Thucydides and a Possible Blog Project?


I’m almost to the end of a class on Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War.  Previously I’d only studied bits and pieces of that text – we read the Melian Dialogues in my senior-year high school English class, and then read Pericles’ funeral oration in a college freshman-year liberal-arts intro to political theory.  But reading this whole confused, obscure mess of a book has been fascinating.

Focusing exclusively on this book for a couple of months has also led me to read up a bit on 5th century Greek history, and made me realize how little I really know about the ancients, but then how little so many of us know, because of lost, corrupt or incomplete nature of so many of the sources.

That is a map illustrating the main action of the war, but reading the original, it’s all so much more intricate and confused – so many more minor cities, alliances, engineering minutia, oddly evocative speeches and random digressions about political figures otherwise lost to history.  There are also these wonderful bits of generalization about human nature that pop up from time to time, that are devastating in their resigned, history-repeats-itself-and-there’s-nothing-we-can-do sort of way.

So – my proposal for a blog project.  One of the upshots of my reading has been a renewed interest in working through some of the other Greek primary sources, especially Plato.  I didn’t realize just how many of Socrates’ interlocutors were (in name at least) based on real historical figures.  I sort of knew that about Alcibiades, just to name one, but I think reading or re-reading those dialogues will allow me to see them in a new light.

I do remember that at one time Nates expressed great interest in “Greeks and Germans.”  On this blog from time to time we’ve talked about Germans, but not so much about Greeks (other than Homer).

My proposal is simple – at some point starting soon, I’ll read through the sequence of Plato’s dialogues, do a little bit of reading on the historical referents contained therein, present my take, and then maybe Nates (or even David, if he still looks here) can give us a little more about the philosophical issues raised in the dialogues.

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2 Responses to Thucydides and a Possible Blog Project?

  1. Nates says:

    I’m in a particularly busy stretch of the semester right now, so I might be slow to respond, but I love the idea of the project.

    Let’s hope we have a great time and never quite make it to the Laws at the end–a real slog of a read!

  2. David says:

    I’m still here!

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