27 Greatest Thucydides Quotes

27 Greatest Thucydides Quotes

by / Comments Off / 243 View / Nov 24, 2014

Thucydides was a historian and philosopher from Athens in early 400 BC. He wrote the book History of the Peloponnesian War tells the story of the 5th century BC war between Athens and Sparta. He was named the father of scientific history. He was also dubbed the founder of political realism.

“Abstinence from all injustice to other first-rate powers is a greater tower of strength than anything that can be gained by the sacrifice of permanent tranquillity for an apparent temporary advantage.”

“Again, in our enterprises we present the singular spectacle of daring and deliberation, each carried to its highest point, and both united in the same persons; although usually decision is the fruit of ignorance, hesitation of reflection.”

“And it is certain that those who do not yield to their equals, who keep terms with their superiors, and are moderate towards their inferiors, on the whole succeed best.”

“Athens’ biggest worry was the sheer recklessness of its own democratic government. A simple majority of the citizenry, urged on and incensed by clever demagogues, might capriciously send out military forces in unnecessary and exhausting adventures.”

“But what most oppressed them was that they had two wars at once, and has thus reached a pitch of frenzy which no one would have believed possible if he had heard of it before it had come to pass.”

“Contempt for an assailant is best shown by bravery in action.”

“For it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not desire.”

“For men can endure to hear others praised only so long as they can severally persuade themselves of their own ability to equal the actions recounted: when this point is passed, envy comes in and with it incredulity.”

“For the love of gain would reconcile the weaker to the dominion of the stronger, and the possession of capital enabled the more powerful to reduce the smaller cities to subjection.”

“Hatred also is short lived; but that which makes the splendor of the present and the glory of the future remains forever unforgotten
here we bless your simplicity but do not envy your folly.”

“Hope, danger’s comforter.”

“I could have wished that the reputations of many brave men were not to be imperilled in the mouth of a single individual, to stand or fall according as he spoke well or ill. For it is hard to speak properly upon a subject where it is even difficult to convince your hearers that you are speaking the truth.”

“I have often before now been convinced that a democracy is incapable of empire.”

“I think the two things most opposed to good counsel are haste and passion; haste usaully goes hand in hand with folly, passion with coarseness and narrowness of mind.”

“In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.”

“In generosity we are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring, not by receiving, favours.”

“It is a common mistake in going to war to begin at the wrong end, to act first, and wait for disaster to discuss the matter.”

“It must be thoroughly understood that war is a necessity, and that the more readily we accept it,the less will be the ardor of our opponents, and that out of the greatest dangers communities and individuals acquire the greatest glory.”

“Men do not rest content with parrying the attacks of a superior, but often strike the first blow to prevent the attack being made.”

“Men’s indignation, it seems, is more excited by legal wrong than by violent wrong; the first looks like being cheated by an equal, the second like being compelled by a superior.”

“Right or community of blood was not the bond of union between them, so much as interest or compulsion as the case may be.”

“That war is an evil is a proposition so familiar to everyone that it would be tedious to develop it.”

“The dead lay unburied, and each man as he recognized a friend among them shuddered with grief and horror; while the living whom they were leaving behind, wounded or sick, were to the living far more shocking than the dead, and more to be pitied than those who had perished.”

“The Peloponnesian War turns out to be no dry chronicle of abstract cause and effect. No, it is above all an intense, riveting, and timeless story of strong and weak men, of heroes and scoundrels and innocents too, all caught in the fateful circumstances of rebellion, plague, and war that always strip away the veneer of culture and show us for what we really are.”

“They stood where they stood by the power of the sword.”

“You can now, if you choose, employ your present success to advantage, so as to keep what you have got and gain honour and reputation besides, and you can avoid the mistake of those who meet with an extraordinary piece of good fortune, and are led on by hope to grasp continually at something further, through having already succeeded without expecting it.”