2017‘ Shuge Wu:Justice

Shuge Wu

Excellent work of
"Natural dialectics"
Professor Yi Lei


The great history book “The Peloponnesian War” was written by Thucydides during the Peloponnesian War. He was one of the ten Generals in Athens at that time as well. In this article,  "A Key Topos in Thucydides:The Comparison of Cities and Individuals",  Morrison demonstrates that Thucydides creates a model of comparing individuals and cities. Morrison firstly points out cities and individuals are similar in variety ways through eight passages within Thucydides'work. After that, he further discusses the implication of comparison between cities and individuals.   Democracy is a symbol of ancient Athenians. If the term of democracy is a car, then the term of Justice is the wheel of this vehicle. The meaning of Justice of Athenian varies. In Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War, which is a masterpiece of Hellenic history, the most outstanding writing strategy is speech. Some people may have opposite ideas about speech writing strategy, for example, Heath points out a shortage of the speech strategy Thucydides uses. In his article, “ a 'Justicein Thucydides' Athenian Speeches”, he argues that “Speakers in Thucydides sometimes dismiss considerations of justice as irrelevant to decision-making in questions of internationalrelations” (Heath,p.385). However, Thucydides, who he is a wonderful silent writer, demonstrates his own idea through a variety kind of speeches. Among them,the funeral oration of Pericles and Cleon’s speech toward Punishment of Mytileneare critical to illustrate Athenians’ Justice. As a matter of fact, Thucydides regards individual and citiesbehave similarily both under interpolitical and intrapolitical according to Morrison’sidea. Therefore, the term of Justice refects on both of individuals and cities’interpolitical and intrapolitical view as well. In the following paragraph, I would like to discuss about the Athenians'Justice in several ways.   In the Mytilenian debate, Cleon strongly feels that that ademocracy is incapable of governing others. As Raaflaub demonstrates that the debatereported by Thucydides actually takes place over more than two days. At first, Thucydidesonly summarizes that the Athenians angrily condemned the entire male populationof Mytilene to death, and the women and children to slavery. More specifically,Cleon contendsthat his policy reconciles the demands of justice and self-interest, as he statesthat what people did towards the mytileneans is vengeance and is for their own interests.Cleon thinks that it is a polis revolting in an attempt to fight for its own power.And Cleon declines to pardon Mytileneans for “voluntary” revolt, because he thinksthat they are guilty. On the first day, the Athenians wanted to punish the Mytileneans;Nevertheless, a day later, a number of citizens began to have second thoughts; asthey changed their attitude, they believed that by pitying the Mytileneans’ plightand listening to their pleas, they would lose nothing and would actually gain thelasting gratitude of the Mytileneans. This shows that the Athenians are not only mutable but also empathetic. On this situation, Cleon recognizes that democracy can not work well in the empire. This shows that the Athenians are not only mutablebut also empathetic. Due to this circumstance, Cleon recognizes that democracy can not work well in the empire.  
Freedom and Justice
Morrison illustrates that similarities exist between cities and individuals in both speeches and narratives within Thucydides’ work. He also finds out the language Thucydides uses is signaling the comparison. “The behavior of the community and of the individual is said to be similar with respect to the arbitration of disputes, the path to security the winning of honor, and the appropriate response to adversity. ”Morrison illustrates this idea through eight passages(527). Interestingly, Bosworth defines Athenians society as an “all-inclusive” one in his article, “The Historical Context of Thucydides’ Funeral Oration” (Bosworth. p.9). Back to that time,Athenians are proud of their freedom and democracy beliefs among all Hellenic polis. The socierty level is what Bosworth further describes in his article,“Rich and poor alike can participate, since men of distinction can berecognized by election…and nobody is prevented by poverty from involvement inpublic life”(Bosworth. p.9). Therefore, despite the level of wealth, Atheniansare freedom to adhere to principles and uphold justice.   Thucydides also introduces demos in his book “history”, which is the first decision to seal a treaty with Corcyra that involves the change of opinions. The second decision concerns the war against the Peloponnesians, Pericles is considered to be the “first man” who has the most powerful debate and best reputation.However, Athenians blame and even go against Pericles, since they think he should hold the responsibility for the invasions from Spartan and misfortune and plague. Consequently, Pericles is punished and fined, even though Pericles is seen as the most powerful man in actions and debates. Again, it is obvious that the Athenians are mutable and lax in principle.   Freedom turns out to be a result of Justice. Thuycides illustrates in his book that if one polis lose the war, all people in that polis would be slaved. Morrison argues that individuals’ behaviour is familiar with their polis. This implies that the aiming target of both individual and polis are the same. People are fighting for their polis with honour in order to protect themselves. Furthermore, what Pericles implies is that the freedom of one polis is the freedom of individuals compromises this idea. In depth, people are fighting for their own freedom. Thucydides also concludes that the reason that the Athenians take the anabasis is that they seriously lack knowledge of Sicily and are misinformed about the resources of the allies. They only care about the profits that they may get from the victory of the war. Another reason is that Alcibiades pleads and incites to uphold the war, even though Nicias tries to avoid making hasty decisions and warns people that they may have the difficulties to win the war, because they may not have enough military resources. However, no one would listen, and consequently the whole army had been completely wiped out.   Furthermore, Athen’s political strcuture turns out to be another key factor that enrich Athenian’s diversity thoughts and ideas. Bosworth further argues that, “Athen’s political structure encourages diversity, and the diversity gives her strength” (Bosworth p.9). He thinks that Athenians should appreciate their polis greatness for bringing huge improvement of efficiency compare to other polis. He argues later on in his paper that, “whatever their financial and social status, whatever their personal predilections, can be effective members of the body politic” (Bosworth,p.9).   The Spartan King,Archidamus, is the first one to point out, that cities are like individuals when he was responding to the conflict between Corinthians and Athenians. In his speech, Archidamus expresses two broader ideas: the small-scale perspective of individuals within a city (intrapolitical realm), and the larger scope of relations between cities (the interpolitical sphere). When dealing with the conflict between Athenians and Corinthians, Archidamus insists that, “Both cities and individuals are capable of resolution” (526). Not only Archidamus,but also Pericles from Athens points out the idea, that cities and individuals are similar. In his speech of passage 4, he mentions that the war was not what Athenians want, but this war would come along with honor. As a matter of fact,even his last argument in History illustratesthe same idea, “The strongest individual and the strongest cities derive that strength from comparable behavior” (528).     The form of society fundenmental ensure Athenians make decision under the circumstance of Justice. “The Athenians have a uniquely free public and private life, but they still fear and respect their magistrates and laws, and their very sophistication gives them a versatility which makes them more effective in the filed than their regimented opponents”(Bosworth, p.16). As a matter of fact, polis which ensure individuals’ freedom and adhere individuals’ Justice would attract more people visiting and moving in.    

