The Power of Gods

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The key to a successful Greek society is a balance between faith in the gods and faith in common sense. The Greek gods were simultaneously both responsible for the downfall and success of many Greek city-states. While providing immense support for daily and political life, the gods were often a huge hindrance in foreign affairs, especially in regards to war. In Greek life, the gods were the glue of the society, suppressing the selfish personalities common to Greece and pushing the society to work together as a cohesive unit. On the battle field, however, it was often the side who's sole power was a just faith in the gods who perished. The deities at times provide hope for individuals to accomplish tasks, but the same concept of hope can be detrimental when applied to larger affairs such as war. In Greek society the contrast between the physical and psychological power derived from the gods was incredibly important to society, because while the divine can not tactically improve an army, it is apparent that the deities provided a psychological foundation that held up much of Greek society. Thucydides provides multiple accounts in his history of the Peloponnesian war where over trust in the gods leads to imminent defeat. Plato, in both the The Republic and the Symposium, points out different circumstances in which the belief in the gods maintains an ordered society by fulfilling peoples hubristic notions of life. The Greeks used the gods as tools, yet their lack of full understanding of the gods often led to poor outcomes. The Melian Dialogue in Thucydides' history is a clear example of the gods undermining human existence. In the dialogue, the Melian society is obliterated due to their unfaltering trust in the gods. The a... ... middle of paper ... ... psychological and fails when applied to physical tasks. Should the Athenians ignored the lunar eclipse many more men would probably have survived the Sicilian expedition and should Melos have listened to Athens and submitted peacefully their men would have most likely not be assassinated. As clearly shown by the Greeks, religion can play a large role in the success of a society and it's politics, but it is only detrimental when applied to foreign affairs like war. Works Cited Plato, and Allan David Bloom. "Book I." The Republic of Plato. 2nd ed. [New York]: Basic, 1991. Print. Plato, Seth Benardete, and Allan David Bloom. Plato's Symposium. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2001. Print. Thucydides, Robert B. Strassler, and Richard Crawley. The Landmark Thucydides: a Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print.

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