Thucydides (ca. 460-400 B.C.)Thucydides (ca. 460-400 B.C.) - Whereas Herodotus receives the glory for being the world's first historian, Thucydides is easily considered the superior historian. In fact, for those who study history, he is regarded as one of the greatest historians of all-time. He is the chronicler of the Peloponnesian War. Of course, he had the advantage of being a first-hand witness who served as a general in the Athenian military at the time. Herodotus, by contrast, was removed from the Persian Wars by a generation and had to re-count the events from interviews. Still his approach is considered much more scientific than that of Herodotus. For example, he never attributes any of the events to intervention from the gods, nor does he interject personal commentary in his account. Like Heordotus, most details of his own life are not well known.


There is, however, one seminal moment which is. In 422 B.C., about a third of the way through the war, the Battle of Amphipolis was fought. The Spartans, under general Brasidas, besieged the city, and the Athenians defended it with a only a small garrison. Eucles, the Athenian commander, dispatched an urgent message for aid to Thucydides, who was stationed on the nearby island of Thasos with seven ships. The aid arrived too late and Amphipolis fell to the Spartans. Thucydides was blamed for the loss of the Athenian colony and exiled. This actually freed Thucydides to devote himself to chronicling the Peloponnesian War full-time. The Spartans, knowing full well that he had been discharged from the military and exiled from the city, allowed him to travel freely throughout the Peloponnese unmolested. As a result, he was able to compile a much more comprehensive account from both sides of the war. The year of his death is unknown, but it is believed to have been sometime shortly after the war ended.