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FOR FORGIVENESS 1 For Forgiveness Rachel Newinski Minnesota State University Mankato FOR FORGIVENESS 2 For Forgiveness Without forgiveness mankind would not exist. Every man would constantly feel wronged by another, and would feel the need to enact revenge on the other in a never ending cycle. Until one man breaks this cycle by forgiving the other man. We Athenians need to be the man that breaks this cycle. If we do not set an example and forgive the Thirty Tyrants, all of Hellas will feel wronged by another polis and will try to conquer and destroy that state until all of Hellas has been destroyed from the inside as if by a parasite. Revenge and rancor are this parasite and forgiveness is the only remedy. I, Anytus, propose that we Athenians must forgive the Thirty Tyrants for their wrongdoings and provide them amnesty from lawsuits because it is what our former great leader, Pericles, would have done and it is what is just based on the ideals of our society. We shall look at the Athens that Pericles led as the closest to an ideal Athens as one has ever come before us. Assuming this is true, we should use the ideals of this time period to rebuild Athens from the ruins of the war into its former greatness. Using a quote from the funeral oration that Pericles delivered at the beginning of this conflict, “If we turn to our military policy, there also we differ from our antagonists. We throw open our city to the world, and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing, although the eyes of an enemy may occasionally profit by our liberality; trusting less in system and policy than to the native spirit of our citizens” (Carnes et al, 2015, p. 91). This emphasizes the need for forgiveness by providing sanctuary and amnesty to the Thirty because this openness is the very foundation Athens is built on. We, unlike those states such as Sparta, are open to foreigners and let them assimilate into our society. However, we will not let these people just enter Athens to take advantage of us. Any surviving members of the Thirty shall go through the same judicial process FOR FORGIVENESS 3 that any former magistrate must if they choose to return to Athens and seek sanctuary (Carnes et al, 2015, Faction Sheet). We need to forgive and forget the actions of the Thirty to restore these Periclean ideals that will in turn revive the values of the great Athenian society that once was before the war. If we do banish the Thirty, we would be doing exactly what the other states would expect of us. But Athenians do not do what is expected, we do the opposite. As Pericles explains here, “Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves” (Carnes et al, 2015, p. 91). Athens does not copy other states, so we should not act like we are another state by treating the Thirty vengefully. We Athenians are also the only state of Hellas that worships Eleos, the goddess of mercy, she has an altar here in the agora (Smith, 1870, p. 8-9). Therefore, we must stay true to our beliefs in Eleos and show the Thirty mercy by forgiving them. We must do the right thing, the Athenian thing, and do what is unexpected in order to give these men an opportunity for justice in Athens. Next, we must exonerate the Thirty and their supporters because it is what has been established as just in our society and it is what is best for Athens. Back before the judicial reforms of Draco, standard judicial procedures would have us persecute the members of the Thirty and their families for all the collective actions of the Thirty (Flaceliere, 1965, p. 243). But after these reforms, we changed our system to abolish those practices so every individual is responsible for their own actions not the actions of their associates (Flaceliere, 1965, p. 243). So in persecuting members of the Thirty and their supporters for the crimes of the Thirty as a whole, we would be actively ignoring the laws that formed the modern Athenian legal system. However, we must adjust our normal legal proceedings slightly in our handling of the members of the Thirty to benefit the good of Athens. Normally a man who commits a crime against Athens or a FOR FORGIVENESS 4 citizen of Athens would be held accountable for his actions. But in this special circumstance, we must protect these members of the Thirty and their family from lawsuits because these lawsuits will just tear our city farther apart into factions of those who sustain aggression for these people and those who want to forgive. Our dear Thucydides speaks on this when he says, “I consider it far more useful for the preservation of our empire [to] voluntarily to put up with injustice, than to put up with death” (Thucydides, 2008, p. 291). It is in our best interest to forgive the injustices committed by the Thirty. If we do not forgive them and treat them poorly, we may be met with aggression or possibly another conflict, with another state or within our own state, which we are not strong enough to fight. It would be un-Athenian to shun these people away or to harbor anger about their past actions by filing lawsuits against them. This anger will drain any hope of rebuilding our society, because we cannot form one Athens if there is a great divide between the people that reside in it. Dividing the current Athenian citizens into forgivers and non-forgivers will tear at the fabric of our fragile, healing city. This is a stress we cannot add on top of the vast task of rebuilding Athens. We all need to focus on the process of rebuilding as our goal, not trying to tear down other people. Those who still feel the anger that drives them to consider retaliation against the Thirty, I beg you please to listen to my next words. Drawing attention to ourselves by seeking vengeance for the crimes committed by the Thirty will bring us nothing but troubles. If we are cruel to them, we put ourselves at risk for another war we are not prepared to fight. After this war we have been left with twelve triremes, which is not nearly enough for us to fight with. Even if we try to fight, we will be putting our very limited resources into a cause we cannot win. Another loss or suffering atrocities similar to this past war will make the revival of Athens impossible. But, if we FOR FORGIVENESS 5 all collectively focus forgiveness of the Thirty and leave our anger behind, we can restore Athens to its Periclean greatness. Fellow Athenians, I have given you my earnest opinions on the matter at hand. I, Anytus, believe that we must forgive the Thirty Tyrants for their past crimes and prohibit lawsuits from being pressed against them. This is the best and only option if the revival of Athens is indeed our top priority. Forgiveness of the Thirty is what sets Athens apart from other states that embrace brutality and revenge over mercy and justice. This forgiveness would follow the model and values set out for us by our great leader, Pericles. Now, I ask you to take a look at yourself and decide if you will let yourself be controlled by the selfish desire to be vengeful towards these people, even if it leads to the demise of our state. Or will you follow the example of Athenian behavior, in which you forgive to provide the chance for the many to rebuild Athens to its former prestige. FOR FORGIVENESS 6 References Carnes, M., Norman, N., & Ober, J. (2015). The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BCE. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Flaceliere, R. (1965). Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles (P, Green, Trans). New York: The Macmillan Company. (Original work published 1959). Smith, W. (1870). Eleos. In Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. (Vol. 2, pp. 8-9). New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. Thucydides. (2008). The History of the Peloponnesian War (R, Crawley, Trans.). Auckland, New Zealand: The Floating Press. (Original work published 1874).