Short Reflection Paper: Athenians

Often justice and power revolve in similar contexts. It is through the power that people or groups of people influence the course of action, conduct and beliefs. Justice assigns obligations for which lack of cooperation warrants wrath. The perception of both power and justice and its ramifications are apparent throughout generations, dating back to ancient Greek. Athenian was a small brilliant civilization that advocated for democracy and perceived themselves as just, but overconfidence and attitude towards self and others led them into losing battles.

Athenians are strong advocates of democracy in the ancient Greek. From the passage, the speaker says that everyone has the compulsion to lead and that they have found it worthy, that whoever has that power to act accordingly. Besides, they believed that divinity is their rightful portion, and not favor, for which they were not t be denied. The type of democracy in this context is different from that in current democratic governments. However, Athenians are accounted for the first civilization that proliferated under a democratic system of governance.  For instance, the Athenian democracy limited citizenship only to those who had two Athenian parents. While the principles of democracy dictate that citizens have the power to change systems of government and that the government rules only because people have chosen it that way, the Athenian democracy was a little controversial. For instance, the government demanded that people leave their work or take some mandatory period to join the on-governance issues. It was also direct governance, where everyone was responsible rather than having a representative (Thucydides., Rusten & Thucydides, 1990). In the passage, the speaker explains that everyone who has obtained power would have to act accordingly and that they would endure all the time.

This perception of democracy for Athens also aligned with that of justice. It is noteworthy that during the golden ear of the Athenians, no other civilization had a judicial system— which comprised of magistrates and courts, which presided over the disputes. Besides, they believed in the justice of the gods. From the passage, the speaker says that even as such, that everyone is given the power to act accordingly, gods would not lead them into a disadvantage. In that perspective, Athenians believed in the concept of salvation. In the Melian Dialogue, the speaker explains the reasons for confidence that justice will prevail, and points out to several salvation protocols. Athenian respond to Melians that “what we will demonstrate is that we are here to help our empire, also that there is salvation for your city” (Thucydides., Rusten & Thucydides., 1990. p.296). That reveals that Athenians were both confident about their justice system and believed in the salvation of their gods.

Athenians confidence is confirmed in the passage, to illustrate their willingness to risk the empire by going into war. They were confident about their strengths, and are proud of their virtues and justice. In that, they view the Melians’ confidence as irrational, and that Lacedaemonians would not engage in unjust or less noble activities. In the passage, the speaker regards Lacedaemonians as “the most striking example we know of men who regard what is agreeable as noble and what is expedient as just” (Thucydides., Rusten & Thucydides., 1990. p.298). This dialogue reveals the prevalent differences in political institutions and philosophies between the two commentaries. While one may argue that the Athens were motivated by the Pericles’ Funeral Oration, the declaration of war against the Melians depict hunger for power, which threatens their democratic virtues, that one ought to use the power given to them responsibly. Notably, at the Pericles’ Funeral Oration, Athens seems unsure of the decision to go into war, and are relatively not confident. In contrast, the Melian dialogue presents Athens confident and willing to go into war. This reveals that changes in power and change in ideologies, through an era due to both internal and external political or economic influences.

These matters because it reveals the Athenians’ attitude towards self and others, due to the imbalance in powers. For instance, Athenians overlooked the possibility that other cities would bring them harm. On one frame, Athens welcomed all people and made it a civic duty to be open to foreigners and new ideas. Nevertheless, they were small, a fast-growing civilization with brilliance. Such qualities would benefit frightened other nations, and as such, the Lacedaemonians declared war on Athens. Though in the passage, the speaker regards the Melians as with folly, the fall of the golden period for Athens illustrate the cost of ignorance and assumption.


To sum up, Athenians are the legendary advocates for democracy, but their failure can be traced from the perception of power and justice. They were the earliest civilization to structure democracy, specifically direct democracy. Athenians perceived themselves as just and overlooked the possibility of harm from other nations. The eventually lost to Lacedaemonians.

References Thucydides., Rusten, J., & Thucydides. (1990). The Peloponnesian War. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge Univ