenians in Ancient Greece greatly informed writers, historians and scholars of antiquity that came after him with his work still resounding in the halls of Medieval, Renaissance and now modern scholars. There are two schools of thought that emerged through the years as to what his work really embodies. From a historical point of view it is seen as a detached, balanced and objective account --- these virtues having established a precedent in writing down historical events with those who came after him, making him a historian ahead of his time. On the other hand, people of the arts and letters often refer to Thucydides' account as a 'piece of literature' who symbolically presented a culture & a period of time in his work. W.R. Connor (1984) even goes so far to suggest that Thucydides is 'an artist' who using great skill responded to the events unfolding before him by choosing his materials subjectively so as to present a great literary account. While this of course is highly debatable, especially if one invokes the later concepts of history & philosophy or paradigms of thought by Richard Rorty; it cannot be denied that Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian War is a great piece of historical work that laid the foundations of an objective body of account of human events. Events that still resound by the virtue of their implications to human history to this very day.

Who is Thucydides, What were his Methods?

Thucydides as he wrote in his annals was an Athenian General who served in the said war. Therefore, one can easily argue that part ...

Solution Summary

This solution looks at the work of Greek General & Historian Thucydides as a revolutionary document in historiography that introduced 'scientific' elements that set out to ground his work 'The History of the Peloponessian War'. While going trough his work to present examples, the solution discusses the historiographic methods pioneered by Thucydides to quantify & ground data for historical entries on distant & recent past while subsequently comparing these methods according to the 'roles' & effects they play in the over-all presentation of the historical account.