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Ombres de Thucydide

 | 
Valérie Fromentin
, 
Sophie Gotteland
, 
Pascal Payen

Deuxième partie. Prégnance et valeur du témoignage thucydidéen

Revisiting the pentekontaetia

Alain Bresson

Texte intégral

1This text has been originally presented in French and has been translated into English with the help of S. Randall.

  • 2 For a presentation of the history of the Pentekontaetia, see Giovannini 1980 and Hornblower 1983, (...)

2The part of Thucydides’ work dealing with the “Pentekontaetia”, or the period stretching from the defeat of the Persian invasion of Greece in 479 to the beginning of hostilities between Athens and Sparta in 431, is one of those that have elicited the most commentaries. Herodotus’ Histories end with 479, and the Pentekontaetia (l. 89.1-1.118.1) fills the gap between 479 and 431. Of the ancient authors whose works have come down to us, only Diodorus Siculus (11.39-12-37) has provided a narrative of this period, though his account is very different. In fact, the Pentekontaetia is not a simple series of events. In these paragraphs, Thucydides undertakes to provide a synthetic exposition of the history of the expansion of Athens and the constitution of its empire2. But the account of the Pentekontaetia is ambivalent. Its demonstration is absorbing, but at the same time frustrating for the modern historian, who does not find in it the detailed account he seeks. Some scholars have been prompt to reproach Thucydides for being lax in the way he deals with information. How can we fail to note the lack of precision in chronology? As for omissions, how can we fail to be astonished, for example, at finding no allusion to the Peace of Callias, or at least to the end of the fighting between Greeks and Persians in 449?

3To answer these questions, we will begin by recalling that the Pentekontaetia is constructed on a bipolar opposition between Athens and Sparta that amply suffices to justify the “holes” in the sequence of events attributed to it, and that it finds a series of correspondences with the arguments the envoys of Sparta’s allies, Spartan leaders, and Athenian envoys presented at the assembly in Sparta. But in addition we will show that the way in which Thucydides presents the events of the Pentekontaetia masks the reality and dimensions of the conflicts in this period, and that it puts in question the version he gives us of the passivity of the Spartans, who are not supposed to have awakened until 432. Thus it seems that although the war that broke out in 432 and ended in 404 had an undeniable magnitude, saying that it was the most important war in the Greek world is a rhetorical construction intended to justify view regarding the unique character of this conflict that Thucydides sets forth at the very outset of his work.

  • 3 Unz 1986 for an overall presentation of the problems and a (moderate) challenge to the “orthodox c (...)
  • 4 Badian 1993, 73-107.
  • 5 Pritchett 1995, part. 163-171.
  • 6 Pace Green 2006, 150-151, who has at least to acknowledge that Diodorus compressed the last three (...)
  • 7 On the revolt in Egypt, Briant 2002, 573-577 and 973.
  • 8 On Diodorus’ sources, Green 2006, 35-37. Meiggs 1972, 447-458, draws up a lucid accounting of what (...)

4The Pentekontaetia has been the object of studies that contradict each other but have enabled our understanding to advance. Numerous studies have dealt with the question of the sequence of events3. On this point, even today, there are two opposing schools. The first, of which E. Badian is one of the most eminent recent representatives, maintains that Thucydides did not always observe a strict chronology4. The second school, led by W. K. Pritchett, adheres strictly to the order of events as they are set down by Thucydides5. The question of the date of the expedition to Egypt conducted by Athens and its allies in support of the revolt of the Egyptian prince Inarôs against Artaxerxes I constitutes one of the most serious points at issue between the two schools. Diodorus (11.71.3-6; 74.1-7.4; 77.1-5) explicitly situates this expedition between 463/462 and 460/459, whereas Thucydides implicitly situates it between 459 and 454. In this case, we are confronted by a simple choice: either Thucydides has made an enormous error on this point, or the error is Diodorus’. Of these two options, the second has to be adopted. Thucydides (1.108-109) expressly connects the operations in Egypt with those of the first “Peloponnesian War” between Athens and the Peloponnesians, including, for example, Artabazus’ attempt to bribe the Spartans to get them to invade Attica in order to weaken the Athenians, who were then involved in Egypt. Hence it is hard to see how his testimony could be reconciled with that of Diodorus.6 On the other hand, we can easily imagine how, in the absence of an explicit chronological reference point provided by his sources, and moreover on the basis of an inaccurate reading of Thucydides, Diodorus might have tried to make the Egyptian revolt (presented as immediately following the assassination of Xerxes and Artaxerxes’ accession to the throne) coincide with the beginning of the Athenian expedition to Egypt7. Besides, this does not mean that despite his numerous errors and confusions, we should completely reject the contribution made by Diodorus, who was obviously relying on sources that differ from those of Thucydides (Ephorus?) and that are no longer extant8. But using Diodorus to correct Thucydides remains a highly perilous enterprise.

  • 9 Walker 1957; Wick 1982; Stadter 1993.
  • 10 Tsakmakis 1995, 64-95.
  • 11 Kallet 1993, 2001, 2007.

5Beyond these chronological issues, the research done by P. K. Walker, T. E. Wick, and P. Stadter has made a crucial contribution to the analysis of the structure of the Pentekontaetia, and at the same time to the comprehension of the real meaning of the passage9. Tsakmakis has also shown what is at stake in the presentation of the relationship between Sparta and Athens in the Pentekontaetia10. Finally, L. Kallet has shown the importance that Thucydides accorded to economic and financial questions in his way of writing history11. My remarks will build upon these works.

6The role of the Pentekontaetia in the development of Thucydides’ narrative is remarkable. The work opens with a declaration of principle regarding the importance of the war (1.1), to which we shall return. It continues (1.2-19) in the form of what is usually called the archeology, that is, an account of the Greek past from its most distant origins (even before the Trojan War) down to the Persian wars. Then (1.20-23) come methodological considerations on the manner of apprehending history, with fresh comments on the importance of the war. Immediately afterward (1.24-1.87) begins the exposition of the immediate circumstances under which the Thirty Years’ Peace (which had been concluded in 446) was broken: the affair of Epidamnos and Corcyra and the increasing tensions between Corinth and Athens; opposing speeches given by the Corcyreans and the Corinthians before the Athenian assembly; and finally the congress of Sparta in 432 (1.67-88), during which it was decided to break the peace. After the speeches of the Athenians, the Corinthians, and then King Archidamos, that of the ephor Sthenelaïdas tipped the scales in favor of war (1.87).

7Then came the great relapse constituted by the Pentekontaetia, which was, as has long been seen, a justification of what was for Thucydides the true cause of the conflict. In fact, the fighting began immediately after the Spartan assembly’s decision to break the peace with Athens (1.87.6). According to Thucydides (1.88) the continual increase in Athens’ power was seen by the Spartans as a direct threat, and this made them decide to go to war. The Pentekontaetia justifies this claim. The thread of the narrative is picked up in 1.118.3, where this breaking of the peace is mentioned again. It is equally clear that the Pentekontaetia includes two main parts. The first (1.89.1-1.96.2) tells how the Athenians established their authority in the Aegean after their victory over Persia. Before moving on to the second part, Thucydides once again emphasizes the function of his digression (1.97). The second part (1.98.1-1.118.1) is devoted to the development of the Athenian archè. It opens with a famous account of the logic of empire and the way in which the allies had made themselves responsible for their own enslavement. It continues with a picture of the exceptional expansion of Athens in the period and the multiple battles it had to wage on several fronts, not only against Persia, since the end of the second Persian War had in no way put an end to the fighting, in any case on the Athenian side, but also against the Peloponnesians, since Athens had been at war with them since 459. This part closes (1.118.1-2) with the reaffirmation of what the continual increase of Athens’ power meant; for the Spartans, it had made war inevitable, an idea that had already been expressed at the beginning of the digression (1.88) and also earlier (1.23.6).

