Pandemic Strikes Politics: On the Plague of Athens (Thucydidean Realism 4)

In the wake of the most recent pandemic, it’s important to realize that the political effects of plague have been known and discussed for a long time. Thucydides has something to say about the political effects of the fear and suffering that come from disease. This episode in the history of the Peloponnesian War gives us plenty to think about regarding the destabilizing effects of pandemics, the pressures on and opportunities for politicians, and the fickle nature of the people–they’ll bounce right back even from plague and recommit themselves to imperial domination and mayhem. … More Pandemic Strikes Politics: On the Plague of Athens (Thucydidean Realism 4)

Pericles’ Funeral Oration and State Worship: Thucydidean Realism (3)

At the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, Athenian leader Pericles took the helm as first general and leader. His first two speeches exhort the Athenians to stay strong in war and praise Athens in the context of a funeral for the first to die. In his funeral speech, Pericles almost forgets the dead soldiers in his love panegyric to Athenian glory. The implications are discussed from the point of view of the general problem of state worship. … More Pericles’ Funeral Oration and State Worship: Thucydidean Realism (3)

Who Started the War? Thucydidean Realism 2

This is always a hotly contested question, no matter the war. Thucydides teaches that the real cause was not the declaration of war by Sparta that officially started the Peloponnesian War, but the imbalance of power created by Athenian aggression over time relative to the Spartan reticence to act. Thucydides is teaching that wars are determined years in advance. It is the creation of the conditions of war that we need to look at to explain any given war. … More Who Started the War? Thucydidean Realism 2

Thucydidean Realism: The Emergence of Rivals (1)

in a series on the Ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, with an emphasis on using Thucydidean realism to understand events in International relations. Thucydides begins his work with an “archeology,” a history of ancient times. Through it, we begin to see his take on human nature and the dynamics of power. I begin with a brief discussion of Hans Morgenthau’s “old fashioned realism.” … More Thucydidean Realism: The Emergence of Rivals (1)