Commentary on Thucydides: Book 1

Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 1


THOUGH we have several ancient biographies of Thucydides,1 our trustworthy knowledge of the circumstances of his life rests almost exclusively on a few notices casually imparted by himself. Everything else that we are told of him either by his biographers or in the occasional remarks of other writers has the character of uncertain conjecture based upon fragmentary tradition.2 The more we examine these scanty testimonies, the stronger becomes the impression that Thucydides seldom appeared in person in public life, and that except in a few instances he withdrew from the gaze of the world. We may infer, therefore, that the rhetorical exaggerations of the later biographies have very slight value for us; and only a few definite statements, which present themselves here and there, appear to be derived from trustworthy sources. In the following survey of his life, therefore, we must take as the basis of the narrative only the circumstances reported by himself, and endeavour to combine them into a whole with a cautious use of material coming from other quarters.

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