Thucydides and Plato’s Republic

According to Plato, Socrates participated minimally in the democratic government of Athens. Pretend, however, that Socrates did participate in one debate in the Athenian Assembly, the Mytilenean Debate as recorded by Thucydides in Book III, chapters 37-51 (pp. 66-76 in Thucydides on Justice, Power, and Human Nature). Write an essay of four to five typed, numbered, double-spaced, maximum margin of one inch on each side pages about what might Socrates have said in response to the arguments of Cleon and Diodotus respectively?

First analyze the speeches of Cleon and Diodotus. Cleon makes more or less five points in his speech . These are about: (1) the relationship between empire and a democratic form of government, (2) the influence of intellectuals on good government, (3) the influence of sophistic rhetoric on political decisions made in the Assembly, (4) the proper role of justice in making foreign policy political decisions, (5) the role of self-interest in making foreign policy political decisions. Diodotus’s speech has more or less three major points: (1) the proper role of reason in making political decisions, (2) the proper role of justice in making foreign policy political decisions, (3) the efficacy of the death penalty as a deterrent. Make sure you understand the arguments made about each of these points. What would Socrates think about each of the points and arguments made? Would he agree or disagree? What might he have said in response to Cleon and Diodotus?

The Socrates you should write about is the character found in the works of Plato, NOT the Socrates of Aristophanes’ Clouds. In order to begin the essay you will have to have read Plato’s Apology and the first assignment of Plato’s Republic. Before you finish the essay you will have to have read all of the assigned readings from the Republic.

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