Diodotus

Funerary plaqueca. 520–510 B.C.; Archaic, black-figureGreek, AtticTerracottaRogers Fund, 1954 (54.11.5) photography by mma, Digital File DT200607.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 12_2_11

Mourners pull their hair in grief in this plaque from a tomb from the late sixth century BC.  Charioteers, seen in the lower part of the plaque, were a common theme in tomb decorations. Image: Funerary plaque [Greek, Attic] (54.11.5). In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/54.11.5 (October 2006)

 

The Death Penalty Is Not a Deterrent

Criminals always believe they can get away with it

After Cleon presented his case for executing all the men of Mytilene, the next speaker was Diodotus. He is unknown to history except in this passage from Thucydides, where he stands up for the importance of free, unprejudiced dialogue in democracy.
Diodotus_Intro2

First Diodotus answers Cleon’s charge that anyone who spoke against the death penalty for Mytilene must be arrogant or corrupt. Instead of defending his own reputation, Diodotus makes the general argument that character assassination is bad for the state. Fear of slander keeps good advisers out of public affairs.

The best interests of the state, rather than personalities, should be the basis for voting decisions, Diodotus says. He goes on to propose that Athens forgive and negotiate with the Mytilenes, even the guilty ones — because dead Mytilenes cannot pay annual tribute, a vital source of annual revenue for Athens. Whether Diodotus’ argument holds up is for you to decide. Read his speech and cast your vote.

Diodotus Speech: https://ancientvoter.wordpress.com/diodotus/diodotus-speech/

Diodotus Questions: https://ancientvoter.wordpress.com/diodotus/diodotus-questions/

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