  • 12 On the notion of alèthestatè prophasis, “deep causes,” in comparison with aitiai, “grievances” all (...)

8The opposing speeches given before the Spartan assembly allowed Thucydides to set forth the arguments exchanged by the adversaries. But in his eyes, the true cause of the war was not to be found there. According to him, the alèthestatè prophasis (1.23.6), the true origin of the conflict, was not to be found even in the serious incidents between the Corinthians and the Athenians12. The cause was none other than the Spartans’ desire to put an end to Athenian expansion, because they feared that it would end up depriving them of the hegemony they had exercised over Greece up to that point: this argument is repeated three times, as we have already seen. Thus we are dealing with a narrative justifying Thucydides’ view that the true cause of the war had to do with Sparta’s desire to halt its rival’s rise in power. The theme of the Pentekontaetia is thus that since the second Persian War, Athens had de facto never ceased to increase its power, to the detriment of Sparta.

  • 13 The literature on the subject is immense. See in particular Meiggs 1972, 487-495, which provides a (...)
  • 14 On Pericles’ expedition and the Athenian presence in Pontus, cf. Surikov 2001 and Doonan 2003; Péb (...)
  • 15 Meiggs 1972, 444-446.

9We see immediately that this dissipates many misunderstandings: the Pentekontaetia in no way claims to be a complete account of the years between 479 and 432. There is therefore no reason to be surprised that some important episodes in the period are not mentioned. Thucydides deliberately selected certain events in relation to the objective he had set for himself in this part of the work. Thus we certainly cannot argue that because Thucydides does not mention the Peace of Callias it must have been unknown to him, and hence that it must have been an invention of the fourth century13. That would amount to saying that the second Athenian Confederation did not exist on the pretext that in his Hellenica Xenophon does not mention it even once–a far more serious omission because it is in no way justified by the structure of his account. Similarly, the omission of any mention of Pericles’ expedition to Pontus in 437 is not a reason to doubt that the latter took place, since it is known to us through Plutarch (Pericles, 20.1-2)14. Further on in the work, there are other flashbacks concerning precisely the period 479-431: on the Spartan side, the story of the plots and then the end of the regent Pausanias (1.128-134), a counterpart to which is provided by the account of the accusations brought against Themistocles, followed by that of his flight and exile (1.135-138). Similarly, it is only in 4.102.1-4 that we find the story of the foundation of Amphipolis, a city founded by the Athenians in 437 (thus during the Pentekontaetia) that was the pivot of their control over the mining district in Thrace: up to that point the foundation of the city had been mentioned only allusively (1.100.3) in connection with the first attempt at Athenian colonization on the site of Enneahodoi in 465. We should note that at 4.102.1-3, Thucydides provides dates for the two Athenian colonizing expeditions, the first occurring thirty-two years after the initial attempt made by Aristagoras of Miletus in 497, and the second twenty-nine years after the first. Thus there is no doubt that the chronological vagueness of the Pentekontaetia–which leaves uncertain a date as important as that of the battle of Eurymedon–is not an accident but a deliberate choice of rhetorical construction. Finally, R. Meiggs has suggested that the Pentekontaetia might have been added in a late phase of the writing of Thucydides’ work, when the defeat of Athens made it necessary to justify its former grandeur15. However, given the importance of the Pentekontaetia in the logic of the narrative of the outbreak of the war, this hypothesis is not convincing.

  • 16 But on this episode, see infra p. 395.

10The contrast between the dynamism of Athens and the passivity of Sparta is in fact central to the argument of the Pentekontaetia. According to Thucydides, it is easy to account for Spartan passivity. It is manifested by (1) an absence of reaction when, at Themistocles’ urging, the Athenians fortified their city after the second Persian War, whereas the Spartans did not want any fortifications to be built (1.89-92); (2) an inability to federate the energies of the Greeks of Asia Minor and the islands, abandoning de facto the leadership to Athens (1.94-95); (3) an inability to support the Thasians during their revolt, for at that time Sparta had to cope with the revolt of the Messenian helots after the earthquake of 464 (1.101); (4) a victory over the Athenians at Tanagra in Boeotia in 458/457 that was useless because the Athenians immediately afterward won the battle at Oinophyta, which guaranteed them control of Boeotia for ten years (1.101.1-3); (5) an inability to prevent the Athenians from taking Aegina in 456 (1.101.4); (6) an absence of reaction during the revolt and siege of Samos in 440 (1.115.2-117), an episode that nonetheless might have offered an ideal opportunity to open hostilities and attack the Athenian forces from the rear16.

11Thucydides argumentative scheme is impressive. There is no doubt that the Athenians constantly sought to enlarge their zone of domination and that they were a dynamic people par excellence. Similarly, there is no doubt that the Spartans long had no objective other than maintaining their own positions. But does that mean that we must assume that during this whole period the Spartans remained purely passive?

  • 17 On Thucydides’ reading and the recent challenge to a purely factual interpretation of his work, se (...)

12It is a priori tempting to determine what in the Thucydidean narrative might directly “correspond to reality,” in contrast to what is supposed to be “rhetorical construction.” In fact, we can envisage making hypotheses regarding “wie es eigentlich gewesen ist” only after having acknowledged, once and for all, that the work in its totality was a rhetorical construction17. In any case, it is remarkable that Thucydides interrupted the narrative that began with the archeology, and which closes with the brief account of the Persian Wars (1.118.1-2). If the logic had been that of chronology, this is where the account of the period from 479 to 433 or 432 should have been placed. But it isn’t. As we have seen, the narrative of the “fifty years,” based on the binary opposition between Athens and Sparta, begins only much further on (1.89.1), as a justification of the previously mentioned alèthestatè prophasis.

  • 18 R. Warner’s Penguin translation. Tῶν δὲ πρότερον ἔργων μέγιστον ἐπράχθη τὸ Μηδιϰόν, ϰαὶ τοῦτο ὅμως (...)
  • 19 On the rhetorical character of the allusion to these prodigious events, cf. Woodman 1988, 28 f., w (...)

13The treatment of the Pentekontaetia is in line with Thucydides’ surprising view of the Persian Wars. A few lines are devoted to the latter in 1.18. But in 1.23.1, the Persian Wars are mentioned in only one phrase: “The greatest war in the past was the Persian War; yet in this war the decision was reached quickly as a result of two naval battles and two battles on land”18. The importance of the Persian Wars is thus played down, since the latter are reduced to a brief episode involving four battles, after which the barbarians immediately left Greece. In contrast, the Peloponnesian War, which was much longer, far more destructive, and also more “prodigious” (earthquakes, eclipses, droughts, and famines–the specious character of the argument is worth emphasizing), is supposed for that reason to be much more important than the earlier war, as Thucydides stresses immediately afterward (1.23.2-3)19. Since we can imagine what Thucydides might have thought about this “sensational” way of writing history, we have to assume either that he allowed himself to be carried away by his own interpretive enthusiasm, or that, like a cunning lawyer pleading a case, he did not hesitate to use an argument which he himself would not find persuasive but which he knew might convince the large majority of his audience. The argument is thus utterly without value in Thucydides’ own logic, but it says a great deal about the importance he attached to convincing his reader that his thesis was true.

