Final Published Version
The Journal of Politics
With its ascendancy in American political discourse during the past few years, hope has become a watchword of politics, yet the rhetoric has failed to inquire into the actual function of hope in political life. This essay examines elpis, the Greek word for ‘‘hope,’’ in Thucydides’ History and offers a theoretical account of this concept and its connection to successful political action. I suggest that a complex understanding of hope structures Thucydides’ narrative: Hope counts as among the most dangerous political delusions, yet it also offers the only possible response to despair. Thucydides’ text educates the judgment of his readers, chastening hope while showing its importance despite its flaws. The History thus offers an alternative for considering the politics of hope, one that challenges hope’s ardent proponents today.
This article was originally published by The Journal of Politics and is available here: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8820757&fileId=S0022381612000941. Copyright © Southern Political Science Association
Schlosser, Joel Alden (2013). “'Hope, Danger’s Comforter': Thucydides’ History and the Politics of Hope.” The Journal of Politics 75.1, 169-182.