The 9th Annual Platsis Symposium on the Greek Legacy: “Why Teach Thucydides?”

- The symposium addressed ways in which Thucydides matters in liberal arts education today. It featured two distinguished scholars of Thucydides who have also played significant public roles: W. Robert. Connor, who besides his scholarly work on Thucydides and other Greek historians has been director of the National Humanities Center and president of the Teagle Foundation, and Clifford Orwin, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Toronto, who has written The Humanity of Thucydides and is a regular contributor to Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. We also had some local respondents (Prof. Sara Forsdyke and Prof. Arlene Saxonhouse), and many first-year students from Classical Civilization 101 and Great Books 191 were present to ask the questions older people often avoid. This year's symposium was also selected to honor Professor H. Don Cameron's dedicated years of teaching Thucydides and his retirement.

The Peloponnesian War, Part II

- In this lecture, Professor Kagan focuses on the causes of the Peloponnesian War and the possible motivations for Thucydides' book, The History of the Peloponnesian War. Concerning the first point, Professor Kagan parts ways with Thucydides and argues that the war was not inevitable and that the Athenians under Pericles followed a policy of deterrence, which was aimed at peace. Similarly, he points out that there were a number of Spartans who did not want war as well. Therefore, according to this line of reasoning, war broke out due to a number of factors that were avoidable. Concerning the second point, Professor Kagan argues that Thucydides was a revisionist historian. In other words, Thucydides was writing not as a disinterested historian, but as a historian with a point to make, namely, that the war was inevitable and that Athens was only a democracy in name under Pericles. Finally, Professor Kagan acknowledges that his two points are debatable.

The Peloponnesian War, Part I

- In this lecture, Professor Kagan describes the events that lead up the Peloponnesian War. He argues that the rise of Athenian power and the concomitant challenge to Spartan dominance pointed to potential conflict. However, Professor Kagan also points out that there were many people who did not want war and that therefore war was not inevitable. The Thirty Years Peace was negotiated, and Professor Kagan finally argues that its clause for arbitration was the key clause that could have prevented war.