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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Despite initially acknowledging the deep gulf between his concern with the truth and the fanciful compositions of the poets, Thucydides is strongly influenced by the examples of Homer and Attic tragedy. Three areas of influence can be distinguished. First, Homer and the tragedians provide fundamental structural principles: Thucydides adopts Homer’s solution to narrating simultaneous strands of events, follows Homer’s example in heightening suspense, and learns from both Homer and tragedy to generate unity through narrative patterning. By adopting Homeric and tragic features, Thucydides infuses his narrative with a specific tone: tragic irony and reversals create an atmosphere of eerie inevitability, Homeric “Almost episodes” underscore the fragility of human endeavors, the Homeric emphasis on factual precision heightens Thucydides’ tone of objective pathos. Third, Thucydides’ allusions to specific Homeric and tragic episodes, besides demonstrating Thucydides’ engagement with Homer and tragedy, reveal his persisting distance from his poetic models.

Keywords: Homer, Attic tragedy, Sicilian Expedition, narrative patterning, suspense, pathos, irony, Almost episodes, tragic akribeia

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