Power, Violent, and Justice
Athenians believe that the violent which are enforced for freedom is Justice. Meanwhile,it can be merged with the idea of revenge. Individuals are fighting for their honors when their polis were in danger. However, it could be avoided if a true standard of justice could be settled.   Besides,the rest of the passages enrich the evidence that similarities exist between cities and individuals. In passage 5, Thucydides illustrates friendships among private citizens is similar with the alliance between cities. In addition,Diodotus insists that Mytilene is not the only city would like to revolt. Other cities would betray as well. He further argues that cities behave similarly to individuals; one would easily make mistakes both privately and publicly. In his speech, Diodotus regards this fact as a part of human nature (529). As a matter of fact, Morrison argues in passage 6b, that “cities no less than individuals are affected by unexpected luck. Cities no less than individuals are subject to the enticements of chance, desire, and hope” (530). He implies that the speech between Euphemus and Camarina operates both of the individual and city level aswell. Last but not least, the eighth, which is discussed by Thucydides, is the only piece not given by speech. Thucydides thinks that cooler head prevails.People are not acting morally right like what they are normally behave during wartime.   Morrison thinks that deeper meaning of comparison between cities and individuals exist. The way Thucydides put his readers as interpreters is a successfully strategy. Morrison thinks that Thucydides successfully challenged Thucydides’ readers engaging his book as Thucydides put readers in a position of interpreter. He thinks the comparative model is high qualifies as it can be used as a tool for understand the past. He illustrates that the language Thucydides uses is signaling the comparison of cities and individuals. For example, he argues, “He uses the verb eikazein and related words, which means, “to compare,” and also “to make conjectures on the basis of comparison.”(532) Morrison illustrates that instead of point out the comparison directed Thucydides illustrate the idea through 7 passages from others’ speeches. At the end, he gives his own opinion that people are morally bad during wartime compare to peacetime.   Morrison argues another fact that the analogy of city and individual is of a deeper meaning rather than the shallow one. It could be described as a city’s unity,character, and behavior. It could lead the topic that whether justice and interpolitical could lead the new hope. Morrison used an example that it isnecessary to have impartial judges before there are disputes. Similar tocities, if cities act as individuals, since they are all in communities, then it is essential have a fair process to judge disputes. He mentioned, although some readers insisted that the weak would have to follow strong idea, there will not be any chances morally. Intrapolitical model is the best way to deal with the conflict between cities and cities. Athenians insist that all citizens are equally before the law. Furthermore, Morrison argues that there are two aspects of a city internal politics concerns the affairs of individuals within a community; external politics requires dealing with other states. However,theses two aspects are not totally different. “Human beings (and human nature) at the level of the individual may potentially be transferred to the larger-scale interaction between communities.” The democratic view of Cleon is loud and overt. It is unappropriate for Cleon giving a speech within such anger. According to Andrews, “Cleon thus devotes the second section of his speech to a legalistic and political justification of revenge which is at the same time a powerful appeal to anger”(Andrews, p.50). Andrews argues in his article, “Cleon’s Hidden Appeals” that, “Cleon isThucydides’ prime illustration of the post-Periclean leadership.” (Andrews,p.46) Furthermore, Cleon attracks certain aspects of democratic ideology.Andrews further disscusses, “Cleon’s objective is to remove for his audiencethe ideological impediment to the realization of their unspoken desire for greater power” (Andrews, p.47).  The idea of revolt of Cleon isdifferent from Pericles. By comparing to Pericles’s thought, which Atheniansshould not start a war, Andrews in his article, illustrates that “Cleon there says that revolt is pardonable only if involuntary” (Andrews, p.47). As amatter of fact, he argues that, “It is on this legalistic ground that the Athenians must distinguish voluntary rebels from those who have been force torevolt” (Andrews, p.47).   However, this kind of violent and power should be regulated to formal law. Andrews argues,“Cleon does indeed call upon his audience to preserve and respect the laws.”(Andrews, p.61). Andrews further argues that it is not the just the audience passion for revenge that Cleon menas to gratify, but also their desire”(Andrew, p.47). Athenians’ desire to extend their cities, protect their freedom.   Different level of power could lead to a different understanding of Justice. Contradictory to Cleon’s democratic view, accordingto Heath in his book “Justice in Thucydides’ Athenian Speech”, he thinks that opposite to punishment thought from Cleon, “Diodotus has shown that the proposed punishment is either unjust and disadvantageous, or just and disadvantageous; and in either case it is advantage that must take precedence.”(Heath, p.388)    

