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Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War Paperback – November 7, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0415165525 ISBN-10: 0415165520

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (November 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415165520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415165525
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,026,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Cawkwell is an important historian ... [this book] is typical of his style, his scholarship and his humanity, and ought to be read.
–Hugh Bowden, University of London

About the Author

George Cawkwell arrived in Oxford in 1946 as a New Zealand Rhodes Scholar and, like the lotus-eaters, "forgot the way home". In 1949 he became a Fellow of University College, Oxford where he tutored in Ancient History until 1995. He is the author of Philip of Macedon (1978) and many articles in learned journals on the history of Greece from the eighth to the fourth century BC.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Ancient Simplicity on June 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cawkwell has summed up a lifetime of teaching and thinking about Thucydides in this concise book. In it he grapples with many of the most contested issues in Thucydides studies.

For Cawkwell one of the keys to understanding Thucydides is realizing how he judges statesmen. Thucydides admired Pericles, Themistocles, Brasidas and others not for their particular purposes, but for their skill in judging what best served their purposes. As Cawkwell writes, "Essentially, Thucydides was concerned with power. The moral was to use it wisely or lose it woefully." Thus the speeches in Thucydides' history show how wisely or unwisely the speakers serve their interests.

Chapter two takes up the fractious debate on the causes of the war. Was Sparta the chief culprit or should primary responsibility be lain at the door of Pericles' reckless brinkmanship. Or perhaps Thucydides was right in his view that the growth of Athenian power compelled the Spartians to war, in this case the war seems inevitiable.

Given the paltry amount of evidence we have, the case for each of these views can be argued. The story as Cawkwell tells it: by 433 the consensus in Sparta was that Athens had to be stopped, otherwise Sparta would lose her status. Combined with this view was the Spartian conviction, at least among those who thought like Stenelaidas, that Athens could be easily defeated with a quick march to Attica where the Athenians would come out and fight a hoplight battle. This was a gross miscalculation about what was the Periclean defensive strategy. Of course, Pericles' strategy had its share of miscalculation particularly about how determined Sparta was and how long they would persist.
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