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Thucydides - good translation

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Thucydides - good translation

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:42 pm

I've decided to take a decisive step in my life. I'm going to start reading Thucydides with the objective of finishing it. I've just cut open the pages about halfway in my copy of Alberti vol 1 (unfortunately, I've been unable to get a hold of the hardback version) and I'm ready. I've already received some advice on which commentaries to use (see posts here), but I'm asking for advice as to which English translations are recommended. For French, I suppose de Romilly is the obvious choice.

Thanks!
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby jeidsath » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:44 pm

If you want to post your reading plans to a thread, I'll do my best to keep up.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:01 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:I've just cut open the pages about halfway in my copy of Alberti vol 1

By the way, this is the right way to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU7lqM6NfQo.

Don't use a knife! Last time I cut the pages open with a knife (a Budé edition of Aristophanes) and they look pretty ugly now.

I have two copies of the first volume of Alberti, and by a strange coincidence, both had their pages uncut! How come no one ever read those books??! :lol: (I bought a second copy because the seller (via Abebooks) erroneously listed it as hardback. They only returned half my money.)
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby RandyGibbons » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:36 pm

Paul, I recently made my esteem for Thucydides clear, so you know you have my best wishes for a rewarding journey! I greatly look forward to hearing your trip reports.

Undoubtedly you know that there is a famous English translation by Thomas Hobbes (available, I see, on Perseus inter alia loca). For your day-to-day efforts, probably you want a modern translation working off a modern edition of the original, but along the way you may want to sample Hobbes' English literature classic.

Would you mind elaborating a bit on your choice of Alberti for the original text? (Since I need to buy something for meeting my own goal of reading the account of the Athenian plague.)

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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby mwh » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:42 pm

Paul, I’m not sure why you want an English translation when you have the Budé’s, but if you do, how about our own John W.’s, if that’s available? For a reasonably literal and/but accurate translation there’s Steve Lattimore’s. I used to like Crawley’s, and probably still would—I remember it as being admirably literate—but it doesn’t map on to the Greek very easily. I recommend Lattimore. I think you’d find that the most helpful.

For ordinary reading of the Greek I have to say I like the OCT, perhaps only because it’s what I’m used to. Alberti’s text is not all that different (much less different than texts of Homer, say, though undeniably better), and nor is de Romilly’s. It’s mainly a matter of how it looks on the page. I seem to remember you’re fussy about that.

For cutting pages I usually use a knife, quicker than an index card and no worse. The alternative is to have the book unbound and cut and rebound. (Prometheus, close your ears.) The advantage of cutting the pages yourself is that you can see how much you’ve read, or at any rate how much you’ve prepared to read. But it’s a real pain.

Randy, Alberti’s is the best text, based on exhaustive investigation of the manuscript tradition and on pretty good judgment.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:31 am

I read through Thucydides a couple of years ago using this recent English translation by Jeremy Mynott:

http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/politics-international-relations/texts-political-thought/thucydides-war-peloponnesians-and-athenians?format=PB#UJRvfr61Vg3bTJWA.97

It is a very careful translation, with maps and good notes (including notes on variant readings). The translator attempts to consistently use the same English words for key Greek words, and I found the translation "maps" well onto the Greek--useful as an aid to understanding the Greek (and, boy, did I need help).

Here is a review:

http://ancienthistorybulletin.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/AHBReviews201328.LateinerOnMynott.pdf

I have Alberti's edition, but in the end I fell back on the OCT for two wholly illegitimate reasons: (1) the format of the OCT is smaller and it's more comfortable to use, particularly when reading in bed; and (2) the Alberti edition is too handsome to mess up by reading. If you look at the list of papyri in the third volume of Alberti, you'll see a familiar name repeatedly.

Be forewarned, however. This is one of the saddest books I've ever read.
Last edited by Hylander on Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby RandyGibbons » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:02 am

This is one of the saddest books I've ever read.

I'll bite! Please elaborate.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:50 pm

Thucydides is a long narrative of "ignorant armies clashing by night".

