The Ancient Library

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torian could not deny himself the pleasure of discussing the question, which was then, perhaps for the first time, agitating the minds of the Greeks, the question of the best form of government8. .The debate, attributed with a grotesque inappropriateness to the three Persian nobles, is nothing else than a representation of Hellenic institu­tions and a reflection of Hellenic ideas9. We find that Herodotus introduces moral qualities in his definitions1*, but they show a considerable power of scientific analysis and include many of the characteristics essential to the three constitutions".

Thucydides as far outstrips Herodotus in the science of politics as in the art of history. He invented for himself the canons of his art and the principles of his philosophy, and having no predecessor he may have un­consciously formed the design of his work on the model of the Greek drama. Thus the narrative, which we may liken to the recitals of the messengers or the other episodes of tragedy, is interrupted, while the orator performing the function of the chorus introduces into the discussion of

* Cf. Newman, Introduction p. 85. ' The quest of ' a best constitution' was a tradition of political inquiry in Greece. The question was ap­parently first raised by practical statesmen, and it was thus perhaps that Herodotus came to imagine a group of Persian grandees discussing the claims of monarchy, oligarchy and democracy.'

9 The debate, as a whole, is unreal and impossible, but the character­istics attributed to the constitutions are entirely Greek and un-Oriental.

10 Thus t\iyapxlri is denned as &vSfSm ipiaruv ofu\bi (practically Aris­totle's definition of dpurroicpoTfo): itaicinjj is regarded by Darius as inevit­able in a democratic government.

11 Thus Iffomfda (cf. Thuc. iii 82) is attributed to democracy, and Otanes says of it rd\if /tiv opx<is &/>xfl< vff66w<»> Si Apxty *Xel> /3oiA«Viora de rdvTa fs ri> Koa>i>r irafofxt. The description of tyranny is thoroughly in accord with Greek sentiment.


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