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Thucydides, who lived during the second half of the fifth century B.C., is
considered the greatest of the ancient Greek historians. His work, The Peloponnesian
War[Part One] [Part Two], recounts the fifth-century B.C. struggle between Athens and Sparta
and is the first piece of historical writing to combine political and ethical
reflections with history. His personal history is unknown except for the small
bits of information revealed in his narrative. Thucydides was probably born
a few years before 460 B.C. and died sometime after the peace of 404. The abruptness
with which the history ends may indicate that he died a sudden death in those
His careful attention to research and his evident concern for accuracy have
left an enduring mark on the discipline of history. Heroes and villains are
treated with full attention to their blemishes as well as their virtues. Nor
did Thucydides hesitate to criticize Athenian policy or his own actions as a
general during the war. He saw history as more than just a list of events. It
was rather an enduring record of all aspects of the time, and something that
would be of value for later generations. "To hear this history rehearsed,
for that there be inserted no fables, shall be perhaps not delightful. But he
that desires to look into the truth of things done and which (according to the
condition of humanity) may be done again, or at least their like, he shall find
enough herein to make him think it profitable. And it is compiled rather for
everlasting possession than to be rehearsed for a prize."
Works by the Author
Thucydides. Thucydides. 2 vols. Translation by Benjamin Jowett. Oxford:
The University Press, 1900.
Works about the Author
Godolphin, Francis R.B., ed. The Greek Historians. 2 vols. New York:
Random House, 1942.
Finley, Jr., John H. Thucydides. Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University
Cornford, Francis Macdonald. Thucydides Mythistoricus. London, Routledge
& K. Paul, 1965.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.