Melian dialogue is one of a few written texts, which contain important memories about the ancient period. This dialogue represents a written speech, connected with the topic of Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens (Thucydides, 1972). These were two the most powerful cities in Greece, and the war between them was extremely great and cruel (Bosworth, 1993). Thucydides, the author of Melian dialogue mentions that there were many minor cities, which were involved in the war, as well. Some of them tended to fight bravely and strongly in order to protect their freedom. One of such nations is the inhabitants of the island of Melos. They took part in the war, nevertheless of fear and death.
From the contemporary point of view, we can judge that Melian dialogue is something more than just a simple description of the military events. Together with the depiction of the war images, it emphasizes on the much more important notions, such as the role of the self-interest, the position of the justice, the relations between the enemies and the concept of power. The author wants to show that self-interest and power can lead to nothing if they are not supported by the moral and ethical principles. Therefore, he states that it is very important to maintain moral qualities on a high level.
The question of power and self-interest is well described in the episode, in which Athenian leader arrives to the island of Melos. Athenians consider them the most powerful nation in the world. As a result, they suppose they have all rights to control other nations, because of their power politics. Moreover, Athenians have a good military preparation, superior military force and plenty of other capabilities (Baylis et al., 2011). All these factors make them supervisors in the world. Thus, when Athenians arrive to Melos, they ask its inhabitants to agree on their power or to leave the territory.
However, later, we can see that such politics happen to be fruitless. Melians believe in the importance of God, justice and moral principles. They refuse Athenians’ demands and neglect their power politics, following the ethical rules and moral behavior (Baylis et al., 2011). Finally, Melians managed to protect their freedom and save their nationality. Using such an example, Thucydides tries to emphasize on the importance of justice and the advantages of morality over the power politics and self-interest of a separate nation (Lewis, 1992).
When speaking about the balance of power, it is easy to notice that the author describes Athenians as well prepared and brave warriors. On the contrary, Melians are illustrated as a group of individuals, who are fruitlessly fighting for their freedom and rights (Liebeschuetz, 1968). Nevertheless, Athenians pride, privileges and huge capabilities do not help them to end the war successfully. It means that the balance of power is rather a relevant concept. It depends on many factors, and many impacts may contribute to the success of a certain nation.
However, we can notice some regularity. The author highlights the significant role of morality and justice in the process of a war. Although, good preparation and superior force are important factors, following the moral principles and the notions of justice are vital for the success as well.
To sum up, Melian dialogue is a unique literal work, which represents a great value for a modern society. Despite the tragic events, described in the dialogue, the author wants to reflect the essential concepts of morality and ethics in any situation. Thucydides shows that there are no reasons to apply to the power politics and focus attention on the satisfaction of the self-interest as there are much more important things to perform. He states that it is crucial to follow the moral way of life and believe in the justice, rather than apply to the dishonest advantages.
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