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From Thucydides' History of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, Book 1

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Classical Greek with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Classical Greek Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Classical Greek language and its speakers' culture.

from Thucydides' History of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, Book 1

δηλοῖ δέ μοι καὶ τόδε τῶν παλαιῶν ἀσθένειαν οὐχ ἤκιστα. πρὸ γὰρ τῶν Τρωικῶν οὐδὲν φαίνεται πρότερον κοινῇ ἐργασαμένη ἡ Ἑλλάς. δοκεῖ δέ μοι, οὐδὲ τοὄνομα τοῦτο ξύμπασά πω εἶχεν, ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν πρὸ Ἕλληνος τοῦ Δευκαλίωνος καὶ πάνυ οὐδὲ εἶναι ἡ ἐπίκλησις αὕτη. κατὰ ἔθνη δὲ ἄλλα τε καὶ τὸ Πελασγικὸν ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἀφ' ἑαυτῶν τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν παρέχεσθαι. Ἕλληνος δὲ καὶ τῶν παίδων αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ Φθιῶτιδι ἰσχυσάντων, καὶ ἐπαγομένων αὐτοὺς ἐπ' ὠφελίᾳ ἐς τὰς ἄλλας πόλεις, καθ' ἑκάστους μὲν ἤδη τῇ ὁμιλίᾳ μᾶλλον καλεῖσθαι Ἕλληνας. οὐ μέντοι πολλοῦ γε χρόνου ἐδύνατο καὶ ἅπασιν ἐκνικῆσαι. τεκμηριοῖ δὲ μάλιστα Ὅμερος πολλῷ γὰρ ὕστερον ἔτι καὶ τῶν Τρωικῶν γενόμενος οὐδαμοῦ οὕτω τοὺς ξύμπαντας ὠνόμασεν οὐδ' ἄλλους ἢ τοὺς μετὰ Ἀχιλλέως ἐκ τῆς Φθιώτιδος. οἵπερ καὶ πρῶτοι Ἕλληνες ἧσαν, Δαναοὺς δὲ ἐν τοῖς ἔπεσι καὶ Ἀργείους καὶ Ἀχαιοὺς ἀνακαλεῖ. οὐ μὴν οὐδὲ βαρβάρους εἴρηκε διὰ τὸ μηδὲ Ἕλληνάς πω, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ. ἀντίπαλον ἐς ἓν ὄνομα ἀποκεκρίσθαι. οἱ δ' οὖν ὡς ἕκαστοι Ἕλληνες κατὰ πόλεις τε ὅσοι ἀλλήλων ξυνίεσαν καὶ ξύμπαντες ὕστερον κληθέντες οὐδὲν πρὸ τῶν Τρωικῶν δι' ἀσθένειαν καὶ ἀμειξίαν ἀλλήλων ἁθρόοι ἔπραξαν. ἀλλὰ καὶ ταύτην τὴν στρατείαν θαλάσσῃ ἤδη πλείω χρώμενοι ξυνῆλθον.


The weakness of ancient times is also clear to me, not least from the following. Before the times of Troy, Hellas appears to have carried out nothing in common. Indeed, it seems to me that it did not yet have this name; before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, this title did not even exist. Rather, other tribes had furnished them by their own designations, and chiefly the Pelasgians. But when Hellen and his sons had become strong in Phthiotis, and were brought in for assistance to the other cities, then all were called Hellenes more and more because of this association. It was not for a long time, however that the name would prevail for all clans. Homer especially demonstrated this. Although being much later than the times of Troy, he nowhere at all referred to them all together, nor to others than the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis. They indeed were the first Hellenes, but he designates them in the poems as Danaans and Argives and Achaeans. He did not even speak of Barbarians because, as it seems to me, the Hellenes did not yet exist. They had not yet been separated with a common name to provide a contrast. Those who came together as Hellenes by cities and as they understood one another's speech and were later classed together carried out nothing together before the times of Troy because of weakness and lack of intercourse. But even for this expedition they united only when they already made considerable use of the sea.

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