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Thucydides [ca 460-400], Peloponnesian War
[History [tragic plot]
Before the Fall -- Arrogance of Power [Melos] III. Read The Peloponnesian War, pp. 400-408.  TO DO: in blank spaces below & in the margins of your book, NOTE DOWN main issues & themes.

FIND & UNDERLINE in the text the themes underlined in the following outline. 

84.1-4: SITUATION -- where do Melians come from? What is their geopolitical (geographic) location?

To whom are the Athenians allowed to speak? 

Why not .. before the people? 

[85-113: Dialogue]


before people vs few .. interrupt whenever controversial


calm atmosphere vs present threat 

facts .. save city different points of view
right to empire .. defeated Persians [familiar? ]

justice [= ‘right way’] depends on equality of power 

justice [‘right way’] vs self interest vs principle .. your fall (cf. Pericles p. 162) 
good of our empire good .. slaves?
profit from you neutral?
hatred evidence of power fair play?
if we fail to attack .. afraid interests not to make enemies of all neutrals
islanders embittered by constraints of empire cowards & weaklings if submit
no fair fight .. honor vs shame [Why familiar? 


fortune vs surrender
hope .. expensive .. blind ..prophecies .. ruin gods .. fortune .. right vs wrong; Spartans .. honor
gods .. principles of conduct .. general & necessary law .. rule whatever one can [WHERE have we heard something like this before?


Spartan self interest--protect friends
self-interest = safe vs danger, justice, honor  Sparta .. count risk worth taking
goodwill vs preponderance of power would turn against your own land
lack of common sense .. false sense of honor .. ruin .. pride .. folly

nothing disgraceful .. alliance on tribute-paying basis, liberty to enjoy own property

liberty .. gods .. Spartans
113 uncertainties as realities


STUDY QUESTIONS: answer the following questions on the basis of your reading:

In what ways do these Athenian attitudes & values relate to those of the other Athenians you have seen?
What does the dialogue add to your understanding of the nature of the Athenian empire?

Compare the Athenian conception of the gods here with the gods you saw in epic & tragedy:
Turn to page 6 and scan the table of CONTENTS for pages 409-562.

What, in three words, is the main topic of BOOK VI?

What, in three words, is the main topic of BOOK VII?

What do the topics of BOOK VIII bring to mind in view of what you know about Athens? 

What reasons might Thucydides have for giving such detailed treatment to the Dialogue with the Melians at just this place in the story?

Designed in Century  fonts by JBVS, coached by LB; started 96/01/03, revised 02/02/22.