The Athenians gave him a public burial on the spot where he fell [only the men who died at Marathon received the same extraordinary honor] (1.30). Instead, they thought man was of the same race as the gods, a creature capable of extraordinary achievements. In these ways our city deserves to be admired” (2.39). . At an early date they had abandoned the normal means whereby men provide for themselves and their families, including all economic activity: farming, pasturing, trade, craft, and industry. But modern democracies are also more remote and indirect, less “political” in the ancient understanding of the term. Their national poet, Tyrtaeus, specifically rejected the Homeric values and replaced them with a single definition of arete: the courage to stand bravely in the ranks of a hoplite phalanx fighting for Sparta. Thought is not a barrier to the achievement of heroic goals. When tested, the Athenians behaved with the required devotion, wisdom, and moderation in large part because they had been inspired by the lofty democratic vision and example that Pericles had so effectively communicated to them. Nor does Pericles concede that the strict discipline of Spartan training and the secrecy of its closed society produce better soldiers than the Athenian democracy: “There is a difference between us and our opponents in how we prepare for our military responsibilities in the following ways: we open our city for everyone and do not exclude anyone for fear that he might learn or see something that would be useful to an enemy if it were not concealed. The Spartans, from their earliest childhood, seek to acquire courage by painfully harsh training, but we, living our unrestricted life, are no less ready to meet the same dangers they do. Achilles came to fight at Troy not for any national, ethnic, or communal cause but for his own purposes: to obtain booty seized from captured cities and to display the heroic excellence that Homer called arete. Other historians have questioned the Plutarch's bias, but his record is the one which remains the most intact. The Spartans were famous for their piety and reverence for law, and their blind obedience to it was thought to be the source of their great military prowess. We can outline the ideology behind democracy from his speech. As mentioned before, The Greek philosopher Plutarch (45 AD – 120 AD) wrote his lengthy histories on the lives of Pericles and his contemporaries in “The Parallel Lives ,” which gave insight to the political world of the fourth and fifth century BC Athens, Greece. When he refers to women, he says that they should stay at home and take care of the house. When wealthy aristocrats won victories in athletic contests, they could pay poets like Pindar to preserve their memories in verse; they could sponsor public monuments by great architects and sculptors; the richest of them could even erect temples to the gods, dedicated in their own names. Pericles is considered by many to be the supreme practitioner of ancient statecraft who broadened the Athenian democracy to … At times, the third qualification is the most important and can compensate for weaknesses in the other two. We have no need of a Homer to praise us or of anyone else whose words will delight us for the moment but whose account of the facts will be discredited by the truth. Pericles’ funeral oration summary Through such a display he hoped to win the kind of fame that would gain him immortality as the memory of his great deeds passed on through the generations, sung and embellished by bards like Homer. Not only does he talk about them at only the very end of his speech, but he also seems to give them a menial task, while giving the glory and honor to the men. Pericles emphasizes the greatness of a democracy in his funeral oration. In fact, it is a prerequisite for them, for the brave deeds performed by enraged heroes who give no thought to danger are, by his definition, not brave at all. One reason as to why Pericles praised Athenian democracy was to inspire citizens to continue to defend Athens-to rouse up the spirit of the people. Greek noblemen lived by the ideal of the accomplished amateur: good at a variety of skills–music, athletics, warfare, among others–but professionally devoted to none. Secondly, even those who were not citizens had relatives-husbands, sons, and fathers who were, and that alone would convince them to love the democratic Athens as well. Least of all did it suit the open, democratic society that Athens had already become by the time Pericles was born. For the first time in history a Greek state could conduct its life and plan for the future in the expectation of a lasting peace. Plato wrote Socrates’ Apology to express his ideas and opinions on the flaws of democracy. Attempts to expand it would not only be unnecessary but endanger what already existed. Pericles took a different view: “We believe,” he said,that words are no barrier to deeds, but rather that harm comes from not taking instruction from discussion before the time has come for action. The Athenians prized thought, deliberation, and discussion. The separation of tasks and roles in society was critical in the development of Athenian democracy. In the Athens of Pericles, however, the general prosperity and payment for public service gave the average man a degree of leisure unknown in other states. . “The people who have the most excuse for despising death are not the wretched and unfortunate…but those who run the risk of a complete reversal in their lives…” Also, Pericles attempts to convince the citizens that there should be no fear of death if one already has an honorable life, as they would be forever respected after their death. Only facing dangers that the mind can comprehend deserves to be called bravery, and that is what is expected of the men in his polis. Pericles’ greatest achievement lay in his ability to explain how the interests of the city and its citizens depended on each other for fulfillment. The task of keeping the home is not an easy one, and this tremendous responsibility is heaped upon the shoulders of the women. Such a vision and such leadership are not readily available in our era. In Athens, all citizens were equal before the law. If the