BMCR 2007.09.55

Brill’s Companion to Thucydides

, , , Brill's Companion to Thucydides. Leiden: Brill, 2006. xix, 947. €249.00.

No doubt Thucydides ranks among the most important historians of the ancient world, though to claim, as the blurb on the back cover does, he was the most important seems (irrespective of my own views) to be a value judgment open to discussion. It is evident, however, that a comprehensive review of what is known about Thucydides was badly needed, even more so because the last wide-ranging collective work was published in 19681 and Thucydidean scholarship has since continued to seek answers to many old as well as new questions. This massive volume in Brill’s “Companion” series is aimed to meet this need. In four parts (‘Author, context, ideas’; ‘The art of Thucydides’; ‘Wie es eigentlich gewesen?’; and ‘After Thucydides’) the authors discuss in 32 chapters the current situation in Thucydides (henceforth T) research.

In the first part, chapter 1 (pp. 3-31), Canfora discusses ‘Biographical Obscurities and Problems of Composition’. Date of birth, family, T’s political/military career and subsequent exile are reviewed. The absence of a direct reference to his exile in connection with the loss of Amphipolis by Athens prompts Canfora to accept Schwartz’s theory of a second editor for the ‘Histories’, sc. Xenophon (notably visible in 5.25-83), and he (=C.) subsequently analyses the implications this theory carries with it. The next problem treated is T’s year of death, and in relation therewith, the writing of “The Peloponnesian War” and its scope. Canfora argues that T’s rough (my emphasis) notes for the years after 411 BC have been preserved in Xenophon’s Hellenica 1-2.3.10 (the latter’s own account, one might say the Hellenica proper, only started in 3.1.2): they show how T worked. T’s work was completed not at the moment of his death, as it appears from the way the end of the eighth and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the end of the first year of the war, are described.

In chapter 2 (pp. 33-56) Corcella treats ‘The New Genre and its Boundaries: Poets and Logographers’. Traditionally both the local and the collective memory within the Greek world was primarily preserved by poets, though occasionally also in prose. Mostly these works described the glorious events of the (distant) past. Even contemporary events were often described in the imagery of the heroic age. There are, however, indications suggesting interest in emphasizing the unbroken continuity of history. In this process prose grew increasingly in importance and by the days of T multiple examples of works in prose devoted to memorable events were known. Simultaneous with this development, an increase in rationalization of the past is visible: it developed a critical attitude towards the stories passed down through the ages and looked for comparanda. Herodotus is an example of these developments. His sources were, however, mainly oral traditions, whose trustworthiness is not necessarily above suspicion. T’s work is from its very beginning focused on the Peloponnesian War and directed against distortions of past events. He develops his own chronological system, with a stress on contemporary events and in this respect consciously competes expressly with Herodotus and with his predecessors.

Rogkotis (chapter 3, pp. 57-86) further investigates the topic of ‘Thucydides and Herodotus: Aspects of their Intertextual Relationship’. He believes this relationship to have been dim, if not obscure, mostly because T did not refer to his predecessor by name. Nevertheless a break is discernable in the long defended position that there was no connection at all between these two authors; especially in their use of empirical psychology to explain military defeats, scholars now often acknowledge a connection between Herodotus and T. The two historians use focalized narration (or “inferred motivation”) in the presentation of defeats, i.e. they look at a given situation from the point of view of its participants. In practice, Athens’ position before and during the Sicilian expedition is compared with Xerxes’ expedition against Greece. Rogkotis shows both accounts to share many similarities, e.g. in the use of the words ὁρμή respectively ὁρμάομαι, the use of the so-called deceptive aggravator, and the use of deceptive display ( ἐπίδειξις) and visual themes.

