What It’s Like to Read Thucydides in 2021
This Week on the History of Literature Podcast
with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Jacke and Mike take a look at the life and works of Thucydides (c. 460 to c. 400 B.C.), an Athenian general whose History of the Peloponnesian War has earned him the title of “the father of scientific history” or sometimes “the other father of history.” We discuss the highlights of Thucydides, what it’s like to read him in 2021, whether it’s better to read him straight through or only for the famous parts (such as the Pericles funeral oration and the Melian dialogue), and how he compares with his predecessor Herodotus, the earlier Ancient Greek historian who took a very different approach to the writing of history.