418: The Severest School: Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War

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Term: January 6 – February 3, 2022
Time: Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET
Credits: 1
Instructor: Frank Russell

It has been said that Thucydides is often quoted but rarely read – which is indeed a pity. His masterwork, the Peloponnesian War, is the first (and in some ways the greatest) example of a critical analysis of historical events. At the same time, it is a tragedy in the tradition of the iconic Athenian playwrights, in which the heights and depths of human nature are explored. In this class, we will devote ourselves to a close reading of this work, to grapple with Thucydides’ insights into our enduring dilemmas as citizens – reconciling the demands of justice and expediency, freedom and security, and popular consensus and individual wisdom.