. . . the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43588/dover-beach?gclid=CjwKCAiA78XTBRBiEiwAGv7EKnDCFsYQW1KmwxpDQ0YBAZ1p9qI5SniCDijTOZB-nx3d3fOS6tHXSBoCavoQAvD_BwE

A long story of people killing one another, cynically justifying their cruelties in pursuit of power, making gross, stupid and fatal miscalculations, in a world devoid of justice. It's a long, drawn out tragedy without any redeeming or uplifting catharsis. If you are not already an extreme pessimist, you will lose all illusions about the inherent goodness of human beings and the possibility of influencing the course of events for the better after you read this book. You will be sadder but you will be wiser.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby RandyGibbons » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:27 pm

Which view takes me back to Hobbes's translation ...
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:02 pm

The reason why I want another translation beside de Romilly's Budé (which I don't have but I can get) is that I like to have a couple different translations when I read a text, especially when it's as difficult as Thucydides. It's especially helpful to have translations into different languages, as they tend to map on the Greek differently; what's more, different translations into a single language tend to have the same choices in difficult places, because they tend copy each other and use the same secondary literature - so you have situations where e.g. translations into French render a passage as X and translations into English as Y.

It would be great actually to have John W.'s translation, but I don't know whether it's available and I can't know for sure since I don't know his full name.

Apparently Crawley is old, from the 19th century, but the Landmark edition seems to be a revised version of it. Thomas Hobbes would certainly be too old and quaint to me; I'm going to struggle with the Greek, I don't want to struggle with the English as well!

According to the BMCR review, Lattimore is quite literal and more "demanding" than other translations, but perhaps that would make it a good crib?

How does Mynott compare with the Landmark approach, Hylander? Are there maps and such? Are the notes still useful if I have a commentary on the Greek text at hand?

Does anyone know the Oxford World Classics version by Martin Hammond? I have his Odyssey, which is a a good literal albeit in my opinion slightly dull rendition. All Oxford World Classics I've read are very high quality.

The reason I chose Alberti is that people here have told us that it's the best text. Besides, the font and layout is very beautiful. But the Budé has the advantage of having the Greek text and a translation in the same book.

I'll report my progress while I go, and hopefully you can help me along the way. I have no specific plan except that I suspect that I'll progress rather slowly.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:15 pm

How does Mynott compare with the Landmark approach, Hylander? Are there maps and such? Are the notes still useful if I have a commentary on the Greek text at hand?


I haven't worked my way through Landmark (which is essentially Crawley), as I have to some extent through Mynott, but from what I've seen, Mynott hews much more closely to the Greek, very scrupulously. Mynott provides good maps and notes, but not as many as Landmark, which has lots and lots of maps. If you have a commentary, I think Mynott's maps and notes would be sufficient. Landmark's notes are geared to readers who don't know Greek at all, while Mynott's notes are helpful to, if not necessarily aimed exclusively at, readers who know at least some Greek, in explaining ambiguities and difficulties in the Greek, as well as discussing some textual issues. Landmark has a number of helpful essays on various aspects of Greek institutions.

Does anyone know the Oxford World Classics version by Martin Hammond? I have his Odyssey, which is a a good literal albeit in my opinion slightly dull rendition. All Oxford World Classics I've read are very high quality.


I don't know this either, but I have to agree that the Oxford World Classics series, from what I've seen, maintains a very high quality. For Thucydides -- for your purposes, as an aid to reading the Greek -- I think you would want a more literal, even if slightly dull, rendition.

Apparently the OWC edition has notes by Rhodes, a prominent historian of ancient Greek, who has produced very good editions of much of Thucydides in the Aris & Phillips series, with English translation.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Timothée » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:27 pm

I have to admit something. This is emphatically only I, but I have great difficulties in using translations, which results to my own detriment, no doubt. I do check translations of ancient literature every now and then, but for some reason whenever I consult them, I always feel very filthy afterwards. I feel I have cheated, let myself down. That I should be able to go through this without cheating. And I fear I will be found out. Of course the counter-argument is that it is in the same way actually also cheating to consult dictionaries and grammars. The mind is full of cognitive dissonance.

