Sample History Paper on Thucydides Methodologies
Explain what methodologies Thucydides used to research and write history.
Writing history cannot be classified under the easy tasks. However, Thucydides, in his work makes it appear bearable and fun. In his work of researching and writing history, Thucydides makes use of the set speeches, which had been delivered before and during the war. It was difficult for him to remember the precise words used in the speeches. However, he managed to put what he could remember together to get the general sense in the words that were used by the speakers in the different situations.
Thucydides listened keenly on the facts he had as well as the ones were given to him by his informants about the war (Thucydides 55). He, however, did not write the first story given to him by his informants since he believed that some of it could have been distorted. His principle was to attain facts on the war. His aim was far from exciting and pleasing his audience. Thucydides ensured that his work was thorough by attaining information from his observation of an incidence or from eyewitnesses who were unbiased. While receiving information from the eyewitnesses, Thucydides accepted the different versions of each of them. However, he did not make a conclusion from one eye witnesses’ story since he knew that some of them had imperfect memories and had partiality. He, therefore, gathered enough stories and thoroughly searched for evidence in them hence writing tangible truths.
Explain why he thought his work was valuable.
Thucydides thought his work was valuable since he insisted on getting information from his personal experience. Seemingly, he insisted on going to the field of research personally so as to get accurate information for himself. He also gets his information from the event’s eye witnesses. He meets them personally to ensure the validity of his research findings. Apparently, he still gauged the information given by the eyewitnesses and picked only that which appeared to be impartial information. Also, he ensured to use the precise words from his evidence such as the speeches other than the use of exaggeration, which mostly was used by poets. Thucydides took his time to search for the truth. He believed that the first story he heard was not necessarily true (Thucydides 56). He took the trouble of researching for the truth from ancient history and evidence from the past before writing about it. He also thought that his work was valuable due to the fact that it was not meant to meet the taste of the immediate public. He wrote information that would last forever.
Critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of his methodology
One of the major strengths of Thucydides methodology is accuracy. Since he believed in the truth, he ensured that he did a thorough research on the events that took place during the war. He also collected information from reliable sources such as eye witnesses and speeches hence making his research accurate. Secondly, Thucydides research methodology was highly reliable in relation to his biases in settling on given information. For instance, he did not settle only on the information given to him by one eye witness. He went to different people who gave him different accounts of events. Out of the many stories, he took the stories that appeared to be impartial for his writing. He believed in writing information that would last a lifetime and not just for the immediate public (Thucydides 56).
Thucydides research methodology, which included observational research, gave him access to the situations at hand as well as the people involved. With this, he was able to access the context and the meaning of the war, which was his subject of writing. He had the opportunity to write the true views hence increasing credibility in his work. Fourthly, his methodology was strong on validity and gave him an in-depth understanding of the events that took place during the war.
Several challenges come with his methodology too. Firstly, it is time-consuming. According to Thucydides, he took his time to listen to different informants before making any conclusions. This means that he took much time in finding these people and interacting with them. Since he is biased on the first story he gets from his informants, Thucydides is forced to spend much time in trying to get someone who would give a different version of the first story. Secondly, the methodology that he uses may have made him miss on some important aspects of history. Since he appears to be too selective, Thucydides may have ignored some vital facts of the war that other readers may have outlined hence taking advantage of it in their books.
Evidently, Thucydides may have been too subjective in his method of research. He may have had his own thoughts about the war that definitely had an impact on his writings. In addition, he may have been too personal on his informants hence hindering his acceptance of the information given to him treating it as biased. Lastly, Thucydides appears to be overt in his research methodology. This may have affected his research situation hence directly affecting the validity of his findings.
Thucydides, “Method of Historical Inquiry”, In Mary Perry, Joseph Peden, and Theodore Von Laue. Sources of the Western Tradition (1 ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. pp. 5