  • 20 Discussion apud Briant 2002, 526-527 (however, if this figure were to be understood as that of the (...)
  • 21 Briant 1996, ibid.; for Lazenby 1993, 227–228, these troops numbered 70,000; for Connolly 1998, 29 (...)
  • 22 Morpeth 2006, table p. 100 and commentary p. 111-113.

14Clearly, Thucydides goes too far: although the Peloponnesian War lasted far longer than the Persian Wars, which are traditionally limited to the two episodes of 490 and 480-479, the radical difference in the nature and form of these two conflicts should have forestalled any comparison of this kind. Although we cannot believe Herodotus’ figures regarding the size of the Persian host, we cannot doubt that the troops engaged in the crucial phases of the second Persian War were far more numerous than those involved in the greatest land or naval battles of the Peloponnesian War. It is well known that the figures given by Herodotus (7.184-187) for the troops in the Persian land army are too high (he arrives at a total of more than five million men for the whole of the expeditionary force). For the fleet, the figure of 1,207 triremes given by Aeschylus (Persians, 339-343) and by Herodotus (7.89 and 184) is often considered to be too high. However, even the lowest modern estimates suggest that Xerxes’ fleet consisted of at least 600 ships20. The battles of Salamis and Plataea suffice to give us an idea of the number of troops involved. For the Salamis campaign, Herodotus (8.48) gives the realistic figure of 378 ships for the whole of the Greek fleet (in fact 366 if we recalculate his total) and Aeschylus (Persians, 339) that of 310 specifically engaged in battle. But despite already considerable losses, the Persian fleet was still considerably superior in numbers. So far as the land army is concerned, we can estimate that whereas a large part of it had already left with Xerxes, at Plataea Mardonios alone had at least 60,000 men, and probably more21. As for the Peloponnesian War, at the beginning of the conflict Athens had more troops, both at sea and on land, than later. Athens had 300 triremes in 431 (Thc. 2.13.8). In 428, it put to sea simultaneously 250 triremes distributed over different fronts (3.17.1), without fighting any decisive battle22. At the battle of Delion in 424, the greatest land battle of the whole war, the two armies both had about 18,000 men (Thc. 4.93.3-94.1). This is far below the level of the troops involved in the great battles of the Persian Wars. No naval battle in the Peloponnesian War can be compared with that of Salamis, and no land battle with that of Plataea. As for the ravages caused by the whole of the conflict between the Greeks and the Persians between 499 and 479 (to limit ourselves to that period and the most active period in Aegean Greece), they were certainly far greater than all those that resulted from the Peloponnesian war, if we take into account the very significant damage suffered by the cities of Asia Minor and the islands close to Asia, and of course those that occurred in Greece itself in 480 and 479, Athens being the best example.

  • 23 On the relationship between Herodotus and Thucydides, cf. infra p. 397-398.

15Thus we have here a rhetorical effect on the part of Thucydides. In the implicit agôn that opposes him to Herodotus, “his” war has to be the most important of those that had been waged up to that point, whether it is a matter of the Trojan War or the Persian Wars.23 That is what he emphasizes at the very outset of his history (1.1.1-3) in a paragraph that constitutes the justification of his work:

  • 24 R. Warner’s Penguin translation. Θουϰυδίδης Ἀθηναῖος ξυνέγραψε τὸν πόλεμον τῶν Πελοποννησίων ϰαὶ Ἀ (...)

Thucydides the Athenian wrote the history of the war fought between Athens and Sparta, beginning the account at the very outbreak of the war, in the belief that it was going to be a great war and more worth writing about than any of those which had taken place in the past. My belief was based on the fact that the two sides were at the very height of their power and preparedness, and I saw, too, that the rest of the Hellenic world was committed to one side or the other; even those who were not immediately engaged were deliberating on the courses which they were to take later. This was the greatest disturbance in the history of the Hellenes, affecting also a large part of the non-Hellenic world, and indeed, I might almost say, the whole of mankind. For though I have found it impossible, because of its remoteness in time, to acquire a really precise knowledge of the distant past or even of the history preceding our own period, yet, after looking back into it as far as I can, all the evidence leads me to conclude that these periods were not great periods either in warfare or in anything else24.

  • 25 This point was made long ago. On Thucydides as a critic of Hellanikos, see in detail Smart 1986, S (...)
  • 26 Hanson 2005.

16We can only agree that the wars of the distant past, at a time when Greece was far less populated and developed, were “less important” (if we accept this purely “quantitative” criterion). But if we refer to the more recent past, immediately preceding the Peloponnesian War, the claim is not only not very credible but false. We have seen what we have to think about Thucydides’ treatment of the Persian Wars. But the treatment given the events of the Pentekontaetia is part of the same logic. Curiously (as was remarked long ago), whereas Thucydides (1.97.2) reproaches Hellanikos for his lack of precision regarding the events of the Pentekontaetia, especially in matters of chronology, it is the same kind of offhand judgment that one might make about his own treatment of the period25. We find almost no dates. Why present a simple slice of this period so rich in events and which, according to Thucydides himself, was of such great importance because it was a question of nothing less than demonstrating the origins of the conflict? Why such a unilateral treatment leading him not to mention an event as important as the Peace of Callias? In fact, we find ourselves here at the heart of the Thucydidean logical apparatus, or to put it another way, of his sophistry. He had to prove that “his” war was the most important of all–“a war like no other” as V. D. Hanson would say26. However, if we examine the events of the period 469-446, we can gauge the scope of the armed conflicts that took place during it.

  • 27 Harding 2008, 1008, ad Phanodemos, FrGrHist 325 F22. For Ephorus, FrGrHist 70 F192. Diodorus 11.60 (...)
  • 28 Shortly after the main battle, the Greek forces seized in addition eighty Phoenician triremes (Plu (...)
  • 29 Themistocles, de Ste. Croix 1972, 173-178; Pericles, Dewald 2006, 175.

17First of all, there is the continuation of the war against Persia, with operations on as great a scale as Eurymedon’s campaign and the fleet of two hundred ships assembled by Cimon (cf. Plutarch, Cimon, 12.2). This fleet won a memorable victory over the Persians, which Thucydides could not ignore (1.100.1). He gives the number of losses on the Persian side, namely two hundred triremes, but not the number of losses on the allied side. We cannot be certain that the figure transmitted by Plutarch is correct (and it might have been derived from the figure of two hundred triremes lost by the Persians). But neither is there any objective reason to reject it. In fact, the rest of the Plutarch’s Life of Cimon does not seem to contain flagrant untruths. In addition, to destroy the totality of the Persian army and to destroy two hundred triremes out of three hundred and fifty in the Persian fleet, according to Ephoros – six hundred, according to the Atthidographer Phanodemos, a figure that is certainly exaggerated, probably to glorify Cimon or Athens “or both”27–the allied fleet must have been considerable itself, which seems to confirm Plutarch’s estimate of the size of the Greek fleet28. But a recognition that Athens and its allies could have assembled forces of such magnitude could obviously not find a place in the rhetoric of the Peloponnesian War’s uniqueness. Thucydides’ heroes were Themistocles and after him, of course, Pericles, and not Cimon, who had been the adversary of the former and then of the latter29. That was an additional reason for Thucydides not to emphasize the scope of the battles fought during the Pentekontaetia. The construction of Pericles’ image also demanded that the central role played by Cimon between 479 and 450 be, if not ignored, at least not foregrounded.

