Pericles

Topics: Peloponnesian War, Athenian democracy, Ancient Greece Pages: 2 (704 words) Published: July 1, 2013
Pericles’ Funeral Oration: The Ignored Arrogance

In a while after the Peloponnesian War had broken out, Pericles delivered his famous Funeral Oration to commemorate those troops who had already fallen in battle. Recorded, and probably rewritten by the historian Thucydides, it is one of the primary sources on which our understanding of ancient Athens is based and provides a unique insight into just how Athenian democracy understood itself. In the speech Pericles relates the special qualities of the Athenians, redefining many traditional Greek virtues in a radical new light. He also described Athens as a wonderful place to live & portrayed its citizens as tolerant, courageous and rightful. The speech is a glorification of Athens' achievements, designed to stir the spirits of a state still at war. The idea that the Athenians are able to put aside their petty wants and strive for the greater good of the city is a central theme of the speech. Bound together by bonds of mutual trust and a shared desire for freedom, the people of Athens submit to the laws and obey the public officials not because they have to, as in other cities, but because they want to. Athenians had thus achieved something quite unique - being both ruled and rulers at one and the same time. This had forged a unique type of citizen. Clever, tolerant, and open minded, Athenians were able to adapt to any situation and rise to any challenge. They had become the new ideal of the Greek world. A line from his piece saying , “Our institution is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people. When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting on person before another in positions of public responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses. No one, so long as he has it in him to be of service to the state, is kept in political...
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