Thucydides and the History of His Age - Vol. 2

Thucydides and the History of His Age - Vol. 2

Thucydides and the History of His Age - Vol. 2

Thucydides and the History of His Age - Vol. 2

Excerpt

Anyone who studies Greek History must recognise the loss which the modern world has suffered, partly from the nonsurvival, but mainly from the absence of evidence with regard to certain essential parts of the story of the great Fifth Century before Christ. It is true that the stories of the two greatest wars of that century have been written by great historians. It is also fortunately true that one of them, Thucydides, was led to deal with the philosophy as well as the narrative of history, and thus to throw some light on the thoughts of a time when men were thinking forward on matter which had revolutionised the views held aforetime on the world of physical nature, and later on the capacity of the mental nature of man. The latter was a development of the former, a conception which could hardly have come into existence had not the new conception of the world of nature been previously formed.

This intellectual movement began in the Sixth Century in consequence of the fall of Assyria, which threw open to the Greeks of Asia access to that great civilisation which had flourished for centuries in the Mesopotamian region. By successive developments, which cannot now be traced, it had arrived at a knowledge of the laws of nature exceeding in all probability any such knowledge existent in the contemporary civilisations of Asia and far surpassing the very elementary and mistaken conceptions of the then world of Europe. Assyria by its cruelty to all who came under its sway had deterred strangers from venturing into the region which it ruled; but after its fall at Nineveh its former dominions passed under the rule of those who welcomed intercourse with peoples who could bring them the profits of trade, and be of use to them in other respects. The Asiatic Greeks, who in their cities on the coasts of the Aegean formed the natural middlemen for trade between Asia and Europe, seem to have lost no time in seizing on the opportunities which the opening . . .

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