Majorities’ interest and Justice
Majorties’ interest is another vital sector for Athenians’ Justice. Athenians thinks that the fundamental of a polis is that almost every citizen could gain freedom equally despite any factors. As a matter of fact, Athenians seek Justice is based upon majorities’ interest.   Thucydides pays incredible attention on detials about the size of audience when describing the speeches. Bosworth argues in his article, “The Historical Context of Thucydides’ FunderalOration”, that “Thucydides goes out of his way to underline the importancce ofthe occasion and the size of the audience” (Bosworth, p.2). Moreover, he thinks that Thucydides pays detail on the size of audience in order to show democracy which it represents the majorities interest of people. Like other Athenians during that time, two basic rules to judge everything are justice and the majorities’ benefit in Pericles’s funeral oration.   In Athens, people could adhere principles despite theire conomic condition. According to Bosworth, he describes, “If you are rich youcan make the political impact your station demands and have unparalleled resources for the enjoyment of life” (Bosworth, p.10). Oppositely, poor citizens can still have right to public affairs, and have rights to fit themselves into society as well. (Bosworth, p.10)   However, Cleon’s democratic thought is not Justice since it does not represent the majorities’ interest. Cleon wants Athenians get rid of ideology of democracy. According to Heath, “this enables Cleon to maintain that the severe punishment which he advocates is just as well as advantageous to Athens.” (Heath, p.388) According to Andrews, he argues in his article, “Cleon contended that his policy perfectly reconciles the demands of justice and self-interest” (Andrews, p.48). Diodotus holds the improved anversion idea of Cleon’s。 According to Heath’s idea, “contrary,Diodotus introduces his argument by saying that grounds for clemency, as well as grounds for punishment, should be subordinated to the city's interests”(Heath, p.388).    

