At the Kosmos Society 1 the Attica Greek study-group is translating excerpts of Xenophon’s Anabasis .2 The book is about the campaign of Cyrus the Younger, to wrestle the Persian throne from his brother Artaxerxes II. Meanwhile the Book Club this month is Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War. Both books cover the same historical period and often the same characters. Thucydides loses by this comparison.
Thucydides briefly describe the fifty years between the end of the Persian Wars and Peloponnesian War. As I am reading his rapid description of who attacked whom when, I thought, “Are these people crazy?” But then I recalled Nestor’s speechs about the war at Pylos and with the Amazons. Thucydides people sound like and behave like Thucydides. Of course Nestor is a better story teller.
The whole war started with a civil strife in the community of Potidaea. It was sort of the Archduke Ferdinand of the Peloponnesian War. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy with the Athenians and Potidaea. Worried that the Potidaeans might revolt, the Athenians demanded they tear down their walls, so the Potidaeans had to revolt and ask Sparta for help.
The Spartans visit Delphi and ask about attacking Athens. The god says yes, and that he will be with them. Pericles gives an incredibly vain and arrogant eulogy. Apparently he did know about hubris or knew about the opening of the Iliad and anger Apollo. The Spartans enter Attica and Apollo’s bow starts shooting shafts of plague into the city. Within the year of Pericles famous speech he, all his family and a large portion of the Athenians were dead by Apollo's shafts.
- “Spartan feeling was at that time very friendly towards Athens on account of the patriotism which she had displayed in the struggle with the Mede.” What's Patriotism mean here?
- General Pausanias, Sparta Governor of Byzantium and brutal liberator of the Ionians was charged with many things. “The charge of Medism formed one of the principal, and to all appearance one of the best founded articles against him." So what does Medism mean?
- So, according to Xenophon, 80 years after the fall of Troy the Dorians and Heraclides became masters of Peloponnesia
- There were no navies of any account in Hellas until the expedition of Xerxes
- Sparta had the same government for 400 years
- The statue of Athena in the Parthenon contained forty talents of pure gold in her jewelry and it was all removable.”
Our Book Club is studying the first two books of Thucydides history. I won’t be reading any further.
- Formerly Hour 25, but still an online community for classical studies
- From John William White's First Greek Book)