Pericles’s funeral oration was given to honor the soldiers lost in war by commemorating the military accomplishments of the Athens government and to distinguish the roles of men and women in Athens society. Pericles’s speech was given in 430 B.C.E at the end of the first year of war. He then died a year late in 429 B.C.E. Pericles’ Funeral Oration is included in Thucydides’ writing titled History of the Peloponnesian War.
The perspective that Thucydides took to write History of the Peloponnesian War gave his work, on a first read, the impression that his opinion was removed to provide an objective analysis of the destruction of the greatness of Athens over the period of the war. He began with a “medical history” of how humanity structured the first societies based on the interplay between fear, interest, and honor. Then, progressed to how war devolved the great Athenian society. Which took Thucydides from revisiting eloquent speeches over strategy to simpler retellings of brash disputes. Thoughtful placement displayed Thucydides’ opinion of Athens’ actions, how he viewed the other city-states’ positions on various issues in the book, and emphasized multiple philosophical ideals. In my reading, the shift in Thucydides’ perspective showed his ideal culture of argument was through eloquent language of “Pericles’ Funeral Oration” and why the war degraded it to a rasher reality in “Civil War in Corcyra”.
One of those traits is that although Athenian citizens and soldiers live a more leisurely life and are not trained as rigorously as the Spartans in land warfare, Athenians’ natural courage makes up for that (Thucydides pg. 42). Athens was definitely the dominant naval power in Greece at the time, but the Athenians’ devaluing of land warfare led to a stalemate in the first phase of the Peloponnesian War before the Peace of Nicias in which Sparta ravaged Athens’ countryside and forced its citizens to be holed up in the city walls and to live in close quarters, making them susceptible to the plague. Another trait of Athens that can be argued as not a positive factor is its institution of democracy. Athenian democracy was quite limited in the modern sense since its citizenry only included ethnic Athenian males over the age of 20, but it was remarkable in the ancient world for the amount of civic participation it allowed of those that it considered citizens. The Athenians prided themselves on including people of lower economic status into the citizenry, but this trait may be not as positive as Pericles proclaimed (Thucydides pg. 40). In an oligarchic system such as Sparta’s, if the city-state was to win a war, it
On the other hand, there are others, such as Platias and Koliopoulos that say Pericles’s strategy could have worked. Both state that "the Athenians lost the war only when they dramatically reversed the Periclean grand strategy that explicitly disdained further conquests". The Athens could have Although his countrymen engaged in several aggressive actions soon after his death, the Athenians remained true to the larger Periclean strategy of seeking to preserve, not expand, the empire, and did not depart from it until the Sicilian Expedition. 33%
Pericles’ Funeral Oration is a speech written to honor the fallen Athenian heroes who sacrificed their lives for their nation in the first year of the Peloponnesian War. At this time, the emotions and patriotism of the Athenian people were increasing. Pericles incorporated pathos into his speech by stating that dying while serving one’s city is altruistic and courageous. Pericles continues by addressing Athen’s unique and effective government system: democracy. Under a democracy, there is “equal justice to all” and Pericles praises the egalitarianism for men in Athens while declaring superiority over neighboring city states. Pericles views the Athenian democracy as the most successful form of government as it honors freedom and justice of all men. “We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it." Pericles’ proclamation of Athenian virtues convey the priorities and practice of moderation that shape and strengthen the polis.
Thucydides believes that democracy is a naturally flawed form of government. By looking through the lens of human nature, the flaws are not seen to be attributed to democracy in itself. By the use of speeches that were given, by his “account” in the era of the Peloponnesian war, the thriving and failing ways of democracy can be seen. Support for this position is provided in the work that Thucydides presents to us is the form of speeches. These speeches were often given in the form of debate, and included the Mytilenean debate, the debate before the Sicilian Expedition, but also the Pericles’ Funereal Oration. Within the perspective that Thucydides gave, it is revealed that human nature is a cause for democratic government to be undermined.
Early in his political career Pericles supported major changes in the Athenian constitution and petitioned strongly for reform. Pericles was also well known for outspoken resent towards Sparta. It did not take long for Pericles impact to start being noticed, in 462 BCE Pericles already established a vote that would remove all power from the noble council that currently made decisions for Athens. After the vote passed, the beginning of what is known today as democracy has begun in Athens. It only took another 2 years for Pericles to gain control of Athens. 461 BCE was the first year of Pericles rule, in which he would hold onto until his death. His reign was so strong it is referred to as the Age of Pericles when discussing the history of Greece. Thucydides, a well-known historian from this time period, stated Pericles as “The first citizen of Athens” for his development of the new democracy. During Pericles rule, the Golden age of Athenian culture began 449 and lasted until 331 BCE. During this time Athens exploded with arts and culture, he was close friends with many playwrights and artists. Pericles made theater admission more affordable for the poorer citizen to allow them to enjoy the arts of Athens. The state of Athens was booming until the year 331 BCE, which marked the beginning of the Peloponnesian
Pericles believes that democracy produces freedom for the citizens. However, they are averted from doing anything wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws of the democracy. Yet, not everyone shared the same perspective of Athenian democracy, some critics might think that
The random selection had its trials and tribulations but it was still successful. Although this form of government was an experiment, it lasted for 100 years and ended after Athens lost the war with Sparta. The people of Athens remained strong and their leader, Pericles made a statement guaranteeing that: “it is true that we (Athenians) are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not the few, with equal justice to all alike in their private dispute” –Pericles (Donn, n.d.) The last branch of the political system that tied all three together is the Dikasteria. This particular
What is Pericles Trying to Accomplish in His Funeral Oration? When Pericles delivers his funeral oration he is trying to accomplish two tasks. He is fulfilling an Athenian duty, and he is encouraging the people of Athens to support the war. It is traditional for a chosen representative to give a speech after the first soldiers to die in a war are buried (Pelo.