  • 30 Bresson 2000, 72.

18Then came the campaigns in Cyprus and Egypt, which are reported, to be sure, but briefly, and not commented on in depth. But these involved nothing less than an effort to detach Egypt from the Persian Empire, to weaken it permanently, and also to satisfy allies in Asia Minor who were suffering in particular from the interruption of commercial trade that occurred after 47930. About this strategy, which sought to produce a long-term modification of the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean by taking control of the southern coast of Asia Minor (at least as far as Phaselis) and Cyprus, and about the support given to the Egyptian secession, not to speak of the operations along the Phoenician coast, Thucydides says not a word. He mentions these operations only to show their failure. But even in their failure, weren’t they more important than, or at least as important as, the Sicilian expedition Thucydides reports in books VI and VII? It is true that according to Thucydides no city had ever sent a force as magnificently equipped as the one the Athenians sent to Sicily in 415 (6.31.1). Similarly, never before had so much money been invested in an expedition (6.31.5). However, this emphasis seems suspicious because it is too rhetorical. We have to note at least that if we have no figure to contrast with those Thucydides mentions for the expedition of 415, that is because he himself did not take the trouble to compare it to the figures for the expenditures on expeditions like the one conducted in Egypt between 459 and 454. In this logic of allusion and not actual analysis of information, it is not surprising that the Peace of Callias is not mentioned at all, and that the events of the two preceding decades that made it possible (Eurymedon’s expedition, the Athenian and allied fleet dispatched to Egypt, the fleet that Cimon took to Cyprus and that was victorious at Salamis) are given only summary attention.

  • 31 Hornblower 1983, 39-46, with the earlier literature.

19Thucydides’ treatment of the war between Sparta and Athens waged from 460/59 to 446 is equally vague. Some episodes could not be ignored, because they determined the elements of the operations conducted in 431 and subsequent years. Thucydides was obliged to explain how Aegina passed into the orbit of Athens, why Boeotia was now hostile (it had been subject to Athens, then rebelled), why the same happened in Megara (the Megarian decree, which could be justified only by the fact that this city had been for a time part of the Athenian empire, had to be accounted for), and why Euboea, on the other hand, was still part of the Athenian archè (after rebelling in 447, it had been forced to submit again in 446, after Pericles’ expedition: Thucydides could not miss an opportunity to show off his hero’s military qualities). There should be no doubt that these operations were of great scope, and thus a number of modern historians have justifiably described this conflict as the “First Peloponnesian War”31.

  • 32 Cf. Morpeth 2006, table p. 109 for the losses mentioned by Thucydides and commentary p. 167 f., pa (...)

20Even without mentioning the ravages wrought by the “plague” that struck Athens in 430, losses in combat during the Peloponnesian War were considerable. So far as the military is concerned, the obituaries of the period indicate severe losses. We see this in particular in 423 in IG, 13, 1184, and still more from the steles of the War of Decelea). These obituaries, which probably list only soldiers of the upper ranks, indicate losses exceeding three hundred men per year. The data we can find in Thucydides attest to significantly higher losses for the Athenians and their allies (counted together), commonly exceeding a thousand, even before the catastrophic defeat in Sicily started ravaging the ranks of the army; the total number of losses suffered in the course of the latter expedition–a number that cannot be established precisely–being perhaps on the order of 10,00032. But obituaries from the middle of the century also show very heavy losses. We see this through a series of fragmentary steles IG, I3, 1146, 1147bis, 1150-1153, 1157-1161, 1163 (for the year 446) and 1164 f. The losses for the years 464 (IG, I3, 1144) and 447 (IG, I3, 1162) are significant. Finally, the famous monument erected in honor of the Athenians of the Erechtheïs tribe who died in combat in a single year (IG, I3, 1147, cf. Meiggs-Lewis 33, probably from 460/459), which lists 196 names, may have been exceptional. But if it wasn’t, that would mean that Athens lost almost 2,000 soldiers (no doubt high-ranking ones) in this first year of the First Peloponnesian War. These facts also confirm the diversity of the theaters of operation in which the Athenians were engaged in that year: Cyprus, Egypt, Phoenicia, Halieis, Aegina, and Megara. Athenian obituaries from the Pentekontaetia leave no doubt as to the importance of the operations that Athens had to conduct during this period. In addition, even if we cannot determine the magnitude of the losses suffered during the Egyptian expedition of 454, they must certainly have been considerable, and perhaps superior to those of 460/459.

  • 33 de Ste. Croix 1972, 50-51.
  • 34 See now Green 2006, with his introductory commentaries (part. 34-47), who takes a view very (too) (...)

21Thus we see that the goal of the Thucydidean rhetorical apparatus was as much to mask as to inform. Through its elliptical structure and its omissions, the account of Pentekontaetia minimizes the magnitude of the military operations conducted from 469 to 446. Despite all the re-evaluations made by modern historians, today the image of the fifth century is still that of the two great conflicts: the Persian Wars, whose importance we see thanks to Herodotus (and certainly not Thucydides), and “the” Peloponnesian War, the one waged from 431 to 404. Between the two, there seems to have been only a simple interlude. This way of seeing things masks reality. The period from 469 to 446 was one of conflicts of great amplitude, in very diverse theaters, and battles no less bitterly fought than those of the period 431-404. Thucydides admits this: he began to write the history of “his” war at the beginning of the hostilities, although obviously he did not know how things would turn out. He was born and had grown up during the Pentekontaetia. After he grew up, the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War offered him an opportunity to have better access to the sources33. But for the later impact of his narrative, he was, in a way, favored with a “divine surprise”: that of the defeat of his city. The conflicts of the mid-century had ended with a status quo that in time could accredit the idea that ultimately nothing important had happened. On the other hand, in 404, the war, whose outcome long remained uncertain, finally marked a brutal reversal of the power relationships by crushing one of the two camps involved. In a way, Thucydides’ gambit of creating the figure of “the Peloponnesian War” was validated by history. The dramatic nature of the outcome of the conflict constituted the best justification for the enterprise of writing The Peloponnesian War, even if, ironically, Thucydides died before he could finish it. Had the outcome been different, whatever the literary qualities of the work and the genius of its author, it is not clear that Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War would have had such a posterity. As for the operations of the years 479-435 (up to the outbreak of the crisis of Epidamnos), they had neither their Herodotus nor their Thucydides. Hellanikos is lost, and it is possible that he might have disappointed us, at least if we take Thucydides’ word for it. Apart from Thucydides, for this period we have now to rely on Diodorus (11.38-12.37), with his very great defects34. In any case, we can safely say that if we didn’t have the Peloponnesian War but a work by a historian of Thucydides’ caliber on the years 479-435, our view of the history of the period would be very different. Instead of Thucydides’ superb demonstration of the Athenian leaders’ responsibility for the defeat of their city, we would probably have only a confused image of the years 431-404. The victory of one of the two adversaries might even appear to us as being a matter of chance.

