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A Tale Of Two Involuntary Encounters: Linguistics And The Persuasive Function Of The Historical Present In Two Thucydidean Battle Scenes (1.45–51 & 1.56–66)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with two battle scenes from Thucydides Book One, the battle leading up to the siege of Potidaea and the naval battle at Corcyra. At first sight, both battle scenes look like straightforward narratives, showing no overt signs of an interpretative bias on the side of the narrator. But on a more detailed reading, the descriptive and argumentative elements in both passages and the use of Historical Present forms in them encourage the addressee to infer that in both cases, Athens did not provoke the outbreak of hostilities but merely reacted to the aggression on the part of the Corinthians and their allies. The chapter argues that a detailed linguistic analysis of the texts themselves contributes considerably to our understanding of the interpretative stance of the narrator of the Histories.

Keywords: Corinthians; Thucydidean battle



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