Approximately 97% of the time, the Tweetdeck column that monitors references to Thucydides churns through the same old quotations, some more or less accurate (interminable misspelled variations on the “secret of happiness is freedom” line) and some not (poor old William Butler continues to be robbed of credit for his “Scholars and Warriors” aphorism), plus intermittent bursts of the bloody Thucydides Trap whenever a new article on the South China Sea appears. But every so often it produces something entertaining or interesting; infuriated rants from students who’ve been told to read Thucydides, the occasional new quote (there’s one from Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, favourite book of Anthony Powell, that I need to check to see if he’s made it up) and occasional Other Stuff. Including (drum roll) a new Thucydides poem!
Peloponesian War in ‘History’ was writ in part,
Before untimely passing, shot an arrow in its heart,
‘Round early fourth century, B.C.E.
“A blending of interests of the many & the few”,
None pursue own interest outside their purview,
Moderation applied, all can be free.
-Valerie Lynn Stephens
According to her author page, Ms Stephens is currently working on “Odes To The Greats: A Philosophy Lesson In Verse”, and offers a series of short poems on a wide range of Greek philosophers – clearly counting Thucydides among their number. I – or rather the Thucydiocy Bot – have suggested that changed the third line to “‘Round late fifth century, B.C.E.” would still scan as well as the current version, with the added advantage of being more accurate. The second stanza is clearly ventriloquising Pericles’ Funeral Oration in its optimistic reading of Athenian democracy – the claim to “moderation” proving to be thoroughly ironic in the course of later developments, unless ascribed to Thucydides’ own beliefs in opposition to the factionalism and extremism displayed by all sides…