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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Thucydides follows the “Pre-Socratics” and anticipates the Socratics in considering politics in the context of the question of nature. His view of nature, which he expresses above all through the antithesis (or dyad) of motion and rest, seems typically “Pre-Socratic”: of other extant views it most recalls that of Empedocles. Yet by expounding politics itself in terms of rest and motion, he does not so much distinguish it from the natural realm as assimilate the two. His narrative opposes two perspectives: that of the primacy of justice and piety, as championed by the Spartans and their allies, and that of the “Athenian thesis”—the claim that natural compulsions encroach irresistibly on the human freedom to practice these virtues. Both understandings prove problematic, and the dialogue that Thucydides stages between them may point toward the enigmatic perspective of Thucydides himself.

Keywords: pre-Socratic, Empedocles, nature, justice, piety, rest, motion

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