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Restoring Thucydides: Testing Familiar Lessons and Deriving New Ones By Andrew R. No ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Restoring Thucydides:

Introduction

Thucydides Lost

“[H]ow little trouble most people take in their search for the truth—they happily resort to ready made opinions.”1

—Thucydides

“It was written four hundred years before Christ and it talks about how human nature is always the enemy of anything superior. Thucydides writes about how words in his time have changed from their ordinary meaning, how actions and opinions can be altered in the blink of an eye. It’s like nothing has changed from his time to mine.”

—Bob Dylan2

More than 2500 years after it was written, Thucydides’s book The History—his sole known work—is still read by academics, students, and policymakers looking for enduring lessons in everything from grand strategy to domestic politics and human nature. With almost incredible frequency, Thucydides is cited (accurately or not) by scholars and students, policymakers, and talking heads. His work is quoted in op-eds, Twitter feeds, and even the occasional screenplay. It has impressed philosophers, politicians, academics, and songwriters. His account of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE)3 has consistently been cited for its relative objectivity