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Thucydides: The First Historian  

The History of the Peloponnesian War is still the greatest study of war and power politics in world literature. The class will examine six excerpts: Pericles' description of democratic Athens, Thucydides' eyewitness account of the plague, his analysis of the bloody Corcyrean Revolution, the public debate in Athens over the rebellious colony of Mytilene, the negotiations between Athens and the neutral island of Melos, and the narrative devoted to the Athenian invasion of Sicily. Relevance to today's world begins with the similarity of Sparta to the USSR and Athens to America. Thucydides offers cogent lessons on the limits of Realpolitik and the kind of tunnel vision that can produce a Vietnam War or the occupation of Iraq.

Suggested Reading Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War