Corpus Christi College Oxford

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The Peloponnesian War

Project Leads: Samuel Gartland (CCC), Robin Osborne (CCC and Kings College, Cambridge)

Contributors include: Lindsay Allen (KCL), Vincent Azoulay (Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée), Alistair Blanshard (Queensland), James Davidson (Warwick), Polly Low (Manchester), Lynette Mitchell (Exeter), Hans van Wees (UCL), Kostas Vlassopoulos (Crete), Hannah Willey (Cambridge)

Thucydides was right, the Peloponnesian War was an exceptional historical event. For modern scholars, indeed, it is made the more exceptional because of Thucydides’ account. There are all sorts of questions which we can ask, and even hope to answer, for the Peloponnesian War that we can hardly ask of any other period of Greek history, because of the wealth of the source material. Yet in the past generation the Peloponnesian War has been neglected. Hence this project. What we want to do is to take a long hard look at the Peloponnesian War and its impact on Greek history. In what ways was the Peloponnesian War exceptional? Why did the war take the form it did? What was it about the Peloponnesian War that had a lasting impact? Others have looked at what happened to Athens during the war. We want to bring the Peloponnesian War back into focus as a transformational war.

Our interests are diverse. We will try to offer new ways of approaching the old chestnuts: why the war happened at all, its integrity as a conflict, how we write a history of the that uses Thucydides’ concept, but is able to move beyond his approach. But we will also ask new questions, about sex and about space, about the effect on political philosophy and religion, and also think through the war from different perspectives. We are interested in revisiting the experiences of the war from Attica, Asia Minor, and the Aegean, but we will also look from under-represented places, and under-represented social groups. If the Peloponnesian War was transformative, where can we see the effects, who was affected, and what questions do we need to ask to best recapture these changing experiences?

The project has been generously funded by the Corpus Christi Centre for the Study of Greek and Roman Antiquity, the Faculty of Classics, Oxford, and King’s College, Cambridge. 

Image: Temple of Athena Nike, Athens

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