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Thucydides: The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) Paperback – March 28, 2013
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"Altogether, this edition in a crowded field offers many unique annotations complementing its fresh and accurate translation."
Donald Lateiner, Ancient History Bulletin
"... an extremely useful edition for its re-situation of Thucydides in his own context, especially for the large numbers of readers of Thucydides in disciplines outside the classics. It is no small achievement to convey in modern English the literary qualities of this most political of ancient historians."
Liz Sawyer, Oxonian Review
"...a fine addition to the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought series ... its excellent footnotes will make it a worthy [addition] to any reading list."
Benjamin Earley, The Classical Review
Thucydides' classic work is a foundational text in the history of Western political thought. This new translation includes extensive reference material for non-specialists, including maps, glossaries, biographies, chronological charts, notes and an appendix of ancient sources in translation.
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Top Customer Reviews
As someone who read both versions, I recommend newcomers to Thucydides start with THIS version by Cambridge. It was translated by Jeremy Mynott and released in 2013, while the Landmark version was translated by Richard Crawley in 1874. Now, I love Victorian literature as much as the next guy, but Crawley’s phrasing is dense and at times impenetrable. Sentences drag on for line after line; single paragraphs span pages.
Here's an example from the famous “Melian Dialogue.” In this scene, Athenian emissaries confront representatives from the small island of Melos, insisting they join Athens as allies (and taxpayers) or suffer the consequences. The Melians resist these strong-arm tactics, declaring that justice is on their side, and that they will not abandon hope.
Landmark’s rendition of the Athenian response:
"Hope, danger’s comforter, may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources, if not without loss, at all events without ruin; but its nature is to be extravagant, and those who go so far as to stake their all upon the venture see it in its true colors only when they are ruined."
"Well, hope is certainly an encouragement in time of danger, and those who rely on hope when they have other resources may be damaged but are not destroyed by it. Hope, however, is prodigal by nature, and those who stake everything they have on it see the truth only at the moment of disaster."
As you can see, the Cambridge version is easier to read.
That said, the Cambridge version sometimes loses some of Landmark’s oratory power, as in this translation of one of Thucydides’s most famous lines (also from the Melian Dialogue):
“…the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” -- Landmark
“…the possibilities are defined by what the strong do and the weak accept.” -- Cambridge
It’s sad to lose out on lyricism, but the Cambridge version makes up for any losses with plain old readability. Besides, the Cambridge version still achieves plenty of drama, whether describing the final tragedy at Melos, the breakdown of civil order in Corcyra, or the complete destruction of the Athenian army in Sicily. Frankly, I would have zoned out through many riveting battles and speeches had I been trudging through the Landmark version.
A few other pros and cons:
The Cambridge editor and translator, Jeremy Mynott, helps out the reader with abundant footnotes. His asides are interesting and even funny (in a restrained, British way, of course). His maps are less numerous than Landmark’s, but do the job. The font is sharp enough for those who refuse to buy reading glasses. Landmark wins on cover design and paper texture, but who cares about cosmetics?
In the end, I have Dr. Mynott and Cambridge to thank for enriching my life with Thucydides’s history and insights. Spend a few hours in 400 B.C. with this Greek soldier, and the way you see the world will change forever.