Plato's Book I of The Republics presents three fundamental views on justice which are exemplified in Thucydides' On Justice, Power and Human Nature. Justice is illustrated as speaking the paying one's debts, helping one's friends and harming one's enemies, and the advantage of the stronger. In both their works, Plato and Thucydides write of the view that justice is honoring one's debts. In The Republics, Cephalus asserts that justice is "the truth and giving back what a man has taken from another." In other words, he believes that we should be truthful and pay back our debts to man and the gods. This view of justice is illustrated at the debate in Sparta between the Lacedaemonians, Corinthians and the Athenians.
During the Athenians defense, they remind the Lacedaemonians of the battle with Persia. In this conflict, when Persia was defeated, the Athenians claim to have supplied most of the fleet, the most "intelligent commander" and their most "unhesitating zeal," (Thucydides, i. 74). Athens risked their lives for homes that barely survived, and fought to save the Lacedaemonians as well as themselves. Therefore the Lacedaemonians are obligated to not dissolve the treaty or break their oaths with Athens. The Athenians feel that it is just to pay back this debt, which is a similar perspective of justice advanced by Cephalus.
Also Plato and Thucydides incorporate the concept that justice is helping one's friends and harming one's enemies. Polemarchus, in The Republics, states that he agrees with Simonides' maxim that it is "just to give each what is owed," (Plato, 331 e). This leads to Polemarchus' assertion that that justice is doing good to friends and harm to enemies, (Plato, 332 d). This notion of justice is also presented in Thucydides' On Justice, Power and Human Nature. In the Mytilenean debate the two speakers are Cleon, presenting the side in favor of killing the people, and Diodotus, on the opposing side. The two speakers present their opinions on the best way to deal with the Mytilenean people as a consequence after their revolt, as well as actions that should overall be taken in the future if history were to repeat itself, (Thucydides, iii.
37-51). Cleon wants justice for the revolt by completely terminating the Mytilenean men. He states that fairness should only be shown towards people who will be their friends in the future, and not towards those who would remain enemies, (Thucydides, iii. 40). The Mytilenean had revolted not by force of Athens' opposition, but on their own. Cleon is trying to convince the Athenians that by giving the same punishment to those who are forced to revolt by your enemies and those who do so of their own accord, those who rebel without excuse will revolt upon the slightest pretext, when success means freedom and failure brings no very dreadful consequences.
Cleon and Polemarchus both viewed justice as harm to one's enemies and good to one's friends. Lastly Plato and Thucydides write of the notion that justice is the advantage of the stronger. In The Republics, this idea was established by Thrasymachus when he insisted that "justice is nothing but the advantage of the stronger," (Plato, 338 c). He then gives Socrates two premises that he uses to arrive at this conclusion. The rulers of cities are stronger than their subjects and the rulers declare what is just and unjust by making laws for their subjects to follow, (Plato, 338 e-339 a). This idea of justice is also exemplified in On Justice, Power and Human Nature during the debate at Sparta in 432.
After the Corinthians gave their speech to the Lacedaemonians, the Athenians responded. They did not respond to the specific charges of the Corinthians, but to the "truest reason for the quarrel," the growth of the Athenian empire, (Thucydides, i. 23 and i. 73). The Athenians felt "compelled to develop [their] empire" for their "own advantage," (Thucydides, i.
75). They assert that it is just to expand their empire because they are stronger, and it has always been established that the weaker are to be ruled by the stronger. Those with power to use force, "have no need to go to law," and the weaker must give in to the stronger. The Athenians felt that their intentions were just, and according to Thrasymachus, they were. In conclusion three notions of justice developed in Book I of The Republics of Plato are outlined in On Justice, Power and Human Nature. Justice is viewed as telling the truth and paying debts, doing good to friends and harm to enemies, and the advantage of the stronger.
Works Cited Plato. The Republic of Plato. Transltr Allan Bloom. Allan Bloom, 1991. Thucydides. On Justice Power and Human Nature.
Transltr Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. , 1993.