May 9: Thucydides
1. In their speeches, Cleon and Diodotus each comment on the debate they are having. They
comment on how the audience may react to speeches and what motivations the other speaker
may have . They also give the audience advice. What points do they make, specifically?
Athens has hurt herself by cultivating fine Discussion is necessary for action (i.e. we
rhetoric. the rhetorical contests you hold need to discuss now, and carefully) If one
have formed bad habits. you enjoy looking does not want to discuss the matter, he is
at spectacles. real action is not your wont. either stupid, because there is no other way
you consider what to do in the future on the to consider the future, or has ulterior
basis of fine speeches. fine speeches are not motives, because he wants to persuade you
about what is possible, but what sounds to do something awful, but offers slander
good. you think that what is presented in instead of good argument
speech is more certain than what you see
with your own eyes. you have a taste for the
unusual and spurn the ordinary, the
common-sensical. you all want to be
effective speakers above all. even if you are
not, you try to compete with effective
speakers. you applaud the fine speaker's
point before it is made just to appear clever
yourselves. but you do not see the point's
consequences. you want to hear about things
extraordinary. but you do not understand
what happens under your noses. you are so
engrossed in what sounds good that you
resemble art critics more than people
deliberating about public policy
2. What reasons does Cleon give to support his claim that the best course of action is to show the
people of Lesbos no mercy?
a) Trust one another; trust makes you trusting of others. Be suspicious of outsiders. Don’t forget
your tyranny. Your subjects don’t like being ruled by you and they may be plotting against you.
b) Better to have unchanging bad laws then good laws that are constantly changing. It’s better to
be sure and stable. Compares this to god and that god is unchangeable. People that waffle are stupid. Those who want to change law, think their smarter than law. These people are charged
with treason and hubris. If you’re charged with this it is a major crime and you will be
c) Any delay including this discussion will delay enforcing laws and will only benefit the guilty
party. Delay will also cause anger to subside and will in turn bring upon wrong decisions.
d) Criticizes the whole exercise of discussing what to do. This is more to entertain people rather
than taking action. Don’t be gullible to fancy speeches, keep an eye on the issues at hand and
“Flattery” is blinding you. Defend your honour and have justified anger.
e) The people of Lesbos helped our enemies, the Spartans. They acted with calculation and
didn’t act naturally. They are bringing Sparta into this and this shows them being clever and
f) The general rule of human nature is people despise those who treat them well and look up to
those who don’t.
g) You have to be harsh or people will rebel which will be costly to us. Punish those more
severely that act voluntary rather than being forced. (Willful act)
h) Save compassion for those who have it for you.
i) People of Lesbos would do the same to you if they were in your shoes. They would not show
mercy to you so why should you.
3. What reasons does Diodotus give to support his claim that the best course of action is to be
moderate towards the people of Lesbos?
PUNISH ONLY THE GUILTY
a) Cleon is wrong. He undermines our politics. He uses intimidation and silencing tactics. The
stronger argument should prevail.
b) Diodotus agrees with Cleon on one point that they are both concerned with the future of
Athens and that they both don’t care about Justice instead talking about rules and politics.
However, Diodotus is concerned with making Mytallians useful to us. Diodotus says that we
should show mercy and in turn they will be beneficial to us.
c) Using a death penalty as a deferent is useless because human nature is unchanging.
d) If they follow Cleon’s advice, all rebels will have nothing to lose. Treating people harshly
encourages them to be extreme. If they have some kind of hope it will to nothing but benefit us.
THIS ARGUEMENT WINS
4. The representatives from Melos at one point say that they may take their chances in war with
Athens because the gods will favour them, as justice is on their side. What is the Athenian
response to this?
- Athenian respond by arguing that gods will help them too in their desire to conquer the Melos
and rule what we can. "We trust that the gods will give us fortune as good as yours, because we
are standing for what is right against what is wrong”. The Athenians counter that gods and men
alike respect strength over moral arguments, summarizing this in the famous dictum that, "The strong do as they can and the weak suffer what they must".
General Reflection on this reading:
5. Once you have an understanding of the arguments that are made in these two debates,
try to reconstruct from these clues the culture or worldview of the time. What are their
goals and aspirations? What ideas rule them? What would a different culture be like?