Therefore I would probably only allow myself to use nothing but dictionaries, grammars, monographs, and commentaries (and possibly articles) even with Thucydides. That no matter how big a difficulty and how long ever it takes, I have to get to the meaning by my own effort, unaided. That would no doubt result in failure. I don’t write this to say Paul cannot use translations, as he definitely can and quite probably should. I suppose I write this for my own psychoanalysis...
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:18 pm

I think use of translations is not necessarily bad. It depends on your level of attainment and the difficulty of the text. In this case, Paul intends to read the whole of Thucydides, and Thucydides is a very difficult author: even the ancient Greeks had trouble with him, as Dionysus of Halicarnassus attests. I think it would not be efficient never to resort to a good translation on encountering a difficulty, after having tried to solve the issue. I resorted to Mynott's translation when I read Thucydides -- frequently. Personally, I would never have managed to get through Thucydides if I had spent hours and hours pondering each conundrum.

With less difficult authors, where difficulties occur less frequently, maybe it would be better avoid translations as an aid as much as possible.

And for readers tackling real Greek without extensive experience, translations can be helpful to check one's own understanding of the text, in addition to solving problems.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:51 pm

My personal feelings on the use of translations are very similar to Timothée's, but using them after having worked through all the possibilities in the text as a reality check can be very useful. One's Greek should also get to the point where using a translation does not adversely affect the learning process, but aids it.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby John W. » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:17 pm

With thanks to those who have enquired, my translation of Thucydides has been completed, but is currently languishing until I decide what to do with it (probably some form of print on demand). I'm sorry not to have expedited its appearance, especially since (as it follow's Alberti's text, and is fairly literal) it might have been of some use in this context.

Lattimore's version is good, but be careful - early printings contained a significant number of inadvertent omissions (mostly minor, though somewhat longer in one instance). I understand that at least some of these were rectified in later printings.

Good luck to Paul, and anyone else tackling Thucydides - a very demanding, but immensely rewarding, exercise - and thanks to all who discussed Thucydidean problems with me during my work on my translation.

Best wishes,
John
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:53 pm

Hylander wrote:I think use of translations is not necessarily bad. It depends on your level of attainment and the difficulty of the text.


Translations function as commentaries. If you use one you might as well use both. Commentaries of the technical sort require the reader to adopt the point of view (framework) from which the commentary was written. This is a major hurdle to get over. Translations are less demanding.

If you want to cut something out, abandon the lexicon[1]. With the commentaries and translations the ancient lexicon serves only one purpose, it's a concordance, that's why I still use it. It's somewhat more convenient than searching TLG which I do a lot.

[1] I didn't come up with this idea. A veteran professional translator suggested it. It didn't make sense to me at the time but now it does. If you can instantly find every place a word is used and read it in context, the glosses in the lexicon can be relegated to the status of interesting suggestions, and then you ignore them.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Markos » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:08 am

Hylander wrote:Thucydides is a long narrative of "ignorant armies clashing by night".

. . . the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

...If you are not already an extreme pessimist, you will lose all illusions about the inherent goodness of human beings and the possibility of influencing the course of events for the better after you read this book. You will be sadder but you will be wiser.

RandyGibbons wrote:Which view takes me back to Hobbes's translation ...

For those of you in Rio Linda:
Hobbes wrote:...and the life of man...nasty, brutish and short.

Woody Allen wrote:--Boy, the food in this place is really terrible.
--Yeah, I know. And such small portions.

κακὸς μὲν ὁ τῶν ἀνθρώπων βίος, βραδὺς δέ.
Mathew Arnold wrote:Where ignorant armies clash by night.

ἀνθρώπων πολεμούντων, ἡ νὺξ στρατηγός ἐστιν.
οὐ μανθάνω γράφειν, ἀλλὰ γράφω τοῦ μαθεῖν.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:59 am

Hylander wrote:Thucydides is a long narrative of "ignorant armies clashing by night".

