The Melian Dialogue
This is the debate between two Athenians councils regarding the fate of Melians: Diomedes and Nikolaos whose perspectives are somewhat represented all Athenians’ thinking. While Diomedes is aggressive and pro-war, Nikolaos remains caution and in favor of the Melians proposal. Here is the debate:
Diomedes: We need to prepare our ships. Melian needs to be taught a lesson! Nikolaos: Why do we to attack Melian? They have always been neutral city. They are not our enemy. Diomedes: By not surrender to Athens, they make themselves as our enemy. Furthermore, let’s not forget that they fought on the Lacedaemonians side, and they were once Sparta’s colony. (v:89) Nikolaos: No, the Sparta is our enemy, leave the innocent Melians out of this bloody war. Diomedes: This is not just any war. This is the Greek civil war! And since they are Greek, it makes their war too. So either they are with us or they are again us. Nikolaos: But they are tiny little island, they will stand no chance again the Athenian navy. It is an unjust war. Diomedes: They are weak, thus, need to be ruled. Without the Athenian navy, they would be slaves under the Persians by now. Their liberties were paid by Athenian. They own us that debt, and that debt needs to be paid now. We need to reap their profit (v.93). Besides, if we not take Milos, it “would be the sign of our weakness” (v:95). But if we conquer them, Athens will have more power. Nikolaos: More power? How much more is enough? The more power you have, the more power you want to have more? We enslave ourselves with the illusion of power. This hunger of power will thrust us toward the war with all neutral cities. This unfair treatment of Melians will evokes temptation of rebels from other islands. Diomedes: That is nonsense. Why would they want to do that? No city wants to stay independent because no city wants to be attacked. Thus, by giving up that independent, they become a part of Athens’ empire. Their...
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