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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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Periclean Athens and an Image of Freedom

Periclean Athens and an Image of Freedom

(p.24) Chapter 1 Periclean Athens and an Image of Freedom
Thucydides and the Pursuit of Freedom

Mary P. Nichols

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Thucydides's view of the possibilities and limits of human freedom by focusing on his presentation of Pericles. It begins with the Athenians blaming Pericles as the cause of the Peloponnesian War and goes on to assess the extent to which Thucydides presents Pericles as the cause of the war. It then considers Pericles's funeral oration, in which he praises Athens for exercising the very freedom to rise above necessity. It also discusses Thucydides's account of the plague that devastated Athens, along with Pericles's response to Athenian suffering in his final speech. Finally, it analyzes Thucydides's own eulogy to Pericles and his portrayal of Pericles as a model of freedom, a portrayal that includes both blame and praise. It argues that Pericles's politics, as conveyed by Thucydides, illustrates the very possibility of the freedom required for deliberation and choice.

Keywords:   freedom, Pericles, Athens, Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, funeral oration, plague, speech, eulogy, politics

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