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How does the Melian dialogue of Thucydides reflect "realist" principles?

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Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War is both a narrative of the events of the war and a political analysis of its causes and consequences. Throughout the History, Thucydides follows several strands of thought, examining how the actors on different sides of each confrontation are influenced by these ideas.

One such strand is the question of whether "might makes right," which is the central argument of the Melian Dialogue. The Athenians argue that it does and that, therefore, it is both natural and just that Melos should surrender to Athens. The Melians argue that "might" in this instance is opposed to what is morally right and that the Athenians should act in accordance with morality rather than expediency.

The Athenians begin by arguing that what is practical for them is moral for that very reason; furthermore, it is the natural order of things that "the powerful exact what they can, and the weak grant what they must." They state that, in light of this axiom, the Melians would do...

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