Justice between Polis
Polis behaves just like individuals. According to Morrison’s idea that, individuals forms Polis. Hence, when dealing with interpolitical issue, Justice between Polis is like Justice between individuals.   Justice tends out to be a key factor when nation dealing with their political issues with another nation. However, Heath thinks that although Pericles posted out his definition of Justice at the beginning when Pericleswas giving out a speech, however; the way he insists is not working. “This seems, however, to refer only to Athens' adherence to the terms of the treaty: that is, to the call to arbitration and the declaration that Athens will not begin the war, though it will defend itself if attacked” (Heath,p.388).   In addition, Justice tends out to be a tool for minorities to gain self-interest when dealing with interpolitical issues, which is immoral. For instance, Cleon posts tyranny idea out. Andrews argues, “Cleon there says that revolt is pardonable only if involuntary” (Andrews,p.47).   Moreover, Thucydides should have recognized that identifying Justice among polis is not realistic. The definition of Justice among Athenians is randomly conducted. The result of Justice leads to a wrong direction for a polis.Pericles’s speech shows that he thinks that the term Justice is the excuse for weaker nation among polis. Furthermore, the example of Mytileneal most gets the same conclusion when they decided to revolt. Therefore, it is immoral for Polis start wars under the title of Justice. Athens is actually ruled by a “First man” such as Pericles, and they nominally lead in democracy. In other words, the partial democracy leads the Pericles Athens to reach its peak.    

All in all, the status of Justice is important duringancient Greek world. First of all, Justice ensures the fundamental of democratic society, freedom. Although democracy is still based upon minorities,which is under elite level, Justice ensures majorities of Athenians that every citizens could be involve in public affairs. Therefore, Justice under intrapolitical view is acceptable.  Moreover, it sometimes acts as an excuse forwars. Individuals are fighting for their honors in the role of protecting their nations.  Power, violent could become a result of Justice, like Cleon’s idea. As a matter of fact, different leaders have different thoughts about Justice.  When dealing with interpolitical issues, Cleon’s Justice tends out to be a relief of anger while Pericles has a cool head. However, it is hard to judge Cleon’s Justice is absolute wrong. According to Heath, he thinks that, “this enables Cleon to maintain that the severe punishment which he advocates is just as well as advantageous to Athens” (Heath, p.388).  Furthermore,Justice represents the majorities’ interest rather than minorities during interpolitical perspective of view.  Last but not least, it is immoral to deal with issues among polis under the title Justice. In my opinion, Justice works properly when dealing with intrapolitical issues; conversely, when dealing with interpolitical issues, it is weak.  
Morrison,J. V. (1994). “A Key Topos in Thucydides: The Comparison of Cities and Individuals.”The American Journal of Philology,115(4), 525-541.  
Heath, M. (1990).“Justice in Thucydides’ Athenian Speeches.” Historia:Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 39(4), 385-400.  
Bosworth, A.B. (2000).“The Historical Context of Thucydides’ Funeral Oration.” The Journal of HellenicStudies,120, 1-16.