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THUCYDIDES, The Peloponnesian War, Biiography



(ca 450-400 BC.)


Thucydides was an Athenian who lived during the mid-to-late-fifth century BC. As a historian, Thucydides is famous for writing about the history of the Peloponnesian War, which took place during his lifetime.

Our knowledge about the life of Thucydides is incomplete and controversial. The general belief is that he was born around 450 B.C. and died at the end of the fifth century (around 400 B.C.). Thucydides' father was named Oloros, a name which indicates that Thucydides' relatives were royal Thracians.

There is also evidence of a Thracian connection in Book 4, chapter 105 of Thucydides' History, which mentions he had mining concessions in Thrace. The name Thucydides itself was not Thracian, and he was a citizen of Athens. This all suggests that Thucydides was an Athenian aristocrat (part of the upper class).

In 431 B.C., when the Peloponnesian War began, Thucydides began to write. Thucydides was not only a spectator and observer of the war, he also participated in it. For example, he suffered from the great plague inflicted to the Athenian citizens (including Pericles) during 429 B.C. Thucydides also served as a military commander in 424 B.C. During his service he failed to relieve the siege of the city of Amphipolis, in the North Aegean (near Thrace), and as a consequence was sent into exile for 20 years. During his exile, it is thought that Thucydides made several travels, and even spent some time with the opposing force: the Peloponnesians. Very little about the second half of Thucydides' life is known. Most of the information we know of today has been gathered from the small amount of information he mentions of himself in the written history. The dates of his birth and death are only approximated and have a 20 year range between reputable sources.

Before the onset of the Peloponnesian War, ancient Greece was an epicenter of great military, intellectual, cultural and political development; it was also a time of questioning and reexamination of religious and traditional beliefs. The 440s B.C. and the 430s B.C. are known as the height of the Athenian Empire. It is the war that Thucydides describes that brings the empire to an end.

Thucydides is often compared to Herodotus , who wrote about the Persian Wars, which took place in the early fifth century BC. According to modern writers, there are three debts Thucydides owes to Herodotus and several differences between the two writing styles.

According to Thucydides the cause of the war is. . . Sparta's fear of Athens' growing power. When discussing Thucydides History, another common controversy is the question of the true cause of the Peloponnesian War. Some scholars believe that Athens started the war, and that Thucydides purposely misleads us due to his partisanship to Athens. Thucydides History is the major source of information we have on the Peloponnesian War, if we do not trust him then, have we not cut the ground beneath our own feet? In conclusion, the most commonly accepted and agreed upon opinion is that Thucydides was accurate in his written origin of the Peloponnesian War.


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