Retire David Broder Today (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?/Washington Post Department)
Bookmarked at for 2007-03-16

Your One-Stop-Shop for Yet More Melian Dialogue Blogging

Donald Kagan scares Jonathan Schwartz. A lot:

A Tiny Revolution: Donald Kagan: Yikes: I already knew he's one weird scary dude. But it turns out his weird scariness goes deeper than I'd imagined. Here's why:

The Peloponnesian War... one of the most famous sections... the Melian Dialogue.... The Melians... have no quarrel with Athens, wish only to remain neutral, and appeal to morality:

MELIANS: should not destroy what is our common protection, the privilege of being allowed in danger to invoke what is fair and right.

The Athenians scoff at such ideas:

ATHENIANS: know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must... Of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can.... [A]ll we do is to make use of [this law], knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do...

This is clearly a bleak, frightening tale.... Kagan wrote a book called The Peloponnesian War. Here's what he says about the Melian affair:

...a campaign against Melos provided the Athenians with the outlet they needed for their energy and frustration... [...] The Melians, alone of the Cycladic islanders, had refused to join the Delian League... [...] A further conflict was inevitable, for the Athenians could not long allow their will and authority to be flouted by a small Cycladic island...