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Ancient and Modern Greece

In What Would Thucydides Say About the Crisis in Greece?, history professor Robert Zaretsky discusses remarkable similarities between the current Greek crisis and the Athenian ultimatum to Melos in 416 B.C. (related by Thucydides in History of the Peloponnesian War).

After an interesting comparison of the two crises, Zaretsky concludes:

When Thucydides declared his work was “a possession for all time,” he meant that its relevance was as fixed and unchanging as was human behavior. Like his friend, the tragedian Sophocles, he would not be surprised that the blindness and hubris that undid ancient Athens remain with us today, and that the noble and humanist aims that once animated the European project have given way to unbending technocratic impulses. The ironist in Thucydides would appreciate that the very monuments in Athens, largely funded by its imperial mastery, might end up as collateral offered to new imperial masters by its battered and bemused descendant.'
- Robert Zaretsky, What Would Thucydides Say About the Crisis in Greece?, New York Times, July 1, 2015.


(Thucydides recounts the negotiation between Athens and Melos in the famous Melian Dialog.)



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