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Listed 10 sub titles with search on: History for destination: "MILOS Island KYKLADES".


History (10)

Settlers

Catastrophes of the place

By Athenians under Nicias

This year (424 BC) the Athenians chose as general Nicias, the son of Niceratus, and assigning to him sixty triremes and three thousand hoplites, they ordered him to plunder the allies of the Lacedaemonians. He sailed to Melos as the first place, where he ravaged their territory and for a number of days laid siege to the city.
(Perseus Project - Diodorus Siculus, Library 12.65.1) The Athenians under the command of Nicias seized two cities, Cythera and Nisaea ; and they reduced Melos (416 BC) by siege, slew all the males from the youth upward, and sold into slavery the children and women.
(Perseus Project - Diodorus Siculus, Library 12.80.5)


Attack on Melos

  In 416 an Athenian force beseiged the tiny city-state on the island of Melos situated in the Mediterranean south of the Peloponnese, a community sympathetic to Sparta that had taken no active part in the war, although it may have made a monetary contribution to the Spartan war effort. In any case, that Athens considered Melos an enemy had been made clear earlier when Nicias had led an unsuccessful attack on the island in 426. Now once again Athens in 416 demanded that Melos support its alliance voluntarily or face destruction, but the Melians refused to submit despite the overwhelming superiority of Athenian force. When Melos eventually had to surrender to the beseiging army, its men were killed and its women and children sold into slavery. An Athenian community was then established on the island. Thucydides portrays Athenian motives in the affair of Melos as concerned exclusively with the amoral politics of the use of force, while the Melians he shows as relying on a concept of justice to govern relations between states. He represents the leaders of the opposing sides as participating in a private meeting to discuss their views of what issues are at stake. This passage in his history, called the Melian Dialogue, offers a chillingly realistic insight into the clash between ethics and power in international politics.

This text is from: Thomas Martin's An Overview of Classical Greek History from Homer to Alexander, Yale University Press. Cited Sep 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


Participation in the fights of the Greeks

Battle of Plataea

On the right of the pedestal are inscribed the cities which took part in the engagement: first the Lacedaemonians, after them the Athenians, third the Corinthians, fourth the Sicyonians,fifth the Aeginetans; after the Aeginetans, the Megarians and Epidaurians, of the Arcadians the people of Tegea and Orchomenus, after them the dwellers in Phlius, Troezen and Hermion, the Tirynthians from the Argolid, the Plataeans alone of the Boeotians, the Argives of Mycenae, the islanders of Ceos and Melos, Ambraciots of the Thesprotian mainland, the Tenians and the Lepreans, who were the only people from Triphylia, but from the Aegean and the Cyclades there came not only the Tenians but also the Naxians and Cythnians, Styrians too from Euboea, after them Eleans, Potidaeans, Anactorians, and lastly the Chalcidians on the Euripus.


Battle at Salamis

The Seriphians, Siphnians, and Melians also took part, since they were the only islanders who had not given earth and water to the barbarian. . .
All of these came to the war providing triremes, except the Melians and Siphnians and Seriphians, who brought fifty-oared boats. The Melians (who are of Lacedaemonian stock) provided two; the Siphnians and Seriphians, who are Ionians from Athens, one each. The total number of ships, besides the fifty-oared boats, was three hundred and seventy-eight. . .


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The Melian dialogue

Dialogus (dialogos). A dialogue. As a form of literary composition, apart from its purely dramatic use, the dialogue plays an important part in the history of Greek and Roman letters. The vividness and pungency of rapid question and reply were fully appreciated by the earliest writers. The Homeric poems abound in passages whose great dramatic force is due to the use of this form. Herodotus continually employs it to give picturesqueness and life to his narrative; and this is true even of Thucydides, in whose history the so-called Melian dialogue at the close of the fifth book


The next summer Alcibiades sailed with twenty ships to Argos and seized the suspected persons still left of the Lacedaemonian faction to the number of three hundred, whom the Athenians forthwith lodged in the neighboring islands of their empire. The Athenians also made an expedition against the isle of Melos with thirty ships of their own, six Chian, and two Lesbian vessels, sixteen hundred heavy infantry, three hundred archers, and twenty mounted archers from Athens, and about fifteen hundred heavy infantry from the allies and the islanders. The Melians are a colony of Lacedaemon that would not submit to the Athenians like the other islanders, and at first remained neutral and took no part in the struggle, but afterwards upon the Athenians using violence and plundering their territory, assumed an attitude of open hostility. Cleomedes, son of Lycomedes, and Tisias, son of Tisimachus, the generals, encamping in their territory with the above armament, before doing any harm to their land, sent envoys to negotiate. These the Melians did not bring before the people, but bade them state the object of their mission to the magistrates and the few; upon which the Athenian envoys spoke as follows:--

