Preferred Citation: Crane, Gregory. Thucydides and the Ancient Simplicity: The Limits of Political Realism. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1998 1998.

Archaeology I


1. See, for example, the work of Kuper (1988) and Tambiah (1990), who begin their analyses with the work of Henry Maine and Lewis Henry Morgan.

2. Castriota (1992, 3–16) offers a survey of mythical analogues for the present; his book as a whole explores the way in which physical monuments representing mythical events were used to glorify the recent Athenian role in the Persian Wars.

3. On the possible role of Demokritos, see Cole 1967, which develops a thesis earlier advanced by Reinhardt 1912; on Thucydides and Demokritos, see more recently Hussey 1985.

4. Schwartz 1929, 173.

5. For an elaborate argument that the Archaeology is also a tour de force of ring composition, see Ellis 1991.

6. De Romilly 1956a, 244–251; e.g., p. 251: “C’est un manifeste rationaliste dans tous les senses du mot, puisque les diverses méthodes qu’ il instaure impliquent à la fois rigueur critique, déduction logique, et même, dans une certaine mesure, établissement de grands principes généraux permettant la comparaison et l’analogie.”

7. De Romilly 1956a, 242–243; Connor 1984, 27; Hunter 1982, 17.

8. Hunter 1982, 44–45.

9. Finley 1942, 87; Connor 1984, 25.

10. Finley 1942, 88; de Romilly 1956a, 266: “Il n’est point douteux que ce système ait été la grande originalité de Thucydide”; Hornblower 1987, 80; on the influence of sea power, see Starr 1989, esp. 29–49.

11. Finley 1942, 91.

12. See, for example, Hunter 1982, 42; Hornblower 1987, 87; on the general issue of “progress” in Greek thought, see Edelstein 1967; Dodds 1973; for a survey of the ancient materials, see Cole 1967, 1–10; for a review of the controversy surrounding this idea, see Connor 1984, 26 n. 19.

13. Hobbes, Leviathan 1.13, “On the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning their Felicity and Misery.”

14. Thuc. 1.3.1: δηλοῖ δέ μοι καὶ τόδε τῶν παλαιῶν οὐχ ἥκιστα·πρὸ γὰρ τῶν Τρωικῶν οὐδὲν φαίνεται πρότερον κοινῇ ἐργασαμένη ἡ Ἑλλάς.

15. See Hunter 1982, 32: “What Thucydides does in chapter 9 is accept both Peloponnesian oral tradition and the Homeric poems as factually accurate, and then go on to interpret the data in such a way as to prove his own personal thesis that fear motivated the other Greeks to accompany Agamemnon to Troy;” p. 33: “While admitting to the probability of poetic exaggeration, he accepts Homer’s figures.” It is important to emphasize that this acceptance is skeptical and constitutes the basis for what we would now call a working hypothesis. Note carefully qualified comments such as Thuc. 1.9.2: οἱ τὰ σαφέστατα Πελοποννησίων μνήμη παρὰ τῶν πρότερον δεδεγμένοι i.e., the best available evidence; note also 1.9.4: ὡς Ὄμηρος τοῦτο δεδήλωκεν, εἴ τῳ ἱκανὸς τεκμηριῶσαι. Homer may or may not be correct, but he must, for better or for worse, serve as the starting point for Thucydides’ analysis.

16. Kirk 1985, 168.

17. Hunter 1982, 35.

18. Gomme on 1.10.5.

19. De Romilly 1956a, 248.

20. See, for example, Gomme’s comment on αὐτόθεν πολεμοῦντα βιοτέσειν at Thuc. 1.11.1. Thucydides criticizes the Trojan expedition for taking more men than could live off the country. Gomme lumps the Trojan War together with the Sicilian expedition in its logistical sophistication: “This was a general principle of all Greek warfare—armies took a few days’ supplies with them and for any longer campaign expected to live on the country. The Athenians took no more than that with them to Sicily (6.30.1, etc.: the wheat was to be made into bread in Sicily), but even so the great bulk of their supplies were to be purchased or seized on the island.” Gomme thus dismisses as inconsequential the entire logistical apparatus of the Athenian empire in particular and the importance of monetary trade (which allowed Athenians to purchase supplies in-country) in general. The complex palace economies of the Bronze Age were clearly sophisticated administrative centers, but Thucydides and his contemporaries knew the heroic age only from Homer and other traditional sources.

