Please feel free to dash a question out to either Phil or myself on email. We would like to spark discussion on email ahead of our conference call next month (July 11). Here are some of my thoughts thus far through Book I.
I hope you are enjoying this read as much as I am. This is my third time through and it is still fresh. For instance, look with me at page xi of the introduction. As we are reminded that Thucydides’ work is “not as an essay which is to win applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time…” (1.22.4), Victor Davis Hanson reminds us that we are not merely reading history: “[Thucydides] believed that the war between Athens and Sparta offered a unique look at the poles of human and not just Greek experience, at contrasting ideologies and assumptions for a brief time ripped open by organized savagery (1.23.2-3).” Turn on the news and tune in to the updates on action in the Middle East today. As I read the opening speeches of the Corcyrans and Corinthians on pp. 21-28, I see two peoples that ethnically, culturally and socially should be coexisting. Instead, the justification of their hatred for each other makes these speeches as modern as if I am reading a current UN transcript. With Athens tempted to take one side or the other, I see a “Cold War” brewing between the wider interests of Athens and Sparta. The events that follow (i.e. battle of Sybota) bear out the futility of trying to stop these two superpowers from knocking heads. The tragedy is that this situation is still replaying itself two and half milennia later. Stay tuned, more to come…