Thucydides (c. 460 BC – c. 395 BC) (Greek Thoukydídes) a Greek historian and author of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC.
Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" because of his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect without reference to intervention by the gods, as outlined in his introduction to his work
He has also been called the father of the school of political realism, which views the relations between nations as based on might rather than right.
His classical text is still studied at advanced military colleges worldwide, and the Melian dialogue remains a seminal work of international relations theory.
More generally, Thucydides showed interest in developing an understanding human nature to explain behaviour in such crises as plague ,massacres, as in that of the Melians, and civil war.
Viewed as a tragedy, his portrayal of the Peloponnesian War leads us to a very different set of questions, understandings of politics and of knowledge itself.
Greek tragedy was rooted in the empirical observation that there is no relationship between justice and suffering. Tragedy confronts us with our frailties and limits and the disastrous consequences of trying to exceed them. It advances a counter-intuitive thesis: that efforts to limit suffering through the accumulation of knowledge or power might invite more suffering. Thucydides drew heavily on epic poetry and tragedy to construct his history, which not surprisingly is also constructed as a narrative
Thucydides sees himself as an Athenian. His father was Olorus, he was from the Athenian deme of Halimous He survived the Plague of Athens that killed Pericles and many other Athenians. He owned gold mines at Scapte Hyle, a coastal area in Thrace, opposite the island of Thasos.
The maxim of Thucydides, that the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must, which holds with its customary precision.
When a politician uses the word “folks,” we should brace ourselves for the deceit, or worse, that is coming.
sourced and footnoted in Noam Chomsky’s new book Hopes and Prospects.]
Copyright 2010 Noam Chomsky
some excerpts courtesy Wikipedia)