Dr Peter Londey: Learning from antiquity? The real Thucydides traps


The Friends of the ANU Classics Museum and The ANU (Canberra) Friends of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens warmly invite you to an online lecture by Dr Peter Londey on Thursday 22 October, 2020, at 6pm.

Lecture topic: Learning from antiquity? The real Thucydides traps

The ancient Greeks have much to tell us about the world, but they are also pithanotatoi - dangerously plausible and persuasive. We should not take Tyrtaios at face value on war, nor Plato on sex. Thucydides, more than any other, has been approached with too much naivety.

This lecture will - inevitably, in the time of COVID - take as an example Thucydides' famous description of the plague in Athens, before moving to wider issues. In recent times there has been much talk of the "Thucydides trap", a truly dangerous idea that could actually lead to global war.

Yet Thucydides was a clever, thoughtful and observant man, more so than many IR theorists. This lecture will contemplate the things we can learn from a rather more nuanced reading of Thucydides.

Dr Peter Londey studied ancient history at UNE and Monash. After working in Classics at UQ and the ANU, he moved to the Australian War Memorial and worked there as a military historian from 1991 to 2007, fulfilling many roles including curating exhibitions, editing publications, running conferences, and reminding people that there was history before 1914. In 2008 he rejoined the Classics program at ANU, teaching ancient Greek history and ancient Greek for eleven years before retiring in July 2019. Though now a member of the School of History, he retains his contact with Classics and the museum, and is a valued supporter of both Friends groups.