The Melian Dialogue

Athenian envoys
”Since the negotiations are not to go on before the people, in order that we may not be able to speak straight on without interruption, and deceive the ears of the multitude by seductive arguments which would pass without refutation (for we know that this is the meaning of our being brought before the few ), what if you who sit there were to pursue a method more cautious still! Make no set speech yourselves, but take us up at whatever you do not like, and settle that before going any farther. And first tell us if this proposition of ours suits you.“
Melian commissioners
”To the fairness of quietly instructing each other as you propose there is nothing to object; but your military preparations are too far advanced to agree with what you say, as we see you are come to be judges in your own cause, and that all we can reasonably expect from this negotiation is war, if we prove to have right on our side and refuse to submit, and in the contrary case, slavery.“
Athenian envoys
”If you have met to reason about presentiments of the future, or for anything else than to consult for the safety of your state upon the facts that you see before you, we will give over; otherwise we will go on.“
Melian commissioners
”It is natural and excusable for men in our position to turn more ways than one both in thought and utterance. However, the question in this conference is, as you say, the safety of our country; and the discussion, if you please, can proceed in the way which you propose.“
Athenian envoys
”For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences--either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us--and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Lacedaemonians, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.“
Melian commissioners
”As we think, at any rate, it is expedient--we speak as we are obliged, since you enjoin us to let right alone and talk only of interest--that you should not destroy what is our common protection, the privilege of being allowed in danger to invoke what is fair and right, and even to profit by arguments not strictly valid if they can be got to pass current. And you are as much interested in this as any, as your fall would be a signal for the heaviest vengeance and an example for the world to meditate upon.“
Athenian envoys
”The end of our empire, if end it should, does not frighten us: a rival empire like Lacedaemon, even if Lacedaemon was our real antagonist, is not so terrible to the vanquished as subjects who by themselves attack and overpower their rulers. This, however, is a risk that we are content to take. We will now proceed to show you that we are come here in the interest of our empire, and that we shall say what we are now going to say, for the preservation of your country; as we would fain exercise that empire over you without trouble, and see you preserved for the good of us both.“
Melian commissioners
”And how, pray, could it turn out as good for us to serve as for you to rule?“
Athenian envoys
”Because you would have the advantage of submitting before suffering the worst, and we should gain by not destroying you.“
Melian commissioners
”So that you would not consent to our being neutral, friends instead of enemies, but allies of neither side.“
Athenian envoys
”No; for your hostility cannot so much hurt us as your friendship will be an argument to our subjects of our weakness, and your enmity of our power.“
Melian commissioners
”Is that your subjects' idea of equity, to put those who have nothing to do with you in the same category with peoples that are most of them your own colonists, and some conquered rebels?“
Athenian envoys
”As far as right goes they think one has as much of it as the other, and that if any maintain their independence it is because they are strong, and that if we do not molest them it is because we are afraid; so that besides extending our empire we should gain in security by your subjection; the fact that you are islanders and weaker than others rendering it all the more important that you should not succeed in baffling the masters of the sea.“
Melian commissioners
”But do you consider that there is no security in the policy which we indicate? For here again if you debar us from talking about justice and invite us to obey your interest, we also must explain ours, and try to persuade you, if the two happen to coincide. How can you avoid making enemies of all existing neutrals who shall look at our case and conclude from it that one day or another you will attack them? And what is this but to make greater the enemies that you have already, and to force others to become so who would otherwise have never thought of it?“
Athenian envoys
”Why, the fact is that continentals generally give us but little alarm; the liberty which they enjoy will long prevent their taking precautions against us; it is rather islanders like yourselves, outside our empire, and subjects smarting under the yoke, who would be the most likely to take a rash step and lead themselves and us into obvious danger.“
Melian commissioners
”Well then, if you risk so much to retain your empire, and your subjects to get rid of it, it were surely great baseness and cowardice in us who are still free not to try everything that can be tried, before submitting to your yoke.“
Athenian envoys
”Not if you are well advised, the contest not being an equal one, with honor as the prize and shame as the penalty, but a question of self-preservation and of not resisting those who are far stronger than you are.“
Melian commissioners
”But we know that the fortune of war is sometimes more impartial than the disproportion of numbers might lead one to suppose; to submit is to give ourselves over to despair, while action still preserves for us a hope that we may stand erect.“
Athenian envoys
