History of The Peloponnesian War - Historical Method - Rationalization of Myth

Rationalization of Myth

Despite the absence of the gods from Thucydides' work, he still draws heavily from the Greek mythos, especially from Homer, whose works are prominent in Greek mythology. Thucydides references Homer frequently as a source of information, but always adds a distancing clause, such as “Homer shows this, if that is sufficient evidence,” and “assuming we should trust Homer's poetry in this case too.”

However, despite Thucydides' lack of trust in information that was not experienced firsthand, such as Homer's, he does use the poet's epics to infer facts about the Trojan War. For instance, while Thucydides considered the number of over 1,000 Greek ships sent to Troy to be a poetic exaggeration, he uses Homer's catalog of ships to determine the approximate number of Greek soldiers who were present. Later, Thucydides claims that since Homer never makes reference to a united Greek state, the pre-Hellenic nations must have been so disjointed that they could not organize properly to launch an effective campaign. In fact, Thucydides claims that Troy could have been conquered in half the time had the Greek leaders allocated resources properly and not sent a large portion of the army on raids for supplies.

Thucydides makes sure to inform his reader that he, unlike Homer, is not a poet prone to exaggeration, but instead a historian, whose stories may not give "momentary pleasure," but "whose intended meaning will be challenged by the truth of the facts." By distancing himself from the storytelling practices of Homer, Thucydides makes it clear that while he does consider mythology and epics to be evidence, these works cannot be given much credibility, and that it takes an impartial and empirically minded historian, such as himself, to accurately portray the events of the past.

Read more about this topic:  History Of The Peloponnesian War, Historical Method

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History Of The Peloponnesian War - Historical Method - Rationalization of Myth
... However, despite Thucydides' lack of trust in information that was not experienced firsthand, such as Homer's, he does use the poet's epics to infer facts about the Trojan War ... For instance, while Thucydides considered the number of over 1,000 Greek ships sent to Troy to be a poetic exaggeration, he uses Homer's catalog of ships to determine the approximate number of Greek soldiers who were present ...

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