Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fully Visible

"Thucydides gives a detailed account of the Peloponnesian War, which was a particular event. But this particular event is the only phenomenon in which the nature of human things or of human life becomes fully visible because in it the peak of Greekness, and therewith the peak of humanity, becomes fully visible; we see the beginning of the descent. We see the limitation of the peak. For war, or movement, is destructive. And that particular movement which is the Peloponnesian War is destructive of the highest. The biggest rest finds not its culmination but its end in the biggest movement. The biggest movement weakens and endangers, nay, destroys, not only power and wealth but Greekness as well. The biggest movement leads very soon to that unrest within cities, that statis, which is identical with re-barbarization. The most savage and murderous barbarism, which was slowly overcome by the building up of Greekness, reappears in the Peloponnesian War. The war brings murderous barbarians into the the midst of Greece as allies of the Greeks engaged in fratricidal war. Thracians murder the children attending a Greek school. The Peloponnesian War reveals the extremely endangered character of Greekness. Original kinesis, original chaos, comes into its own. It reveals itself as the permanent basis of derivative rest, of derivative order, of derivative Greekness. By understanding the biggest unrest Thucydides understands the limits of human possibilities. His knowledge is final knowledge. It is wisdom."

—Leo Strauss, "Thucydides: The Meaning of Political History"

(for Alex)

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