S2.E1: Thucydides and the Athenian-Melian Dialog


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With Jed Atkins, I discuss Thucydides understanding of politics, how he has shaped the history of political thought, and the context for him writing "The History of the Peloponnesian War." We then focus on a passage from "The History" known as the Athenian-Melian dialog, reflecting together on the ways this dialogue frames the relationship between power and politics. In the second part, I discuss with Anna Eng why the dialogue is drawn on by community organizers to teach democratic politics and how she uses the dialog in trainings.
Jed Atkins is the E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Classical Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Duke University. He is chair of the Classical Studies Department and Faculty Director of Transformative Ideas and the Civil Discourse Project in the Kenan Institute of Ethics. A scholar of Greek, Roman, and early Christian political theory, he is the author of “Cicero on Politics” and the “Limits of Reason; Roman Political Thought;” and (with Thomas Bénatouïl) editor of “The Cambridge Companion to Cicero’s Philosophy.”
Anna Eng is the lead organizer of Nevadans for the Common Good, an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Originally from Portland, Oregon, she has organized for over 20 years in California, Texas and Nevada.

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