  • 35 On Thucydides’ Pericles, see the article by Chr. Pébarthe in this same volume.
  • 36 Cf. de Ste. Croix 1972, ibid.

22By the same token, we are led to reflect on the Thucydidean reading of the Athenian fifth century. The Peloponnesian War was indeed a long, murderous war of great magnitude. On the other hand, just as Thucydides’ Pericles is an ideal construction, the isolation of the “Peloponnesian War” is a rhetorical construction35. Another historian might have presented a different view of things by making the conflict begin in 459: between the four wars involving Athens and Sparta, in 459-452 and 447-446 for the first two and 431-421 and 413-404 for the last two, the years from 446 to 431 would then have been marked only by a truce somewhat longer than the others36.

  • 37 On the notion that Sparta was “forced” to go to war, which does not exclude a debate with intent t (...)
  • 38 Occident: Kagan 1969, 154-169; Hornblower 1983, 56-57; Pontus: recently, Surikov 2001; Doonan 2003
  • 39 Kagan 1969, 205-250; Hornblower 1983, 88-93.
  • 40 Kagan 1969, 79-80.
  • 41 Zakynthos: Kagan 1969, 246 (and Pritchett 1995, 74-79, on Diodorus’ treatment of Tolmides’ expedit (...)

23The rhetoric of the Pentekontaetia seeks to show that faced with the expansion of Athens, Sparta was forced to go to war, ἀναγϰάσαι ἐς τὸ πολεμεῖν (1.23.6)37. To be sure, in favor of Thucydides’ thesis, that of the continual expansion of Athens after 446, leading to the gradual suffocation of its adversaries, we must note the increasingly marked interest shown during those years in Italy and Sicily, and also in taking control of Pontus–but this is not mentioned by Thucydides38. Finally, of course, the Corinthians considered the Athenian intervention in support of Corcyra in 433 an intolerable attack on their vital interests, and we can understand why Corinth reacted as it did, that is, by moving toward war39. The Corinthian reaction was all the more comprehensible because Athens had already shown its ambition in the key zone for the Pelonponnesians’ naval communication, the Gulf of Corinth. Shortly after 460/459, Athens had established its Messenian allies in Naupactus, at the mouth of the Gulf40. Later, it brought Zakynthos into its alliance, and also the Acarnanians, who were, however, colonists from Corinth41.

  • 42 Cawkwell (1997, 20-39) shows how Athenian expansion, which continued after 446 despite the Spartan (...)
  • 43 That is the main thesis of de Ste. Croix 1972, passim and part. 290-292. On the reality of Athenia (...)

24Although the truth of the thesis regarding Athenian expansion can hardly be doubted, nothing obliges us to accept the claim that Sparta played a purely passive role, and to restrict the Pentekontaetia to a simple “intermediary period” between the two decisive conflicts constituted by the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War42. But if we start down this path, we are inevitably led to conclude that the whole image of the supposed Spartan “passivity” when confronted with Athenian actions after 479 is also a rhetorical figure. That does not mean, of course, as Ste. Croix would have it, that we have to attribute “responsibility for the war” to the Spartans and their allies alone, as if they had been mere rabble-rousers attacking faultless Athenians43. But what really happened was no doubt more complex than Thucydides suggests.

25It is Thucydides himself who, through his account of the Corinthian envoy’s speech before the Spartan assembly in 432 (1.68-71) helped shape the image of an immobile and conservative Sparta. To be sure, everything tended to make Sparta a city that could not venture far away from its bases and that was less adventurous than Athens. But the image of passivity with regard to Athens is nonetheless not appropriate. First, we have to note that the hostility between Sparta and Athens was latent as early as the aftermath of Plataea and Mycale. It was this hostility that motivated Themistocles’ haste to have his city’s walls rebuilt. He was so fully aware of it that he felt obliged to resort to a very dangerous trick to achieve his goals (1.89.3-92). In addition, Sparta’s conservative social structure did not prevent it from attacking the rival power a first time in 460/459, and naturally this doesn’t fit well with the image of a purely passive Sparta. In reality, as early as 465 (cf. 1.101.1-2), Sparta had considered supporting Thasos in its revolt against Athens, and only the terrible earthquake that struck it, along with the rebellion of the helots and some of the perioikoi that followed, prevented it from doing so.

  • 44 Hornblower 1983, 46, and 1997, 83, following Jones 1953.
  • 45 On this passage, see Bresson 2000, 116.
  • 46 Hornblower 1997, 83-84.

26Sparta concluded a thirty-year truce with Athens in 446. However, in 440, during the Samos affair, it is likely that it seriously envisaged supporting the rebels. Thucydides gives us a key bit of information: the assembly of the Peloponnesian League debated the question of entering the war against Athens but Corinth was able to carry the decision to keep the peace. This episode, which is narrated before the Pentekontaetia (1.40.5-6), is not repeated or mentioned during the long presentation of the revolt of Samos. It has been plausibly suggested that Sparta then favored war, on the ground that the question would never have been discussed by the allies if Sparta had not previously announced that it would vote for war before changing its position in the final voting44. Sparta’s decision to go to war in 432 came after the debate with its allies, in which a majority emerged for war, but before the official vote of the assembly of the allies (1.118-125). However, regarding this debate in 432, we have to observe that the Corinthians clearly had to deal with a number of hesitant parties (1.120.2), cities from the interior of the Peloponnese which a priori felt themselves less concerned by Athenian expansion–wrongly, according to the Corinthians, because they too would soon find themselves unable to export their products to external markets45. In 440, the same cities were able to restrain desires to go to war. But although then neither Corinth nor probably, a fortiori (as in 432) the cities of the interior of the Peloponnese, had at that time pronounced themselves in favor of opening hostilities, it must have been Sparta that put the proposal to go to war on the agenda. Thus it is legitimate to maintain that Thucydides’ indirect and incomplete account of the assembly of 440 was intended to mask Sparta’s desire to go to war against Athens at that time46. But without the active support of its maritime allies, in particular Corinth, Sparta could not proceed any further. In 432, the situation was completely different.

  • 47 Meiggs 1972, 182 and 528.
  • 48 Cf. Kallet-Marx 1993, 96-108.
  • 49 Kagan 1969, 273-285, emphasizes that Athens’ initial defeat at Potidaea, after its earlier hesitat (...)
  • 50 Psoma 2001, 191-209.
  • 51 Hornblower 1983, 78.