”Hope, danger's comforter, may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources, if not without loss at all events without ruin; but its nature is to be extravagant, and those who go so far as to put their all upon the venture see it in its true colors only when they are ruined; but so long as the discovery would enable them to guard against it, it is never found wanting. Let not this be the case with you, who are weak and hang on a single turn of the scale; nor be like the vulgar, who, abandoning such security as human means may still afford, when visible hopes fail them in extremity, turn to invisible, to prophecies and oracles, and other such inventions that delude men with hopes to their destruction.“
Melian commissioners
”You may be sure that we are as well aware as you of the difficulty of contending against your power and fortune, unless the terms be equal. But we trust that the gods may grant us fortune as good as yours, since we are just men fighting against unjust, and that what we want in power will be made up by the alliance of the Lacedaemonians, who are bound, if only for very shame, to come to the aid of their kindred. Our confidence, therefore, after all is not so utterly irrational.“
Athenian envoys
”When you speak of the favour of the gods, we may as fairly hope for that as yourselves; neither our pretensions nor our conduct being in any way contrary to what men believe of the gods, or practise among themselves. Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist for ever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do. Thus, as far as the gods are concerned, we have no fear and no reason to fear that we shall be at a disadvantage. But when we come to your notion about the Lacedaemonians, which leads you to believe that shame will make them help you, here we bless your simplicity but do not envy your folly. The Lacedaemonians, when their own interests or their country's laws are in question, are the worthiest men alive; of their conduct towards others much might be said, but no clearer idea of it could be given than by shortly saying that of all the men we know they are most conspicuous in considering what is agreeable honorable, and what is expedient just. Such a way of thinking does not promise much for the safety which you now unreasonably count upon.“
Melian commissioners
”But it is for this very reason that we now trust to their respect for expediency to prevent them from betraying the Melians, their colonists, and thereby losing the confidence of their friends in Hellas and helping their enemies.“
Athenian envoys
”Then you do not adopt the view that expediency goes with security, while justice and honor cannot be followed without danger; and danger the Lacedaemonians generally court as little as possible.“
Melian commissioners
”But we believe that they would be more likely to face even danger for our sake, and with more confidence than for others, as our nearness to Peloponnese makes it easier for them to act; and our common blood insures our fidelity.“
Athenian envoys
”Yes, but what an intending ally trusts to, is not the goodwill of those who ask his aid, but a decided superiority of power for action; and the Lacedaemonians look to this even more than others. At least, such is their distrust of their home resources that it is only with numerous allies that they attack a neighbor; now is it likely that while we are masters of the sea they will cross over to an island?“
Melian commissioners
”But they would have others to send. The Cretan sea is a wide one, and it is more difficult for those who command it to intercept others, than for those who wish to elude them to do so safely. And should the Lacedaemonians miscarry in this, they would fall upon your land, and upon those left of your allies whom Brasidas did not reach; and instead of places which are not yours, you will have to fight for your own country and your own confederacy.“
Athenian envoys
”Some diversion of the kind you speak of you may one day experience, only to learn, as others have done, that the Athenians never once yet withdrew from a siege for fear of any. But we are struck by the fact, that after saying you would consult for the safety of your country, in all this discussion you have mentioned nothing which men might trust in and think to be saved by. Your strongest arguments depend upon hope and the future, and your actual resources are too scanty, as compared with those arrayed against you, for you to come out victorious. You will therefore show great blindness of judgment, unless, after allowing us to retire, you can find some counsel more prudent than this. You will surely not be caught by that idea of disgrace, which in dangers that are disgraceful, and at the same time too plain to be mistaken, proves so fatal to mankind; since in too many cases the very men that have their eyes perfectly open to what they are rushing into, let the thing called disgrace, by the mere influence of a seductive name, lead them on to a point at which they become so enslaved by the phrase as in fact to fall willfully into hopeless disaster, and incur disgrace more disgraceful as the companion of error, than when it comes as the result of misfortune. This, if you are well advised, you will guard against; and you will not think it dishonorable to submit to the greatest city in Hellas, when it makes you the moderate offer of becoming its tributary ally, without ceasing to enjoy the country that belongs to you; nor when you have the choice given you between war and security, will you be so blinded as to choose the worse. And it is certain that those who do not yield to their equals, who keep terms with their superiors, and are moderate towards their inferiors, on the whole succeed best. Think over the matter, therefore, after our withdrawal, and reflect once and again that it is for your country that you are consulting, that you have not more than one, and that upon this one deliberation depends its prosperity or ruin.“

