Justice And Self-Interest In The Melian Dialogue

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In Greek history many wars took place due to the conquering of other lands for empowerment and wealth. The question arises by the Melians during the Peloponnesian war about how “justice” and “self- interest are distinguished. In the Melian Dialogue, the Athenians seek self-interest of power and strength for their empire, while the Melians seek justice by friendship and neutrality instead of slavery. Due to this questioning, the Athenians are seen being self-fish and unjust due to their greed and self-interest. In this dialogue there is a clear differentiation of justice and self-interest. The replies from the Athenian envoy, shows that everything the Athenians do is for the interest and benefit of their empire. They are just after more power and they will do anything to attain it, even if it means engaging in war and killing innocent people. However, when it comes to the Melians, it’s evident that they believe in morality and actions of justice. Although they are considered to be inferior and weak than the Athens, they believe in fighting for justice instead of throwing all…show more content…
“Melians (90): It is useful at any rate the way we see it, not to destroy a principle that works for the common good; that one falling in danger should be treated with fairness and justice, and thus benefit from this, if he can persuade his judges, even short of the exact limits.” At this point the Athenians were quite confident in their power, and didn’t need power. Since they were stronger than the Melians, it means that it was better for the Melians to think of their survival and not justice at that point. According to the Athenians, justice would only be considered when both sides are neutral. However, the Melians were not ready to give up on justice as they believed that it was a principle that works for the common
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