THUCYDIDES: SCIENCE AND TRAGEDY
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THUCYDIDES: SCIENCE AND TRAGEDY book
Science and tragedy Thucydides alone of the ancient historians has received the accolade “scientific” from the moderns. For some he has been the exemplar par excellence: his intellectual rigor, meticulous deployment of evidence and accuracy have seemed to many a model of what serious history should aim to be in all ages. Yet there have been some sharp dissenters. He was a literary artist, these critics reply, bent on shaping his material to achieve the effects of Greek tragedy: the reader becomes a spectator of the action and feels pity and fear as the drama unfolds. In short, his appeal was more to art than to science, more to emotion than to intellect. Still others have emphasized the element of chance and accident over and above the claims of intelligence and reason. Thus a great tug of war has been waged, and is still being waged, between utterly opposed interpretations: science versus art, intellect versus emotion, the predictable versus the accidental, the rational versus the irrational. It is the aim of this chapter to discuss the persuasiveness of these different views.