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Thucydides II. Peithō in Crisis . “Mourning Athena”. Thucydides. Was democracy stasis?. Agenda. It Ain’t So Epideictic and the Rhetoric of Response Thucydides 2 Concepts, Lenses, Readings. It Ain’t So. Epideictic and the Rhetoric of Response.

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thucydides ii

Thucydides II

Peithō in Crisis



  • It Ain’t So
    • Epideictic and the Rhetoric of Response
  • Thucydides 2
    • Concepts, Lenses, Readings

Thucydides 2

it ain t so
It Ain’t So

Epideictic and the Rhetoric of Response

Thucydides 2



epideictic genre:praise/censure displaying skill

Thucydides 2

epitaphic topoi
Epitaphic topoi

The speaker’s challenge

“May I find the power to say what I wish! May I find the wish to say what I must!”

cf. Thuc. 2.35.1


“. . . though they have died, the loss we feel has not.”

cf. Pericles’ Samian Epitaphios

The good death

“their trophy of triumph, their gift to the god — the sacrifice of themselves.”

cf. Thuc. 2.43.1

Thucydides 2

gorgianic figures
Gorgianic Figures

Basic concept

  • Colon
    • rhetorical unit

Word repetition

  • Anaphora
    • colon beginning
  • Antistrophe
    • colon end
  • Anastrophe
    • end/beginning

Other figures

  • Antithesis
    • contrast
  • Homoioteleuton
    • end rhyme
  • Isocolon/parisosis
    • same/similar-length successive cola
  • Paronomasia
    • word play

Thucydides 2

our epideixis
Our epideixis..

Babies, the other, other white meat. We live in a time of overpopulation, we die in a time of great starvation.

Thucydides 2

thucydides 2
Thucydides 2

Concepts, Lenses, Readings

Thucydides 2


Thucydides 2

  • “Truthiness,”
    • “truth that comes from the gut”
  • Foundationalism
    • The “noble simplicity”
  • versus Spin & revalorization
  • Sophistic ethics
    • Law of nature
    • Right of the stronger
  • (Counter-)rhetoric
    • captatio benevolentiae
    • demophilia topos
  • Stasis

and persuasion?

Thucydides 2

  • Despotic/oligarchic democracy? (Michels)

“The preponderant elements of the movement, the men who lead and nourish it, end by undergoing a gradual detachment from the masses and are attracted within the orbit of the ‘political class’ ” (Political Parties)

  • Charismatic democracy? (Weber)

“… devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him” (Economy and Society)

  • Pragmatic democracy? (Finley)

Democracy’s “substantive promises”: “what counts is that the people expected results and at times, sometimes for long periods, felt satisfied with them” (Ancient History)

Thucydides 2

fragility of goodness
“Fragility of Goodness”



Plague Description

Stasis description

“War is a violent teacher” (90)

“And they reversed the usual way of using words to evaluate activities” (90)

“Simplicity, which is the chief cause of a generous spirit, was laughed down” (92)

  • Plague as “too severe for human nature” (48)
  • “The pleasure of the moment . . . [was] set up as … nobility” (49-50)

Thucydides 2

and melian debate
. . . and Melian Debate



“Nature (phusis) always compels gods (we believe) and men (we are certain) to rule over anyone they can control. We did not make this law (nomos), . . . but . . . will take it as we found it. . . .”

(Thucydides 3.38.4, p. 68)

Thucydides 2

er s logos
Erōs, logos



  • Plague
    • “The pleasure of the moment . . . [was] set up as [a standard] of nobility and usefulness" (50)
  • Mytilenean Debate
    • CLEON: Athenians as rhetoric-addicts
    • DIODOTUS: “Hope and passionate desire (erōs) . . . dominate every situation” (73)
  • Stasis Description
    • “The cause of all this was the desire to rule out of avarice and ambition” (93)
  • Sicilian Debate
    • NICIAS: “Do not be sick . . . with yearning (erōs) for what is not here” (116)
    • HISTORIAN’S ANALYSIS: “Now everyone alike fell in love (erōsenepese) with the enterprise” (122)

Thucydides 2

anti x rhetorical rhetoric
Antix-Rhetorical Rhetoric?





“The most difficult opponents are those who also accuse one of putting on a rhetorical show (epideixis) for a bribe” (71)

  • “The habits you’ve formed: why you merely look on at discussions, and real action is only a story to you!” (68)

Thucydides 2

gorgianic cleon thuc 3 38 4
“Gorgianic” Cleon (Thuc. 3.38.4)

“you are accustomed to being VIEWERS OF WORDS”

eiōthate theatai men tōn logōn gignesthai,

akroatai de tōn ergōn,



parisosis (closely balanced clauses)

antithesis (contrast)

homoioteleuton (end rhyme)

oxymoron (ironic non-sequitur)

Thucydides 2