The Topography of the Pylos Campaign and Thucydides' Literary Themes

by Matthew A. Sears

Hesperia, Volume 80, Issue 1
Page(s): 157-168
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/hesp.80.1.0157
Year: 2011


Thucydides' account of the Spartan defeat at Pylos in 425 B.C. has long been plagued by supposed topographical errors for which there is no agreed-upon explanation. A comparison of the Pylos episode in Book 4 with the description of Phormion's sea battles in Book 2 suggests that certain literary themes, namely, the respective characterizations of the Athenians and Spartans, might have led the historian to alter several topographical details in order to support his attributions of motive to the Athenians and Spartans at Pylos.