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Risk, chance and danger in Classical Greek writing on battle

Risk, chance and danger in Classical Greek writing on battle AbstractThis article highlights two aspects of the language used in Classical Greek literary sources to discuss pitched battle. First, the sources regularly use unqualified forms of the verb kinduneuein, “to take a risk,” when they mean fighting a battle. They do so especially in contexts of deliberation about the need to fight. Second, they often describe the outcome of major engagements in terms of luck, fate, and random chance, at the explicit expense of human agency. Taken together, these aspects of writing on war suggest that pitched battle was seen as an inherently risky course of action with unacceptably unpredictable results, which was therefore best avoided. Several examples show that the decision to fight was indeed evaluated in such terms. This practice casts further doubt on the traditional view that Greek armies engaged in pitched battles as a matter of principle. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Ancient History de Gruyter

Risk, chance and danger in Classical Greek writing on battle

Journal of Ancient History , Volume 8 (2): 12 – Nov 27, 2020

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2020 Roel Konijnendijk, published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
ISSN
2324-8114
eISSN
2324-8114
DOI
10.1515/jah-2020-0006
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractThis article highlights two aspects of the language used in Classical Greek literary sources to discuss pitched battle. First, the sources regularly use unqualified forms of the verb kinduneuein, “to take a risk,” when they mean fighting a battle. They do so especially in contexts of deliberation about the need to fight. Second, they often describe the outcome of major engagements in terms of luck, fate, and random chance, at the explicit expense of human agency. Taken together, these aspects of writing on war suggest that pitched battle was seen as an inherently risky course of action with unacceptably unpredictable results, which was therefore best avoided. Several examples show that the decision to fight was indeed evaluated in such terms. This practice casts further doubt on the traditional view that Greek armies engaged in pitched battles as a matter of principle.

Journal

Journal of Ancient Historyde Gruyter

Published: Nov 27, 2020

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