History of the Peloponnesian War Essay (Book Review)

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jul 20th, 2020

This article focuses on the role played by inequality and morality in international politics based on Thucydides’ depictions of the Athenians

Book Review

Because of globalization, international politics has lost its potential for moral relationships and virtuous action. Many argue that the growth of self-consciousness with freedom has disintegrated into pure self-centeredness, objectification, and instrumentality (Art & Robert 305).

As such, the human beings have become sociable. However, we have become friendly based on social relations such as poverty, slavery, and domination rather than on the realm of freedom, equality, and morality. This article focuses on the role played by inequality and morality in international politics based on Thucydides’ depictions of the Athenians.

In the book, Thucydides is depicted as the founder of scientific history and political realism. Thucydides asserts that the tactical relations of nations followed a visible and a repeated pattern (Art & Robert 9). He believed that in a given coordination of states, a definite chain of command among the states dictated the model of their associations.

According to him, a modification in the chain of command of weaker states did not have an effect on a specific system. However, an interruption in the hierarchy of stronger states dictated the pattern of their associations. In the book, it is apparent that that Peloponnesian war broke out because of the methodical alteration resulting from the rising control of the Athenian city-state trying to surpass the control of the city-state of Sparta.

From the depiction of the Athenians, it is apparent that Thucydides viewed international relations as immoral, lawless, and unequal. In Melian Dialogue, international politics are portrayed without justice and laws. As such, the stronger states dictate how the weaker states should behave and what they should do. This implies that international relationship plays a greater role in enhancing inequality and morality.

Usually, in the absence of international relations a state is governed based on social contract theory. Through this, weaker citizens are protected by the state from being exploited or abused by the stronger citizens. However, in the presence of international relations a weaker state might not be able to protect its citizens from being exploited or abused by the stronger states as indicated in the Melian Dialogue.

Under international relations, the contract theory becomes valid, as its basic principles are not applicable among interstate members. As depicted in Melian Dialogue, there are no regulations to protect legality and ethics of state interactions.

Equally, polarization among states can be blamed on international relations. It is alleged that Athenian brutality and arrogance towards the Malians and their neighboring states resulted in interstate polarization across Greece (Art & Robert 14). During the Cold War, several nations were divided because of the struggles waged by the Russians and the Americans.

Owing to this rivalry, weaker states suffered economically as the superpowers wage war in their lands. With the reference to Peloponnesian War described in the book, American attitude towards the non-western cultures was similar to the attitude the Athenians had towards their interstate members.

Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that international relations enhance inequality and immorality through polarization. With polarization, weaker countries are treated less equally by stronger states. This should not only be perceived as archaic acts but also as immoral acts.

In Melian Dialogue, the Melians condemn the Athenians’ unjust and immoral deeds based on Greek ethics. They assert that gods are always on the side of those who preach universal justice. This implies that the Melians were opposed to Athenians interstate relations because it was going to make them subjects of the Athenians. In this regard, it can be argued that international relations make the weaker state subject of the stronger state.

Works Cited

Art, Robert J., and Robert Jervis. International politics: enduring concepts and contemporary issues. 10th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2010. Print.




This book review on History of the Peloponnesian War was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

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