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6. International Relations and the Melian Dialogue

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In this module, we turn to the Melian Dialogue and Thucydides’ exploration of what might be termed ‘international relations’. In particular, we think about the structure of the dialogue, Thucydides’ exploration of abstract principles within international relations (such as justice and hope), before returning to the idea that Thucydides wrote his history as a kind of tragedy—if Athens is the tragic hero, is their rough treatment of the Melians their fatal mistake?


In this course, Professor Neville Morley (University of Bristol) explores Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, focusing on the key episodes in the text and thinking in particular about some of the historiographical issues that modern historians face when reading Thucydides. As we move through the course, we think about the opening paragraphs of Thucydides’ history and his methodology as a historian, his views on historical causation, his dramatisation of history, and his sense of the tragedy of history, among many other issues.


Neville Morley is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Bristol, who has published widely on ancient economic and social history, the theory and methodology of history, and the historian Thucydides.

At present, he is working on a book on Karl Marx for the OUP Classics in Theory series, and developing new research projects on ecology and economics in the Roman world, as well as continuing to write articles on Thucydides and his reception and other topics.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Morley, N. (2018, August 15). Thucydides - International Relations and the Melian Dialogue [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Morley, Neville. "Thucydides – International Relations and the Melian Dialogue." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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