Journal Article

Pericles and the Plague: Civil Religion, Anomie, and Injustice in Thucydides

Donald A. Nielsen

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 57, issue 4, pages 397-407
Published in print January 1996 | ISSN: 1069-4404
e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3711894
Pericles and the Plague: Civil Religion, Anomie, and Injustice in Thucydides

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This paper examines the problems of “civil religion,” “anomie,” and injustice in Athenian society as presented in Thucydides's narrative of the Peloponnesian war. Thucydides juxtaposes Pericles's funeral oration, as an embodiment of Athenian civil religion, with his description of Athenian demoralization and anomic during the subsequent plague. These concepts are linked to the problem of injustice in the Melian Dialogue, which describes Athenian imperial behavior toward this small island people. The paper shows how Thucydides links these ideas to the notion of Fortune in the ultimate collapse of the Athenian war effort. Thucydides is a pioneer in the systematic use of these sociological concepts and he is compared briefly to more recent sociologists, such as Durkheim, Merton, and Bellah.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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