Sunday, August 21, 2022

the misery of war...................

      It is common to label this appreciation for power and its role in state affairs "realism" or "neorealism."  But Thucydides—and this is why he is truly a great historian—is too discerning a critic to reduce strife down to simply to perceptions about power and its manifestations.  War itself is not a mere science but a more fickle sort of thing, often subject to fate or chance, being an entirely human enterprise.  The Peloponnesian War, then, is not a primer for international relations studies, and the historian des not believe that "might makes right."  Tragedy, not melodrama, is its message. . . .

     For a writer who is supposedly interested in power rather than tragedy, Thucydides misses no occasion to note how heartbreaking the losses of particular armies were.  What seems to capture the historian's attention is not, as is so often claimed, the role of force in interstate relations but the misery of war that is unleashed upon the thousands—the subject of this book—who must fight it.

-Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War

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