Thucydides and Homer: Cultures Essay

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Thucydides and Homer: Cultures

Thucydides and Homer, though they lived a relatively short 300 years apart, wrote about very different Greek cultures. While the Greeks who Homer wrote about in The Iliad were, in many respects, dissimilar to the Greeks in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, this stands in marked contrast to the profound similarities that exist between contemporary cultures and those that Thucydides wrote of. There are, however, similarities between modern cultures and those in Homer’s writing, as well as differences between modern ones and those in Thucydides’ writing. Thucydides’ history is, therefore, a relational bridge between the cultures of ancient Greece and modern ones.
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The speakers for both sides appeal to the Athenians’ logic; Corcyra argues,

“’We used to think that our neutrality was a wise thing;… now we see it clearly as a lack of foresight and as a source of weakness. / It is a situation where we… will be grateful to you, the world in general will admire your generosity, and you yourselves will be stronger than you were before,’” (Thucydides, 54-5)

in an attempt to persuade Athens that an alliance would be mutually beneficial. The Corinthian counter-argument offers rebuttals such as, “’[Corcyra] wanted no allies because her actions were wrong, and she was ashamed of calling in others to witness her own misdoings. / Next we should like you to understand that it would not be right or just for you to receive them as allies.’” (Thucydides, 58-9) The dispute over Corcyra was private and completely based on dialogue. Both speakers referred to values that the Athenians should respect, and in the end no blood was shed. The choice of the speakers suggests that their people had great faith in their argumentative skill, and that skill is demonstrated by the fact that Athens initially did not favor an alliance with Corcyra but changed its mind just before coming to a decision.

A person’s worth and identity in modern culture is not determined solely by the principles of either of the two Greek cultures; rather, both have contributed aspects to the system we have. The
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