THUCYD'IDES, the great historian of the Peloponnesian war, born of the demus Hal imus, most probably in 471 B.c., is said to have been the son of Olorus and Hegesipyle, and connected with the family of Cimon. It is stated—on authority equally conjec tural, however—that he was instructed in oratory by Antiphon, and in philosophy by Anaxagoras. Certain it is that, Athenian as he was, of good family, and resident is the most cultivated community in Greece, he must have enjoyed a most liberal educa tion. He was further possessed, either by inheritance or by acquisition through mar riage, of gold mines in that part of Thrace lying opposite the island of Thasos. He left a son called Timotheus, and perhaps also a daughter, who is said by some scholars to have written the eighth book of his history. We know from himself that he was one of the sufferers from the terrible plague of Athens, and also one of the few who recov ered. We have no direct evidence as to his having displayed in public the oratorical talent which he reveals in his history; but it is certain that he held military command, and that he had under him an Athenian squadron of seven ships at Thasos, 424 B.C., when Eucles, who commanded in Amphipolis, solicited his assistance against Brasidas. The expected arrival of a superior force induced Brasidas to offer Amphipolis favorable terms, which were accepted. Thucydides arrived on the evening of the same day on which Amphipolis had surrendered; and though he prevented Eion, at the month of the Strymon, from falling into the enemy's hands, still his failure to save Amphipolis caused him to be sent into exile, probably to avoid the severer punishment which his enemy Cleon, then so popular with the Athenians, was designing for him. Where his exile was spent, is not known. Probably he lived a good deal in the Peloponnesus, if not also in Sicily, as has been inferred from his minute descriptions of Syracuse and its neighborhood. According to his own account, he lived in exile twenty years, and prob ably returned to Athens about the time when Thrasybulus liberated it, in the beginning of 403. Ancient authorities are all agreed that his end was a violent one, though whether it occurred at Athens or in Thrace, we have no means of ascertaining. The year of his death is generally fixed at 401. Uncertainty also prevails as to the time
when he wrote his history. He is supposed, from hints supplied by himself, to have kept a register of the events of the war, from its outbreak to its close. His great work, chronologically divided into winters and summers—each summer and winter making a year—was subsequently rearranged, probably by Alexandrine critics, into the books and chapters as we now have it; and of these books the eighth (and last) is supposed either to have not been written by him, or to have not received the same careful revision which he bestowed on the previous seven. There is hardly a literary production of which posterity has entertained a more uniformly favorable estimate than the history of Thucydides. This high distinction he owes to his undeviating fidelity and impar iality as a narrator; to the masterly brevity of his style, in which he is content to give in a few simple yet vivid expressions the facts which it must have often taken him weeks or even months to collect, sift, and decide upon; to the sagacity of his political and moral observations, in which he shows the keenest insight into the springs of human action, and the mental nature of man; and to the unrivaled descriptive power exempli fied in his account of the plague of Athens, and of the Athenian expedition to Sicily. Often, indeed, does the modern student of Greek history share the wish of Grote, that the great writer had been a little more communicative on collateral topics, and that some of his sentences had been expanded into paragraphs, and some of his paragraphs into chapters. But this want cannot have been felt by the contemporaries of Thucyd ides; while the fate of other ancient historians warns us that had his work, like theirs, been looser in texture, or less severely perfect, it would not have survived, as it has done, the wearing influence of time, or remained, in its own language, the ktemet es aei —the "possession forever"—it has proved to the world. The best editions are those of Poppo (11 vols. Lps. 1821-40), of Kruger (2 vols. Berl. 1846-47), and—at least for historical illustration—of Arnold (3 vols. Oxford, 1830-35). The best English transla tion is by Richard Crawley (1874); that of the rev. Thomas Dale is also good.