Thucydides' Portrait of Pericles III

Stephen V. Tracy

in Pericles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256033
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943629 | DOI:
Thucydides' Portrait of Pericles III

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  • Greek and Roman Archaeology


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Following immediately on the funeral oration, that brilliant account of Athenian democracy delivered by Pericles, and standing in juxtaposition to it, is Thucydides' clinically vivid description of the plague that attacked the city like an invading army. The plague started at the onset of the second Peloponnesian invasion in the spring of 430. Thucydides includes a short account of military events in the north during the summer of 430 and adds without comment the stark fact that 1,500 out of 4,000 foot soldiers on the northern campaign—that is, nearly 40 percent of them—died of the plague in forty days. Thucydides next presents Pericles' third and last speech. He also includes a final tribute to him in the second part of section 65. Thucydides' final assessment of Pericles at 2.65 is openly written with knowledge of Athens' eventual defeat in 404, twenty-five years after Pericles' death. Other passages too seem to indicate knowledge of the outcome of the Peloponnesian War.

Keywords: Pericles; Thucydides; Athens; Peloponnesian War; plague; last speech; final tribute; democracy

Chapter.  5314 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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