Thucydides as ‘Reader’ of Herodotus

Philip A. Stadter

in Thucydides and Herodotus

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199593262
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191752261 | DOI:
Thucydides as ‘Reader’ of Herodotus

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This chapter shows that Thucydides, like Herodotus, resolved to write a work that would bring out the role of human nature in historical events. He intended, however, to express himself even more clearly and forcefully than the Halicarnassian, and in a manner more appropriate for a citizen of an imperial city, one who knew power at first hand. In interpreting Herodotus, Thucydides rethought his predecessor's modes of presentation, subject, and themes. He adopted Herodotus' treatment of war by campaign seasons for his whole narrative. Significant echoes from Herodotus gave focus and power to his narrative. While continuing and expanding the theme of suffering, he gave more importance to the polis, seen as a unit and a historical actor. Thucydides took over and further developed Herodotus' narrative techniques, including authoritative statements by the narrator, speeches, vivid description, and dialogue. Like Herodotus, Thucydides recounts the past as an invitation to look to the future.

Keywords: Thucydides; Herodotus; human nature; historical events; polis; Greek historians

Chapter.  11149 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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