Plato vs. Thucydides - Peter Dimas (30-Sep-07) History 111...

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Peter Dimas (30-Sep-07) History 111 Plato vs. Thucydides Classical Greece is well-known for its philosophers in this period of Greek history. Though there were hundreds of sophists in this era, two of the greatest were Plato and Thucydides. There are some similarities in the two texts, but there are many differences as well. While Thucydides in The History of the Peloponnesian War glorifies Athens in his speeches of Pericles, Plato criticizes the polis in The Republic , and uses an imaginary polis on how Athens should be ruled. However, both agree that the polis must be held above personal interests to be successful. Also, paideia is similar to Thucydides was originally known as an Athenian historian in the 5 th century B.C. Back in that era, history was not like a text book in the present day, describing ancient/older times. On the contrary, history was an extensive record on a significant event happening at the time, and all the incidents that occurred. The earliest example of Greek history was Herodotus’s account of the Persian Wars. This history was written in elegant and quixotic style, its purpose being to entertain the reader rather than to specifically inform him/her of facts. Thucydides in contrast, wrote The History of the Peloponnesian Wars as an instructional book of how to rule a polis, and used Athens as the epitome of a “democratic” empire. There are two themes in the book: the first is the narrative facts of what happened during the war, while the second is of speeches. The speeches themselves are actually made up by Thucydides, but the purpose of these orations served to describe the qualities and values in doing certain things. Though he remains neutral throughout most of the book, he generally approves of the Periclean model of Athens. By making such speeches, Thucydides attempts to explain the choices made by the Athenians of glorifying the city and expanding their empire. In his Funeral Oration, Pericles aggrandizes Athens and its citizens: Peter Dimas Page 1
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“In this land of ours there have always been the same people living from generation to generation up till now, and they [the ancestors], by their courage and their virtues, have handed it on to us, a free country. They certainly deserve our praise. Even more so do our fathers deserve it. For to the inheritance they had received they added all the empire we have now, and it was not without blood and toil that they handed it down to us of the present generation. And then we ourselves, assembled here today, who are mostly in the prime of life, have, in most directions, added to the power of our empire and have organized our State in such a way that it is perfectly well able to look after itself both in peace and in war” (145). Here, Pericles stoutly advocates for the expansion of the Athenian Empire. There is also
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course HIST 111 taught by Professor Smuts during the Fall '07 term at University of Massachusetts Boston.

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Plato vs. Thucydides - Peter Dimas (30-Sep-07) History 111...

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