The Melians Dialogue

1303 Words6 Pages
Written by the Greek historian Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War is one that tells the story of the war (431-404 BC) which divided the Greek world between Athens and its allies and Lacedaemon. The Melian Dialogue presents two sides and two perspectives that of the Melians neutrality and that of the Athenians’ might. By Thucydides juxtaposing the Athenian’s position to that of the Melians, there is a clear conclusion of which side actions are tactically and morally acceptable. One would argue that the Athenians are immoral for violently plundering the Melian territory because they had the power to do so. However, given the circumstance of trying to defend their empire due to the imbalance of forces, the Athenian actions are not…show more content…
“But we trust that the gods may grant us fortune as good as yours, since we are just men fighting against unjust, and that what we want in power will be made up by the alliance of the Lacedaemonians” (Thucydides 270). The Melians should have acted sensibly instead of being naïve and submit to the imperial power seeing that the odds were against them. The Athenians give them a choice, but they decided to act irrational and respond emotively. “They underestimated Athens’ military power, judging the issue by the clouded eye of volition rather than calculations based on security and followed the human tendency to back their desires with uncritical hope and use of sovereign reason only to reject what they find unpalatable” (Bosworth 36).
Thucydides, in structuring the Melian Dialogue explicitly shows us that the Melos is a smaller and weaker nation in comparison to Athens however, the Melians’ illogicality of weakness to go up against Athens can somewhat justify the Athenians act of being greedy. The Athenians stresses the senselessness of resistance and the inescapably of capitulation but the Melians remain steadfast in their decision to be neutral and tries to shift the argument to issues of justice and hints at the possibility of human and divine assistance. The Athenians aware of the weakness of the Melians says, “Your strongest arguments depend upon hope and the future, and your actual resources are too scanty, as compared with those
Get Access