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Thucydides is known as one of the greatest historians of ancient Greece. This paper focuses on the life, work and philosophy of Thucydides. The paper also discusses the influence and significance of his theories and principles in the field of education.
Thucydides was one of the greatest Greek historians who is known for his Magnus opus, "History of Peloponnesian War." This account of the great Peloponnesian War is not exactly complete as it only presents the events that took place during 431 to 411 B.C. But the reason why it is remembered and read as one of the most perfect Greek literatures is because it reflects Thucydides' genuinely original style interspersed with wisdom and objectivity which most other historians of that period lacked. There is still some confusion about the exact year of his birth as some ancient historians have given dates, which clash with dates provided by modern researchers. But for the sake of convenience, it is believed that he was born somewhere around 460 B.C. And died in 400 B.C. The year of his birth may cause confusion but one thing is clear; the man was certainly present during the Peloponnesian war in which he actively participated only to be exiled to Sparta. He was a military general and thus possessed in-depth knowledge of military skills and techniques. He has thus provided his readers with accurate account of he military tactics used by both Spartans and Athenians during the Peloponnesian war. Unlike Herodotus who was another famous Greek historian, Thucydides did not rely on hearsay or oral information to collect material for his book. Rather he decided to observe events personally and thus was able to present a firsthand account of the war. He wrote in his book, "As to the deeds done in the war, I have not thought myself at liberty to record them on hearsay from the first informant or on arbitrary conjecture. My account rests either on personal knowledge or on the closest possible scrutiny of each statement made by others. The process of research was laborious, because conflicting accounts were given by those who had witnessed the several events, as partiality swayed or memory served them." (1)
The best thing about Thucydides is that he never believed in conforming to tradition or convention and rather chose to develop his own style of writing which reflected a unique sharp mind and clear uninfluenced thinking. The reason why it is important to mention his work is because it reveals a lot about the man who makes frequent appearances in ancient records. To find out more about his personality and character, one needs to read his work closely and watch the author speaking his mind from between the lines. His philosophy did not involve gods unlike the philosophies of other Greek writers. In his times, it was a common belief that gods played a bigger role in man's life than man himself. Thucydides refused to buy such beliefs and firmly maintained that man was the ruler of his destiny and thus it was man's nature that was more important in destiny than gods or any other external force.
Benjamin Jowett (1881) commented on Thucydides' philosophy and principles by referring to the reface of Thucydides' work, "He then explains the principles upon which he evaluates evidence; his basic perspective is that human nature is the basic cause of historical events (Thucydides attributes no historical event to either the gods or to fate). He declares that his History will not be so entertaining as some others (such as Homer and Herodotus), but instead be a rational analysis that will be useful to those who wish to understand the way things happen, since events similar to those of the past will certainly recur in the future because human nature is unchanging. He analyzes the events of this War, he tells us, in order to enable future generations to understand the causes and progress of future wars, though not necessarily to prevent them." (2)
Thucydides was a man of absolutely original and clear thinking and thus has been widely read in the United States. Certain portions of his works have gained the status of mandatory reading in philosophy classes. The reason it is important to introduce his work…[continue]
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