Author of Illusions
Pericles, famed general and foremost political leader of Athens during her glory days of the 5th century, brought about the downfall of the Athenian empire almost single-handedly. This truth, obvious to contemporary Greeks, is today not generally understood, and we have Thucydides and his History of the Peloponnesian War to thank for the confusion. That Thucydides, a fierce partisan of Pericles and a soldier exiled for his own military misadventures, should wish to reinvent the history of that famous war to show himself and Pericles in a more favorable light is understandable. But how could one man with a single literary production manage to replace the reality of the war with a myth of his own making, creating in the process an edifice of illusion that would last for millennia, scarcely questioned even by scholars? The answer lies in Thucydides' ability to engage the reader's mind and emotions with his psychological motifs. By promising to peel back the superficial layers of contemporary descriptions of the war and reveal the true 'mysteries' of history, Thucydides draws in his readers and persuades them to accept his overall thesis of Pericles' innocence. Author of Illusions examines Thucydides' techniques and demonstrates just how it was that he was able to reinterpret the history of the Peloponnesian War so successfully for his own and for Pericles' benefit.
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