Pericles Funeral Oration
Peter J Harvey
Professor: D. Slane
In the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles delivered a very powerful panegyric for the fallen warriors. He assured the people that Athens was in good hands. He uses words throughout his speech to gain a positive emotional appeal and transform the perception of himself to his audience. He makes a very bold statement when he says “our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others.” Pericles wants other nations to know that the way Athens is governed does not disturb the way other nations are ruled or to change the way they are governed, nor does it try to challenge other governments. Pericles feels that the way Athens is ruled does not clash with other governments and he justifies his claim by stating “our government does not copy our neighbors’, but is an example to them.” He is consoling his audience by letting them know that their fallen warriors did not die in vain. He reaffirms to them that Athens is the best, “because it is a democracy, the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few.” Athenians had achieved something quite unique, being both ruled and rulers at the same time. This made a new type of citizen that was cleaver, open-minded, tolerant, and able to adapt to any situation and rise to any challenge. This new citizen became the new ideal of the Greek world. Pericles was a visionary and his views ignored he realities of party factionalism, selfishness, and arrogance that were to happen after his death. He loved his country, but was a little naïve to think that all was well in Ancient Greece.
Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War
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