Thucydides (~-460 - ~-398)

Thucydides Thucydides was an Ancient Greek general and historian, who is best known worldwide for his recording of the History of the Peloponnesian War.

Very little is known about the life of Thucydides. He was born around 460 BC in Alimos, and he was a close relative of the Athenian politician and general Miltiades and his son Kimon. This made him get acquainted with all major figures that played an important role during the Peloponnesian War. When the War broke out in 431 BC, he was about 25 years old. When a pestilence was spread all over Athens in 430 BC that killed a quarter of its population including Pericles, Thucydides also became sick. In 424 BC, he became a general and commanded 7 ships in Thasos. He never managed to complete his book and his narration is abruptly stopped in 411 BC. His remains were brought back to Athens and were buried in the family grave of Kimon.

He probably received education by the Sophists, teachers and philosophers of classical Athens. They taught him to always question the established truths, and they helped him enhance his narrative skills. It is said that he was a melancholic and pessimistic character. He was in awe of Pericles and liked the way he was connected with the people. He was not a big supporter of his policies, but he believed they were bearable because of his competence.

He is considered one of the first real historians. Unlike his predecessor, Herodotus, who included rumours in his texts and mentioned mythological elements, Thucydides preferred to consult written documents and talk to people who participated or witnessed the events he described. Some scholars believe that Thucydides totally overlooked the Persian influence in Greece; it has been said that just before he died, he thought of reconsidering and rewriting his history to include this, but never had the time. Nevertheless, he was the first historian who tried hard to remain as objective as possible. Using the methodology of searching for the deeper causes of an event, he was the first who approached history scientifically. It should be noted that he did not report anything about the arts, literature or society of the period, but strictly recorded what he believed was tied to the war. Moreover, it is evident that he was fully aware that his work would be of extreme importance to the following generations. Thucydides started writing his book after the fall of the Thirty Tyrants in 404 BC when he had returned to Athens, but soon he left back to Thasos, where he continued recording until his sudden death.

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