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Selected as a 1998 Los Angeles Times Nonfiction Book of the Year.
The first unabridged translation into American English, and the first to take into account the wealth of Thucydidean scholarship of the last half of the twentieth century, Steven Lattimore’s translation sets a new standard for accuracy and reliability. Notes provide information necessary for a fuller understanding of problematic passages, explore their implications as well as the problems they may pose, and shed light on Thucydides as a distinctive literary artist as well as a source for historians and political theorists.
“[Lattimore] gets closer to the Greek than either of his two available rivals, Richard Crawley and Rex Warner. . . . Lattimore’s uncompromising version now leads the field.”
—Peter Green, The Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Lattimore . . . has produced the most rigorously accurate translation since Crawley and, in my view, the most true to all ellipses, contractions, twists, ambiguities, and syntactical knots of the original. His willingness to confront, not shirk, the challenges of Thucydides can be seen at every stylistic level, though perhaps more in the speeches and analytical portions than in the purely narrative passages. All this makes it demanding for students, but gives them the closest English experience of what it’s like to read Thucydides in Greek.”
—Steven J. Willett, Syllecta Classica
“Lattimore’s The Peloponnesian War challenges and may well supplant the currently popular translations of Rex Warner and Richard Crawley. The table of contents lists events and chapter numbers in detail, thoughtful and useful summaries introduce the eight books, and superb footnotes and a trenchant glossary accompany the text. Maps (of Greece and Sicily, Greece, Syracuse, Pylos and Sphakteria, Athens and its neighbors) are collected conveniently at the end of the text, following the list of works cited, an index of speeches, and a comprehensive general index.
In an excellent, concise introduction, Lattimore describes current controversies in Thucydidean scholarship and assesses the historian’s prose style. Although Thucydides’ style is ‘intense when it succeeds,’ he ‘occasionally passes beyond concentration into congestion’ (p. xviii). Lattimore claims that accuracy is the translator’s ‘fundamental responsibility’ and that whenever ‘the aims of fidelity, clarity and readability come into conflict with one another,’ he has opted for ‘fidelity’ (p. xix).
In general, this approach effectively transmits both the spirit and the substance of Thucydides’ prose. For example, in 2. 65.7, defending his war strategy, Pericles assures the Athenians that if they should follow his advice, ‘they would prevail.’ Lattimore’s translation keeps ‘Athenians’ as the subject of the verb and remains consistent with Pericles’ war aims, which had more to do with survival through endurance than with active, aggressive action. (Cf. Warner’s over-stated ‘Athens would be victorious’ and Crawley’s mild but vague ‘promised them a favorable result.’) Lattimore’s ‘they would prevail’ seems to strike the note exactly.”
—George Cawkwell, New England Classical Journal
“[Lattimore’s] own priority, he tells us, has been fidelity; and he has been most commendably faithful to that principle. His version has the great advantage of being accompanied by footnotes which give the reader valuable guidance. . . . All in all, it is the most useful version now available, and it deserves a very wide readership.”
—Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones
“Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War mixes tragedy and intellection, profound emotion and painstaking analysis. Steven Lattimore has met the most daunting challenge to a translator of Thucydides, which is to provide a sense of this combination. Written in clear American English that never oversimplifies the original, this translation will be useful both to the novice intent on learning ‘what happened’ and to the returning reader seeking to savor high points like the Funeral Speech of Pericles.”
—David P. Tompkins, Temple University
“A fine translation based on the last half-century of scholarship, eminently readable yet faithful to the characteristics of the original. The notes are succinct and perceptive, as is the Introduction, and the whole is completed by a glossary of terms which students may not know and excellent maps. . . . An admirable achievement.”
—Richard Janko, University College, London
“Clear lucid prose, responsible translation. . . . Recommended for any course in which Thucydides is to be read in English; can also serve as commentary to reading in Greek.”
—Alan L. Boegehold, Brown University
“Students and scholars alike will appreciate the balance of literary smoothness with fidelity to Thucydides’ densely rich thought. The notes bring readers up to date with modern interpretations without imposing any bias of the translator.”
—Thomas F. Scanlon, University of California
“The translation of the work of Thucydides is excellent. It is both an excellent translation and a scholarly work. The footnotes are particularly helpful. For the student the glossary is a godsend.”
—William F. O’Neal, University of Toledo
“In a crowded field, Stephen Lattimore has produced an accurate, readable translation of Thucydides which deserves to become the standard English version for the next generation. Lattimore’s version stays close to the original, faithfully reproducing the historian’s long, heavily subordinated Greek sentences in long, heavily subordinated English sentences. . . . Hackett has produced an attractive paperback volume at virtually the same price as the Penguin. There are fine maps and a useful index, including an index of speeches. A glossary explains technical terms like peltast. The excellent bibliography concentrates on recent scholarship. The relatively sparse footnotes deal with literary and textual more than with historical questions. . . . ”
—Steward Flory in The Journal of Military History
About the Author:
Steven Lattimore is Associate Professor of Classics and Classical Archeology, University of California, Los Angeles.