newly free nations see democracy chiefly as a quick route to material well-being and equal distribution of wealth, they will be badly disappointed, and democracy will fail. It existed for only two centuries in Athens and less than that in a small number of Greek states. They also complained of the lack of uniform good character in the citizens, who were unpredictably involved in various activities and masters of none, with negative consequences for their military ability and moral quality. Prufrock is a modern man who can […], Alfieri’s commentary on the action of the play is integral to Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, communicating directly to the audience and presenting the events from a more […], Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid appears to be a light-hearted film about companionship, fighting, and trickery, but an examination from a cultural standpoint reveals the film’s intellectual depth. If, therefore, we are prepared to meet danger after leading a relaxed life instead of one filled with burdensome training, with our courage emerging naturally from our way of life instead of imposed by law, the advantage is ours. His choice of words convince the Athenians to fight for their democracy and the city they love. In this respect it was very much like Abraham Lincoln’s funeral oration at Gettysburg in 1863. Furthermore, Pericles attempts to convince the Athenians that death is preferable to dishonor and that an honorable sacrifice will be looked upon with reverence. The willingness to perform military service for his homeland is the most fundamental and demanding duty of the citizen. The first is to have a set of good institutions; the second is to have a body of citizens who possess a good understanding of the principles of democracy, or who at least have developed a character consistent with the democratic way of life; the third is to have a high quality of leadership, at least at critical moments. Most believe that Pericles was praising Athenian democracy, yet some claim that he was, in fact, downplaying the importance of democracy. from the Peloponnesian War (Book 2.34-46) This famous speech was given by the Athenian leader Pericles after the first battles of the Peloponnesian war. He tells the elderly that although they have lost their children, they should be honored that they died in the line of combat to protect Athenian democracy. We are not angry with our neighbor if he does what pleases him, and we don’t glare at him which, even if it is harmless, is a painful sight” (2.37.2). It was a vision that exalted the individual within the political community not by what it gave him but by what it expected of him. These were evidence of his freedom and importance, and so a source of pride. Pericles describes Athenian democracy as a system of government where men advance on merit rather than on class or wealth. Pericles glorifies the “equal justice to all” under the law that all men of Athens share and glorifies their superiority over their peer poleis. Pericles met the challenge of the heroic tradition by showing that democracy would bring to all the citizens of Athens the advantages heretofore reserved for the well-born few. The Plague and Death Pericles strategy against Sparta was to fight them at sea and not on land. It rejected the leveling principle pursued by both ancient Sparta and modern socialism, which requires the suppression of those rights. When it reappeared in the Western world more than two millennia later, it was broader but shallower. It contained a clear, if often implicit, contrast with the Spartan way of life, which so many Greeks admired but which Pericles regarded as inferior to the Athens he portrayed. He even asks the gods to aid the enemy so that he may gain vengeance against Agamemnon because, as Achilles himself says, “he did no honor to the best of the Achaeans.”. That is why Thucydides had so much respect for a man like Pericles that he decided to mention many of the speeches made by him during the Peloponnesian is his histories. Repeated failures had taught the Persians they could not challenge Athenian naval power, while adherence to the right strategy–a refusal to fight a large land battle–deprived Sparta and its allies of any hope for victory. If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. In the realm of private disputes everyone is equal before the law, but when it is a matter of public honors each man is preferred not on the basis of his class but of his good reputation and his merit [arete]. Athens is called a democracy because the many rule, not the few; everyone knew that in Sparta a small minority dominated the vast majority. The following speech is recorded in the History of the Peloponnesian Wars, written by the famous historian Thucydides, whose account of this conflict covered the causes of the war up to its conclusion in 404B.C. The official funeral oration for the Athenian soldiers who died at one of the opening battles of the Peloponnesian War by the leader of democratic Athens, Pericles. Above all, Pericles helped the Athenians to understand that their private needs, both moral and material, required the kind of community Athens had become. In the speech Pericles described the Athenian ideals and democracy. Plato recognized that the freedom afforded by the Athenian democracy seemed pleasant to many people, but his own judgment was less friendly: Democracy is “an agreeable, anarchic form of society, with plenty of variety, which treats all men as equal, whether they are equal or not” (Republic 558C). Useful reading: Russel Meiggs, The Athenian Empire; Victor Ehrenberg, From Solon to Socrates. .he may not wander about comfortably acting like someone with a clean reputation or else he is beaten by his betters. They would have been appalled by Plato’s notion that each man should do the one thing for which he was best suited, and so would the Athenians described by Pericles. DIRECTIONS: Using this speech of Pericles, answer the following questions in your own words, on a separate piece of paper. Pericles was an influential Greek Statesman during the 460-429 B.C. . Xenophon gives a good example of the absence of any privacy in Sparta: “In other cities whenever a man shows himself to be a coward his only punishment is that he is called a coward. Sparta’s system appealed especially to aristocrats, such as the young men who conversed with Socrates in the gymnasia. 