- Dec 2015
Our current ethics of human rights are products of "Humanitarian Revolution" and “Rights Revolution”, and many rights we stipulated today are barely not even a generation old.More to the point, atrocities of modern times are called for such. The Japanese treatment of prisoners was deemed inhumane. The bombing of Dresden was called and questioned (with "Bomber" Harris defending it just as Curtis Le May would defend his incindiary bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities). The leveling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still draws debate. There is little evidence that Alexander's surrounding and annihilation of Poros' forces was so remarked. Same for the siege of Tyre. There is no ancient moralising about Alexander's near genocide of the Mallians. Philip was criticised for being so uncivil as to campaign year around rather than the deliberate slaughter of his enemies at Crocus field. Polybios remarks unfavourably on the fate of Corinth but mostly in terms of the fact the Achaians brought this upon themselves through naive nationalism. Plutarch notes the Kerameikos "ran red with the blood of the slaughtered" during Athens' sack by Sulla. He does not say that this was a disgusting act of barbarity (Sull. 14.3-5):
As I've said, life was a different commodity to what it is today.
For example: LGBQ rights is a good example, and certain women's rights were only achieved in the 1970s.
Applying 21st Century ethics of human rights on ancients would be quite off base.