The Athenians now withdrew from the conference; and the Melians, left to themselves, came to a decision corresponding with what they had maintained in the discussion, and answered,

Melian commissioners
”Our resolution, Athenians, is the same as it was at first. We will not in a moment deprive of freedom a city that has been inhabited these seven hundred years; but we put our trust in the fortune by which the gods have preserved it until now, and in the help of men, that is, of the Lacedaemonians; and so we will try and save ourselves. Meanwhile we invite you to allow us to be friends to you and foes to neither party, and to retire from our country after making such a treaty as shall seem fit to us both.“

Such was the answer of the Melians. The Athenians now departing from the conference said, ”Well, you alone, as it seems to us, judging from these resolutions, regard what is future as more certain than what is before your eyes, and what is out of sight, in your eagerness, as already coming to pass; and as you have staked most on, and trusted most in, the Lacedaemonians, your fortune, and your hopes, so will you be most completely deceived.“
The Athenian envoys now returned to the army; and the Melians showing no signs of yielding, the generals at once betook themselves to hostilities, and drew a line of circumvallation round the Melians, dividing the work among the different states. Subsequently the Athenians returned with most of their army, leaving behind them a certain number of their own citizens and of the allies to keep guard by land and sea. The force thus left stayed on and besieged the place. . .
. . .The Melians surrendered at discretion to the Athenians, who put to death all the grown men whom thwy took, and sold the women and children for slaves, and subsequently sent out five hundred colonists and inhabited the place themselves.

This extract is from: Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War (ed. Richard Crawley, 1910). Cited Feb 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


Sherman at Melos: Realpolitik Ancient and Modern

Thucydides and the Ancient Simplicity: the Limits of Political Realism, by Gregory Crane, Department of Classics, Tufts University


Timeline

Milos

  In ancient times, "Melos" prospered because of its great mineral wealth. It has been inhabited since the Neolithic age (7000 B.C.) and developed more rapidly than the neighbouring islands because of the black glass-like volcanic rock called obsidian, which was used by the "Melians" to make tools and weapons. Since obsidian from Melos has also been located in the Peloponnese, Crete, Cyprus and even in Egypt, it is believed that there was a flourishing export trade too.
  From the beginning of the bronze age (2800-1100 B.C.), the island played an extremely important part in the Cycladic world, centred at the ancient city of Philakopi, which in fact gave its name to an entire archaeological period.
  With the coming of the Hellenic peoples, the Dorians settled in Melos around 1000 B.C. During the same period, a new settlement was being built in the area of modern Klima. This new town developed rapidly particularly in the field of art and craft. The so called "Melian Vases" of that period are greatly renowned.
  Very little is known of Melos before the 5th century B.C. It is known however, that the Melians refused to surrender to the Persians and fought with the rest of the Greeks at the battles of Salamis and Plataea. In their attempt to remain neutral during the Peloponnesian war, they were punished by the Athenians who, in 415 B.C. put all the old people to death and sold the young men, women and children into slavery.
  The history of the island, throughout the following centuries, was similar to that of the rest of the Cyclades Islands. Until 311 B.C., Melos was ruled by Macedonia and then by Egypt. The powerful fleet of the Ptolemaids ensured the freedom and safety of the seas. As a result, the island of Melos saw a phase of renewed economic growth which was also reflected culturally. Examples of this creative era are the famous statue of Venus, (at the Louvre Museum in Paris), and the imposing 2.50 metre tall statue of Poseidon (displayed in the National Museum in Athens).
  During the Roman Conquest, a number of new buildings were constructed, and Christianity made its appearance, probably during the 1st century. The Catacombs of the island - the most extensive in Greece and among the most significant in the whole Roman Empire are undeniable proof of this.
  The most important event in the Byzantine era was the destruction of the Ancient City of Klima (5th - 6th century), possibly as a result of an earthquake.
  Finally, during the Venetian and Turkish rule, the inhabitants fought relentlessly for their freedom.
This text is cited May 2003 from the Rented Rooms Owners' Union of Milos tourist pamphlet


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