1 page, 406 words. His selection as public orator was thus a tribute to his stature, reputation, and political power. The older ethical tradition came chiefly from the Homeric epic, where the esteemed values were those of heroic individuals. He saw the opportunity to create the greatest political community the world had ever known, one that would fulfill man’s strongest and deepest passions–for glory and immortality. An examination of the few successful democracies in history suggests that they need to meet three conditions if they are to flourish. Donald Kagan is Bass Professor of History and Classics and Western Civilization at Yale University. In the decade before 500 B.C., the Athenians established the world’s first democratic constitution. It talks about democracy and Athenian patriotism. Pericles proclaimed “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.” These democratic values eventually led up to modern society. The citizen of a free society has the right to ask, Why should I risk my life for my city? The answer was to be found in the power of Athens, although less in its extent than its character. Despite the extremely limited citizen population in Athens, Pericles overflows with patriotism, leading one to contrast it to the United States today. "Pericles' Funeral Oration" (Ancient Greek: Περικλέους Επιτάφιος) is a famous speech from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Critics also saw it as a special failure of the Athenian constitution that it did not put a common stamp of virtue on all the citizens, as the Spartan constitution tried to do, and as many Greeks thought proper. “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in … To cope with this threat the Spartans turned their polis into a military academy and an armed camp, giving up the normal pleasures of life and devoting themselves entirely to the state. Many are now confronting long-suppressed ethnic divisions that threaten to destroy the needed unity and harmony. But these benefits, important as they were, did not appeal to the most basic spiritual need of all, the need for kleos and immortality. If they ever failed in some attempt, they were determined that, at least, their city should not be deprived of their courage [arete] and gave her the most beautiful of all offerings. Optimists may believe that democracy is the inevitable and final form of human society, but the historical record shows that up to now it has been the rare exception. This new kind of government was carried to its classical form by the reforms of Pericles a half-century later, and it was in the Athens shaped by Pericles that the greatest achievements of the Greeks took place. Its military power and tradition of leadership among the Greeks, the discipline and devotion to the public good displayed by its citizens, had already created an aura of virtue and excellence that a modern scholar has called “the Spartan mirage.” Pericles needed to confront this challenge, and much of the Funeral Oration is therefore a direct comparison with Sparta. ... Our constitution is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people. Thus, he is saying that those who are healthy and able should be rejoiced in fighting for democracy. If Pericles was applauding Athenian democracy, it was in an effort to rouse the spirit of the people, to convince them that the sacrifices were worthy. However, if Pericles was drawing a line between the democratic and aristocratic features of the Athenian constitution, then it was done so with the intent to harvest talent. . Thus, Pericles fundamentally believes that no sacrifice is too small for the sake of keeping democracy safe. His policies were intended to make it possible for any person regardless of socioeconomic status to serve in the government. But even in Herodotus’ tale such glory is for the rare individual who had both the ability and the opportunity to perform a great deed. In moderate material comfort, good health, long life, virtuous offspring, and an opportunity for kleos–the last two representing man’s hopes for immortality preserved in the memory of his family and his polis. The institutions are democratic, but Pericles’ explanation of what that means is a refutation of the attacks made by the enemies of democracy. In our time democracy is taken for granted, but it is one of the rarest, most delicate, and fragile flowers in the jungle of human experience. . Solon responded, “Tellus of Athens,” a name neither Croesus nor anyone else outside of Athens had ever heard. In a democracy, there is equal justice for all in private disputes. . […]. “Neither rich man nor poor is prevented from taking part in politics by the pursuit of his economic interests, and the same people are concerned both with their own private business and with political matters; even those who turn their attention chiefly to their own affairs do not lack judgment about politics. From the first, the Greeks faced the great truth of man’s mortality squarely. But the reward of these virtues was kleos, the fame and glory that alone held out the hope of victory over death. One might also say that Pericles’s view of democracy isn’t exactly a democracy in the sense that it establishes a patriarchal society. It seemed to them a worthy thing that such an honor should be given at their burial to the dead who have fallen on the field of battle. Pericles delivered a rousing speech lauding democracy on the occasion of funerals, shortly after the start of the war. .he must support his unmarried sisters at home and explain to them why they are still spinsters, he must live without a wife at his fireside. In his funeral oration of 431 BC, the Athenian leader Pericles discussed this concept. He certainly played the chief role in transforming it from a limited democracy where the common people still deferred to their aristocratic betters to a fully confident popular government in which the mass of the people were fully sovereign in fact as well as theory. 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