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March 08 , 2010

Thucydides and Internal War


In this book Jonathan Price attempts to demonstrate that Thucydides consciously viewed and presented the Peloponnesian War in terms of a condition of civil strife - stasis, in Greek. Thucydides defines stasis as a set of symptoms indicating an internal disturbance in both individuals and states. This diagnostic method, in contrast to all other approaches in antiquity, allows an observer to identify stasis even when the combatants do not or cannot openly acknowledge the nature of their conflict. The words and actions which Thucydides chooses for his narrative meet his criteria for stasis: the speeches in the History represent the breakdown of language and communication characteristic of internal conflict, and the zeal for victory led to acts of unusual brutality and cruelty, and overall disregard for genuinely Hellenic customs, codes of morality and civic loyalty. Viewing the Peloponnesian War as a destructive internal war had profound consequences for Thucydides' historical vision.

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