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the Melian dialogue

by | Jun 5, 2022 | fresh

The dialogue should be about 1,200 to 1,500 words long

Watch the following short video about “The Melian Dialogue,” which is probably the most famous chapter of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War.


When you’re finished watching, please read “The Melian Dialogue” (see attached).  It’s quite short, but it packs a powerful punch.  One thing John Green doesn’t mention is that this dialogue is considered the first written statement of the realist position in international relations.
Your assignment is to re-write (or re-imagine) “The Melian Dialogue” where the Athenian emissaries use not a realist approach but rather something akin to a liberal internationalist and/or constructivist approach.  That is, they do not suggest that the strong do what they like and the weak suffer what they must; they do not say that international relations is just about the dynamics of power; they do not threaten the Melians to align themselves with Athens or else.  Instead, the Athenians try to persuade the Melians that maintaining neutrality during this war isn’t right because Athens stands for just principles and represents the cornerstone of civilization in the Hellenic world while Sparta does not.  It’s up to you to decide how this conversation will go, where it will lead, what arguments the Athenians and Melians will make, and whether the Athenians’ appeals are ultimately successful.
Have fun with this, and be sure to write this in the form of a dialogue between the emissaries of these two city-states, Athens and Melos.  Think of your dialogue as a play with two actors.  Make the conversation colorful and compelling.  The dialogue should be about 1,200 to 1,500 words long.  I’ve also attached some PowerPoint slides that provide some context for “The Melian Dialogue” and highlight some key passages.


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