He was a noted historian of ancient Greece. He wrote “History of Peloponnesian War”. He was born in about 460 BC in an Athenian family. He was a General of Athenian army. He was exiled for 20 years as he failed to save Athenian city from the Spartan attack. In this time he travelled wide collected information and wrote his work. After peace was concluded in 404 BC, he returned but died soon.
THEME OF HIS WORK:
- It was armed an armed struggle between 2 city states of Greece: Athens – Spartans the Peloponnesian war.
- Compared with Greek and Persian war, this was little significant. Yet greatest event to Greeks.
- He was a witness to those events. As a General of Athenian army, he had close watch over developments, recorded the speeches he had, visited the allied states and drew information from prisoners of war.
- During the exile he met Spartans and discussed what they felt about it. He also read the works of other authors for reference.
- He depended on research for conclusions. The war broke out in 431BC and continued till 411 BC.
- He wrote his work in two stages. The later historians divided it into 8 books based on chronology.
It starts with a brief introduction, then summary of the Greek developments from Ionian wars to Persian wars. He criticizes the writers for not writing on this.
1st book – discusses the origin of war and the role of Greek and Spartan. The growth of Athenian, break of diplomatic relations and the speech of Pericles persuading Athens to go for war.
2nd, 3rd, 4th and part of 5th book – narrate the story of fighting for 10 years & settlement of peace of Nicias.
Part of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th book – deals with subsequent conflicts.
MERITS OF HIS WORKS:
- The work is complete mastery of details. Impartiality, accuracy of facts, scientific approach.
- He gathered all possible data and analyzed before formed his conclusions. Though an Athenian, he feels sad for the Spartans. He has balanced views on controversial issues.
- He did not deviate from the central theme.
- Language is remarkable in the beginning, but diminishing towards the end.
- The entire work is organized and presented in a unique style.
- The war discussed with ups and downs. The readers were taken through long years of raids, campaigns, by land and sea.
- He wrote it in a humanistic way and not for super natural forces. Everything is explained in human terms.
- A modern historian should be guided by vision of the part link of present and the evolution of social institution. But he ignored the greatness of the part.
- He did not appreciate the role of socio economic forces, which forced political scene of war and peace. But he explained the events to the personal motives.
- Absence of exact chronology was serious handicap and mentioned as winter and summer seasons.
- The speeches were fed into into the leading character, without explaining them.
HERODOTUS AND THUCYDIDES: COMPARISION AND UNIQUNESS
|War b/n Greece & Persia||War b/n two leagues of two Greek city states.|
|War happened for 30 years.||During life time.|
|Works were little exaggerated.||His work was dry and dull.|
|Language and presentation was fascinating.||Language was artificial and harsh.|
|Deviated from central theme and added irrelevant data.||Depended on speeches|
|Lacks chronology.||Lacks chronology|
- The founder of scientific history.
- He wrote on changing situation – Greek was familiar with unchanging situations.
- Separated history from literature.
- Laid stress on objectivity in historical writing.
- As balanced observer a constructive method of research was started.
- Analytical criticism and sought to discover truth so called as objective historical of ancient Greece.