. . . the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


It amazes me that Matthew Arnold wrote this in the mid 19th century. As someone who grew up reading post-apocalyptic novels of the late 50s, seeing the movie On the Beach when I was in sixth grade, living at ground zero in Seattle, certainly don't need to be told about the futility of war. I discovered Ferlinghetti in 1959. It took me four decades to discover the line in Dover Beach, alluded to in Ferlinghetti's Autobiography, 1958.

I have seen the ignorant armies
on the beach at Dover.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, excerpts from Autobiography, Jam Session, Ralph Gleason, 1958.


I haven't read much literary criticism regarding Thucydides, is Dover Beach a fair reflection of his attitude?
In this paper I argue that he presents his war as an extreme manifestation of a specific pattern of catastrophe with a lengthy literary pedigree, and that it is this pattern, often portending the total collapse of the society, that his work readies the reader to recognize.

Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War as Multifaceted Disaster
Rachel Bruzzone, Bilkent University


I found this article while searching for a discussion the apocalyptic cataclysms describe in TH 1.23.3. I was specifically looking for an explanation of the language that refers to stories passed down which were unreliably attested[1]. Rachel Bruzzone has an interesting take on this. Wasn't able the link the site but a search for the quote from her paper should get you there.

[1]
τά τε
πρότερον ἀκοῇ μὲν λεγόμενα, ἔργῳ δὲ σπανιώτερον βεβαιού-
μενα οὐκ ἄπιστα κατέστη
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:05 pm

"Apocalyptic cataclysm" is not how I would describe Thucydides' narrative of the Peloponnesian War, and I'm not sure that it aptly describes the final metaphor in Dover Beach, which is a metaphor for all human life and activity in a world that is devoid of meaning, not a breakdown of society. Thucydides' story is simply one of people senselessly and stupidly killing one another and getting killed. Sparta and, even in defeat, Athens remained cohesive political entities (although in some cases there was a breakdown of society--the Corcyrean stasis being the foremost example). For me Matthew Arnold 's metaphor captures the sense I had after reading Thucydides through to the end.

Thucydides' text ends mid-sentence. The last book is very different from the previous books. There are no speeches; there is simply a flat narrative of who did what and to whom, more like Xenophon's History (which continues where Th. left off), as if Thucydides was overwhelmed with sadness and had simply given up trying to make sense of events out of exhaustion and despair.

Matthew Arnold was of course steeped in the Greek and Roman Classics. Earlier in the poem he mentions Sophocles ("Sophocles long ago/Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought/Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow/Of human misery"), and he wrote a famous essay on Homer. He was, after all, the son of Bradley's Arnold. He wrote Dover Beach on his honeymoon and addressed it to his wife ("Ah, love, let us be true/To one another!"). Some honeymoon.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 02, 2018 5:38 pm

Hylander - I read your post with much interest. A few stray comments:

(1) The Arnold in 'Bradley's Arnold' was Thomas Kerchever Arnold (1800-53), whereas Matthew Arnold's father was Dr Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), best remembered nowadays (if at all) as the Headmaster of Rugby in Tom Brown's Schooldays, but also an editor of Thucydides (with notes concentrating mainly on historical and topographical issues).

(2) While it is true that there are no speeches in Book 8 (as in Book 5), there are quite a few reports of them in indirect discourse: was this a new technique Thucydides was trying out (for whatever reason) in this phase of his work?

(3) Much of the fighting, and the constant making and breaking of treaties, must certainly seem futile to us; yet as well as reporting all this, Thucydides can also be regarded as using it as the basis for advocating a more rational approach to political decision-making, which recognises the unpredictability of the future, and the fact that those resorting to war frequently find that it grows beyond their control, with disastrous results. The ability of human beings to learn from Thucydides' lessons is, of course, very much an open question, but I did not come away from my own reading of Thucydides with quite the same sense of bleakness as you.

Best wishes,
John
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:47 pm

Perhaps Thucydides became uncomfortable with making up speeches by the time he reached Book 8. The speeches in prior books serve the function of bringing the reader into the midst of events, presenting the issues as they would have appeared to the participants -- in Thucydides' own view. However, they are not authentic and maybe this troubled Thucydides, as it does many readers.

