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Narrative Unity and Consistency of Thought: Composition of Event Sequences in Thucydides

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Chapter Summary

Thucydides' narrative tends to demonstrate unforeseen, destabilizing effects originating from seemingly minor, even inconspicuous, beginnings. One can formulate two complementary aspects of Thucydides as a narrator (and thinker). One is his capacity of synoptic analysis, combining the presentation of long-range processes with inquiry into the trigger value of seemingly unimportant events. The other is the distinction between surface phenomena and a developing historical undercurrent. Both aspects together help us understand the reasoning and perspicacity the author bestows upon establishing and approaching his subject matter. Thucydides' narrative more than once demonstrates how unforeseen effects of great historical importance originate from inconspicuous beginnings. This chapter offers its reader two opposing strands of event sequences, each interwoven with its own contradictory tendencies. Together they serve as an introductory example of the multifaceted range and compositional consistency characteristic of Thucydidean narrative.

Keywords: Thucydidean narrative; Thucydides



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