THUCYDIDES: SUBJECT AND METHODS
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THUCYDIDES: SUBJECT AND METHODS book
Subject and methods Thucydides was born some twenty-five yeats after Herodotus, in the early 450s BC. Yet the works of the two men are so different from one another, to say nothing of background and temperament, that many generations seem to separate them, not one. No doubt the chief reason for the difference are those twenty-five years, for in that short time profound changes swept over the Greek world. The Halicarnassus where Herodotus was born ca. 484 BC was a small city on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea subject to Persia and ruled by a single family that served at Persia’s pleasure. The Athens into which Thucydides was born nearly a generation later had become the head of a great maritime empire: what had begun as a voluntary league of equals formed immediately after Xerxes’ defeat to drive Persia from her Greek holdings in Ionia had been gradually transformed into an Athenian empire whose members paid tribute to the dominant city and, if they attempted to quit the alliance, were forced to rejoin it. Halicarnassus became a small part of that empire, which dominated almost the whole of the Aegean Sea and its littoral: some two hundred states were members.