Thucydides Speech Analysis

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In this present democratic society, political debates over policy are at the forefront of the collective conscious of the American people, particularly at this stage in the election cycle. Those of us living in the postmodern age, however, tend to fall into the highly fallacious mindset wherein democracy is thought of as being an invention of the recent age, and an idea about which we can learn very little by appealing to the ancient world which is so rife with stories of empires and conquests. It is Thucydides, however, who really begins to explore and relate back to us the relationship of democracy and empire. At the epicenter of this controversy is an Athenian statesman and demagogue by the name of Cleon, who seems to argue that democracy is bad for empire. Opinions on Cleon vary wildly, especially centered around his speech concerning the punishment of the Mytileneans, wherein he argues against a fellow statesman named Dioditus. It has been argued by many in class (myself included among these) that it is Thucydides’ intention to paint Cleon in a negative light, and that the right course of action was to spare the Mytileneans. I would, however, like to take another look at that argument, and assert that, in actuality, Thucydides sees Cleon, at least in some respect, …show more content…
Demosthenes also speaks for a very short time, trusting the truth of what he says to carry his message rather than pleasing rhetoric. This Cleon also does, letting facts speak for themselves rather than trying to confound his listeners with sophistic arguments as others are wont to do. Both speeches are an exhortation to stay one’s present course, and to not give in to the pressure to abandon one’s

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