Essay Thucydides' Historical Method

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Thucydides indicates that people are indiscriminate about the stories or accounts they are told. They do not put them to the test. This is the case even with accounts that deal with their own country. Thucydides uses the example of the murder of Hipparchus. The Athenians believe that Hipparchus was a tyrant and was the ruler when he was killed by Harmodius and Aristogeiton. The fact of the matter is, Thucydides says, that it was Hipparchus older brother Hippias who was in power, not Hipparchus. Hippias was the eldest son of Pisistratus, so he was the ruler of Athens, not Hippias, who was younger, and not Thessalus, the third son of Pisistratus, who was also younger than Hippias. As for Harmodius and Aristogeiton, they originally…show more content…
He uses two examples to illustrate this, both of which deal with the Lacedaemonian kings. When Thucydides uses the phrase "Other Greeks", it is possible that he is referring to Greeks in general and to the popular beliefs of the time, or he could be referring to Herodotus, who provided erroneous information about Lacedaemonian kings. The misconceptions that Thucydides refers to concerning the Lacedaemonian kings are, first, that the Lacedaemonian kings have two votes each, and that they have a military unit called `Pitante' never existed. Herodotus, in his account, said that the Spartan kings had two votes each and he also referred to the Pitante unit. So Herodotus spread false information, and could very well be the "Other Greeks" who have wrong opinions that Thucydides refers to. The fact that these false beliefs are accepted as truth shows, according to Thucydides, how ready people are to believe the first things that come to hand. Thucydides next attacks the poets for spreading these false beliefs in their songs, and the prose-writers, who have also spread these false beliefs in their works. In their songs, the poets have embellished much, Thucydides says, and what the prose-writers have hammered together "aims more to delight the ear than to be true" (Thucydides, 12). Thucydides notes that it is not possible to test the accounts of the poets
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