In chapter 4 (pp. 87-108) Thomas deals with ‘Thucydides’ Intellectual Milieu and the Plague’. T’s opening statements place him “immediately in connection with the sophistic movement and the development of medicine in the latter half of the fifth century” (p. 87). Important in this context is to avoid thinking of sophists as a unified group, in spite of Plato’s efforts to create that image. T’s work placed humans and human nature at the centre of history, but in spite of this revolutionary approach he is seen to be familiar with a variety of (more or less traditional) literary techniques and, implicitly, their backgrounds, like the divine direction of history, as well as with their practitioners. Among the trades he was aware of is the (relatively) new art of medicine; his description of the plague in book II is important in many respects. This very description displays both his familiarity with the “medical” vocabulary, more specifically that of Hippocratic medicine, and the independence manifested in his own medical theory. Beside that, T also described and analyzed the effects of the plague on the population in Athens, particularly the break-down of the nomoi.

The subject of Bakker’s research (chapter 5, pp. 109-129) is ‘Contract and Design: Thucydides’ Writing’. T is a real author, directly addressing a reading audience without mediation of a reading voice. The central term used by T for his writing is ξυγγράφειν and Bakker examines “this verb’s syntax, semantics, and pragmatics in search of an understanding of Thucydides’ writing in the terms of his own time” (p. 110). Simultaneously, T’s relationship with his future readers is documented.

Ober (chapter 6, pp. 131-159) writes on ‘Thucydides and the Invention of Political Science’. He states that T’s text seems on the one hand to break with, on the other to build upon, “the texts written by the Greek founders of the enterprise of writing history” (p. 132), sc. Hellanicus and Herodotus. Ober’s article sets out to prove that T developed a new form to describe and use the past, essentially resulting in the creation of a new discipline, political and social science, formulated in the ‘programmatic statement’ of chapter 1.22.4. In a manner of speaking one could state that T illustrated his views with the description of (the results of) the transformation of Athens from a relatively simple and traditional society into a complex, in some aspects perhaps even modern one, that dealt with such problems as democracy, democratic institutions, and empire and how people could find themselves ways to deal with and benefit from this dynamic environment. The war itself T explains as the result of traditionalist (oligarchic) fear of dynamism and/or modernism, most noticeably between Sparta and Athens but also between and even within (in the form of staseis) other states. Properly led (as Athens was led by Pericles, who in his turn was guided by ‘genuine knowledge’) the modern system was advantageous, but where selfishness entered the system, disaster was inevitable.

Tsakmakis’ contribution (chapter 7, pp. 161-187) is called ‘Leaders, Crowds, and the Power of the Image: Political Communication in Thucydides’. It examines the way T describes the public deliberation, and the underlying motivations and/or principles, in the decision-making bodies, especially the interaction between individual politicians and their public. By various methods the leading politicians had — if necessary — to try to control both the channels of communication and the content of the communication. They had to have knowledge about mass behavior and have the necessary rhetorical abilities: not only does the politician have to know how he must make his statements but also when he must do so. Even then the result of his effort may prove to be disappointing, as in the case of Nicias (T 5.46.3). Other vital assets were personal authority, demonstrated in prudence ξύνεσις and moral excellence ἀρετή (a complex property consisting of different elements), and image. Pericles’ public relations strategy was, according to T’s testimony, of all the politicians’ best adapted in the circumstances.

In the 8th chapter (pp. 189-222) Raaflaub discusses ‘Thucydides on Democracy and Oligarchy’. 8.97.2 has been taken as best expressing T’s opinion: a harmonious mixture (a metria … xynkrasis) took into account the interests of both the few and the many. Nevertheless T nowhere expressis verbis states, writes Raaflaub, that such a mixed constitution in his views indeed really was the best constitution. Analyzing the History Raaflaub concludes that T neither liked radical oligarchy nor extreme democracy. In his work we find only two places where he is really positive about democracy (e.g. 6.39-40), but frequently he describes it as corruptible. However, oligarchy is also occasionally depicted that way, though T is altogether more positive on this type of rule than on democracy. It appears then that T thought that a very moderate democracy, as described in 8.97, really was the best constitution.

