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4. Speeches in Thucydides and the Mytilenian Debate

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About this Lecture


In this module, we turn to one of the most vexed questions about Thucydides’ historical method: to what extent are the speeches that Thucydides records accurate representations of what was actually said? In particular, we focus on the Mytilenian Debate, a meeting of the Athenian assembly which in Thucydides’ narrative has been condensed to just two speeches —the first by Cleon, and the second by Diodotus. As we read through the speeches, we get a sense of what was at stake for the Athenians, and what it might have been like to have actually been present on the day.


In this course, Professor Neville Morley (University of Bristol) explores Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, focusing on the key episodes in the text and thinking in particular about some of the historiographical issues that modern historians face when reading Thucydides. As we move through the course, we think about the opening paragraphs of Thucydides’ history and his methodology as a historian, his views on historical causation, his dramatisation of history, and his sense of the tragedy of history, among many other issues.


Neville Morley is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Bristol, who has published widely on ancient economic and social history, the theory and methodology of history, and the historian Thucydides.

At present, he is working on a book on Karl Marx for the OUP Classics in Theory series, and developing new research projects on ecology and economics in the Roman world, as well as continuing to write articles on Thucydides and his reception and other topics.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Morley, N. (2018, August 15). Thucydides - Speeches in Thucydides and the Mytilenian Debate [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Morley, Neville. "Thucydides – Speeches in Thucydides and the Mytilenian Debate." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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