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How Important Were Moral Issues to Writers of Ancient History?
Moral issues were extremely important and widely discussed topics by ancient Greek history writers and philosophers. Their views about moral have shaped the idea of moral relativism (or ethical relativism) according to which there are no universal, true or false moral prepositions as they are different for every society, culture or historical period. Each culture and society have their own moral values fairly different from each other and therefore none of the standpoints have privilege over others.
According to famous Greek historian Herodotus, every society has their own moral code based on their culture and habits. To support his statement, Herodotus gives the following example.
Persian King Darius I (550-486 BCE) summoned some Greeks before him and asked them how much he would have to pay them to eat their fathers’ dead bodies. They refused to do it at any price. According to Herodotus, Darius then summoned some Indians who by custom ate the bodies of their parents and asked them what would make them willing to burn their fathers’ bodies. The Indians reportedly cried out that he should not mention so horrid an act (Robertson and Mire 21).
Another Greek historian Xenophon developed his own doctrine about moral education aiming to solve the issues Greece faced that time. Lu believes that Xenophon’s critical views about government, Athenian democracy reflected in his works laid the foundation of his moral education theory (44). He also states, that “this kind of education is carried out by an ideal, almost perfect political leader and leads to ultimate happiness” (173).
The valuable ideas of ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle contributed to the development of moral philosophy and Western ethical tradition.
Robertson, Cliff, and Mire Scott. Ethics for Criminal Justice Professionals. CRC Press. 2009.
Lu, Houliang. Xenophon’s Theory of Moral Education. Edinburg Research Archive. 2014,
https://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1842/9868/Lu2014.pdf?quence=1&isAllowed=y. Accessed 11 December 2017