Tim Rood starts the second part with chapter 9 (pp. 225-249, ‘Objectivity and Authority: Thucydides’ Historical Method’). Rood argues that at least part of the image of reliability and the apparently objective stance of T depends on his mode of self-presentation rather than on confirmed facts. In recent research suspicion regarding T’s objectivity has joined or even superseded the admiration for the way he has constructed his narrative. There are, however, places in his work where he interrupts the narrative for a more reflective attitude. There he displays tensions between his different ‘personae’, ranging from omniscient author to methodical annalist, to mention a few. Rood believes these tensions were not an aesthetic creation for their own sake, but subordinate to his goal of writing a κτῆμα ἐς αἰεί. More or less consequently all attempts to analyze T’s attitude and/or position tend to be, one way or another, anachronistic.

Morrison (chapter 10, pp. 251-277) discusses ‘Interaction of Speech and Narrative in Thucydides’, a subject that is often overlooked. According to Morrison “speech-narrative interaction is dynamic” (p. 251) and requires active engagement on the reader’s part. T’s alternation of speech and narrative differs from Homer’s or Herodotus’, both in the differentiation of the (nature of the) speeches and the explicit separation between main narrative and speeches: consequently each of them acquires a status of its own. Nearly all speeches in T follow a fixed pattern, scrutinized in various contexts by Morrison. Another line of investigation Morrison suggests is the one that explores the different types of speech-narrative interaction, a more ‘historical’ approach to this kind of research.

Rengakos devotes his study (chapter 11, pp. 279-300) to ‘Thucydides’ Narrative: the Epic and Herodotean Heritage’. Two features of T’s work go back to epic and Herodotus, sc. the so-called mixed narrative and the ‘internal focalization’. As for T’s use of direct speech, his programmatic chapter (1.22) offers little comfort: it is obvious that the speeches in this form cannot be regarded as authentic. Starting from the main features mentioned above Rengakos explores the structure of T’s work as a whole, next the presentation of time (anachronies, synchronicity, the problems connected with book 8), ‘epic suspense’, and finally narrative patterning (integration of speech and narrative, juxtaposition, cross-references and anticipation). Rengakos concludes that T, trained like Herodotus in the style of Homeric epics, does not follow Herodotus’ more independent style, but more than his predecessor returns to the Homeric origin in his speeches.

Stahl (chapter 12, pp. 301-334) writes on ‘Narrative Unity and Consistency of Thought: Composition of Event Sequences in Thucydides’. Two aspects of T stand out: his capacity for synoptic analysis and the distinction between surface phenomena and a developing historical undercurrent. T’s talent in this respect already shows in his description of the causes for the war, the strife among Epidamnus, Corcyra, and Corinth and the problems between Poteidaia, Athens, and Perdikkas, combined with the underlying motive for the war, sc. Sparta’s fear of Athens’ growing power: war is the only logical outcome. T’s mastery also shows in the description of a countermovement, ultimately leading to the Peace of Nicias. Workings of human nature and chance as well as their interplay constitute the subject matter of history and, for that matter, its narrator as well as — and this should constantly be remembered — the practitioner of narratology. T cannot be blamed for all omissions, real or alleged, in his text: sometimes omissions even may have a deliberate function. On the other hand, his jargon does not protect a narratologist against the (occasional) misreading of a passage that can lead to a false inference.

Chapter 13, ‘Thucydides’ Workshop of History and Utility Outside the Text’ (pp. 335-368) is by Lisa Kallet. She, too, focuses on T’s programmatic statement (1.22.4). T’s work is a didactic one, but the student is required to interpret the text critically and involved: only then he may be able to understand the human condition. For this active student T serves as helper, as Kallet demonstrates with a number of examples, constantly stressing the problems a historian — and, implicitly, the reader — experiences while at work. Using the Peisistratids as example T demonstrates in book 6 how to draw inferences about the past “as he explicitly works through a problem of reconstruction, analysis, deduction and shows how to discriminate among types of evidence” (p. 343). He shows, moreover, throughout his work how to distinguish between events as particular and concrete or general and abstract and the difference in impact of such occurrences as well as, in various circumstances, the use of techniques like comparison and contrast. Finally T teaches the reader some of the historian’s tools, like conjecture and argumentation (sc. in the case of the use of the word εἰκός).

