Ancient Voter is a series of learning activities based on Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides is sometimes called the first modern historian, because he sought out eyewitnesses to events. As the war spread city by city — and eventually ended the Golden Age of Democracy in ancient Greece — Thucydides described not only the battles but also a series of important votes, in which the city-states decided whether to go to war and which side to join. Before each vote, there were speeches for and against.

Thucydides admits he had to reconstruct the speeches himself (because eyewitnesses had trouble Home_Introremembering the details). As he wrote, Thucydides imagined each side making its strongest possible case, with arguments that were well-organized, supported by facts, and oriented to the rational interests of voters. Today, these speeches represent an unusual opportunity — an invitation to consider a real set of life-and-death voting propositions in  the light of reasoned debate.

Starting with Corcyra (modern-day Corfu), each Ancient Voter activity includes:

  • Background before the vote
  • Speech by one side (other side appears in next activity)
  • Questions to determine the issues and facts
  • Questions for weighing pros and cons
  • Suggested research and writing
  • What happened next

Students can work in groups or individually.

First up:

Should Athens Help Corcyra: Yes or No?


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