Who is Thucydides (Thukidides)?June 26, 2021
Thucydides (460 – 400 BC) is the second greatest historian of the Greeks after Herodotus.
He is the last 30 years between Athens and Isparta and BC. He lived and depicted the famous Peloponnesian Wars, which ended in 404. Thucydides examines history first and foremost from a political point of view, and that is why he deals with history. In his work “History of the Peloponnesian Wars”, he specifically deals with the causes and consequences of these wars. He wrote this work to give his citizens a political education and to inform them politically.
Thucydides is a very different historian. For example, Herodotus is just a storyteller. However, Thucydides is a historian who deals with history from a political point of view. Despite the difference between them, both are historians but not philosophers of history. In other words, both were interested in historical events and did not consider the meaning and purpose of history and the role of man in history.
His father, Olorus, is from a wealthy family that owned mines in Thrace. It is also believed that he was a relative of the great Athenian commander and statesman, Kimon, who was the leader of the pro-Sparta “conservative” aristocratic party with which Pericles was in conflict.
B.C. Thucydides, who was still very young when the war broke out in 431, caught the plague in the epidemic that started the following year, but was able to recover. B.C. Thucydides, who was chosen as the commander in 424, was given the task of protecting the important Amphipolis colony of Athens against the forces of the famous Spartan commander Brasidas with a small fleet, and when he failed to do so, he went into exile voluntarily. He stayed away from Athens for twenty years and died four years after his return to his homeland, after the war ended with Sparta’s decisive victory. Although he wanted to bring the date of the war he started to write to the year 404, his life was not enough to tell what happened after the winter of 411.
The History of the Peloponnesian War, which was divided into 8 books after the death of the author, introduced Thucydides as the founder of scientific and objective historiography.
Thucydides (460-395) is one of the most important figures in Greek historiography. Like Herodotus, he is primarily a historian of war. However, while Herodotus gave information on many subjects about the places he visited, Thucydides only explained the reasons and details of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides clearly revealed the relationship between war and politics by giving an important place to political history. In addition, he drew a very strict frame on the subject and did not include anyone or anything irrelevant to the subject.
The integrity of the subject is given within the framework of time and space. He became a chronicler in a way, as he narrated the Peloponnesian Wars. He has personally experienced wars. He took part in the events and made a study based on observations and documents. Since the political environment of the period was full of constant changes and turmoil, the structure in question was also reflected in this study and the study gained the feature of a kind of political history. Thucydides freed history from fairy tales and legends and gave it a scientific aspect.
The aim of Thukidides, who does his work with pragmatic concerns, is to leave a useful work in the field of politics (Demircioğlu 1972, xxiii). The history of Thucydides is the history of the birth, foundation and development of the Athenian empire. Being the leader of the Greek peoples, whether Athens intends to include the Copts by persuasion or force to ensure Greek unity is among the questions Thucydides tried to answer. He also states that the Peloponnesian War, which Athens lost, started when Athens forced Isparta to fight (Bonnard 2004/3, 66).
Thucydides stated at the beginning of the book that the events of the period would lead to an important war and that this war would affect the whole Greek world. He also explained how he came to this conclusion: All Greek states were divided into two fronts, and the tension between the fronts increased. He considered it his duty to investigate the causes of the Peloponnesian War, which affected the Greek world. An important part of the first book is devoted to the causes of the Peloponnesian war. The first reason is the depressions created by the migrations that emerged due to internal unrest and fights between the police (Thukidides 1976, I/2, 17).
He went far back in stating the reasons for the war. Based on Homer, he stated how the social structures, clothing and outfits of the Greeks were at that time, compared with their neighbors and what their similar characteristics were. He explained how the Greeks, especially the Athenians, changed their attitude and gained a new way of life. He presented the fact that the Greeks never reached unity as their most important weakness (Thukidides 1976, I/3, 18).
Thucydides did not trust Homer much and always approached the information he gave with suspicion and found it exaggerated. With an analytical approach, he deduced from Homer’s data that the power that the Greeks created for the Trojan War was not great (Thukidides 1976, I/10, 21). The number of ships given by Homer, the number of people carried by the ships and the technical specialties of the ships.