Date of this Version
In the fifth century before the Christian era the two powerful states of Greece, Athens and Sparta, were at war. Greek culture was then at its highest level, and Athens was the centre-in the phrase of Pericles, "the school of Hellas." Its attainments in art, letters, and government were a source of pride and the basis of the Athenian claim of superiority. During the progress of that long and terrible war, the Athenians conceived that the neutrality of a small colony on the little island of Melos was a military disadvantage, and an army was sent to reduce it to subjection. An embassy was dispatched to acquaint the settlers with the purpose of the invading army. A delegation representing the Melians met the embassy and a conference was held in which the views of the strong and the weak were exchanged. Recent events in Europe give the story of this interview, as related by Thucydides, a new interest.