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Ancient Historiography and its ContextsStudies in Honour of A. J. Woodman$
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Christina S. Kraus, John Marincola, and Christopher Pelling

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199558681

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199558681.001.0001

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Allusion and Contrast in the Letters of Nicias (Thuc. 7.11–15) and Pompey (Sall. Hist. 2.98M)

Allusion and Contrast in the Letters of Nicias (Thuc. 7.11–15) and Pompey (Sall. Hist. 2.98M)

(p.97) 6 Allusion and Contrast in the Letters of Nicias (Thuc. 7.11–15) and Pompey (Sall. Hist. 2.98M)
Ancient Historiography and its Contexts

Elizabeth A. Meyer

Oxford University Press

Similarities and verbal allusions that link the letters of Nicias in Thucydides (7.11-15) and Pompey in Sallust (Hist. 2.98M) prompt a comparison of the two men and their situations; but the contrasts that emerge from this comparison also invite the reader to observe how different the men were, and then to read through these differences to note the similarities between Pompey and Nicias's rival Alcibiades, who turned against his own city. The subsequent comparison of the recipients of the letters and their responses — Athenian democrats and Roman senators — shows a contrast even more extreme, for the former were united, strong, and public-spirited; the latter fracturing, weak, and self-centred. The contrasts that finally emerge from both comparisons suggest a fundamental parallel intended by both authors: the impending death of language, descent into ferocious action, and doom of civil war for both polities.

Keywords:   Thucydides, Sallust, Nicias, Pompey, Alcibiades, letter, allusion, civil war

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