- Grabs of power - Limits within society
- Betterment? New gods? Etc. May 14: Aeschylus’s “The Furies”
1. How are the “Furies” (the avengers, the spiritual agents of vengeance) described in the play
before the trial? What does this say about vengeance?
- Apollo describes the furies on line 68: “disgusting virgins” – suggesting they are unnatural,
opposite by pleasure and they are accident children who are respondent of the gods.
- Often represent the popular morality in tragedies, speaking on behalf of the culture. They say
that the gods hate them
- The furies are there to protect the natural order; to evoke a type of law that is above man
- Vengeance is a requirement when one commits a crime.. it suggest that vengeance is the law
2. Why does Apollo recommend that Orestes should go to trial? Why do the Furies oppose the
trial? What complaints do the Furies have against Apollo?
- Blood bond
- The chorus question Orestes. He admits having killed Clytaemestra but says that he was
ordered to commit the crime by Apollo. Confused by the course his trial is taking, Orestes asks
Apollo to speak for him
- The fact that Apollo is supporting Orestes….. furies argue that he is getting involved when he’s
not suppose to; don’t get involve between blood
3. How do Apollo and the Furies differ in how they interpret the “bond of blood”? What do you
make of that difference and of Athena’s vote?
- The Furies question Orestes about his mother's murder. When they accuse him of being guiltier
than Clytaemestra because he killed someone of the same blood as himself, Orestes asks Apollo
to guide his response
- Apollo cannot veil his disgust for the Furies as he argues that there is a great difference
between shackling a man and murdering him. Apollo also argues for paternal rights, saying that
the father, as the one who plants the seed, is the only true parent. A person can have a father and
no mother, and as proof of this idea Apollo points to Athene, who was born from her father's
skull instead of the womb of her mother. Therefore, Orestes' murder of his mother must be seen
in light of the killing of Orestes' father.
4. What happens to the Furies after the trial? What does this say about Athenian law?
Challenging ancient law = new gods; Apollo & Athena
- Furies = older gods, follow natural laws, according to them natural is also through blood bonds
- From Apollo perspective, the old gods represents something he is against, they represent
appetite and blood lost, irrational
- Apollo is the god of objective reason
- Athena is the goddess of justice.. in court rooms
- Apollo and Athena = justice is about avoiding irrational violence
- Apollo & Athena The intention is to bring the furies in and institutional them, law will
always have an aspect of vengeance but we need to make it rationalize. By bribing the furies and
making them apart of the law we will be practicing ancient laws.. but within rules of reason,
instead of desire/appetite…. But more like justice as fairness. But in order to convince people
that this justice is the best time of justice.. we still need fear General reflection on this reading:
5. The play is puzzling in a couple of ways. First, there is the puzzling relationship between the
Furies and the gods. The Furies are said to be despised by the gods, and yet in the end the
goddess Athena honours them. Second, there is the puzzling relationship between justice and
vengeance. Justice is said to be impossible without the threat of vengeance, and yet taking
revenge seems to cause more problems than it solves. How do you make sense of the relationship
between law and vengeance in the play? In your view, is there a role for vengeance in law?
- Law is the rule of reason over men, the law of men is arbitrary, it is rule of man is ruled by self-
interest, laws of men lead to ternary.. When we make laws, we rule and ruling is an art”
- Every art has a vision of perfection, it is to put the best in people.. HOW? When you rule in the
interest of others not self-interest May 16: Plato’s “Apology”
1. How did Socrates get to be unpopular with his “early accusers”? Who is he unpopular with
He becomes unpopular because he is busying himself with research into what's beneath the earth
and in the heavens and making the weaker argument the stronger and teaching the same thing to
- making a weaker argument appear stronger is breaking the law. This is justified by saying Gods
are stronger, Athens is stronger and he better argument is therefore stronger.
- He is unpopular with the 3 groups of early accusers as he sparked hate in them when calling
Politicians - Socrates examined a political expert and concluded that he is wiser than this
politician. Neither of them knows anything of importance, but he thinks he does when he doesn’t
and Socrates doesn’t think he does when he doesn’t. So Socrates is wiser that this political
Poets/artists - Socrates asked the poets/artists… what they were trying to say in their most finest
works. He realized that other people had a better explanations of the pieces rather than the artist