Analysis of the Peloponnesian War Essay

Analysis of the Peloponnesian War Essay

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In this essay, I am going to anaylise the Peloponnesian War. I will look at what appears to have caused the war, how it developed, and what the outcome of it was. As Thucydides is virtually the only surviving primary source of this event, I will also discuss the man and his method.

From what we can gather, Thucydides was an Athenian Greek born in Alimos in c. 460BC–395BC. Although Thucydides is seen as one of the major figures of the known ancient world, we know relatively little about the man and his life. Most of what we do know is revealed in his own writings, particularly through the account of the Peloponnesian War.

He tells us of his father, Olorus, and the gold mines that he owned at Scapte Hyle in Thrace. Herodotus suggests that this source of wealth was inherited from Thracian aristocracy. We know that Thucydides was an Athenian general for some time, and that his apparent failure to aid his ally Eucles at the battle of Amphipolis in 422BC caused him to be sent into exile. (Herodotus, B.VI, P.39.).

This is seen as a crucial moment in the recording of the war through the eyes of Thucydides. His exile allowed him to travel freely in the lands of the Peloponnesian allies. It also meant that Thucydides was able to construct a unique insight into the war, having seen it from the perspective of both sides, and in the presence of both Athenian command and that of Sparta and her allies. (Sowerby, P.56.).

It seems that Thucydides was aware of the scale of the war while it was happening, and therefore the importance of the history he was recording. He took the "opportunity" of exile, no doubt backed up by his wealth and status, to travel and interview various people involved in significant events of the war. It is cl...

... middle of paper ...

...s of the war itself, there are a number of crucial points which set the course of the tide, and I have tried to illustrate those which I consider to be most important and influential. In any case, it seems that if Athens would have continued with the policy of Pericles, she might not have been so weakened by the destruction of her superior naval forces, which, it seems, can largely be accounted for by Alcibiades and his supporters.


Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War. Translated by Rex Warner. Published in 1954 by Penguin Classics.

Robin Sowerby, The Greeks: An Introduction To Their Culture. Published in 1995 by Routledge Publishers.

Robin Lane Fox, The Classical World: An Epic History of Greece and Rome. Published in 2005 by Penguin Books.

Herodotus, The Histories. Translated by A.D. Godley. Published by Harvard University Press in 1920.

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