Thucydides is frequently cited as the father of International Relations(IR). There is debate in the field on how to interpret his thought, with different schools invoking him as their ancestor. Despite some simplistic readings of his work, which consider quotations out of their context and acritically accept the first translation that comes to hand, careful study of The History of the Peloponnesian War will find that the text allows for multiple interpretations in light the main IR schools of thought. This paper reviews the debate around Thucydides in IR theory, considering the main barriers to reading his work and the different attempts at claiming him for a particular theoretical view. Lastly, it argues that the main contribution of Thucydides to IR is in his eclecticism, his embrace of ambiguity, and his preference for the concrete over the abstract. Taken together, these characteristics amount to a theoretical stance similar to that of the fox in the 7th century BC poet Archilochus, which Isaiah Berlin applied to Tolstoy with reservations. The Thucydidean posture – eclectic, sceptical, and pluralist – can and should be adopted by IR analysts today.
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