Books that Changed Humanity is an initiative of the Humanities Research Centre, based at the Australian National University. The HRC invites experts to introduce and lead discussion of major texts from a variety of cultural traditions, all of which have informed the way we understand ourselves both individually and collectively as human beings.
Join us as Dr Peter Londey (School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics) introduces and discusses Thucydides' historical account of the ancient clash between Sparta and Athens, The History of the Peloponnesian War.
Thucydides wrote his incomplete history of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta while the war was in progress, in the late 5th century BC. He used to be labelled the first “scientific” historian, while in recent years international relations scholars have seen him as the “father” of Realism, but neither description does justice to his work. Even more than his predecessor Herodotos, Thucydides explored the complexities of historical explanation. An Athenian aristocrat, he was both a product of the intense intellectual milieu of 5th century Athens and an experienced military man, an Athenian general until he was exiled for losing a key town. His contemporaries apparently found his serious approach rather daunting, but nevertheless he became the historian with whom later writers compared themselves. Weaving together narrative history and political analysis with commentary on human nature and the effects of war, Thucydides created a work which has influenced western culture ever since.
All members of the public are welcome to come, listen, and share their thoughts about this great work of literature.