Comparing Pericles’ Funeral Oration to Sogoyewapha's Appeal to the Preservation Culture

Topics: Peloponnesian War, Athenian democracy, Pericles Pages: 5 (1986 words) Published: March 11, 2013
Comparing Pericles’ Funeral Oration to Sogoyewapha's Appeal to the Preservation Culture After the Peloponnesian War, Pericles delivered an oration to celebrate the soldiers who had died in battle. Similarly, Sogoyewapha’s oration delivered at the council of chiefs of the Six Nations to celebrate their religion. Both orations give an understanding of the inner workings of government in ancient Athens and in the aboriginal nation. The approach that will be applied to analyze the orations will be Burke’s pentad, noting carefully both Pericles’ and Sogoyewapha’s use of identification. On a shallow level, one can see that the act of the pentad would be that Pericles is simply giving an oration to commemorate the fallen soldiers. In addition, the agent would be that of Pericles, but he identifies himself with those who reside in the state, the brethren of the fallen soldiers, their parents, their children, their neighbours and the fallen themselves. The scene is set in Athens, more specifically Athens after the Peloponnesian War. The purpose of the oration was to pay respect to those who have fallen because according to Pericles “it [seems] sufficient that [those] who have showed their valour by action should also by an action have their honour” (Thucydides). Lastly, the agency of which the oration was presented is revealed when Pericles says “thus also have I, according to the prescript of the law, delivered in word [the oration]” (Thucydides). In contrast but also very shallow, one can point out that the act of Sogoyewapha’s appeal is to preserve the religion of his people. The agent seen idealistically is Sogoyewapha, who identifies himself as a “son of the Great Spirit”. The scene is set in the new United States, after the American Revolutionary War. The purpose of the oration was to demand the Americans respect their religion instead of what Sogoyewapha says “force [their] religion upon [them]” (Bryan). Now as mentioned earlier, applying the pentad to the oration on a shallow level only dissects the orators’ action of giving the oration. By comparing the terms of which the pentad has applied to the action, one is then able to see and understand the underlying reason or motive behind it (Burke). In this case, if one takes a closer look into the act and the scene and then the relationship between the two, the motive behind both Pericles’ Sogoyewapha’s oration is revealed. In Pericles’ case, the act of the oration was indeed to commemorate the dead, but Pericles believed that “praise of other people is tolerable only up to a certain point, the point where one still believes that one could do oneself some of the things one is hearing about. Once you get beyond this point, you will find people becoming jealous and incredulous (Thucydides).” It is for this reason, that the act in actuality avoids this problem and so Pericles gives praise to Athens’ form of government, military, and its citizens. Similarly, Sogoyewapha in his appeal to preserve the religion realizes its futility due to the persistence of the way man in assimilation and is in actuality pointing out the fallacies in which the “white men” have made. This is seen when he says “we understand your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us… why has not the Great Spirit given to … our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?” (Bryan). Recall that the scene was a time period shortly after the Peloponnesian War but in a broader sense the scene is the time period set when democracy was emerging in ancient Athens. Pericles says the people of Athens had a government unique to their neighbours. Their state respected the majority rather than a select few. The Athenians chose to follow the rules because they wanted to, not because they were forced too. Democracy in Athens meant people were treated...

Bibliography: Bryan,W. J., (1906). The World’s Famous Orations. America: I. Red Jacket on the Religion of the White Man and the Red. New York: Funk and Wagnalls
Burke, K. (1945). A grammar of motives. Berkeley: University of California Press
Keith, W. M., & Lundberg, C. O. (2008). The essential guide to rhetoric. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's.
Thucydides (c.460/455-c.399 BCE): Peloponnesian War, Book 2.34-46
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