Thucydides and the Politics of Truth


classical reception

How to Cite

Morley, Neville. 2021. “Thucydides and the Politics of Truth”. In Gremium. Studies in History, Culture and Politics, no. 15 (December), 7-25.


Populism, fake news, international rivalries and plague: contemporary events seem to many commentators to echo those described by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. There is a long tradition of seeing Thucydides as an authority on the present and future as well as the past. This is understood in different ways: historians emphasise the importance of historical knowledge, social scientists see him as a pioneer in normative political theory. His work invites such comparisons, and promises to be 'useful' - not as a source of abstract principles of human behaviour, but as a learning experience, understanding the importance of accurate knowledge about the world and the many ways in which human reasoning can go wrong.


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