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Comparing Herodotus and Thucydides

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Introduction

Greek Historians essay In this essay I will be looking at the key contrasts and comparatives of Thucydides and Herodotus and how they are trying to present their material. Firstly, Thucydides has written his work on the Peloponnesian war and also the build up and aftermath; on the other hand Herodotus has written his work on several things, but in particular the Persian invasions. Because they both have written about different things we can guess that the way they are trying to present their material differently. Firstly, the main comparative between both Herodotus and Thucydides is the amount of detail they include within the text to show the information which they want to tell you. For example in Herodotus the level of detail he goes into about Xerxes troops is very substantial, he may have done this so that we get a very clear picture and that we understand of what is going on. This is the same in Thucydides as he goes into a lot of detail about the Athenian naval fleet; this again is used so that we get a clearer view of what is going on. ...read more.

Middle

Although this is important in the context of the part of his book, it offers very little relevance and information for us. This could show that Thucydides likes expressing people's opinions, although he doesn't have to agree with them. This brings me on to my next point; it is clear in both pieces of writing that Herodotus and Thucydides don't usually include rumours in their writing although they have different approaches. Thucydides includes other peoples opinions about the subject but doesn't usually doesn't agree with them and usually just stick with the absolute facts. Such as the dispute of Epidamnus he sticks purely to the facts he has learnt. Herodotus seems to stay away from the rumours and opinions but believes in things such as omens and oracles to help what he is saying. An example of Herodotus using omens is when Xerxes is on his way towards Greece; Herodotus says that a deer giving birth is a bad omen and therefore we could say that Herodotus cares less about the proper facts but reckons the facts lie in oracles advice and also omens. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the other hand, in Herodotus' writing he includes as much detail as he possibly can so he can really show you the point he is trying to make. A good example of this is when he is describing what Xerxes has in his force; he lists loads and loads of different kinds of people. Next, in both bits of writing a usual feature of their writing is how biased or how unbiased they are towards people and events. Thucydides is definitely unbiased in much of his writing, even though he is Athenian. On the other hand there is a few examples when he is biased and is one sided, such as when he is summing up Themistocles character he is very biased saying how he is in awe of his genius. Herodotus on the other hand, seems to be truly unbiased in all of his writing although their a few exceptions such as his view on Xerxes. In conclusion, I think it is clear from the points above how both Herodotus and Thucydides have similar writing styles but also how they differ in several ways. ...read more.

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