All ancient historians that I'm aware of made up speeches, and this is partly because ancient readers, whose education included a large component of rhetoric, enjoyed reading them. But the contrived speeches are a feature that make many modern readers queasy.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:55 pm

As for rational decision-making, Thucydides is critical of some decisions -- the decision to recall Alcibiades from the Sicilian expedition (he might have turned it into a success), Kleon generally (despite his astonishing success at Sphacteria), the decision of the Melians not to yield in the face of Athens' superior might (Th. seems to think it's their own fault they were slaughtered by the Athenians when, as a small island-polis, they tried to preserve their neutrality), as examples -- and certainly the failure of many parties to take into account the role of chance in the course of events. But I don't see a sustained argument in favor of rational decision making, and for me at least the only principle that emerges from the whole narrative is the grimly realistic principle that might makes right. An eye-opener for those who don't already see that.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:59 pm

In view of the discussions above, I'm attaching a link to a review of a recent book on Book VIII:

http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2018/2018-02-12.html

The author of the book apparently fits the narratives of Book VIII into the narrative patterns of the previous books and argues that the absence of speeches is a deliberate choice to avoid interrupting the momentum of the narration.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby mwh » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:18 pm

Perhaps Thucydides became uncomfortable with making up speeches by the time he reached Book 8. The speeches in prior books serve the function of bringing the reader into the midst of events, presenting the issues as they would have appeared to the participants -- in Thucydides' own view. However, they are not authentic and maybe this troubled Thucydides, as it does many readers.

But how likely is it that after writing so many scrolls, replete with speeches (“bk.5” apart), Thucydides suddenly became troubled by the thought that the speeches were “not authentic” and gave up the practice on that account? There’s no indication that either he or anyone else had anything against “made-up” speeches, or that he took it into his head to abruptly and belatedly disavow the policy he’d explained (however unsatisfactorily, from our point of view) at the outset of his work. The idea might—might—be defensible if bk.8 were complete, but since it’s patently not …

And the fact that it was left unfinished necessarily compromises the thesis of the new book you mention, and many others. I know it’s a bit old-fashioned of me, but I’d rather take it as a clue to Thuc’s compositional practice. In over-simple terms: narrative first, speeches subsequent.

On another point, I’m not so sure that Thuc means to blame the Melians for the Athenians’ slaughter of them. “Join us or we’ll wipe you out—and you’ll have only yourselves to blame.” Did Thucydides really agree with that view? And as for might making right, I don’t think Thuc believed that for a moment, any more than Plato did, or the tragedians, or Homer. The distinction between using the threat of force to make others do what you want them to do and the “rightness” of such behavior may be elided in modern politics, at least by nations in a position of power (the US above all), but not among the ancient Greeks, where το συμφερον is rarely conflated with το δικαιον. The Melian dialogue underlines the difference between the two.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby mwh » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:24 pm

I was expecting comeback, but since none came, I’ll push further. You say that by the last book it’s
as if Thucydides was overwhelmed with sadness and had simply given up trying to make sense of events out of exhaustion and despair.
This is an enticingly romantic explanation of its non-ending, very Florylike. But speeches or no speeches, bk.8 shows no loss of vitality. No, what actually happened is that in his eagerness to get to the end he broke the nib of his pen, went out to buy another and in his haste tripped over a curbstone and split his skull. His dying words were αλλ’ ω Ζευ ουπω το τελος! (A less credible account gives them as καλαμον ζητων ηυρον θανατον, riffing on Sophoclean anapests.) No, that’s too tragic. He simply had a heart attack before being able to complete and revise.
In short, there’s just no knowing why the text stops in midsentence. But that he was just too sad to carry on has no plausibility in my mind. I’ll settle for a heart attack, or the flu. Or loss of the final sheets.

