Jowett’s Thucydides: A corpus-based analysis of translation as political intervention

Henry Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is a key text in the classical Greek canon and an important source of insights into the structures and tensions at the heart of ancient Athenian democracy. Consequently, modern interpretations of his analysis have repeatedly played a major role in shaping debates on the viability and desirability of democratic rule. This paper aims to build on previous discussion of Benjamin Jowett's 1881 translation of Thucydides by applying a comparative corpus-based methodology to explore how this translator's own personal politics shaped his re-presentation of this text. The analysis reveals a striking emphasis on the position and activity of democratic leaders throughout Jowett’s version, strongly consistent with the ideology of leadership that he developed during his career as Master of Balliol College, Oxford.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-351
Number of pages19
JournalTranslation Studies
Issue number3
Early online date19 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Benjamin Jowett
  • Thucydides
  • classical Greece
  • corpus analysis
  • democracy


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