Date of Award

Fall 12-2-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Louis A. Ruprecht Jr

Second Advisor

Dr. Molly Bassett

Third Advisor

Dr. Gerard Pendrick


Few have paid attention to the role that pan-Hellenic religious norms play in Thucy-dides‟s The Peloponnesian War. This thesis investigates the trope of religious sacrilege in the form of violated sacred space. By examining how this trope functions within his chosen rhetori-cal presentation, I will argue that a secular interpretation of Thucydides does not accord with what he tries to accomplish within his narrative, and that scenes describing such sacrilege actual-ly function in crucial ways to support a major premise of his work. Two specific instances of sacrilege will be examined: the civil war on Corcyra in 427 BCE; and the Battle of Delion in 424/3 BCE. I will demonstrate that Thucydides incorporates sacrilege to serve as evidence for his readers that the Peloponnesian War was the worst war the Greek-speaking world had everexperienced, and that religio-cultural norms, however unanimously conceived and internally ob-vious, are inherently fragile and unstable.


Included in

Religion Commons