Home » Type » E-journal, History, Research Symposium » Abstract | The Cyclic Views of the Human Condition in Thucydides’ “Archaeology” and Sima Qian’s “Preface to Historical Records”

Abstract | The Cyclic Views of the Human Condition in Thucydides’ “Archaeology” and Sima Qian’s “Preface to Historical Records”

It seems to me that both Greek and Chinese historical thinking originally investigated the past and reconstructed cultural memories with rationality, and I hope to get a better understanding of the basic characteristics of Greek and Chinese historiographies. To that purpose, this paper attempts to discuss the cyclic views of the human condition underlying ancient Greek and early Chinese historiographies through a comparative study of Thucydides’ and Sima Qian’s texts. I show some similarities and differences between two great historians’ conceptions of the historical process. Further, it suggests that Sima Qian precisely marks a separation from the mythical stories to the historical spirit in China, just as Thucydides did in Greece. Both of them have some kind of modified cyclic view of human history. Sima Qian focuses on the dynastic cycle with a strong moral concern, while Thucydides believes that human intelligence develops through the historical spiral.

About BAI Chun Xiao

Chun Xiao Bai received his BA (2005) and PhD in Ancient History (2010) at Fudan University. Now he is a lecturer in ancient Greek history at the Department of History, Zhejiang University. He has also completed research at the Harvard Summer School in Greece (2008), the Department of Classics, King’s College London (2008-2009), the National Hellenic Research Foundation at Athens (2011-2012) and the Center for Hellenic Studies at Nafplion, Harvard University (2013-2014). He is the Onassis Scholar in Greece (2011-2012) and the distinguished young scholar of ZJU (2013). His research fields include Thucydides and the Classical Greek world. His first book, Sufferings and Greatness: the Human Condition in the View of Thucydides, was published by the Peking University Press (2015).

Leave a Reply