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Entering the AgonDissent and Authority in Homer, Historiography, and Tragedy$
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Elton T. E. Barker

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542710

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542710.001.0001

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Thucydides writes debate

Thucydides writes debate

(p.203) 4 Thucydides writes debate
Entering the Agon

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter tackles the consensus regarding the authority of Thucydides' voice and the view that his narrative stands in opposition to the democratic assembly as depicted in the text (Ober). It argues that it is best to read Thucydides' representation of debate as agon as part of, not separate from, the narrative: the formal structure of opposing speeches gives the reader the tools with which to analyse the speakers' rhetoric; but, at the same time, by aiming at a more accurate portrayal of political discourse than previously attempted, Thucydides also reproduces the crisis of judgement. Indeed, no definitive solution to the agon is provided: on the one occasion when Thucydides enters the debate, as the decision to invade Sicily is made, he takes a stand, like an Achilles. His challenge is to his readers to dissent properly: they can come to a better understanding of how politics works by reading.

Keywords:   authority, debate, agon, rhetoric, challenge, Ober, reading, politics, Achilles

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