Are Thucydides and His History of the Peloponnesian War Still Relevant for the Analysis of Contemporary International Relations? Why

2129 Words Oct 30th, 2015 9 Pages
The Peloponnesian War was a conflict between the Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta, from 431 BC that brought an end to the Hellenic age of Pericles and his empire by the succession of Sparta by the end of the war. Thucydides is seen as a ‘proto-realist’, one of the first realists in the study of politics that wrote in a more theoretical sense, as well as the founding father of International Relations. His study on the History of the Peloponnesian War provides awareness of the conflict and various analyses on the causes of the war by observing the strategic interaction between the states, hierarchy amongst the states along with legitimacy and levels of power to determine the pattern of their relations. Although there are undeniably …show more content…
This is due to the non-existence of societal values, moral judgements and legal protection laws to defend citizens amongst differing states. Thucydides claimed that in international relations where there is no overarching power there should be a balance of power so that order is retained in the form of the weak being subject to the strong as a law of nature and that where the superior are offered the opportunity to increase, the morality of right and wrong are forfeited to self-interest and indulgence. However, the balance can also be very easily disrupted as portrayed through the strategic interaction between Athens and Sparta. The example of the Cold War period portrays clear evidence of the relevance of Thucydides’ work as similar to the rivalry between Athens and Sparta; America and the Soviet Union took part in a bipolar competition for power, resulting from their strategic interaction and instability of their balance of power.

Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War provides analysis of the causes of conflict between Athens and Sparta being due to systematic change relating to the previous investigation of strategic interaction between states. This systematic…