Erga-Logoi (Jul 2021)

Storia controfattuale e great men in Erodoto e Tucidide

  • Elisabetta Bianco

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 1
pp. 7 – 33


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Thinking about the role of great men in virtual history of contemporary age, in this paper we intend to conduct an analysis of this theme starting from some significant texts of Herodotus and Thucydides, to evaluate the existence of a recourse to counterfactual reasoning in connection with the role of the individual also in Greek historiography. It emerges that counterfactuals, used perhaps not always intentionally, but, in any case, as a powerful narrative tool, help to define causal relationships and to highlight the important factors, moral and political responsibilities, including above all the ability of the leader to take reasonable decisions. The story of the past as it could have been, or, in other words, counterfactual history and not just real history, could thus encourage readers to reflect in a more engaging way than through the historical account alone, judging more actively the behaviour of great men of the past and learning from their decisions, both correct and incorrect.