Thucydides of Athens, c. 460-400BC, wrote his History of the Peloponnesian War (a war between Athens and Sparta and their allies, from 431-404BC) in his last few years, which seems to have been unfinished on his death (it breaks off in 411BC). The style of the work is graphic, though not melodramatic, in fact considered and scientific, reasoned and very politically aware. He made much use of speeches by his participants to explore competing courses of action, and his twenty years in exile from Athens perhaps helped him to appreciate such conflicting points of view, particularly those of Athens’ enemies. One of his most celebrated passages is the funeral oration by Pericles, celebrating the Athenians who had died in the war (2.35-46).

 Stephen Jenkin
The Classics Library


The Peloponnesian war

PW 1.1-3 | Thucydides begins his account of the war
Contributed by Stephen Jenkin