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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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Hobbes, In search of the truth

Excerpts from Hobbes' Thucydides 


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Thucydides, in the art of speaking, hath in my opinion far exceeded them all. For he is so full of matter, that the number of his sentences doth almost reach to the number of his words; and in his words he is so apt and so close, that it is hard to say whether his words do more illustrate his sentences, or his sentences his words.

Cicero, De Oratore

    IN SOME some places of his history be noteth the equivocation of the oracles; and yet he confirmeth an assertion of his own, touching the time this war lasted, by the oracle's prediction. He taxeth Nicias for being too punctual in the observation of the ceremonies of their religion, when he overthrew himself and his army, and indeed the whole dominion and liberty of his country, by it. Yet he commendeth him in another place for his worshipping of the gods, and saith in that respect, he least of all men deserved to come to so great a degree of calamity as he did. So that in his writings our author appeareth to be, on the one side not superstitious, on the other side not an atheist.

In rhetoric, he was the disciple of Antiphon; one (by his description in the eighth book of this history) for power of speech almost a miracle, and feared by the people for his eloquence. In as much as in his latter days he lived retired, but so as he gave counsel to, and writ orations for other men that resorted to him to that purpose. It was he that contrived the deposing of the people, and the setting up of the government of the Four Hundred. For which also he was put to death, when the people again recovered their authority, notwithstanding that he pleaded his own cause the best of any man to that day.

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Cf. Thucydides: Democracy of the Best & A history of Ideas   Papacy

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