This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022

POLS 13181-10: Learning From Thucydides

Instructor: Vittorio Hosle

The German philosopher Hegel famously wrote that Thucydides' work is the gain that humankind got from the terrible war that Athens and Sparta waged at the end of the fifth century BC against each other and which led to the decline of the whole of Greece. Himself active as a general during the war and exiled because of his military failure, Thucydides is regarded as the first "objective" historian who tried to render justice to the facts without involving supernatural events and by avoiding partiality to either side. At the same time, he attempted to reduce human behavior to general principles; in this sense he is also a founder of political science, especially of the study of international relations. For Thucydides sees the Peloponnesian war as a paradigmatic expression of the desire of states to increase their power. Finally, Thucydides is a masterful writer and stylist. Reading his book introduces to Classical Antiquity, the methods of historiography, and the challenges of political philosophy, particularly International relations.