Reading guide 8: selections from thucydides books 2-6 and herodotus

Selections from Thucydides 2.34-65 (Pericles’ funeral oration, the plague, and Thucydides’ assessment of Pericles)

Why doesn’t Pericles think a speech is a fitting way to honor the fallen?

What features of Athenian democracy does Pericles emphasize and what opinion does he seem to have of democracy?

What do the Athenians rely on instead of secret weapons?

How do Athenians make friends, according to Pericles?

Why will future ages wonder at the Athenians, according to Pericles?

What was and wasn’t the death of the soldiers a culmination of?

According to Thucydides in chapter 47, what measures did no good when the plague struck Athens?

What is Thucydides’ goal in describing the disease and its symptoms?

Once individual Athenians realized they had the plague, how did they react?

How did the laws of the city hold up and how did Athenians treat their gods and fellow citizens during the plague?

Who did the Athenians blame for their problems?

In chapter 61, what does Thucydides have Pericles emphasize about how the Athenians hold up under disastrous situations?

What part of the world do the Athenians control and how do they control it, according to Pericles?

Why does Pericles say the Athenians can’t give up their empire, even if they want to?

What does Thucydides think of Pericles’ ability to lead the democracy and how does he compare him to the leaders that followed?

Selections from Thucydides book 6.8-15 (Nicias’ speech about launching the Sicilian expedition)

What was Nicias’ view of the campaign in Sicily?

In chapter 20, what does Nicias warn will happen if they send an expedition to Sicily?

What does Nicias seem to think of Alcibiades and the young men in the assembly?

What plea does Nicias make to the president of the Athenian assembly?

Selection from Thucydides book 7.84-87 (Nicias leads the Sicilian expedition in its final days)

Note: Shortly after the Sicilian expedition was launched Alcibiades fled after being charged with mutilating statues in Athens. Nicias is sole commander of the expedition.

How did the Athenians conduct themselves when they reached the river Assinarus and how do the Syracusan and Spartans respond?

Why did Nicias surrender himself to Gylippus, the Spartan general?

What happened to Nicias and what does Thucydides think of this?

What was the fate of most of the Athenian prisoners?

How important was the Sicilian expedition, in Thucydides’ view?

Selections from Herodotus book 8.77-103 (the battle of Salamis, in 480 BCE)

Summarize the view that Herodotus expresses towards oracles in chapter 77.

In what three ways does Herodotus say he heard the battle of Salamis began? What sources does he give for these accounts?

Who sent the ship that prevented the Corinthian fleet from fleeing the battle and what is Herodotus’ source for this story?

Selection from Herodotus book 9.107-122 (End of Herodotus’ Histories)

According to Herodotus, what sequence of events caused Masistes’ revolt against Xerxes? 

How is Artaÿctes warned to make up for his transgressions and what is his ultimate fate?

Note:In the very last section of his Histories(9.122) Herodotus chooses to go on a digression way back to the time of Cyrus, the first Persian King. This digression gives us some food for thought:

Summarize Artembares’ (ancestor of Artaÿctes) proposal to the Persians and Cyrus.

Summarize Cyrus’ response to this proposal.

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