La pagina bianca e il mare. Il conflitto tra oralità e scrittura ne La guerra del Peloponneso di Tucidide = The blank page and the sea. The conflict between orality and writing in Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War


The goal of the article is to show the reasons why, starting from the fifth-century BC, Athens decides to transform itself into a marine and imperialist power. It is this thalassocratic choice that, according to Thucydides, will lead to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, the subsequent civil wars and the rapid decline of the Athenian empire. The marine turning point of Athens is mainly due to a revolution in the mentality of the urban elites dedicated to trade and is the result of the diffusion and internalization of alphabetic writing which occurs precisely in the fifth century. The marine spatialization of Athenian politics, which has its origin in Themistocles and is consolidated with the long government of Pericles, is preceded by a spatialization of thought as an effect of writing. But, as clearly shown by Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War, this mental and spatial revolution does not take place completely and it is precisely in this continuous and unresolved conflict between orality and writing, between vocation to the sea and attachment to the land, that the main reasons for the final defeat of Athens lie.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22840753n20p11

Keywords: Tucidide; Historiography; Orality; Writing; Geopolitics

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