Thucydides (/θjuːˈsɪdɪdiːz/; Ancient Greek: Θουκυδίδης Thoukūdídēs [tʰuːkyːdídɛːs]; c. 460 – c. 400 BC) was an Athenian historian and general. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the fifth-century BC war between Sparta and Athens until the year 411 BC. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of “scientific history” by those who accept his claims to have applied strict standards of impartiality and evidence-gathering and analysis of cause and effect, without reference to intervention by the deities, as outlined in his introduction to his work.
He also has been called the father of the school of political realism, which views the political behavior of individuals and the subsequent outcomes of relations between states as ultimately mediated by, and constructed upon, the emotions of fear and self-interest. His text is still studied at universities and military colleges worldwide. The Melian dialogue is regarded as a seminal work of international relations theory, while his version of Pericles’ Funeral Oration is widely studied by political theorists, historians, and students of the classics.
More generally, Thucydides developed an understanding of human nature to explain behaviour in such crises as plagues, massacres, and civil war.
Thucydides is generally regarded as one of the first true historians. Like his predecessor Herodotus, known as “the father of history”, Thucydides places a high value on eyewitness testimony and writes about events in which he probably took part. He also assiduously consulted written documents and interviewed participants about the events that he recorded. Unlike Herodotus, whose stories often teach that a hubris invites the wrath of the deities, Thucydides does not acknowledge divine intervention in human affairs.