Thucydides and the History of His Age

Thucydides and the History of His Age

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Thucydides and the History of His Age

Thucydides and the History of His Age

Read FREE!

Excerpt

It is only fair to any one who may read any part of this book that he should be enlightened beforehand as to the origin of certain peculiarities which will be found in it.

It presents the history of the fifth century before Christ under a somewhat novel aspect, in that it depicts the Greeks generally, and the Athenians in particular, as moving in a material rather than an ideal world. I have sought to get at the reality of life as it was lived by the mass of the Hellenes of two thousand years ago,--the men whose condition, passions, and emotions made the political, as distinct from the intellectual, history of their race.

When first I formed this idea of composing a historical edition of Thucydides, I had no intention of presenting Greek history under this aspect, though I was quite aware from my experience of those persistent inquirers, my Oxford pupils, that there was much in it, as commonly represented, for which it was not possible to provide a satisfactory explanation. In point of fact, I had no idea as to where the explanation lay.

When, about ten years ago, I began a course of reading and inquiry with a view to getting at the available evidence as to the population of Greece in old times, I did so without the slightest suspicion that it would provide me with anything of the nature of a solution of these difficulties. But in the course of the inquiry I came upon passages in the works of various ancient historians, which, interpreted in the light of what I knew of the conditions of life in modern Greece, a country with which I am familiar, provided something of the nature of an answer to those problems which I had hitherto found insoluble. I was thus diverted from a somewhat narrow historical aim to one of more wide importance,--the economic conditions under which men lived . . .

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