Tides of War is a 2000 novel by Steven Pressfield, chronicling the Peloponnesian War.
Jason, a disciple of Socrates, is asked to help defend Polemides, infamous in Athens as the man who assassinated Alcibiades. Predisposed to despise Polemides for his actions, Jason is taken by the man's graciousness, his open admission of his crimes, and the parallels between his and Jason's service in the war.
Aged nineteen at the outbreak of the war (431 BC), Polemides enlists in the Athenian army sent to hasten the end of the siege of Potidaea. Alcibiades, also a common infantryman, makes an early name for himself with a bold action that saves the relief force from an ambush by the Corinthians.
Through the course of his career as a mercenary, Polemidas comes into contact with most of the pivotal figures of the era, including Socrates, the statesmen-general Pericles and the politician Nicias, and Spartan general Lysander. Polemidas describes his travels: his upbringing in Sparta and his family estate outside Athens, his time in Athens during the Plague, the mutilation of the sacred hermai in Athens on the eve of the Sicilian Expedition, sailing with the Athenian marines during the disastrous expedition, and Athens' eventual defeat at the battle of Aegospotami.
However, it was the character of Alcibiades who loomed most large over the narrative, just as he had the greatest impact on the Peloponnesian War. Undefeated during his career as a general and admiral, Alcibiades’ life played itself out like an epic tragedy with the tensions between his genius and the hubris that was his ultimate downfall.
The political shifts that occurred during the war, manifesting through partisan public opinion, act almost to make Athens herself a character in the novel.
While most of the dialogue is Pressfield's own creation, for long speeches and character development he used many ancient sources, particularly adapting quotes appearing in Thucydides in the History of the Peloponnesian War and to a lesser extent several of the Socratic Dialogues of Plato.
Kirkus Reviews calls it "Unabashedly brilliant, epic, intelligent, and moving."
One of the secondary characters of the novel, the mercenary Telamon of Arcadia, shares his name and place of origin with the protagonist of Pressfield's 2021 novel A Man at Arms , though they are clearly different characters, since the later novel takes place in AD 55, four centuries later.
The Peloponnesian War was an ancient Greek war fought between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies for the hegemony of the Greek world. The war remained undecided for a long time, until the decisive intervention of the Persian Empire in support of Sparta. Led by Lysander, the Spartan fleet, built with Persian subsidies, finally defeated Athens and started a period of Spartan hegemony over Greece.
The Trial of Socrates was held to determine the philosopher's guilt of two charges: asebeia (impiety) against the pantheon of Athens, and corruption of the youth of the city-state; the accusers cited two impious acts by Socrates: "failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges" and "introducing new deities".
Xenophon of Athens was a Greek military leader, philosopher, and historian, born in Athens. At the age of 30, Xenophon was elected commander of one of the biggest Greek mercenary armies of the Achaemenid Empire, the Ten Thousand, that marched on and came close to capturing Babylon in 401 BC. As the military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge wrote, "the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior". Xenophon established precedents for many logistical operations, and was among the first to describe strategic flanking maneuvers and feints in combat.
This decade witnessed the continuing decline of the Achaemenid Empire, fierce warfare amongst the Greek city-states during the Peloponnesian War, the ongoing Warring States period in Zhou dynasty China, and the closing years of the Olmec civilization in modern-day Mexico.
Thrasybulus was an Athenian general and democratic leader. In 411 BC, in the wake of an oligarchic coup at Athens, the pro-democracy sailors at Samos elected him as a general, making him a primary leader of the ultimately successful democratic resistance to the coup. As general, he was responsible for recalling the controversial nobleman Alcibiades from exile, and the two worked together extensively over the next several years. In 411 and 410, Thrasybulus was in command along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.
Alcibiades was a Athenian statesman and general. The last of the Alcmaeonidae, he played a major role in the second half of the Peloponnesian War as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician, but subsequently fell from prominence.
Theramenes was an Athenian statesman, prominent in the final decade of the Peloponnesian War. He was particularly active during the two periods of oligarchic government at Athens, as well as in the trial of the generals who had commanded at Arginusae in 406 BC. A moderate oligarch, he often found himself caught between the democrats on the one hand and the extremist oligarchs on the other. Successful in replacing a narrow oligarchy with a broader one in 411 BC, he failed to achieve the same end in 404 BC, and was executed by the extremists whose policies he had opposed.
