The Goldilocks Government

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In Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War one sees differing interactions between the self-interest of the state and of the individual; In his account of the Greatest War of all time Thucydides attempts to define human interactions in relation to the State. Max Weber says “authority is power accepted as legitimate by those subjected to it” The three divisions of authority are the “charismatic authority”, “the traditional authority”, and “the rational legal authority”. The scope of this paper is to look at the leadership of Pericles, Cleon, and Hermocrates in respect to Weber’s three divisions of authority to explain why Hermocrates’ ability to lead won Thucydides admiration. When viewing this with respect to the form of government and leadership within that city one can see that contrary to popular belief about Thucydides being a strict realist, in fact he is only moderately so. However, when viewing the book as a whole one sees a transformation within Thucydides himself, who having been exiled actually has time to formulate his own lofty expectations for what a reasonable government would look like. Pericles falls under the category of the Charismatic Authoritarian. According to Weber the Charismatic Domination is “power legitimized on the basis of a leader's exceptional personal qualities or the demonstration of extraordinary insight and accomplishment, which inspire loyalty and obedience from followers” .Despite his ties to the aristocratic throne of ancient Athens, he makes his name actually as one of the strategos. Strategos which were elected generals of the Athenian army held the highest of all of Athens. The most important politically as well as militarily. (Zagorin, 60). Thucydides first describes Pericles... ... middle of paper ... ...eing detrimental to his sphere of influence. (6.35-36) Here he is seeking to use a tactic just short of terror to inspire voluntary action but he again uses necessity of warding off an invading tyrant as his strategy. Thucydides work continues to inspire critique and praise. To see him as distinctly realist or idealistic would be to completely ignore his desire for moderation. However to describe him as strictly a moderate would vastly ignore his desire for a truly perfect state. If there was such a category as an “active moderate” state I feel that would best fit him. He simply desires leadership, not perfection. He wants the best possible city. He felt like Athens was the best example or attempt thus far and with some minor tweaks possibly realize a glorious city. However, It is 2500 years later and humanity is still trying to realize the same reality.

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