Tuesday, February 03, 2015

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Thucydides

Last week BBC Radio 4's program "In Our Time" featured a great discussion of Thucydides, his writing, and his role as historian. I don't know how long this link will remain active so I recommend listening to it soon (although many of their previous episodes are available in their archives). If you're interested in reading Thucydides this program will be a great introduction, providing a solid framework for understanding his work. As someone who has already read the book, I found the discussion made me want to revisit it again soon. You've been warned.

Here is the program summary and a list of the participants:
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. In the fifth century BC Thucydides wrote The History of the Peloponnesian War, an account of a conflict in which he had himself taken part. This work is now seen as one of the first great masterpieces of history writing, a book which influenced writers for centuries afterwards. Thucydides was arguably the first historian to make a conscious attempt to be objective, bringing a rational and impartial approach to his scholarship. Today his work is still widely studied at military colleges and in the field of international relations for the insight it brings to bear on complex political situations.


Paul Cartledge
Emeritus Professor of Greek Culture and AG Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge

Katherine Harloe
Associate Professor in Classics and Intellectual History at the University of Reading

Neville Morley
Professor of Ancient History at the University of Bristol

Producer: Thomas Morris.

It's a lively discussion, hitting many of the points that make the history so interesting. My notes on the show are available here.

I liked the reading list provided on the program page:

Emily Greenwood, Thucydides and the Shaping of History (Bristol Classical Press, 2005)

Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War (Random House, 2006)

Katherine Harloe & Neville Morley (eds.), Thucydides and the Modern World: Reception, Reinterpretation and Influence from the Renaissance to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Geoffrey Hawthorn, Thucydides on Politics: Back to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Neville Morley, Thucydides and the Idea of History (IB Tauris, 2014)

Robin Osborne (ed.), Classical Greece: 500-323 BC (Oxford University Press, 2000)

Christopher Pelling and Maria Wyke, Twelve Voices from Greece and Rome: Ancient Ideas for Modern Times (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Plutarch (trans. Ian Scott-Kilvert), The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives (Penguin, 1973)

Philip de Souza, The Peloponnesian War 431-404 BC (Osprey Publishing, 2002)

Robert B. Strassler (ed.), The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War (Simon & Schuster, 1998)

Thucydides (trans. Martin Hammond), The Peloponnesian War (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Thucydides (trans. Jeremy Mynott), Thucydides: The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Thucydides (trans. Rex Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War (Penguin, 2000)


Jean said...

I have the Landmark Thucydides and an ambition to read it. So I guess I should give this a listen! Thanks. Thucydides makes me nervous.

Dwight said...

The Landmark edition is great, and the radio program is a *great* introduction on what to expect.

When you get ambitious enough to tackle the read, feel free to reference my posts on Thucydides.