Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Thucydides, who is generally held to be the best of Greek historians, was born near Athens in or about 471 B.C., his family being connected with noble Thracian houses, and very wealthy. From Antiphon he learned oratory, and philosophy from Anaxagoras, and was a resident of Athens during the terrible plague of 430, being one of thhe few who escaped. He was, according to his own account, a divisional commander in the Peloponnesian War, and in 424 was appointed to a naval coommand. Evidently he was an unsuccessful soldier, and his failure in that capacity led to his being banished in 423. His exile. was due to his non-success in relieving Amphipolis when besieged by the Lacedaemonians, and lasted for twenty years, which he occupied in travelling about Greece, collecting materials for the work which has preserved his fame to our days - namely, his History of the Peloponnesian War, Which Alexandrine scholarship has divided into eight books. This work is one of the greatest monuments of antiquity; its narrative is written in a simple, direct, and impartial manner, describing the alleged causes of the war, and never forsaking the subject to dwell upon minor side-issues. He relates the most noteworthy events, like the Plague of Athens, in a masterly manner, and throughout the narrative are interspersed speeches by the principal characters, which, if not of their composition, are such as one might suppose them to deliver in like circumstances. An example of this is the splendid oration of Pericles over the ashes of the soldiers of Athens, which has been accepted as the finest of all Greek utterances by an orator. The involution and difficulty in the style of these is due to his following the rules of rhetoric taught by Gorgias (q.v.) rather than strict grammar, which, indeed, was not yet formulated. The history is arranged as a yearly chronicle of events, but stops short eight years before the proclamation of peace. The eighth book, dlffering somewhat in style from the rest, has been referred by some to another hand. His own exile ended in 403, and his death is supposed to have occurred from assassination in 401, probably in Thrace, where he had settled, and where he had large estates. His great history was first printed by Aldus in 1502 and since then it has often been printed and translated. The edition by Dr. Arnold (1830-35) is one of the best.