The Clouds and the History of Peloponnesian War Essay

Words: 1928
Pages: 8

Breaking down traditions: The “Clouds” and the “History of Peloponnesian War” Undeniably, the ancient Greek society places a heavy emphasis on values and traditions. The two texts of the “Clouds” by Aristophanes and “History of the Peloponnesian war” by Thucydides, although contextually divergent, are actually conceptually convergent. Both texts are built around the central theme of the collapse of conventional values. While the breakdown of traditional values in the “History of the Peloponnesian war” is presented in a more metaphorical and symbolical manner, the downfall of conventional values in the “Clouds” is on a more direct basis. Although both texts essentially convey across the same solemn message that the relinquishment of …show more content…
Language is now a tool of human beings, modified to accommodate human beings' desires, rather than directing those desires. The underlying basis here in the “Clouds” is a direct correspondence to the ideas as presented in the Mytilenian debate, that traditionally held values are now being gradually eroded in the light of self interest. As we progress on to the rest of the texts, the tension in breaking traditional Greek values further intensifies. This is evident in the “History of the Peloponnesian War” as we advance to the Melian dialogue. The true colors of human nature are exposed under desperate conditions. The Athenians have now completed the transition from democracy and are fully embracing the epitomes of imperialism. The Athenians, in a frank and matter-of-fact manner, offer the Melians an ultimatum: to surrender and pay tribute to Athens, or be destroyed. The Melian dialogue also opens up morality issues based on destruction of the Melos. Traditional democratic ideas are fragmented as imperialistic ideas are introduced. “Our opinion of the gods and our knowledge of men lead us to conclude that it is a general and necessary law of nature to rule whatever one can.” (Thuy 5.105). Abuses of traditional values are reflected throughout the dialogue as both parties act in the light of their own self-interests. The Athenians make extensive use of rhetorical speeches in an attempt to exert