The History of the Peloponnesian War

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The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (as translated by Richard Crawley)

Thucydides was an Athenian general who served during the Peloponnesian war, which took place from 431 to 404 B.C. He wrote what is considered on of the earliest pieces of historical scholarly works: The History of the Peloponnesian War. The work is both a historical document as well as a literary masterpiece; though it is an objective look at the war, Thucydides carefully constructed his work, which is rife with symbolism and philosophical thought, making it a literary achievement as well as a great piece of historical writing.

The History of the Peloponnesian War is a chronological depiction and analysis of the events that place during the war. Editors would later divide the work into 8 different books, making it more manageable for study. The Peloponnesian War was fought between the Delian League of Athens and the Peloponnesian League of Sparta. Though Thucydides fought with Athens, his rendering of events is seemingly detached and objective. The work incorporates full speeches of key figures, a traditional expectation during this time period.

The History of the Peloponnesian War mainly focuses upon military strategy during the war, military technology, the effects of war upon the citizens of both Sparta and Athens, and an examination of the basis for the war, which was primarily Sparta’s reaction to Athens desire for the expansion of power. Because of Thucydides careful and meticulous renderings, the modern world has more insight into the Peloponnesian War than any other ancient war in the history of mankind. Thucydides would set the standard for future historical scholarly works.

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