Saturday, August 15, 2009

The ultimate summer read : Thucydides while sailing the Ionian sea

The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War editeted by Robert B. Strassler in an edition of Freepress

What more can be said about a book which has been reviewed and appraised for nearly 2500 years? Not much I guess except that the Robert B. Strassler's edition of the classic Richard Crawley translation deserves all the praise! Explanatory footnotes, splendid paragraph summaries, detailed specially commissioned maps, a comprehensive index and dozen appendices on different subjects needed to better understand Thucydides make this rather difficult book much easier to read and to understand for the modern reader.

Paradoxically, this wonderful beacon of reason from another age shines more brightly as its distance from us increases and it is truely fascinating that this book, which was ment as a “possession for all time”, has indeed reached us through that huge span of time.

Unfortunately this beam of light from a distance past happens to illuminate a civil war with all its atrocities. War follows war, massacre is retaliated with another massacre, cities are totally destroyed, populations exterminated till the last kid.

One starts to wonder what is wrong with our species. Because none of the following eighty generations that has passed since Thucydides reportage seems to have learned the lessons. The horrors of Thucydides are merely introducing much greater one’s yet to follow.

Somehow all this bloodshed described by a great mind in these beautiful phrases, which have survived thousands of years and now presented in this superb edition established by other great minds is depressing.

I guess we can only whisper with Kurtz; “The horror, the horror.”