Were relations between states different in Classical Greece than in the Greek Dark Ages?


Read the provided primary source documents. Your task is to use both these documents and other information from this course (readings and class notes) to answer the following question:

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“Were relations between states different in Classical Greece than in the Greek Dark Ages?”

The leaders of Athens and other Classical Greek states claimed to have a more enlightened approach to their relations not just with their own citizens but with outsiders as well. Was this really true? How did they manage warfare and other interactions between states (diplomacy, alliances, trade, etc.)? Was this new era really a change from what was described by Homer in the Illiad? How was it alike or different? Keep in mind that there is no definite right or wrong answer to this question. The primary objectives here are to think critically, express yourself clearly, identify an answer to the question (thesis) and defend that answer thoroughly with evidence from both the source document and your course readings and notes. This paper should be an essay of 3 to 4 pages.

The Sources:

“Achilles’ Anger,” an excerpt from the Illiad. This is a fictional account of one of the wars that accompanied the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization and the start of the Greek Dark Ages. While the story is set in an earlier period, the depiction of events is based on the author’s personal experience and understanding of Dark Age wars, battles and leaders. (Homer lived at the end of the Dark Ages.)

“The Melian Dialogue” is an excerpt from The History of the Peloponnesian War, a book written by the Greek historian Thucydides about the conflict between Athens and Sparta. This passage describes negotiations between Athens and Melos, a smaller and weaker state—and the violence that followed. How do these events compare to the ideals proclaimed by many Greek leaders in the Classical era?

General words of advice:

read the documents several times carefully;

identify the documents’ authors in terms of time period, region, and historical context;

consider the authors’ purpose, anticipated audience, and any obvious or unspoken ideological positions on issues such as religion, class, gender, etc.

consider what can (and can’t) be learned about history from these documents

study the language of the documents and be aware what kind of sources they are

Essay Format

Papers must be presented formally according to collegiate conventions. For example:

Provide a title to your essay that captures its content. There is no need for an individual title page.

Include page numbers.

Double-space your essay, with the exception of long quotations, which should be indented and single spaced. (Long quotes should be used with caution in a paper of this length!) 12-point Times New Roman or similar type is preferred. Margins should be about 1” top and bottom and 1.25” on each side (i.e. typical MS Word default settings).

Provide citations for the documents and sources you use. Do not include a bibliography for this short paper.

Check for spelling, grammar and typos (including those not caught by spell check! Don’t loose points that way).


For this paper, you do not need to fully cite the primary documents. Refer to quotes or other references to these documents by title and page number. For example: (Melian Dialogue, page 5). You can (and should) use other course readings. Cite any reference to another course reading by title and page number, as in (Understanding World Societies, page 220). Place all citations in the body text, at the end of the relevant sentence or paragraph. There is no need for endnotes, footnotes or a works cited page.

Outside sources should not be used for this project.

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