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Monday: September 26, 2005

Another Bogus Quotation?

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:56 PM UTC

A recent Brian Leiter post, in full:

Thus Spoke Thucydides

Pericles, in his Funeral Oration to the relatives of dead soldiers: “It is not possible for people to give fair and just advice to the state, if they are not exposing their own children to the same danger when they advance a risky policy.”

–Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

(Thanks to Jim Klagge for the pointer.)

I can’t find anything resembling this quotation in Pericles’ funeral oration (Thuc. 2.35-46), which is on-line here and at numerous other sites in various translations. The words (as opposed to the thought) are hardly distinctive enough for a Greek-word search. Perhaps they are found elsewhere in Thucydides, but the fact that Google comes up dry when I try to find them in any larger context is disquieting. The pseudo-specific reference is also suspicious, since it gives the superfluous title of Thucydides’ only known work, but not the book and chapter numbers necessary to track down what he actually wrote. Should I assume that the quotation is bogus until proved otherwise? Leiter wouldn’t be the first, or the second, or the hundredth weblogger to fall for a conveniently appropriate fake quotation. I hope he does a better job of footnoting his legal scholarship.

Update: (9/28, 11:55pm)

See next post for much more.