Thucydides 2022

Whenever sabers begin to rattle somewhere in the world, I am irresistibly drawn back to Thucydides, the Athenian general who wrote a history of the Peloponnesian War, the deadly clash between Athens and Sparta that raged from 431 to 404 BCE and engulfed most of the Greek-speaking world in its chaos. He wrote, perhaps, precisely for people like us: in the first of the three introductions that he eventually added to his masterwork, he declared that he intended it as a “possession for all time,” and so it has been for over two millennia. No one has ever turned to Thucydides’ history for any sensation that could be called comfort. He presents a clear-eyed chronicle of war both as a constant of human life and as the ultimate form of human folly. But his clarity, won at a terrible personal price (he suffered both plague and exile because of it),

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