Nicias was an Athenian politician and general during the period of the Peloponnesian War. Nicias was a member of the Athenian aristocracy and had inherited a large fortune from his father, which was invested in the silver mines around Attica's Mt. Laurium. Following the death of Pericles in 429 BC, he became the principal rival of Cleon and the democrats in the struggle for the political leadership of the Athenian state. He was a moderate in his political views and opposed the aggressive imperialism of the democrats. His principal aim was to conclude a peace with Sparta as soon as it could be obtained on terms favourable to Athens.
Critias was an ancient Athenian, known today for being a student of Socrates, a writer of some regard, and the leader of the Thirty Tyrants, who ruled Athens for several months after the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War in 404/403.
The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place from 415–413 BC during the Peloponnesian War between Athens on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other. The expedition ended in a devastating defeat for the Athenian forces, severely impacting Athens.
The History of the Peloponnesian War is a historical account of the Peloponnesian War, which was fought between the Peloponnesian League and the Delian League. It was written by Thucydides, an Athenian historian who also served as an Athenian general during the war. His account of the conflict is widely considered to be a classic and regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history. The History is divided into eight books.
Steven Pressfield is an American author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays, including his 1995 novel The Legend of Bagger Vance and 2002 non-fiction book The War of Art.
The Last of the Wine is Mary Renault's first novel set in ancient Greece, the setting that would become her most important arena. The novel was published in 1956 and is the second of her works to feature male homosexuality as a major theme. It was a bestseller within the gay community. The book is a portrait of Athens at the close of the Golden Age and the end of the Peloponnesian War with Sparta, and includes Socrates as a character.
Hermocrates was an ancient Syracusan general during the Athenians' Sicilian Expedition in the midst of the Peloponnesian War. He is also remembered as a character in the Timaeus and Critias dialogues of Plato.
The prominent Athenian statesman Alcibiades has been criticized by ancient comic writers and appears in several Socratic dialogues. He enjoys an important afterlife, in literature and art, having acquired symbolic status as the personification of ambition and sexual profligacy. He also appears in several significant works of modern literature.
The Athenian coup of 411 BC was the result of a revolution that took place during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The coup overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with a short-lived oligarchy known as the Four Hundred.
Classical Greece was a period of around 200 years in Ancient Greece, marked by much of the eastern Aegean and northern regions of Greek culture gaining increased autonomy from the Persian Empire; the peak flourishing of democratic Athens; the First and Second Peloponnesian Wars; the Spartan and then Theban hegemonies; and the expansion of Macedonia under Philip II. Much of the early defining politics, artistic thought, scientific thought, theatre, literature and philosophy of Western civilization derives from this period of Greek history, which had a powerful influence on the later Roman Empire. Part of the broader era of classical antiquity, the classical Greek era ended after Philip II's unification of most of the Greek world against the common enemy of the Persian Empire, which was conquered within 13 years during the wars of Alexander the Great, Philip's son.
Axiochus of Scambonidae, son of Alcibiades (II) was an ancient Athenian political figure and aristocrat of the Alcmaeonidae family. He was the uncle and cohort of the famous general and statesman Alcibiades (III), whom he accompanied in domestic and foreign affairs. This association led to his recurrence within ancient literature, including works attributed to Plato and Lysias.
Socrates on Trial is a play depicting the life and death of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. It tells the story of how Socrates was put on trial for corrupting the youth of Athens and for failing to honour the city's gods. The play contains adaptations of several classic Greek works: the slapstick comedy, Clouds, written by Aristophanes and first performed in 423 BCE; the dramatic monologue, Apology, written by Plato to record the defence speech Socrates gave at his trial; and Plato's Crito and Phaedo, two dialogues describing the events leading to Socrates’ execution in 399 BCE. The play was written by Andrew David Irvine of the University of British Columbia and premiered by director Joan Bryans of Vital Spark Theatre Company in 2007 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver.
A Man at Arms is a historical novel by the American writer Steven Pressfield. It was first published on March 2, 2021 by W.W. Norton & Company. It is Pressfield's first novel taking place in the ancient world since The Afghan Campaign, published in 2006.