Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

A Serious Man?

Thucydides was not a happy bunny. Strictly speaking, we don’t know this – even if we trust the ancient biographical accounts, it’s not the sort of thing they talk about – but that has never stopped later readers imagining the personality of the author. In the tradition of ‘realism’, most explicitly in Friedrich Nietzsche’s account in Götzendämmerung but pervading many 20th-century political readings, Thucydides is presented as the sort of illusionless man who has the courage to face unvarnished reality; this reading is based on his stripping away of claims about justice and virtue to reveal the power struggles underneath, and then in turn this conception of his ruthless critical spirit is taken as a guarantee of the veracity of his account of the world. Arnold Toynbee in contrast detects an anguished, traumatised figure between the lines of his tightly controlled analytical prose, someone who was broken by his experience of failure, exile and defeat but put himself back together through sheer will and intellectual rigour. In either case, this is not a man who made balloon animals. (more…)

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