The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
IN DEFENSE OF HANSON: Evan McElravy, whose binational
weblog is worth reading regularly, writes: "Although I would say that Callahan gets a few reasonable points in (like Hanson quoting from both the Spartan and Athenian position without making it altogether clear that he's doing so), to be fair to Hanson, that's not much of a distortion, let alone on a Bellesilian scale. Greek historians in fact tended to make up the speeches they attribute to others, and although Thucydides was probably less fanciful than Herodotus, the speeches substantially represent his own feelings on the events, his particular feelings for Pericles for instance. Hanson is a classicist, not a historian, and is no doubt used to referring simply to 'Thucydides' as all classicists (and ancient historians) tend to do."

I grant the point about the Bellesilian scale. I don't buy the idea, though, that Hanson was "referring simply to 'Thucydides'" in the classicists' manner. Hanson's article took the form of a mock interview with the Greek writer, in which his words were clearly assigned to the historian himself, not to "Thucydides" as a matrix of views embraced by the historian or as a shorthand term for a text. That's a distortion, and Callahan was right to call Hanson on it.


posted by Jesse 3:46 PM
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