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Thucydides and the Pursuit of Freedom$
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Mary P. Nichols

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453168

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453168.001.0001

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Thucydides as Historian

(p.1) Introduction
Thucydides and the Pursuit of Freedom

Mary P. Nichols

Cornell University Press

This book explores Thucydides's commitment to the cause of freedom. Although historians are not known for embracing a cause, a closer look at History of the Peloponnesian War shows that freedom was a central theme for Thucydides. In this account, cities and individuals take freedom as their goal, whether they claim to possess it and want to maintain it, or desire to attain it for themselves or others. Freedom is the goal of both antagonists in the Peloponnesian War, Sparta and Athens, albeit in different ways. This book argues that Thucydides defends freedom as a goal of political action, while demonstrating throughout his work both the failures and excesses of its pursuit. Throughout his history of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides portrays speeches and deeds that do make a difference, for better or worse. The book looks at the individuals and events in which freedom finds its greatest expressions and its greatest failures.

Keywords:   freedom, historian, history, Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, Sparta, Athens, political action, speech

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