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Thucydides’ Narrative: The Epic and Herodotean Heritage

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Chapter Summary

In Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, two important features of the historian's narrative art point to the double legacy of the Homeric epic and Herodotus' Histories in this work. The difference between the narrative mode of Herodotus and Thucydides and that of previous quasi-historical narratives also indicates that Thucydides consciously adopted the Homeric (and Herodotean) narrative mode. This chapter concentrates on a number of aspects of Thucydides' narrative technique, in particular from the perspective of their relation to the Homeric and Herodotean antecedent. It first discusses the direct speeches and the internal focalization and then attempts to shed some more light on Thucydides' narrative art by means of a more detailed treatment of the structure of the work as a whole, the presentation of time, "epic suspense" and narrative patterning. Thucydides received his narrative education at the school of the Homeric epics.

Keywords: History of the Peloponnesian War; Herodotean heritage; Homeric epic; narrative technique; Thucydides



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