The Melian Dialogue
October 3, 2013
KEY QUESTION: WHO WOULD THINK LIKE THIS? Apply this to every theory or
Elements of the Dialogue
• Relevant to contemporary politics, this speech conveys the dynamics and power
present in speech. Speech situations always suggest an inequality – it is very
difficult to find a speech environment where everyone present is equal. For the
most part, there are always some present that are conformed to listen, to assemble
in a certain place, and certain forms of speech are considered unacceptable.
• Requirements of speech in this dialogue only allow discussion of facts.
• For Athenian power, there is only friend and enemy – no grey areas in between.
Are the Melians goods or heroes for refusing the offer to become an Athenian colony?
• How informed are voters really?
• Heroes: Taking the gamble that they might win in the end; undeniably brave.
*One of Thucydides’ most notable and tragic works.
Who is more responsible for the state of Melos?
• Athenians: As they expand their empire, they WILL encounter people that oppose
their movement. It would be difficult for any island state to put up a respectable
• Melians: Why wouldn’t they have prepared?
Which side do you find more persuasive: the Melian side or the Athenian side?
• If there are different types of knowledge, there must be dominant knowledge and