‘Theaters of War: Thucydidean Topography’ is, in chapter 14 (pp. 369-384), treated by Funke and Haake. Topography and geography play a minor part in T’s work, the more so compared with other works like Strabo’s or Polybius’. Unlike especially the latter T does not speak out regarding geography or topography as objects of historiography: nevertheless he regularly uses them as argument. Funke and Haake try to demonstrate that T’s interest in geography and topography was more than merely functional: however, the disparity of the material makes a systematic analysis impossible. There are, nevertheless, passages of geographical content showing he could create vivid images of spatial conditions.

Hunt (chapter 15, pp. 385-413) explores ‘Warfare’, especially the intelligent conduct of warfare. Too frequently it is forgotten that T also was a general with interest and even delight in the practice of war and not just an author. Hunt argues that the audience T wrote for equally had military interests as well as experience: hence T’s eye for military detail. He displays even more interest in the environment of soldiers in battle than, e.g., Caesar, at the same time not forgetting the general’s point of view. Occasionally, however, he reveals the elitist prejudices of his class. It includes his esteem for Pericles and his grand strategy, which was ultimately not followed by Athens. That decision ultimately led, according to T, to defeat. He advocates conducting an innovative and unorthodox war, but, at the same time, recognizes the destructive character of war, which extends to values.

‘Thucydides and Religion’, by Furley, is the subject of chapter 16 (pp. 415-438). Gods are conspicuously absent as explanation for occurrences in T’s narrative. It earned him the reputation of being ἄθεος ἠρέμα (‘godless to a degree’) and much of later literature on this topic is aimed at this subject. It is an approach doomed to fail: all we can deduce from his work is how the various actors interpreted ‘divine signs’. T shows interest in religion as a key element in the psychology of the warring parties: Furley shows that T’s discussion on this matter is lengthy and detailed and he charts the religious mood of his characters as they succeed or fail.

Gribble devotes his attention in chapter 17 (pp. 439-468) to ‘Individuals in Thucydides’, one of the aspects of T’s work that, according to Gribble, “most struck his contemporaries” (p. 439). Words and actions of individuals are placed within a much wider context, making individuals — and they occur in great number in T’s work — seem powerless. Three features stand out in T’s description of individuals (a term that needs to be clearly defined in context: pp. 445-447): lack of personal/private detail; no full story of persons; absence of moralizing outside their effectiveness as historical actors. Within this general rules there appear, however, to be exceptions and qualifications, which are scrutinized by Gribble as are the ways individuals have been deployed in T’s narrative. Among these individuals Alcibiades and Brasidas stand out.

Tritle (chapter 18, pp. 469-491) investigates ‘Thucydides and Power Politics’. Generally the term ‘power politics’ hints at the misuse of power, be it military, financial or some other, by any state, but there are nuances, especially of an ethical nature, amounting to the question ‘was power applied unjustly?’. It appears certain that ‘power’ appealed to T, as his manifold use of kratein, kratos, and kratistos testify. It also appears that ‘power’ and its use go hand in hand with a certain arrogance: practice shows that it is usually applied “to force others to do something they would otherwise not do” (p. 473). Power and war are intimately interlinked and despite Herodotus’ plea for peace (p. 475), anarchy, and in its wake war, prevailed in Greece. T describes the situation — especially the need for an (absent!) arbiter — strikingly, making Pericles emerge as an eminent (?) power politician. Also T’s descriptions of the conflict in Corcyra, the revolt of Mytilene, the Melian dialogue, and the Sicilian expedition (pure power politics) are analyzed by Tritle: T the Realist saw in the final third of the fifth century BC much of what we see still today.

Part 3 is opened by chapter 19 (pp. 495-522). It is by Smarczyk and is titled ‘Thucydides and Epigraphy’. Smarczyk focuses on a few central points, like the “Epigraphical Culture” of Athens in T’s time, T’s lack of enthusiasm in using evidence from inscriptions, though he included many documentary texts in earlier drafts of his work as we still can see in books 4 and 5, only to be reshaped and reworked in a final version. Since T in all likelihood had no direct access to those inscriptions at the time he wrote his drafts, we have no certainty as to the way he gathered his information. It appears, moreover, that T took many things for granted, including the religious dimension of the war, to which the epigraphic evidence testifies, as well as the imperial attitude the Athenians displayed in their inscriptions. On the other hand, inscriptions rarely correct T’s narrative.

