Prof. Stefan Dolgert published a new article in the Review of International Studies, “Thucydides, amended: religion, narrative, and IR theory in the Peloponnesian Crisis.” Abstract:
Most of our knowledge of the Peloponnesian War comes from the text of Thucydides’ History, yet IR scholars are strangely credulous when evaluating Thucydides’ pronouncements. I explore what Thucydides does not tell us, and suggest that his text obscures important information regarding the outbreak of the war. Thucydides has a secular bias which leads him to discount the Spartan religious self-narrative, but by attending to this schema, in which Sparta sees itself in the role of the pious defender of moderation pitted against the corrupt Athenians, we gain a richer understanding of the chain of events that led to war. Contemporary scholars have too readily adopted Thucydides’ perspective on this issue, but by assessing Thucydides’ data using insights drawn from contemporary cognitive theories of narrative and image we see that misperceptions based in the conflicting Athenian and Spartan narratives played an important role in the escalation of the crisis.