Pericles is a famous character out of the history of classical Greece. This sample essay explores the writings of Pericles about the effects of the Peloponnesian War on the people of Athens. This paper provides an example of the features and benefits at Ultius custom writing services.
Pericles and the Peloponnesian War]
Pericles delivers his famous funeral oration during the Peloponnesian War. This war was started by Greece against Sparta as a pre-emptive strike against submitting to demands made by Sparta. The speech was given during the winter of 431 BC. The speech was delivered by Pericles to his fellow Athenians after the first battle of the war.
The people who attended the funeral were there to honor the dead and they were comprised of family members and those who had battled in the war with their fallen brothers. Athenians were frustrated at the time of the war as they felt their leaders had dragged them into a war which resulted in a loss of their homes, lives, and resources. Pericles delivered the speech both as custom and also to rouse the spirits of his fellow Athenians.
Pericles attempted to raise the spirits of the Athenians by stating the ways in which Athens was different from Sparta and other countries which did not have democracy. Pericles states in his speech that all men are equal in the eyes of the law in Athens. Both a rich man and poor man would face equal justice in Athens courts. By making this statement Pericles is giving the Athenians a cause to keep fighting for. Pericles does this by showing the Athenians the democracy they would lose if they lost the battle and had to submit to Sparta or any other country.
Pericles also praises the freedoms that Athenians have in comparison to other countries because of their democratic government. Athenians have the freedom to do as they please without the scrutiny of the government. The individual Athenians do not have to control their neighbor or watch their neighbor closely as they have the freedom to live their lives. Pericles also acknowledges that this type of freedom and equality may have been a hindrance to other countries. However, for Greece this openness and equality allows the Athenians to thrive and have a modern society which continues to make advances in comparison to its neighboring countries.
Honoring the dead in Pericles’ speech
While honoring the dead Pericles praises specifically the Athenians that are present as well as those who gave their lives. Pericles first praises the Ancient Greek culture and customs of honoring the dead through the funeral as he states that the public is able to mourn together. Pericles then goes on to praise the achievements of Athenians during times of war.
This served the purpose of not only raising the Athenians spirits but also giving them the confidence to continue to fight and believe that they will win the war. Pericles praises the bravery of the ancestors, the men who died and those who continue to fight in the war. Pericles boasts about not just the city of Athens but the people who live there.
Pericles believes that the praise he bestows upon his fellow citizens is due to the democratic form of government. Pericles states that democracy has created citizens who are able to be independent and exercise their free will. This independence has created superior citizens who are able to fight both for their country but also for their freedom.
Along with this independence comes great responsibility to protect this freedom through protecting democracy. Pericles makes this link in order to argue to those at the funeral that they need to continue fighting to preserve their democracy, independence, and freedom from the invasion of foreign countries.
However, Pericles was not completely against foreign countries. Pericles also stated that Athenians were open to foreigners and did not exclude them from their land. Pericles argued that this openness also lied in the responsibility to spread their democratic views and ideals to these other countries.
This occurs as foreigners see the way in which democracy is working they may take these ideas back to their homeland. In this way, openness leads to the spread of democracy all over the world. This would further the causes of Athens as the leader in democratic thinking and governance.
The purpose of Pericles bragging about Athenians and their democracy was to give them a cause to keep fighting for. While they are at the funeral surrounded by death Pericles takes this opportunity to lift up the Athenians and to show them why their fellow brothers gave up their lives.
While on the surface the speech looks as if it is part of the custom, Pericles’ oration serves a hidden purpose. By including discussion of why Athenians were superior to other in both their traits and way of government Pericles attempted to give them the confidence needed to defeat the enemy.
Pericles and the Athenian people
The speech should have been expected to be a somber reflection on the loss of life. However, Pericles took this opportunity to praise the life which these fallen Athenians had lived and fought to preserve. By giving the Athenians a greater purpose than themselves he gave glory to those who died and those who continue to fight. As the continuing battles would be crucial to winning the war Pericles could not allow his fellow citizens to be disheartened.
By revering those who died, Pericles gave those who were living a model to look up to and emulate. Pericles urged those still living to not allow their death to have been in vain. Pericles wants those Athenians who live to raise up Athens and their democratic ideals. Pericles attitude towards life and death as an Athenian citizen was to preserve the freedoms that they have developed through the formation of a democracy. Pericles believed these should be the goals for every Athenian to live and die for.
Pericles. “Pericles’ Funeral Oration from the Peloponnesian War (Book 2.34-46).” Internet
History Sourcebooks. Fordham University, 1 Aug. 2000. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.