In chapter 20 (pp. 523-546), Rhodes studies ‘Thucydides and Athenian History’. No longer is T regarded as a disengaged reporter of the Peloponnesian War: he was an aristocratic Athenian who became, in spite of his background, an admirer of Pericles and his views. Without Pericles’ guidance democratic leaders made fatal errors. T’s commitment to Athens shows throughout the work, but the (sometimes polemical) views expressed in it are not all uncontested.

‘Thucydides and Comedy’ is the subject of chapter 21 (pp. 547-558) by Rusten. He argues not only that evidence from T and Old Comedy are complementary, but also that the Peloponnesian War — and implicitly T’s account of it — was critical in the transmission and survival of Old Comedy. Certainly from the beginning of the twenties of the fifth century BC both the Athenian people and more particularly Athenian politicians were fair game for comic poets: frequently the sentiments which become apparent in the Old Comedy find corroboration in T’s work. After 411 BC political comedy almost completely disappeared: that the political plays survived at all may be explained by the historical interest of Alexandrian scholars, not least fueled by T’s work.

In chapter 22 (pp. 559-587) Cartledge and Debnar pay attention to ‘Sparta and the Spartans in Thucydides’. It is a traditional subject, but the ‘”linguistic” or “literary turn”‘ which have swept the arts and humanities in the last couple of decades (p. 559) justifies a new attempt at it. T emerges as a wary narrator, not really ready to tell all he knows or suspects, though the information he does provide is extremely important, e.g., regarding the position of the Helots. Spartan informers may well have provided the basis of T’s story: they display the clockwork of both individual Spartans and the state of Sparta. However, T did not have informers of equal quality and in equal number for every phase of the war, causing certain individuals or events to be relatively underexposed.

In chapter 23 (pp. 589-614) Zahrnt investigates ‘Macedonia and Thrace in Thucydides’. Part of T’s interest in this region may originate from personal connections. His information on Macedonia is relatively detailed and appears to show he did not consider the Macedonians to be entirely Greek, in spite of a certain admiration for king Perdikkas. As to the region of Chalcidice, he is much less precise and detailed: the terms of the Peace of Nicias show that additional sources like the Athenian Tribute Lists are necessary to complement T’s account. T is once again more detailed regarding the area of the Strymon basin, notably the city of Amphipolis. As for the native Thracian population east of the Strymon T supplies us with important information regarding the emerging Odrysian kingdom, which he, at least partly, appears to have traveled himself.

Chapter 24 (pp. 615-628) by Hornblower is on ‘Thucydides and the Argives’. T seems responsible for practically narrowing down the war to a conflict between Athens and Sparta. Nevertheless he described the role of Corinth and Corinthians very well: that of the Argives, on the other hand, is partly underreported. Throughout books 6-8 the Argives play an active role, but T does not mention names. It obviously was not the consequence of T being ignorant regarding Argos, but of negative feelings towards the Argives.

In chapter 25 (pp. 629-655) Zahrnt studies ‘Sicily and Southern Italy in Thucydides’, specifically the information in T’s work about the history of the western Greeks and their cities. The internal disunity within and among the Greek cities of Sicily was considerable, as was the divide between Sicels and Syracusans: some of the causes and developments are documented by T (but may be supplemented by Herodotus, Diodorus, and P.Oxy. 665). Both Athens and Sparta had interests in Sicily, but for the period of the Archidamian war T’s account is incoherent and incomplete and offers plenty of room for speculation. Regarding the great Sicilian expedition of 415-413, T’s information is much more detailed but, for the topography, again not without controversy.

Wiesehöfer (chapter 26, pp. 657-667) pays attention to ‘”Keeping the Two Sides Equal”: Thucydides, the Persians and the Peloponnesian War’. T remains largely silent on the role Persia played in the final defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian war. Wiesehöfer investigates three main topics: (1) the role of the Persians before and during the Peloponnesian war (T says little about it); (2) the general view of the Persians (T is rarely trenchant and he tends to stereotypes); (3) T as transmitter of Iranian names and Achaemenid institutions, about which T is amazingly reliable.

