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This book addresses the question of how and why history begins with the work of Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian War is distinctive in that it is a prose narrative, meant to be read rather than performed. It focuses on the unfolding of contemporary great power politics to the exclusion of almost all other elements of human life, including the divine. Western history has been largely an extension of Thucydides' narrative in that it repeats the unique methodological assumptions and concerns that first appear in his text. The power of Thucydides' text has never been attributed either to the charm of its language or to the entertainment value of its narrative, or to some personal attribute of the author. In this study, Darien Shanske analyzes the difficult language and structure of Thucydides' History and argues that the text has drawn in so many readers into its distinctive world view precisely because of its kinship to the contemporary language and structure of Classical Tragedy. This kinship is not merely a matter of shared vocabulary or even aesthetic sensibility. Rather, it is grounded in a shared philosophical position, in particular on the polemical metaphysics of Heraclitus.Read more
- Unique perspective that is relevant for those interested in Thucydides as art historian, political scientist, and literary stylist
- Philosophically rigorous argument that entwines independent arguments about tragedy and language with the reading of Thucydides
- Original interpretations of passages in Thucydides, the word 'Deinon', Wittgenstein on seeing, and Heidegger on originary temporality
Reviews & endorsements
"Shanske's book grasps tenaciously at important questions and never lets them out of sight. The author demonstrates an encyclopedic grasp of the tradition and flashes of deep originality. Many useful insights are scattered throughout, and as I stated at the outset, Shanke's main line of questioning repays close attention: Shanke's has reopened the question of Thucydides' importance and status in the present."
-Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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- Date Published: October 2009
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521120760
- length: 284 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
- weight: 0.42kg
- availability: Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer
Table of Contents
1. Thucydides's text
2. The case of Pericles
3. Deinon, Logos, and the tragic question concerning the human
4. Thucydidean temporality
Appendix 1. Restoring key terms, 1.1–1.23
Appendix 2. Pretragic history of Deinon
Appendix 3. Wittgenstein on fly-bottles, aspect seeing and history
Appendix 4. Heidegger on world and originary temporality.
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