Thursday Lecture Series: Hide and Seek

Waking Up To Empire: Alfred Zimmern and Donald Kagan on Athens, Britain, and America

Thursday, The Heyman Center

Professor Morefield’s presentation examined the classical scholarship
of two pro-imperial, public intellectuals writing at opposite
ends of the twentieth century, Alfred Zimmern and Donald Kagan.
The analysis paid close attention to the way each author transformed
the fifth-century Athenian Empire into a model for British
and American imperial development. Professor Morefield did this
by focusing on each man’s counterintuitive reading of Thucydides’
History and the forms of proleptic nostalgia at work in their respective
writings. She concluded that Zimmern’s and Kagan’s transformation
of Athenian imperial history into a narrative of liberal
sleeping served to justify imperial intervention while excusing imperial
violence.