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date: 23 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Book 8 shows why Thucydides was right to conclude that the Sicilian defeat was not enough to cause Athens to lose the Peloponnesian War. Fear and delay prevented the Athenians from responding effectively to the revolts breaking out throughout the empire and caused them to succumb to civil war. In contrast to the Athēaiōn Politeia, which suggests that the Four Hundred came to power because the Athenians doubted the merits of their democracy, Thucydides presents the oligarchs as opportunists who seized control when Athens was most vulnerable. Once the Athenians had realized the oligarchs could not win the war, their regime collapsed and the Five Thousand came to power. Thucydides saw in the intermediate regime a way to move beyond past extremism, but the Four Hundred left behind a residue of distrust and suspicion that the Athenians could not overcome.

Keywords: Book 8, revolt of Athenian allies, civil war, Athenaion Politeia, Four Hundred, Five Thousand

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