View Full Version : A Case for War - Melos & Athens: as recorded by Thucydides

02-22-2003, 12:50 AM
I was rereading some "Classic History" excepts from a book put together by Michael Grant and came across the "Melos/Athens" debate. I was lucky and found a web site that has this debate. It is worth reading. A Case for War (http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/GREECE/MELIAN.HTM)



02-22-2003, 01:54 AM
melians in response to outrageous athenian demand: "thats not fair!"

athenians: 'it is just and fair that the strong should dominate the weak.' heh

02-22-2003, 03:05 AM
The Athenians also had more subtle arguments for their position, in addition they are blunt and are realists in their view of power and influence -


No, your enmity is not half so mischievous to us as your friendship; for the one is in the eyes of our subjects an argument of our power, the other of our weakness.


But are your subjects really unable to distinguish between states in which you have no concern, and those which are chiefly your own colonies, and in some cases have revolted and been subdued by you?


Why, they do not doubt that both of them have a good deal to say for themselves on the score of justice, but they think that states like yours are left free because they are able to defend themselves, and that we do not attack them because we dare not. So that your subjection will give us an increase of security, as well as an extension of empire. For we are masters of the sea, and you who are islanders, and insignificant islanders, at that, must not be allowed to escape us.


But do you not recognize another danger? For, once more, since you drive us from the plea of justice and press upon us your doctrine of expediency, we must show you what is for our interest, and, if it be for yours also, may hope to convince you:, Will you not be making enemies of all who are now neutrals? When they see how you are treating us they will expect you some day to turn against them; and if so, are you not strengthening the enemies whom you already have, and bringing upon you others who, if they could help, would never dream of being your enemies at all?


We do not consider our really dangerous enemies to be any of the peoples inhabiting the mainland who, secure in their freedom, may defer indefinitely any measures of precaution which they take against us, but islanders who, like you, happen to be under no control, and who may be already irritated by the necessity of submission to our empire, these are our real enemies, for they are the most reckless and most likely to bring themselves as well as us into a danger which they cannot but foresee.

And so on.....