One major theme can be found in book 2, chapter 53, where Thucydides describes the situation in Athens after it had been stricken with plague during the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides uses his account of the plague to suggest that war is a violent teacher.
On one side was the Peloponnesian Leaguean alliance of Greek cities led by Sparta. On the other side was the Delian Leaguean alliance led by Athens. The people of Melos had ancestral ties to Sparta   but were independent.
Otherwise, the island remained neutral in the war.
This sum could have paid the wages of a trireme crew for 15 months,  or bought metric tons of wheat, enough to feed 2, men for a year. Melos had never paid tribute to Athens before, and they refused to pay now.
The fleet that transported this army had 38 ships: This expedition was led by the generals Cleomedes and Tisias. The emissaries demanded that Melos join the Delian League and pay tribute to Athens or face destruction.
The Melians rejected the ultimatum. The Athenians laid siege to the city and withdrew most of their troops from the island to fight elsewhere. The Melians made a number of sorties, at one point capturing part of the Athenians' lines, but failed to break the siege.
Athens sent reinforcements under the command of Philocrates. The Athenians also had help from traitors within Melos. They then settled of their own colonists on the island. It now had a Spartan garrison and a military governor a harmost. Thucydides did not witness the negotiations and in fact had been in exile at the time, so this dialogue only captures the substance of what he believed was discussed.
In summary, the Athenian emissaries appealed to the Melians' sense of pragmatism, citing the Athenian army's overwhelming strength and their "reasonable" surrender terms, whereas the Melians appealed to the Athenians' sense of decency. Neither side was able to sway the other and the negotiations failed.
This dialogue is frequently cited by political scientists and diplomats as a classic case study in political realism.
Illustration courtesy of the Department of History, Howard University (*) excerpted with permission from the Howard University History Department. Lattimore's The Peloponnesian War challenges and may well supplant the currently popular translations of Rex Warner and Richard Crawley. The table of contents lists events and chapter numbers in detail, thoughtful and useful summaries introduce the eight books, and superb footnotes and a trenchant glossary accompany the text. The History of the Peloponnesian War continued to be modified well beyond the end of the war in , as exemplified by a reference at Book I to the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War ( BC), seven years after the last events in the main text of Thucydides' history.
It demonstrates the foolishness of pride and hope, and that selfish and pragmatic concerns drive wars. Synopsis[ edit ] The Athenians offer the Melians an ultimatum: The Athenians do not wish to waste time arguing over the morality of the situation, because in practice might makes right—or, in their own words, "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must".
The Athenians counter that if they accept Melos' neutrality and independence, they would look weak: Their subjects would think that they left Melos alone because they were not strong enough to conquer it.
The Melians argue that an invasion will alarm the other neutral Greek states, who will become hostile to Athens for fear of being invaded themselves. The Athenians counter that the Greek states on the mainland are unlikely to act this way.
It is the independent island states and the disgruntled subjects that Athens has already conquered that are more likely to take up arms against Athens.
The Athenians counter that it is only shameful to submit to an opponent whom one has a reasonable chance of defeating. There is no shame in submitting to an overwhelmingly superior opponent like Athens. The Melians argue that though the Athenians are far stronger, there is at least a slim chance that the Melians could win, and they will regret not trying their luck.
The Athenians counter that this argument is emotional and short-sighted. If the Melians lose, which is highly likely, they will come to bitterly regret their foolish optimism.
The Melians believe that they will have the assistance of the gods because their position is morally just. The Athenians counter that the gods will not intervene because it is the natural order of things for the strong to dominate the weak.
The Melians argue that their Spartan kin will come to their defense. The Athenians counter that the Spartans are a practical people who never put themselves at risk when their interests are not at stake, and rescuing Melos would be especially risky since Athens has the stronger navy.
The Athenians express their shock at the Melians' lack of realism.
They say that there is no shame in submitting to a stronger enemy, especially one who is offering reasonable terms.Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War" is such a study of international relations.
Not a philosophical work, it is considered of great importance within political and philosophical enquiry. In the "History," Thucydides attempts to disclose the underlying causes of the war between Athens and Sparta. Thucydides (/ θj uː ˈ s ɪ d ɪ d iː z /; Greek: Θουκυδίδης Thoukydídēs [tʰuːkydídɛːs]; c.
– c. BC) was an Athenian historian and grupobittia.com History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the fifth-century BC war between Sparta and Athens until the year BC.
Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" by those who accept his claims to have. From The Delian League To The Athenian Empire Thomas Ash Introduction. When Athens began to emerge as a Greek city state in the ninth century, it was a poor city, built on and surrounded by undesirable land, which could support only a few poor crops and olive trees.
The History of the Peloponnesian War By Thucydides The History of the Peloponnesian War has been divided into the following sections: The First Book [k] The Second Book [k] The Third Book [k] The Fourth Book [k] The .
In Thucydides’, The History of The Peloponnesian War, there are many themes that are illustrated throughout various passages. One major theme can be found in book 2, chapter 53, where Thucydides describes the situation in Athens after it had been stricken with plague during the Peloponnesian War.
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