One of the contributions of ancient Greece

The founders for the most part did not like the political ideas of Greece because they felt democracy was a “tyranny of the majority”. There was no higher law, no universal principle to appeal to, so the majority could change laws at a whim and sentence people to death because they didn’t like what they believed. Socrates is the most famous victim of one of those “majoritarian” decisions.

However, the Greeks, or more accurately, the Athenians, are still imp0rtant. The main point I want to make here is their contribution to historical thinking. In the booklet A Student’s Guide to the Study of History, author John Lukacs says this:

As in so many other instances, the Greeks were the creators of many of the fundaments of our entire culture and civilization. Among them we find the first examples of historical thinking (and, therefore, of historical writing)—ndeed, the very word “history,” which in ancient Greek meant something like “re-search.” The three greatest classical Greek historians were Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon. It is interesting to note that all of them wrote something like contemporary, or nearly contemporary, history about events and people that they knew and that they had witnessed. (Xenophon had marched with ten thousand Greek soldiers across Anatolia—today’s Turkey—to the sea and described that in his book Anabasis, that then became near-immortal.) Herodotus was sometimes called the Father of History: he was a man of the world, and perhaps his most lasting achievement was the ease and the clarity of his   style.* But for our purposes here, running through the history of history, perhaps the most telling achievement is that of Thucydides. In the Introduction to his History of the Peloponnesian War he asserts his purpose. This war is not yet over, he writes: but there are already so many false stories of this event or that, of this man or another, that he is compelled to tell what really happened. This search for the truth—which most often consists of the reduction of untruths— is the essence of historical research: a fabulous achievement of the Greek mind. There is also Thucydides’ conviction of the permanent value of history. He hoped, he wrote, that his History would be read “by those who
desire an exact knowledge of the past as a key to the future, which in all probability will repeat or resemble the past.** This work is meant to be a permanent possession, not the rhetorical triumph of an hour.”

This, of course is not their only contribution, but for now it will have to do. School has begun and I will be only posting sporadically. More frequently than the past weeks of silence whilst I was out of town visiting my grandbaby (and left my comuter at home), but not daily as I had hoped.