OXFORD TUTORIALS

GBT 2 Study Questions

1. Peloponnesian War; I; II, 1-46 (pp. 1-118)  

1. What reasons does Thucydides give for the Trojans' ability to hold out against the Achaeans for so long?

2. What does this indicate about his philosophy of history (1.11)?

3. What are Thucydides' method and purpose in writing the History of the Peloponnesian War (1.22-23)?

4. What did Thucydides consider to be the "real cause" of the Peloponnesian War? (1.23)?

5. What position did Pericles take toward war with the Spartans?  What reasons did he give (1.140-144)?

6. What role did Corcyra play in the growth of hostilities between Athens and Sparta (1.44)?

7. Who makes the stronger case in the dispute over Corcyra, the Athenians or the Corinthians?

8. Why did the Corinthians call the Spartans' foreign policy "out of date" (1.71)?

9. What grounds did the Athenians give for their imperialism (1.73)?

10. Compare the way enemies speak to one another in the Iliad to the way they speak in the Peloponnesian War.

11. According to Thucydides, were the Athenians justified in attacking Potidaea (1.56-58; 68-69; 85-86)?

12. In his famous Funeral Oration, what Athenian virtues did Pericles extol (2.35-46)?

13. In what ways did he consider the Athenians to be unique, and/or superior to the Spartans?

14. What was Pericles' view of democracy (2.35-46)?

2. Peloponnesian War; II, 47-end; III; IV, 1-41 (pp. 118-244) 

1. What effects did the plague have on Athenian life (2.52-53)?

2. Summarize two of the most salient arguments that Pericles gives in this speech (2.60-64).

3. What evidence does Thucydides give for the statement, "In short, what was nominally a democracy was becoming in his hands government by the first citizen" (2.65; cf. 2.22)?

4. What weakness in the Athenian character does Cleon point out in his speech (3.37-40)?

5. Who shows himself more similar to Plato’s "pandering orator" in the Gorgias, Cleon or Diodotus (3.42-48)?

6. What does Thucydides shows us about human nature in his description of the Corcyran civil war (3.82-84)?


3. Peloponnesian War; IV, 42-end; V; VI, 1-32 (pp.246-378)

Compare and contrast the Milean dialogue with Pericles’ Funeral Oration.  All that is required for this assignment is between one paragraph and one page (100-250 words).   Focus on the contrast between Pericles' view of democracy, justice and freedom in his Funeral Oration in 2.35-2.46 (pp. 111-118) and the view of these Athenian envoys on the same subjects in their dialogue with the Melians in 5.84-5.111 (pp. 351-356).


4. Peloponnesian War; VI, 33-end, VII, VIII  (pp. 379-548)

1. Why were the Athenians willing to begin their campaign against the Sicilians when they were already so heavily engaged in the war with Sparta?

2. In 6.69 Nicias speech is called "encouraging." Given the dreary tone of the speech, how can that be a correct assessment?

3. Euphemus gives a number of arguments in 6.83 that do not seem to square with the opinions voiced in the Melean dialogue. What are the differences and why have the Athenians changed their tone?

4. When Alcibiades speaks to the Spartans, how does he explain away the significance of his treasonous behavior towards Athens?

5. How did the Athenians come to be the besieged rather than the besiegers? (7.11)

6. Why is the Spartan attack on Decelea so significant?

7. Compare the military significance of the Athenian defeat in the Great Harbor to the Persian defeat at Salamis.

8. Why was Nicias execution sadly ironic?