The silence of thucydides

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Ancient Historians often rely on arguments from silence but rarely discuss how or when such arguments can be responsibly employed. This paper addresses this methodological shortcoming by examining the circumstances and ways in which Thucydides describes violent political conflicts (staseis). It argues that Thucydides' silence concerning the occurrence of stasis has far less value than is commonly assumed and develops a method to calculate the explanatory value of any narrative historical source's silence concerning the occurrence of phenomena like stasis. It also shows that reading Thucydides with particular attention to stasis yields important insights into his narrative and historical methodologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-332
Number of pages34
JournalTransactions of the American Philological Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Conflict
  • Sicilian expedition
  • Silence
  • Stasis
  • Thucydides


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