Thucydides (Greek: Θουκυδίδης) was a prominent politician of ancient Athens and the leader for a number of years of the powerful conservative faction.

Thucydides, the son of Melesias, was born in the ancient deme of Alopeki (Αλωπεκή) of Athens. The exact year of his birth is unknown, but his family was noble and that he was a relative of Cimon, the charismatic general and leader of the conservative party. After Cimon's death, he succeeded him in the leadership of the conservatives and decided to exert a vehement opposition against Pericles, who was leading Athens, at the time.

In 444 BC, the conservative and the democratic parties confronted each other in a fierce battle. The new leader of the conservatives, Thucydides accused Pericles, the leader of the democrats, of profligacy, criticizing the way Pericles spent the money for his ambitious building plan. Thucydides managed to incite the passions in ecclesia in his favor, but when Pericles took the floor, the atmosphere immediately changed. Pericles proposed to pay for all the construction from his own purse, under the term that all these monuments would belong to him and not to Athens. The public applauded his stance and Thucydides suffered an unexpected defeat from the charismatic orator[1]. As a result of his failure to confront Pericles, Thucydides was ostracized for 10 years, in 442 BC, and Pericles remained once again unchallenged in the Athenian political arena.It is told[2] that, when Thucydides was asked by Sparta's king, Archidamus, if he or Pericles was a better fighter, Thucydides answered without any hesitation that Pericles was a better fighter, because, even when he is defeated, he achieves to convince the audience that he won[3]!

After being ostracized, Thucydides is said to have travelled to Sybaris, a city of Magna Graecia on the Gulf of Taranto in Italy, or Aegina, but this is unconfirmed[4].

While in Athens, Thucydides is also said to have accused Pericles' personal friend, Anaxagoras of atheism and sympathy for the Persians.[5]

See also



  1. ^ Plutarch, Pericles, XIV
  2. ^ Plutarch, Pericles, XIV
  3. ^ Encyclopedia The Helios (in Greek)
  4. ^ Encyclopedia 21st Century, Volume 18, "Thucydides" (in Greek)
  5. ^ Diogenes, Laertius, II, 12

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