27By the same token, we must ask whether the reason for the war Thucydides gives–Sparta’s desire to resist an expanding Athens, without which it would soon be too late to react–suffices to explain the beginning of the conflict. We should note that Thucydides (1.88) emphasizes that it was indeed Sparta that made the decision to break the truce, and that the arguments of its allies ultimately played only a secondary role in that decision. The Spartans could also have believed that if Athens was certainly still a dangerously expanding city-state, at that time it was also showing signs of weakness. In 446, it had had to decrease the tribute it imposed on its allies47. In 431, its treasury was not as full as it had been two decades earlier: it had only 6,000 talents in reserve on the acropolis, whereas two decades earlier it had had as much as 9,700 talents (2.13.3)48. It was not able to put down Potidaea’s revolt, which cost it very dearly not only in financial terms but especially in terms of prestige49. At this point as well, probably in 432, a Chalcidian state was being established around Olynthus (and against Athens) that was to have a great future50. Depending on the period, Macedonia was undecided or even hostile to Athens51. Since in any case war was inevitable–but this was nothing new–it may be that in the eyes of the Spartan leaders the time appeared propitious for resuming hostilities that had been merely suspended in 446. Sparta’s main allies were calling for war and didn’t need to be convinced. The objective remained the destruction of the Athenian archè, and this was finally achieved in 404. Thucydides’ thesis is that in 432 the Spartans, who had always shown an absence of initiative, were forced, so to speak, to go to war. In sum, we can ask whether in reality, in their almost permanent desire to oppose Athens, the Spartans did not instead take advantage of a relative weakening on the part of Athens to reopen hostilities that had been only temporarily interrupted by the truce of 446. But then the constancy of the Spartan opposition to Athens ever since the aftermath of the second Persian War would have to be stressed, and this obviously would not have been in harmony with Thucydides’ binary rhetoric.

  • 52 For a lucid discussion of Thucydides’ treatment of the period of the Pentekontaetia, which conclud (...)

28In conclusion, we see that in the Pentekontaetia, Thucydides did not travesty the chronology of the events that occurred between 479 and 431. On the other hand, his description of the continual development of Athenian power allowed him to play down the importance of the conflicts that took place during this period and the already constant opposition between Sparta and Athens. As a temporal unit and the scene of an unparalleled confrontation between Athens and Sparta, the “Peloponnesian War” from 431 to 404 is thus a rhetorical construction. This war could be unique in its importance only because the account of it was unique as well. By a mirror effect, the foregrounding of this war drew attention to the author of the work, who had taken care from the outset to put his stamp on the narrative and to associate his name with it (1.1). That is also why the narrative begins by emphasizing the incomparable importance of this war (1.1-2). It is not the least sign of Thucydides’ genius that over twenty four centuries the isolation of the concept of “Peloponnesian War,” the image of the unique character of this conflict and the interpretation of its origin as a reaction to an Athenian expansionism on the point of definitively suffocating its adversaries, have been taken for granted. It is only very recently that this way of seeing things has been challenged. It is not that it should be necessarily considered false. But it must all the more be subjected to criticism, for example to propose the readjustment previously mentioned above, that it is part of a vast rhetorical apparatus intended to make this view seemingly undebatable52.

  • 53 de Ste. Croix 1972, 62, cf. 27-33. See also Ostwald 2009b [1996], 284-290.
  • 54 On Thucydides as the inventor of “political science”, see Ober 2006.

29Thucydides openly declared his ambition to surpass his predecessors by producing a work of a new kind. The crown he claimed was not the ephemeral one his contemporaries might award him. He wanted to win the prize in another kind of competition, and it was the judgment of posterity that mattered to him–at least that is what he said. His ambition was to make himself forever the best historian of Greece by producing a work that would survive the test of time, a ϰτῆμα ἐς αἰεί (1.22.4). Time was thus to be his best judge. This view cannot fail to remind us of the famous comparison between Athens and Sparta (1.10.2), where posterity’s judgment is invoked to decide the difference between them. On seeing the imposing ruins of Athens, future generations would have no difficulty in forming an idea of the city’s power and might even imagine it to have been twice as great as it really was. On the other hand, nothing would suggest that Sparta was also a city of the first rank. If the judgment of future generations assumes such importance for Thucydides, that is because, human affairs being what they are, events similar to those of the Peloponnesian War were very likely to occur again. Thus his work was supposed to have an exemplary value and transcend time. The Peloponnesian War was not only the most important conflict that Greece had known up to that time. As G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, who nonetheless also emphasized the role of choice and decision-making, very acutely saw, “Thucydides realised that human beings, especially when acting collectively, tend to react to certain situations in certain ways, which are more or less predictable”53. For future generations, the Peloponnesian War was to become the prototype of war everywhere, in all ages. And to the extent to which war was conceived as the inevitable outcome of human actions and their hour of truth, it even was to become an exemplary manual of human behaviors54.

  • 55 On Hellanikos, see supra p. 390 and 393.
  • 56 Thc. 1.21.3, implicitly attacking Hdt. 6.57.5 and 9.53 (cf. Rogkotis 2006, 57 and n. 1).
  • 57 Rogkotis 2006.

30Thus we need hardly emphasize the rhetorical character of Thucydides’ work. If we accept the idea that every discourse responds to another discourse, we must first point out that Thucydides’ work is situated in the context of an agôn with his rivals, Herodotus as well as Hellanikos55. The reproach of imprecision made against Hellanikos–which at first seems curious if we judge by the Pentekontaetia–, is in fact easy to answer: what had to be compared was Hellanikos’ treatment of the Pentekontaetia and Thucydides’ treatment of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides thought his method of presentation by seasons was incomparably superior to that of Hellanikos, which was based on the arkhontes. As for the Pentekontaetia, in his view it was no more than an excursus that did not justify detailed chronological presentation. So far as Herodotus is concerned, as we know, Thucydides never directly mentions his predecessor. On the other hand, he never misses an opportunity to make derogatory allusions to the lack of serious scholarship in the latter’s Histories56. However, while the difference of style in the way of writing history cannot be denied, it nonetheless increasingly appears that Herodotus’ rhetoric has close parallels in Thucydides’ work, for example in the treatment of the irruption of the irrational in decision-making or the use of tricks to achieve goals57. Thucydides no longer appears to be the historian who coolly sets forth the “factual truth” in opposition to his predecessor, the credulous Herodotus, who is inclined to exaggerate and lets himself be carried away by his love of good stories. The proximity of the two historians now seems greater than it used to.

  • 58 Loraux 1984; Bakker 2006; Dewald 2006.
  • 59 See especially the two fundamental studies by Dewald 2006 and 2007.
  • 60 Dewald 2007, 99.
  • 61 On these points of view, cf. the two studies by C. Dewald previously cited, especially 2007, 91 an (...)

31In addition, from the point of view of speech-act theory, which emphasizes the performative aspect of all discourse, recent criticism has addressed the form of the narrative and the way the author stages himself58. There is a clear difference between Herodotus and Thucydides, but they are not irreconcilable59. As C. Dewald has put it, “where Herodotus constantly interrupts the interplay of causality and contingency by reminding us that we are looking at narrative fragments initially constructed by someone else, Thucydides has placed himself up in the projection booth, running the film that he himself has made”60. But the same author stresses that the theory of discourse threatens to lead us to despair of history. If history is only a discourse, like myth or the novel, we cannot continue to accord it the role of being a mirror of reality to which it has previously aspired. It is in fact only an imaginary creation, and the “past” that it claimed to restitute is no more than a construction that exists only as a hypothesis61.

  • 62 Thucydides, Hellanikos and Herodotus: cf. supra p. 374, 377 and 381. On the notion of a “competiti (...)