21. See Simpson and Lazenby 1970, 156–157: “The probability is, then, that the political divisions implied by the Catalogue reflect a real situation which once obtained in Greece, and, if this is the case, it is most likely that this real situation obtained in the Mycenean era, for we can hardly account for the differences between the political map drawn by the Catalogue and that of historical times except by supposing that the changes occurred when Mycenean civilization collapsed.”

22. The power of Sicily is a major theme throughout books 6 and 7 of Thucydides, but see also the offer made by Gelon at Hdt. 7.158.4.

23. Note that the number of Athenian citizens is a hotly contested topic, but most estimates place the figure at roughly 25,000–50,000.

24. On the audience for Thucydides in general and the Archaeology in particular, see Howie 1984.

25. The classic example is the meager Athenian entry: the Athenian hero Menestheus plays at best a tertiary role in the Iliad as a whole and receives a brief mention at Il. 2.552–555, where he is briefly praised for his ability, second only to Nestor, to marshal chariots and warriors. At Hdt. 7.161.3, an Athenian envoy at Syracuse is represented as citing this passage to justify Athens’s contemporary status as a leader of the Greeks and as superior to the Syracusans. There may be some understated Herodotean irony when the Athenians place so much weight on such a slight textual basis during such a crisis, but the Athenians took their appearance in the Catalogue very seriously: see the official Athenian inscription that refers to Menestheus in the Catalogue, quoted at Aeschin. In Ktes. 3.185; Plut. Kimon 7.5. On the importance of this inscription in Kimonian Athens, see Castriota 1992, 6–7.

26. Within the rest of the narrative, the Mytilenean debate offers a comparable example: there, Diodotos accepts the terms of debate that his opponent Kleon has established, arguing for mercy on the grounds of pure self-interest. When he subsequently carries the day, defeating Kleon, his rhetorical triumph is all the greater because he has defeated Kleon at his own game.

27. Hippok. Corpus On Ancient Medicine 3: ἔπασχον πολλά τε καὶ δεινὰ ἀπὸ ἰσχυρῆς τε καὶ θηριώδεος διαίτης

28. On the distinction Thucydides draws between the Athenians and Peloponnesians, see Crane 1992a.

29. Thucydides’ attitude in part anticipates that of Weber (1958, 68–70, 143–149; 1988, 162–164), who argued that the ancient city was designed to emphasize consumption rather than production. Thus Austin and Vidal-Naquet (1977, 6) comment that “he approached the subject from the angle of the institutions and laid stress on the particular characteristics of Greek history; his aim was to define the ancient Greek city as oppposed to the medieval city. The Greek city was an aristocracy of warriors—or even of sailors—and a city of consumers, whereas the medieval city was a city of producers. A craftsman in fourteenth-century Florence, a city which exercised its sovereignty over the countryside (contado), was a citizen insofar as he belonged to one of the arts, and he exercised his share of sovereignty through the art of which he was a member” (italics mine). In Athens, on the other hand, citizenship depended entirely upon birth.

30. Fishing: Soph. Ant. 345–346; seaborne trade: [Aesch.] PV 467–468; Eur. Supp. 209–210 mentions fishing but not seaborne trade.

31. Hesiod WD 663ff.; Solon 13.43–46 West.

32. At Thuc. 2.38, Perikles praises Athens because it attracts good things from all over the world; the “Old Oligarch,” at 16–18, more cynically points out how much money visitors to Athens, forced to do business at the imperial city, pump into the local economy. Modern economic theory would in addition point out that the circulation of goods through markets facilitates the specialization of labor and thus increases overall productivity.

33. On this, see Kleingünther 1933.

34. Our understanding of the ancient trireme has been vastly expanded since the reconstruction and testing of an entire trireme: see Morrison and Coates 1986.

35. Thus Minos quells piracy so that his revenues may increase: τὸ τε ληστικόν, ὡς εἰκός, καθῄρει ἐκ τῆς θαλλάσης ἐφ’ ὅσον ἐδύνατο, τοῦ τὰς προσόδους μᾶλλον ἱέναι αὐτῷ (Thuc. 1.4).

