Brasidas & Cleon at Amphipolis

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Date

2006-05

Authors

Ponczoch, Joseph Anton, 1974-

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Abstract

This paper examines Thucydides' portrayal of Cleon and Brasidas in the second battle of Amphipolis (422 BC). Thucydides makes them the primary subjects of this climactic episode by relating mainly their words, their thoughts, and their deeds; and his focus on them as individuals must be regarded as intentional. Portraying Cleon as imperceptive, passive, and careless actually typifies Athenian behavior immediately following their success at Pylos yet differs from the regretful Athenian attitude right after the second battle of Amphipolis. Similarly, portraying Brasidas as aggressive, alert, and cautious distinguishes him from the rest of the Spartans, who play a rather insignificant role during the final three years before the Peace of Nicias (421-414 BC) because they rue their loss at Pylos more and more. This paper offers a narrative-based interpretation of the second battle of Amphipolis that reveals how the characterization of Cleon and Brasidas actually contrasts them with their own countrymen (Athenians and Spartans, respectively) when open warfare ceases and also typifies the attitudes that prevail at the beginning of the awkwardly hostile period of peace.

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