In chapter 27 (pp. 669-690) Hose discusses ‘The Peloponnesian War: Sources other than Thucydides’. He first mentions works that constitute the main parallel tradition (pp. 670-673), concluding they do not deviate significantly from T’s views. However, lost texts could also have offered parallel traditions: in this respect Ephorus, Theopompus, the Atthidographers, and regional historiographers may have been important, though the fragments we have do not significantly challenge the picture drawn by T.

The opening chapter of part 4 is chapter 28 (pp. 693-719) by Nicolai, ‘Thucydides Continued’. According to Nicolai T did not believe his work could be continued at the same level of perfection. It was a monograph on a war, not a ‘History of Greece’ (the genres of the Hellenica and monographs only later became distinct categories) that only needed to be finished. Nevertheless continuations were produced, of which only Xenophon’s survives complete: judgments on its aims, purposes, and qualities vary widely. Other continuations may have been written by Theopompus of Chios (but we do not have sufficient information to draw conclusions regarding his work), Cratippus (an enigmatic author), the Oxyrhynchus Historian (identity unknown), most of whom wrote with a different focus. Some fourth century authors were not inspired by T, like Ctesias, Anaximenes, Callisthenes, Ephorus, and Duris of Samos. Like Hieronymus of Cardia, Polybius was also deeply influenced by T. With his revival in the first century BC, T became a stylistic model for atticist rhetoricians.

In chapter 29 (pp. 721-753) Canfora continues with ‘Thucydides in Rome and Late Antiquity’. According to Plutarch, Roman interest in T started after 168 BC (the defeat of Macedonia and the transfer of Macedonian treasures to Rome) with Cato Maior, mainly as a tool for oratorical studies. Next, the work of Polybius was important: deeply influenced himself by T, he in his turn inspired many Roman historians. T’s influence increased when Sulla’s war booty from Greece, including the so-called Athenian library with the ‘Apellicon-τ’, allegedly a complete account of the Peloponnesian war (=T’s Histories and books 1 and 2 of Xenophon’s Hellenica), was made available for Roman literati. A Roman historian who took T as example was Sallust, though he relied also on Ephorus. On the other hand Dionysius focused on T’s omissions as Cratippus had done before him. Nevertheless Dionysius also acknowledged that T belonged among the really great historians devoted to “truth”, a status confirmed by Lucian and later literature.

In chapter 30 (pp. 755-778) Roderich Reinsch investigates the ‘Byzantine adaptations of Thucydides’. Historiography existed in many forms in Byzantine literature, but in all variations throughout the Byzantine era (330-1453 AD) the work of T belonged, to varying degrees, to the linguistic and conceptual models: this is reflected in the number of copies of the work. Nevertheless the admiration was mixed with criticism: what Dionysius of Halicarnassus had started was continued in the middle Byzantine period by Photius (reproaching T for lack of clarity), Psellus (who found T too verbose), and culminating in John Tzetzes (“distorted and twisted sentences”): in that period we also do not find imitatio of T. This imitatio of classical literature, detectable in early Byzantine authors like Priscus, Procopius, and Critobulus (admittedly somewhat later) restarted only in Paleologean times: it should be stressed that the “imitation” prompted a distinctive Byzantine literary style with its own merits and qualities and was by no means “slavish”.

In chapter 31 (pp. 779-810) Pade describes ‘Thucydides’ Renaissance Readers’. T did not conform straightforwardly to Renaissance ideas about historiography, being less digestible than, e.g., Plutarch or Xenophon. Moreover, he was mainly studied (in Western Europe) in Latin, and starting from Roman remarks on T. The earliest evidence of direct knowledge of T is a translation of speeches into Aragonese in the late fourteenth century, but this work remained almost completely unknown. The early fifteenth century witnessed the start of proper Greek studies in Italy. Lorenzo Valla produced the first Latin translation of T, a book that, when it appeared in print, reached a wide audience, even if it went through several revisions and incurred in some harsh criticism. In Venice there appeared the first print of the Greek text of T (1502); simultaneously T’s readership migrated throughout W Europe, notably Germany. In Germany Melanchton and his students spread their contributions to Thucydidean scholarship, while Della Casa did so in Italy, all with a focus on the speeches. Another step forward were Estienne’s editions of 1564 and 1588; he, too, had a special interest in the speeches in both T and other classical authors. Others who contributed to the spread of T’s work were Francesco and Emilio Porto, Enenkel, and Paolino.

