Thucydides: The Innate Evil Of Melian Democracy

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In the Melian Dialogue1, Thucydides argues that the innate evil of human nature causes justice to succumb to self-interest and ambition in times of war. Thucydides constructs the Melian Dialogue to advance his argument that unregulated governments, such as the Athenian democracy, allow sophist and demagogues to impose their private agendas on the empire. Unrestrained governments that lack balance between self-desire and morality leave themselves exposed to a tyrannical type of ‘democracy’. These governments permit a select group of citizens’ to rule the masses without regard for justice or morality. Throughout the text, it is evident that the structure of Athenian democracy is thus problematic because it disregards morality and permits the…show more content…
The Melian Dialogue effortlessly conveys Thucydides perception of human nature as not an empty convention but rather the overarching reality that often times human nature (and necessity) is too powerful for justice. The Athenian greed, ambition, and self-serving interest led them to kill all Melian men of military age and make slaves of the women and children even though the Melians willingly submitted, because this was justice for them. Self-determination and justice, principles that are prized within Athenian democracy are disregarded. The concept of democracy becomes corrupted because the Athenians ignore the voices of the weaker Melians, especially in the face of danger. Thucydides writes, “the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.”7 The ruthless act of mass genocide on the Melians proves significant for Thucydides argument because this act tears down the foundation of justice and the principles of equality in which Athenian democracy is built on. It shows that this system of government is hypocritical because no entity within exists to

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