36. E.g., Thuc. 1.7: τῶν δὲ πόλεων ὅσαι μὲν νεώτατα ᾠκίσθησαν καὶ ἤδη πλωιμωτέρων ὄντων, περιουσιας μᾶλλον ἔχουσαι χρήματων; 1.8.3: καὶ οὁ παρὰ θάλασσαν ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον ἥδη τὴν κτῆσιν τῶν χρημάτων ποιούμενοι βεβαιότερον ᾤ

37. Thuc. 1.13.1: τῶν προσόδων μειζόνων γιγνομένων (πρότερον δὲ ἦσαν ἐπὶ ῥητοῖς γέρασι πατρικαὶ βασιλεῖαι). ναυτικά τε ἐξηρτύετο ἡ Ἑλλάς, καὶ τῆς θαλλάσσης μᾶλλον ἀντείχοντο

38. Thuc. 1.2.2: οὔτε μεγέθει πόλεων ἴσχυον οὔτε τῇ παρασχευῇ

39. This idea, derived in modern scholarship ultimately from Hobbes, is argued by Ste. Croix (1972, 16): “I believe that in practice he drew a fundamental distinction—though he never names it explicitly, in general terms—between, on the one hand, the relations of individuals inside the State, where there are laws, enforced by sanctions, which may enable the weak to stand up to the strong from a position of approximate equality and where ordinary ethical consideration can apply, and on the other, the relations between States, where it is the strong who decide how they will treat the weak, and moral judgments are virtually inapplicable” (italics mine). See, however, Hornblower (1987, 178–190), who is “reluctant to admit that Thucydides made any ‘Hobbesian’ distinction between the morality which prevails between individuals and the ‘war of all against all’ which prevails between states.”

40. On the distinction, see Dodds, “From Shame-Culture to Guilt-Culture,” in Dodds 1951, 28–63; for essays analyzing this distinction in other cultures of the Mediterranean, see Peristiany 1966; for a detailed analysis of the distinction in Bedouin culture, see Abu-Lughod 1986.

41. Note 1.84.3, where Thucydides uses aidôs and aischunê as virtual synonyms; on the different forms: aidôs: (1 time), aideomai (4 times), aischunê (2), aischunô (2) in Herodotus; aidôs (1), aischunê (11), aischunô (7) in Thucydides; on the differing ratios: we possess c. 180,000 words of Herodotus vs. 150,000 of Thucydides.

42. For aidôs as a rallying cry in the midst of battle, see, for example, Il. 13.95; 15.502, 561–562, 662; for aidôs as one of the constituent virtues of battle, see Il.15.129, 657.

43. By contrast, see Hanson 1983 and 1989, which forcefully argue against such a view. Hanson analyzes the effects of invasion and devastation of crops by hoplites. The Peloponnesian forces regularly ravaged Attika during the war, but according to Hanson (1989, 4), “even the somber historian Thucydides…presumes that actual long-term losses to Athenian agriculture were not great. Why then did men march out to fight when the enemy entered their farms?” Hanson goes on to conclude that “the mere sight of enemy ravagers running loose across the lands of the invaded was alone considered a violation of both individual privacy and municipal pride.”

44. Thuc. 1.4: τοῦ τὰς προσόδους μᾶλλον ἰέναι αὐτῷ

45. Thuc. 1.5.1: ἡγουμένων ἀνδῶν οὐ τῶν αδυνατωτάτων κέδους τοῦ τοῦ σφετέρου αὐτῶν ἕνεκα καὶ τοῖς ἀσθενέσι τροφῆς.

46. Thuc. 1.7: ἐμπορίας τε ἕνεκα καὶ τῆς πρὸς τοὺς προσοίκους ἕκαστοι ἰσχύος.

47. Thuc. 1.8.3: ἐφιέμενοι γὰρ τῶν κερδῶν οἵ τε ἥσσους ὑπέμενον τὴν τῶν κρεισσόνων δουλείαν, οἵ τε δυνατώτατοι περιουσίας ἔχοντες προσεποιοῦντο ὑπηκότους τὰς ἑλάσσους πόλεις.

48. Thuc. 1.9.3: τὴν στρατείαν οὐ χάριτι τὸ πλέον ἢ φόβῳ ξυναγαγὼν ποιήσασθαι.

49. The technical term is litotes: thus “not more because of charis than phobos ”would imply that phobos is far the more powerful; likewise at 1.5.1 οὐ τῶν ἀδυνωτάτων clearly means τῶν δυνατωτάτων; for examples of litotes in Thucydides, see Rusten 1989, 27.

50. See Parry 1972, 52: “The historical facts which make up the object of intellection appear primarily as words meaning power. History in fact is movements of power.” The words that Parry cites are δύναμις, δύνατος, ἰσχύς, βιαζόμενοι, ἐκάτησαν and κρεισσόνων

Archaeology I

Preferred Citation: Crane, Gregory. Thucydides and the Ancient Simplicity: The Limits of Political Realism. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1998 1998.