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The Melian Dialogue, or Power and Justice as Themes in Political Education

Ingo Juchler

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Power and justice are central terms in political thought. In the Melian dialogue, Thucydides treats these themes, contextualised in the Peloponnesian War, as an example of international relations: Thucydides employs the dialogue between the Athenians and the Melians as an exemplary case of the opposition of power and justice. The antinomy of power and justice constitutes a discursive point of access in this classical text to the present day. Which aspects of this relationship turn out to be trans-epochal? What changes have occurred in international relations since the age of the Peloponnesian Wars? And finally: what didactic significance does Thucydides’ classic text have for contemporary political education? The article aims to illuminate didactic opportunities for how pupils can experience the tense relationship between power and justice in the context of this classic ancient text by Thucydides and be able to use it for their political understanding of international relations.

Keywords: Power – Justice – Political Education – International Relations – Political Judgement – Tolerance for Ambiguity


Bibliography: Juchler, Ingo: The Melian Dialogue, or Power and Justice as Themes in Political Education, PCS, 2-2014, pp. 170-186.