Thucydides’ story is simply one of people senselessly and stupidly killing one another and getting killed.
But speechifying first. No difference at all between Thucydides and Homer, then, or any account of any war? Seriously, I think this is reductive. Thucydides is first and foremost a historian who saw potential value in exploring human nature and motivations for actions in war. I’m rather with John W. on this. He was also an Athenian general, who may not have thought his attempt to reclaim an Athenian colony for Athens was senseless and stupid.

On the vexed question of the “authenticity” of the speeches I have trouble thinking that Pericles did not actually utter κἄγω μεν αὑτος ειμι κοὐκ εξισταμαι (a self-contained iambic trimeter) in the speech reported at 2.61-64, and I take this as indicating at least some degree of authenticity in certain speeches.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:30 am

I was waiting to collect my thoughts to respond.

With regard to the Melian Dialogue, I think Thucydides was nothing if not a hard-headed realist about human behavior. "We're not talking about justice, we're talking about what is possible, and what is possible is what those who are on top do and what the weak yield to." Those are, more or less, the words he puts into the Athenian envoys' mouths, and I think that reflects Thucydides' own realism about war and politics, even if his views of what is just are wholly at odds with this. I feel that the matter-of-fact way he relates the outcome, with no rhetoric, just the slaughter and enslavement, conveys his view of the atrocious injustice of the Athenians' actions more powerfully than any more elaborate discussion of justice and injustice could.

When I wrote that "Thucydides’ story is simply one of people senselessly and stupidly killing one another and getting killed," I didn't mean to say that Thucydides isn't interested in exploring human nature and motivations. He certainly was interested in exploring human nature, as much as Homer and the tragedians were, and that's what in my view gives his narrative its enduring interest and relevance. And it forced me to think about many things in a different way (though it didn't fill me with optimism).

But the cumulative effect of his narrative of the war for me was profoundly depressing. I found nothing uplifting, unlike the Iliad and many grim tragedies.

And while Thucydides criticizes some decisions, I don't see the primary thrust of his history, as John W. does, as advocacy for rational decision-making, though I agree with John that he emphasizes that the failure to take chance into account in war often results in disaster.

On the vexed question of the “authenticity” of the speeches I have trouble thinking that Pericles did not actually utter κἄγω μεν αὑτος ειμι κοὐκ εξισταμαι (a self-contained iambic trimeter) in the speech reported at 2.61-64, and I take this as indicating at least some degree of authenticity in certain speeches.


Agreed.

But that he was just too sad to carry on has no plausibility in my mind. I’ll settle for a heart attack, or the flu. Or loss of the final sheets.


The story is that he was murdered on his way back to Athens after having been recalled from exile. So maybe that's the answer. Then again, maybe not.

I have to concede that my view of Book 8 is probably reflective of the way I felt as the narrative came to an end.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby mwh » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:22 am

Thanks Bill. I'm not going to argue. I think we're more or less on the same page.
And thanks to John for leading us through Thucydides' stupendous work!
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby jeidsath » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:39 pm

While I've been reading this thread, I've been reminded of the disappointment that I felt when I found out that William Manchester's (very hagiographic) biography of Winston Churchill would not be completed. His wife died and he suffered two strokes. He made some progress on the last volume before giving up.

''Language for me came as easily as breathing for 50 years, and I can't do it anymore,'' he said, seated on the couch in his den. ''The feeling is indescribable.''
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby RandyGibbons » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:03 pm

I've been reminded of the disappointment that I felt when I found out that William Manchester's (very hagiographic) biography of Winston Churchill would not be completed

I'm also reminded, in the non-literary realm, of Bach's unfinished The Art of the Fugue, and the many theories about it. I'll never forget the emotion I felt at Helmut Walcha's organ recording, terminating abruptly mid-sentence, so to speak.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:50 pm

αλλ’ ω Ζευ ουπω το τελος


How Wagnerian of him.

Wotan in die Walküre: Das eine nur will ich noch — das Ende.
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Re: Thucydides - good translation

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 16, 2018 6:06 pm

However, I should have added, in John W.'s defense, that Thucydides does insist in his opening chapters that his history will be useful to future generations engaged in warfare.
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