Art and history begin to emerge when informed reflections on experience replace immediate reactions—when experience trumps sensation. Thucydides denounced “prose chroniclers, who are less interested in telling the truth than in catching the attention of their public, whose authorities cannot be checked, and whose subject-matter … is mostly lost in the unreliable stream of mythology.” He also said he used better evidence than poets “who exaggerate the importance of their themes.” Of his “factual reporting of the events of the war,” he writes,

I have made it a principle not to write down the first story that came my way, and not even to be guided by my own general impressions; either I was present myself at the events which I have described or else I heard them from eye-witnesses whose reports I have checked with as much thoroughness as possible.

Thucydides wrote...


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