The Mind of Thucydides (Cornell Studies in Classical Philology)

November 28, 2020
The Mind of Thucydides (Cornell Studies in Classical Philology)

The publication of Jacqueline de Romilly's Histoire etraison chez Thucydide in 1956 virtually transformedscholarship on Thucydides. Rather than mining The Peloponnesian Warto speculate on its layers of composition or second-guess itsaccuracy, it treated it as a work of art deserving rhetorical andaesthetic analysis. Ahead of its time in its sophisticated focusupon the verbal texture of narrative, it proved that a literaryapproach offered the most productive and nuanced way to studyThucydides. Still in print in the original French, the book hasinfluenced numerous Classicists and historians, and is nowavailable in English for the first time in a careful translation byElizabeth Trapnell Rawlings. The Cornell edition includes anintroduction by Hunter R. Rawlings III and Jeffrey Rusten tracingthe context of this book's original publication and its continuinginfluence on the study of Thucydides.Romilly shows that Thucydides constructs his account of thePeloponnesian War as a profoundly intellectual experience forreaders who want to discern the patterns underlying historicalevents. Employing a commanding logic that exercises total controlover the data of history, Thucydides uses rigorous principles ofselection, suggestive juxtapositions, and artfully opposed speechesto reveal systematic relationships between plans and outcomes,impose meaning on the smallest events, and insist on the constantbattle between intellect and chance. Thucydides' mind found inunity and coherence its ideal of historical truth.