Melians: "You may be sure that we are as well aware as you of the difficulty of contending against your power and fortune, unless the terms be equal. The motifs of human nature and pronoia are some other topics to discuss. Wussup gangstas, I’m here to spit a few words of wisdom straight off the dome. Expediency instead seems to be the dominating ideal of the Melians, as slavery would reduce their wealth, destroy their land, and subjugate them to foreigner. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. But at the same time, can one not argue that the Athenian motives were for justice?

Melian Dialogue is known as one of the influential dialogues in the field of literature.

Does working for expediency necessarily imply injustice? The Melians insist that their Spartan kin will come to their defence. This particular dialogue provides the different interpretations of both the terms of justice and self-interest on the basis of the difference of philosophies. The Melians, however, argue the opposite – that the Athenians will make more enemies by subjecting the Melians to her rule. According to the Athenians, their self-interest is closely related to their particular definition of injustice. While at first glance justice and expediency appear to be contradictory factors of speech, the two are actually quite difficult to discern from one another. The Melian Dialogue opened up many arguments over what moral considerations, if any, should limit the exercise of imperial power of coercion. Though this arguably allows for better, more direct discussion between the two parties, it is certainly not the democratic Athenians’ style. Democracy vs. Oligarchy — It is evident that Melos is a Spartan colony for more reason than one; in particular, their form of government and corresponding style of debate hints that they are not a democratic state. Ultimately, refraining from involving the public seems to result in a more effective conversation, perhaps pointing out the inefficiencies of absolute democracy. Required fields are marked *. They effectively oppose the idea that actions can only be considered as the feature of justice if come up with the proper and true reason. Just after the Battle of Mantinea in 417 BC, the Athenians moved on the Melians and demanded that they join the Delian League, thus effectively becoming part of their empire. They come up with the approach to surrender people to their supremacy and form of power without any objection by the other concerned groups. To conclude the discussion about this particular dialogue, it is crucial to mention that it immensely highlight the issue of the problem of justice as it is defined and explain by differently from the groups of Athenians and the Melians. It is notable to mention that main facet of the dialogue is to highlight the feature of power in a detailed manner. They consider all the aspects justify concerning to the ultimate salvation of the city (Monten). The Melians state that they also refuse because they believe they have the assistance of the gods. There is therefore need for different teaching methods and health promotion strategies. I would argue that there is no objective moral code, and similarly, there is no objective definition of what is just. The Athenians may have believed that subduing those weaker than themselves by conquering them militarily was their duty. Lebow, Richard Ned. The problem of justice immensely occurs because Athenians have their different interpretation of justice as they believe it morally correct to sustain their feature of power and self-interest. 87–113. “Thucydides the Constructivist.” Richard Ned Lebow: A Pioneer in International Relations Theory, History, Political Philosophy and Psychology, Springer, 2017, pp. In the case of the Melian Dialogue, we have a case which is not so simple, one where justice and expediency may be mutually exclusive, even though such exclusivity is not necessarily required. Overall, Melos was one of the few islands in the Cyclades that stood up for itself despite the negative repercussions. I agree that Athens is invading because they are powerful and capable of succeeding, but they do justify this as a form of natural justice when they say, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must,” (5.89). The dialogue provides the necessary indication about the aggressive struggle of the two influential Greeks groups, Athens and Sparta to attain the feature of power and self-interest. The Melians sound proud and justified in their speech: “We will not in a moment deprive of freedom a city that has been inhabited these seven hundred years; but we put our trust in the fortune by which the gods have preserved it until now, and in the help of men, that is, of the Spartans; and so we will try and save ourselves” (Thuc. The particular and prominent philosophies of the Athenian’s and the Melian’s can be effectively identified through their particular approach towards justice. [3] In general, however, "the Dialogue is formally not about the morality of the eventual execution, but about the Melian response to the Athenians' first demand, that Melos should submit. It is crucial to understand that both the aspects of justice and self-interest are differently explained with the consideration of the particular Peloponnesian War. While this certainly seems just, one can also argue that justice is also in the Melian’s self-interest here – because if saved, they will not be dominated and completely overrun by the Athenians. The envoys are to argue that the Melians should accept Athenian rule rather than go to war. They formulated their approach with the particular argument that the feature of self-interest have the capacity to push towards powers and it is absolutely justified. We are not prepared to give up in a short moment the liberty which our city has enjoyed from its foundation for 700 years. The Melians claimed their right to remain neutral, appealing to the Athenians' sense of decency and mercy toward a small, peaceful, and defenseless city. After all, was it not in the Melians’ best interest to use justice to dissaude Athens from conquering their territory? I just want to talk a bit more about the justice vs. expediency theme since it seems to be popping up most frequently. The Athenians attempt to overtake the Melians, but like ‘hlsoshni’ said above, could the Athenian rule over the land of Melos be just. The case of the Athenians on the other hand is more complex. Justice, in many cases, is just a contest to see who can achieve something for their own self interest.

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