Thucydides actually participated in this conflict, a war that he realized would have a greater influence on the history of Greece than any other. The History of the Peloponnesian War is true to its title; it is a story of battles and sieges, of alliances hastily made and soon broken, and, most importantly, of the behavior of people as the war dragged on and on - of the inevitable "corrosion of the human spirit".
Thucydides, whose passionate desire to record the truth is clearly apparent, vividly narrates exciting episodes and carefully describes tactical aspects of the war. He also provides illuminating character profiles. Few will argue that Thucydides was not the greatest and most exciting historian of antiquity.
What members say
- Mesa, AZ, United States
Amazing, Beautiful and Important Piece of History
If you are going to read/listen to Thucydides, might I suggest listening to this wonderful audiobook while reading the Landmark version. There are so many places, people and changing loyalties that it really helped having the notes, maps, etc. I love the classical beauty of the Crawley translation and Bottino does a stellar job at narrating this amazing work. While I'm not one to demean anyone, I would simply suggest that the difficulties in narrating Thucydides is ORDERS of MAGNITUDE beyond most contemporary fiction or history. Narrating this book must have been a beast, and Bottino is my hero for doing such an impressive job.
For me, there is not much better than Thucydides' speeches. "The Funeral Oration of Pericles", "Diodotus to the Athenian Ecclesia", "Demosthenes to his troops at Pylos" & "Nicias before the last sea fight" are all some of the most interesting, moving and inspiring speeches and harangues ever written.
This book is a must for students of the classics, politics, history and war. Hell, even if you are just interested in a good story, Thucydides tells a mighty good one. This is an amazing, beautiful and important piece of history.
27 of 29 people found this review helpful
- South Orange, NJ, United States
The beginning of modern history
Many of the names of people and places mean nothing, and some of the accounts of the military actions are dry, but the fascinating part about this book is its modernity. It is not just an account, it is a critical analysis of the wars.
There is no glorification of particular heroes and no divine explanations of events. Thucydides was detailed in his accounts of all sides in these wars and in his analyses of their actions. He pointed out strengths and weaknesses in politicians and soldiers on both sides. He used multiple sources, as well as his own experiences. He analyzed quite critically the reasons for the wars and various actors' deeds, dismissing, with explanation, those rationales he found unsupported. Although an Athenian, he leveled his insight equally on both the Athenians and the Spartans.
His critical approach and cogent analysis bring the ancient atmosphere to life and make the ancient Greeks seem real.
Thucydides richly earned the title of the first modern historian.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Got Me Past the Greek Names
I tried to read this years ago and got bogged down in the Greek names. Somehow, it is easier to "hear" than to "see" them, and this long but informative narration made it so much simpler to understand for me. Carefully attend to the politicians' speeches. They are frighteningly modern in their rhetoric, so human nature has not changed much in a couple of millennia. I think everyone involved in war, public policy or history should read this.
11 of 15 people found this review helpful