The last, 32nd, chapter (pp. 811-837) is by Murari Pires: ‘Thucydidean Modernities: History between Science and Art’. Between the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries T came to be regarded as an exemplary, indeed modern and scientific, historian. In that context others tried to emulate his work, inter alios Niebuhr (the critical philological method), Ranke (the presentation of the events exactly as they came to pass), E. Meyer (in the speeches T took a step back and made the reader the judge), Macauley (T greatest in the genre of historiography), and Arnold (ancient history in general, and T’s work in particular offers “a living picture of things present, fitted not so much for the curiosity of the scholar, as for the instruction of the statesman and the citizen”: p. 828). With Cornford’s interpretation of T’s work the discussion started whether T should not be transferred from the scientific to the artistic, dramatic, domain: from 1950 onwards this question has been answered differently by, e.g., De Romilly, Stahl, Parry, Connor, Lang, Hunter, and Crane.

In a smaller font we find a truly massive bibliography (pp. 839-882), an ‘Index of names and selected technical terms’ (pp. 883-903), an ‘Index of selected Greek (and transliterated) terms’ (pp. 904-911), an ‘Index locorum 1 (= τ (pp. 912-934), and an ‘Index locorum 2 (other authors)’ (pp. 935-947) close this ‘Companion’.

As the abstracts may show, the different chapters comprising a part display a certain amount of cohesion, and the parts are arranged in a logical order. This book certainly does provide new and challenging answers to many of the old and new questions T still always provokes, though I found the last chapter — where new paths could be highlighted — a bit disappointing. It would be presumptuous to claim that a book like this would answer all questions forever. Luckily the editors do not make such a claim: “The present volume aims to give an idea of current developments in Thucydidean studies. It does not attempt to sweep away old controversies or to impose one particular approach at the expense of others” (p. xviii). In that respect this volume is generally undoubtedly successful and the editors do deserve hearty compliments for their effort.

By virtue of the editors’ choices, the book under review has become a book for many students of T’s work: for students on all levels, undergraduates to postgraduates, there is (new) information to be found. It makes this volume a welcome asset for each (classical) library and can be wholeheartedly be recommended. Unfortunately libraries will, with few exceptions, also be the only ones that can afford such a book. To be sure, publishing this sort of book is a risky affair: there are for most of us many other opportunities to spend €249.00/$336.00 to our advantage. It is as it is, but I find the high prices frequently charged for books over the last decade or so an increasing obstacle in our efforts to diffuse knowledge.

Regrettably the book contains some inaccuracies: strikingly, in a Brill publication, Leipzig, not Leiden is given as the place of publication of the latter volumes of Jacoby’s Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (p. xv); another real error is the dating of Lucian to the second century BC instead of second century AD (p. 752). The number of typos is nevertheless, as might be expected for a book of this price class, limited but they are (of course?) not wholly absent. Annoying are the different titles given by the various contributors to T’s work (‘The Peloponnesian War’, ‘History’, ‘Histories’, ‘The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians’, and ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’ occur): the editors should have insisted on uniformity in at least this point. The same may, more or less, be stated for the style of the contributions: some are very succinct, almost sketchy (like Wiesehöfer’s), while others are quite (almost too) verbose. Though personal style should be respected, it might have been a true tribute to T if the editors had demanded of the authors some of T’s terseness.


1. H. L. Herter, Thukydides. Wege der Forschung, vol. 98. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1968. Though it was the last more or less comprehensive review of Thucydidean studies and therefore likely to be a good starting point for new research, it is oddly missing in the bibliography of the volume under review (some of its papers are, however, included).