Essay about Thucydides vs Plato

2008 Words Nov 28th, 2011 9 Pages
Compare and contrast Thucydides’ and Socrates’ analyses of the fate of Athenian democracy in war, of why the Athenians went to war, and of how and why they failed.

The Peloponnesian War was the turning point in Athenian hegemony in Ancient Greece. It was fought in 431 B.C. between the Delian League, led by Athens, and the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. According to Thucydides, Athens’ imposing hegemonic status and its overwhelming quest for more power made the Peloponnesian War and Athens’s eventual fall from power inevitable. Despite the Athenians having a far more superior navy and being considerably wealthier, they were defeated and made subjects of Sparta. In this paper, I will discuss Thucydides’ and Socrates’ reasons for why
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When Sparta gave its ultimatum to Athens, Pericles was more than happy to oblige and go to war. He embodies Athenian arrogance and overzealousness. Pericles speaks to the Athenian assembly convincing them to go to war because according to him, they cannot lose. Pericles explains how Sparta doesn’t have the same financial advantages that Athens does and how Athens has a far superior navy. According to Pericles, the best strategy is to use that to Athens’ advantage, leaving Attica exposed by only attacking and defending the sea were they have an advantage. Pericles finishes of by saying that Athens possesses all of Sparta’s strengths and none of its weaknesses, and Athens must fight so that future generations will have an Athens that is as good as ever. Pericles was known for being a powerful speaker and in the end, the Athenians took his advice and war soon followed. A year after war broke out, Pericles was once again invited to speak, this time at the customary public funeral for those who had fallen in combat. What follows is arguably the best eulogy in history. For the families of the fallen soldiers he states that they did not truly die, for “famous men have the whole earth as their memorial…not in any visible form but in people’s hearts, [where] their memory abides and grows.” Of Athens he says, “Future ages will wonder at us, as the present age wonders at us now.” Pericles is able to remain optimistic of Athens’ victory and
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