EPISODE 43 The Melian Dialogue (The Peloponnesian War and Morality in History)

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“The strong do what they want, and the weak suffer what they must.” — Athenian embassy to Melos via Thucydides 

“As far as right and wrong are concerned, our people think there is no difference between the two—that those who still preserve their independence do so because they are strong, and that if we fail to attack them it is because we are afraid.” — Athenian embassy to Melos via Thucydides 

“This is no fair fight, with honor on one side and shame on the other. It is rather a question of saving your lives and not resisting those who are far too strong for you.” — Athenian embassy to Melos via Thucydides 

“Don’t quote laws to men who carry swords.” — Pompey the Great 

“The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites.” — Andrew Jackson 

“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end… This world is the will to power—and nothing besides!” — Friedrich Nietzsche 

In the midst of The Peloponnesian War (431-401 BCE), the Athenians paid a visit to the inhabitants of the island of Melos and tried to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse. The dialogue that emerged from their negotiations is a classic in political philosophy, and raises fascinating questions about the nature of morality in history. In this episode, Darryl Cooper (from “The Martyrmade Podcast”) and I tackle them all, and leave no stones unturned. 

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