Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Rereading Thucydides

K.J. Dover (1920-2010), Thucydides (1973; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979 = Greece & Rome, New Surveys in the Classics, 7), p. 44:
It is the common experience of people who study Thucydides intensively over a long period that one goes on indefinitely noticing things in him which one has not noticed before. This could be said of other authors too, but in most cases the returns diminish; in the case of Thucydides there always seems to remain the possibility that something really important is still waiting to be noticed. The chief reason for this is the degree to which he manifests the Attic versatility which his Pericles praises in ii.41.1. He had the ambition to be scientific, to make human history intelligible, and also the ambition to be admired as an artist; the self-confidence of an aristocrat, a sense of intellectual superiority which did not allow him seriously to consider that his verdicts might need to be reconsidered by others, the strong reactions we would expect of a man brought up in a society which valued sensibility—and with all that, a genuine understanding of the difference between facts and values and of the intellectual and moral failures which can result from not understanding that difference.

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