Sunday, December 02, 2007

Thucydides on ancient Greek politics

In my Ancient Civilizations class, I referred to the famous Funeral Oration of Pericles as "the one passage in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War that makes the Greeks look admirable." I was only 3/4 of the way through a rereading of the History when I said that, but I'm still looking for the second. More typical (though to my sensibilities more repellent than many others) is this incident from Book 8, chapter 41, page 560 of the Penguin translation:

On his voyage along the coast he landed at the Meropid Cos. The city was unfortified and had collapsed in an earthquake which was certainly the greatest one that can be remembered. He sacked the city, the inhabitants of which had fled to the mountains, over-ran the country, and made off with everything in it except the free men, whom he let go.

One could rant for hours about this passage. Even the Soviets would be ashamed to admit to this kind of behavior.

BTW, I have left the war criminal anonymous here; he's got enough publicity over the last 2 1/2 millenia. I have a similar policy for famous assassins.

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