32However, far from being led to despair of history, in the end we can show what is specific to historical discourse. The concept of hypothesis suffices, in fact, to account for the way in which we have to approach not only historical discourse but any discourse in general. Be it even myth or novel, every discourse can produce only a hypothesis regarding reality. The specificity of the historical discourse created by Herodotus and Thucydides does not reside in a structural difference from other discourses–because it would be “neutral”, “free of rhetoric”, or a “mirror of reality.” There is no need to re-examine the utopian nature of such statements. The characteristic of historical discourse is that it is structured by the possibility of challenging the hypotheses it proposes. “Who won the war?” “How great were the losses?” These are questions which (usually) call for an answer that can be refuted. They are, of course, inevitably presented in a discourse that itself has a certain rhetoric, but historical hypotheses appeal to a kind of argumentation different from that of a fictional work. Everyone is free to write a new version of Madame Bovary with a happy ending. But it would be more difficult to write a historical work that gave the Peloponnesian War a different end, and claimed that Athens was victorious in 404. In short, it is precisely because Thucydides wrote a historical work, that is, because he produced a discourse that his contemporaries and his successors could refute, that it is possible to debate his hypothesis regarding the Pentekontaetia. His remarks on Hellanikos and Herodotus provide proof a contrario that his discourse is also subject to contradiction, that it was produced in the framework of a “competitive critical community”62.

  • 63 Loraux 1980, part. 68-73 on Thucydides.
  • 64 On Thucydides’ treatment of sources: Gomme 1945, 30-39; Smarczyk 2006; Rhodes 2007, 58-60. On arch (...)
  • 65 On the way Thucydides conceived of his work, see Kallet 2006.
  • 66 On Thucydides’ probable visit to Corinth, see Stroud 1994.

33It is in this sense that trying to distance oneself from Thucydides by noting that he “is not a colleague”–the formula has been very successful–is more problematic than is commonly thought63. As we have seen, it is certainly not because his rhetorical construction had as its goal to glorify Pericles and to minimize the work of Cimon that the Peloponnesian War is a discourse radically different from those that contemporary historians are likely to produce: the latter also construct their works with preoccupations that are those of their time, and they also resort to a particular rhetoric. As for the fact, for which Thucydides is so often reproached, that he usually does not cite his sources–but then other ancient historians normally don’t either (except in the episodic form of citing a predecessor or an inscription)–that is first of all because the notion of a source, which is based on the existence of vast, carefully organized archives, had no meaning in the Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries64. When a historian like Polybius assures us that he has consulted the archives of this or that city, this does not help much, not because these archives have been lost to us but because in the absence of precise references, verification would not usually have been possible even in Antiquity. On the other hand, today the fortunate discovery of inscriptions or papyri can allow us to put an ancient historian’s work in its context, often to complete it, and sometimes to correct it–that is, to undertake without difficulty the necessary critical work on his discourse. To be sure, we would have liked Thucydides to tell us more about his “historical laboratory”65. But would that really have been possible? Like a modern investigative journalist, usually he had to take care not to cite his sources. The latter were, obviously, direct actors (on both sides) who would not have wished to see their names mentioned, with the details of the documents (notes, memoranda, reports) they had made available to Thucydides. In addition, would it have been admissible that “the Athenian Thucydides,” even in exile, was speaking, in the middle of the war, with officers or magistrates from an enemy city, for example Corinth?66 We see that the question of how Thucydides’ text was elaborated raises many problems, and that when moderns reproach him for not citing his sources, this reproach is based on a profound misunderstanding of the conditions of producing historical discourse in Antiquity. The absence of references to the way in which the text is elaborated does not disqualify Thucydides and introduces no radical alterity into his discourse in comparison with our own. It is in fact clear that if the factual data he mentions were flagrantly untrue, they could easily be contradicted by his contemporaries, and that is what constitutes for us the best guarantee of the value of the information they provide us: not because Thucydides was always right or because he was infallible, because he was “objective” when others would not have been, but because his discourse authorized refutation, and because it was elaborated in the awareness of this possible refutation.

34So where is the truth to be found? Probably nowhere, and in any case not in the facts. But we can set out to seek it thanks to the specific form of historical discourse and to the construction of the facts on which it bases its always provisional hypotheses regarding past societies. I would like to think that this is an optimistic conclusion.

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Notes

2 For a presentation of the history of the Pentekontaetia, see Giovannini 1980 and Hornblower 1983, 32-47, 88-93 and passim.

3 Unz 1986 for an overall presentation of the problems and a (moderate) challenge to the “orthodox chronology.”

4 Badian 1993, 73-107.

5 Pritchett 1995, part. 163-171.

6 Pace Green 2006, 150-151, who has at least to acknowledge that Diodorus compressed the last three years of the war into a single one: the expedition is in fact said to have ended in 457.

7 On the revolt in Egypt, Briant 2002, 573-577 and 973.

8 On Diodorus’ sources, Green 2006, 35-37. Meiggs 1972, 447-458, draws up a lucid accounting of what we can get out of Diodorus: a complete rejection is impossible, but a major work of sifting proves indispensible.

9 Walker 1957; Wick 1982; Stadter 1993.

10 Tsakmakis 1995, 64-95.

11 Kallet 1993, 2001, 2007.

12 On the notion of alèthestatè prophasis, “deep causes,” in comparison with aitiai, “grievances” alleged by the belligerents, cf. Hornblower 1997, 64-66; de Ste. Croix (1972, 53-58), followed by Rhodes (1987, 159-160), thought that the true difference between the two terms was to be sought in the fact that the aitiai were publicly declared, whereas the prophasis, which was basically also a grievance, remained hidden: it was up to the historian to bring it out. The remark is technically correct: but precisely the fact that a “grievance” cannot be brought to the fore suffices to show that there is a real difference between the deep causes, which play a motive role and which only expert work is capable of bringing to light, and grievances that are declared, to be sure, but which by themselves are not sufficient to explain the development of events.

13 The literature on the subject is immense. See in particular Meiggs 1972, 487-495, which provides a summary that is still useful, and Badian 1993, 1-72; cf. also Briant 2002, 579-582 and 974-975 (he sees in this a Persian diplomatic victory and a sort of first King’s Peace), and finally Wiesehöfer 2006, 658-659: too many aspects of the relations between Greeks and Persians remain inexplicable without a treaty between the king and the Athenians. Diodorus (12.4-6) reports the clauses of this treaty and situates it in 449. To be sure, Diodorus committed many errors, but that need not oblige us to reject a priori his testimony on the pretext that Thucydides makes no explicit reference (for this reservation, cf. Wiesehöfer supra) to the peace treaty.

14 On Pericles’ expedition and the Athenian presence in Pontus, cf. Surikov 2001 and Doonan 2003; Pébarthe 2009.

15 Meiggs 1972, 444-446.

16 But on this episode, see infra p. 395.

17 On Thucydides’ reading and the recent challenge to a purely factual interpretation of his work, see Dewald 2005, 2-22, 2006 and 2007.

18 R. Warner’s Penguin translation. Tῶν δὲ πρότερον ἔργων μέγιστον ἐπράχθη τὸ Μηδιϰόν, ϰαὶ τοῦτο ὅμως δυοῖν ναυμαχίαιν ϰαὶ πεζομαχίαιν ταχεῖαν τὴν ϰρίσιν ἔσχεν.

19 On the rhetorical character of the allusion to these prodigious events, cf. Woodman 1988, 28 f., with Hornblower’s commentary, 1997, 62-63.

20 Discussion apud Briant 2002, 526-527 (however, if this figure were to be understood as that of the ships in the Persian fleet at the beginning of the war, it would certainly be too low).

