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Political Science
Course Code
Ryan Balot

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Study questions - Thucydides I
Pol 200 - Balot
Study questions for Thucydides, pp. 12-50 in the Woodruff translation.
(1) What contrasts do the Corinthians draw between Athenians and Spartans in their speech
on pp. 17-20? How are the characteristics of each city related to their respective political
(2) What is the purpose of the Athenian speech at pp.21-25? How do the Athenians justify
their empire? What does their speech teach us about justice as a feature of international
(3) After completing the assignment, re-read the speeches of Archidamus (pp.25-28) and the
Periclean funeral oration (39-46) together. How does each figure represent the way of life
of his people? What are the particular virtues of Sparta and Athens, according to
Archidamus and Pericles? How does each speaker represent courage, in particular, as a
virtue of his city? Why is courage a distinctively important virtue for each speaker to
(4) What is the connection, if any, between Pericles' Funeral Oration and Thucydides'
description of the plague (46-50), which follows the funeral oration? What are the most
important elements of civic breakdown, as Thucydides represents them in his description
of the plague?
(5) Generally speaking, in this first reading assignment, how does Thucydides represent the
relationship between democracy and empire? What sorts of institutions, rhetoric,
passions, and principles are most important for Thucydides' account of the Athenian
democracy at war, and why?
Study questions - Thucydides II
Pol 200 - Balot
oStudy questions for Thucydides, pp. 52-58, 66-76, 89-95, 102-109, 111-123 in the
Woodruff translation.
(1) What are the implications of Pericles' admission that Athens's empire is like a tyranny
(p.55)? What sorts of constraint limit the free behavior of tyrants and tyrannical empires?

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(2) Does Thucydides offer any criticisms of Pericles or of Periclean Athens, despite his
praise of this democratic leader in the middle of p.57?
(3) How does Cleon differ from Pericles as a leader? Who is more persuasive - Diodotus or
Cleon? Which speaker shows a fuller dedication to justice?
(4) Read pp.89-95 particularly carefully. What, according to Thucydides, caused the civic
disintegration at Corcyra? How does the civil war at Corcyra shed light, by contrast, on
the political stability enjoyed by Periclean Athens?
(5) How do the Athenian speakers at Melos differ from the Athenian speakers at Sparta?
Has Athenian morality evolved over the course of the war?
(6) Do any criticisms of Athenian democracy emerge from Thucydides' representation of the
Sicilian Debate (112-123)? When we read the Sicilian Debate, do we find that
deliberative discourse at Athens has declined since the time of the debate between Cleon
and Diodotus?
Study questions 3 - Plato Republic I
Pol 200- Balot
Study Questions for Plato's Republic Book I.
(1) What is the significance, if any, of the dramatic setting and the dramatic set-up of this
dialogue? In general, you should think about why Plato chose to explore philosophical
problems in the particular literary genre of dialogue (he did not, for example, write
treatises - but why not?).
(2) What is problematic, from Socrates' point of view, about the accounts of justice offered
by Cephalus and his son, Polemarchus? Where do their views of justice originate?
Where, precisely, do they go wrong?
(3) Starting on p. 7, Socrates begins to compare justice to a "craft" or "art," the Greek term
for which is technē. What are the points of similarity and difference between justice and
the (other?) arts? Is Socrates' analogy a useful one?
(4) What are the three definitions of justice offered by Thrasymachus? Does Thrasymachus
present a coherent philosophical thesis? Do his ideas about justice resemble those of any
speakers in Thucydides' History?

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(5) How convincing is Socrates' position by the end of the first book? Does he still have
more work to do, if he is truly to convince his audience and readers that justice is good for
the agent who possesses it?
Study questions 4 - Plato Republic Books II-III
Pol 200- Balot
Study Questions for Plato's Republic Books 2-3.
(1) How, if at all, does the position described by Glaucon and Adeimantus at the beginning
of Book 2 differ from that of Thrasymachus? What is the point of "starting over" again in
this way, of having the brothers pose another challenge to Socrates?
(2) What are the principal features of Glaucon's description of justice, human nature, and the
law? Does Glaucon present a theory of justice?
(3) At 369a-372d, Socrates founds a simple city which Glaucon calls a " city of pigs." How
does Socrates represent human nature in this city? Why does he "found" this city in the
first place? How does this city differ from the city described by Glaucon?
(4) What is the purpose of the education of the guardians, which Socrates outlines in Books
2-3? Why does Socrates show a special interest in the gods and in the afterlife?
(5) What is the role of the passions or emotions in Socrates' proposed educational program?
(6) At the end of Book 3, Socrates begins to outline several controversial political proposals,
including the "noble lie" (414b-415d) and community of property for the guardians (416d-
417b). What is the purpose of these provisions? What possible objections might there be
to these provisions?
Study questions 5 - Plato Republic IV-V
Pol 200- Balot
Study Questions for Plato's Republic Books 4-5.
(1) How effectively does Socrates respond to Adeimantus' objection that the Guardians of
his city will not be very happy?
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