21 Briant 1996, ibid.; for Lazenby 1993, 227–228, these troops numbered 70,000; for Connolly 1998, 29, they numbered 120,000.

22 Morpeth 2006, table p. 100 and commentary p. 111-113.

23 On the relationship between Herodotus and Thucydides, cf. infra p. 397-398.

24 R. Warner’s Penguin translation. Θουϰυδίδης Ἀθηναῖος ξυνέγραψε τὸν πόλεμον τῶν Πελοποννησίων ϰαὶ Ἀθηναίων, ὡς ἐπολέμησαν πρὸς ἀλλήλους, ἀρξάμενος εὐθὺς ϰαθισταμένου ϰαὶ ἐλπίσας μέγαν τε ἔσεσθαι ϰαὶ ἀξιολογώτατον τῶν προγεγενημένων, τεϰμαιρόμενος ὅτι ἀϰμάζοντές τε ᾖσαν ἐς αὐτὸν ἀμφότεροι παρασϰευῇ τῇ πάσῃ ϰαὶ τὸ ἄλλο Ἑλληνιϰὸν ὁρῶν ξυνιστάμενον πρὸς ἑϰατέρους, τὸ μὲν εὐθύς, τὸ δὲ ϰαὶ διανοούμενον.2 ϰίνησις γὰρ αὕτη μεγίστη δὴ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἐγένετο ϰαὶ μέρει τινὶ τῶν βαρβάρων, ὡς δὲ εἰπεῖν ϰαὶ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἀνθρώπων.3 τὰ γὰρ πρὸ αὐτῶν ϰαὶ τὰ ἔτι παλαίτερα σαφῶς μὲν εὑρεῖν διὰ χρόνου πλῆθος ἀδύνατα ἦν, ἐϰ δὲ τεϰμηρίων ὧν ἐπὶ μαϰρότατον σϰοποῦντί μοι πιστεῦσαι ξυμβαίνει οὐ μεγάλα νομίζω γενέσθαι οὔτε ϰατὰ τοὺς πολέμους οὔτε ἐς τὰ ἄλλα.

25 This point was made long ago. On Thucydides as a critic of Hellanikos, see in detail Smart 1986, Schreiner 1997, 11-20. On the reason why Thucydides could allow himself to be criticized, see also infra p. 381-382.

26 Hanson 2005.

27 Harding 2008, 1008, ad Phanodemos, FrGrHist 325 F22. For Ephorus, FrGrHist 70 F192. Diodorus 11.60.3-61.7 is not reliable for he might have confused the Eurymedon campaign with the Salamis battle of 450/449 (ibid., 12.3.2-4), see the note by J. Haillet in Diodore de Sicile, Livre xi, CUF, Paris, 2001, p. 162-163.

28 Shortly after the main battle, the Greek forces seized in addition eighty Phoenician triremes (Plut., Cimon, 13.3-4).

29 Themistocles, de Ste. Croix 1972, 173-178; Pericles, Dewald 2006, 175.

30 Bresson 2000, 72.

31 Hornblower 1983, 39-46, with the earlier literature.

32 Cf. Morpeth 2006, table p. 109 for the losses mentioned by Thucydides and commentary p. 167 f., part. 209-225 for the losses in 413.

33 de Ste. Croix 1972, 50-51.

34 See now Green 2006, with his introductory commentaries (part. 34-47), who takes a view very (too) favorable to Diodorus. On Ctesias, Green ibid., 42-47.

35 On Thucydides’ Pericles, see the article by Chr. Pébarthe in this same volume.

36 Cf. de Ste. Croix 1972, ibid.

37 On the notion that Sparta was “forced” to go to war, which does not exclude a debate with intent to make a decision, cf. de Ste. Croix 1972, 60-63, and also, briefly, Hornblower 1997, 66.

38 Occident: Kagan 1969, 154-169; Hornblower 1983, 56-57; Pontus: recently, Surikov 2001; Doonan 2003.

39 Kagan 1969, 205-250; Hornblower 1983, 88-93.

40 Kagan 1969, 79-80.

41 Zakynthos: Kagan 1969, 246 (and Pritchett 1995, 74-79, on Diodorus’ treatment of Tolmides’ expedition). Acarnania: Thc. 2.68.7-8 and Diod. 11.85 and 88, cf. Plut., Per., 19.2-4; the date of the expedition is in dispute. For S. Hornblower (1997, 353-354), it is with Phormion, c. 437, that Acharnia joined the Athenian alliance, which would still further strengthen the image of an expansionist Athens in this period and would help explain Athens’ new hostility around 430. According to Diodorus, it was Pericles who led the expeditions in Acharnia (in 455/4 et 453/2, cf. Green p. 164-165 and 168-169, esp. n. 362, p. 169).

42 Cawkwell (1997, 20-39) shows how Athenian expansion, which continued after 446 despite the Spartans’ hopes, forced Sparta to go to war. But this conclusion also supports the thesis presented here, according to which the supposed Spartan passivity is only a rhetorical construction.

43 That is the main thesis of de Ste. Croix 1972, passim and part. 290-292. On the reality of Athenian expansion during the period before 431, cf. Hornblower, 88-93.

44 Hornblower 1983, 46, and 1997, 83, following Jones 1953.

45 On this passage, see Bresson 2000, 116.

46 Hornblower 1997, 83-84.

47 Meiggs 1972, 182 and 528.

48 Cf. Kallet-Marx 1993, 96-108.

49 Kagan 1969, 273-285, emphasizes that Athens’ initial defeat at Potidaea, after its earlier hesitations regarding how to proceed and despite the large number of troops it was finally forced to commit, helped tarnish the city’s image and encourage the Peloponnesians to go to war.

50 Psoma 2001, 191-209.

51 Hornblower 1983, 78.

52 For a lucid discussion of Thucydides’ treatment of the period of the Pentekontaetia, which concludes with the indispensable “sympathetic understanding” of Thucydides’ work, but without implicitly giving his view the last word, see R. Osborne 2000, 3-5.

53 de Ste. Croix 1972, 62, cf. 27-33. See also Ostwald 2009b [1996], 284-290.

54 On Thucydides as the inventor of “political science”, see Ober 2006.

55 On Hellanikos, see supra p. 390 and 393.

56 Thc. 1.21.3, implicitly attacking Hdt. 6.57.5 and 9.53 (cf. Rogkotis 2006, 57 and n. 1).

57 Rogkotis 2006.

58 Loraux 1984; Bakker 2006; Dewald 2006.

59 See especially the two fundamental studies by Dewald 2006 and 2007.

60 Dewald 2007, 99.

61 On these points of view, cf. the two studies by C. Dewald previously cited, especially 2007, 91 and 101.

62 Thucydides, Hellanikos and Herodotus: cf. supra p. 374, 377 and 381. On the notion of a “competitive critical community,” 2006, 131 with Rood 2006 and Ober 1998, 53-62 on the construction of argumentation in Thucydides’ work.

63 Loraux 1980, part. 68-73 on Thucydides.

64 On Thucydides’ treatment of sources: Gomme 1945, 30-39; Smarczyk 2006; Rhodes 2007, 58-60. On archives and the use of written documents in classical Athens, Sickinger 1999 and Pébarthe 2006.

65 On the way Thucydides conceived of his work, see Kallet 2006.

66 On Thucydides’ probable visit to Corinth, see Stroud 1994.

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