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History Of The Peloponnesian War, Written By Thucydides, Is A Work That Concerns Many Aspects Of This Long Combat.

1448 words - 6 pages

History of the Peloponnesian War, written by Thucydides, is a work that concerns many aspects of this long combat. One of its sections includes the speech made by Pericles in honor of the soldiers fallen in the battlefield. Greeks took the process of the burial very seriously - there were rigid rules as to how to conduct a proper funeral. The eulogy given by a figure of some prominence and authority was an essential part of it. In History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides decides to include the description of the plague, which struck Greeks during the second year of the war, immediately after the eulogy delivered by Pericles. This is due partially because of the author's desire to preserve the chronological order of the events that took place - the plague struck first during the summer that followed the first year of the war, and the Funeral Oration was delivered by Pericles during the winter which concluded that year. However, there also is another reason as to why Thucydides chose this order for his description of the plague in the Pericles' Funeral Oration - in order to emphasize the effect that the plague had on the Greek people in terms of their "honor" and their moral code.In his Funeral Oration, Pericles talks about the glory and integrity of the warriors that gave up their lives in order to protect their home city of Athens. He almost elevates them to a level of heroes, and encourages citizens to use their unselfish behavior as a model that they are ought to follow themselves. He consistently promotes patriotism and glorifies Athens, which he takes to be the "school of Greece", (p.30, paragraph 41). He emphasizes the fact that the fallen soldiers deserve nothing but respect and admiration, because they fought for the greatest city in Greece. Pericles discusses the greatness of Athenian citizens, stating their many virtues, such as generosity, hospitality, honor and natural courage in the face of danger.While the Funeral Oration talks about subjects of that sort, the description of the plague that follows is indirect contrast with all the moral and philosophical issues discussed by Pericles. Thucydides illustrates the horrific and ghastly effects of the deadly disease that struck the Greeks by not only describing the harm it was doing to the Greeks physically, but also by elaborating on the corruption that it brought about in many peoples moral standings. During the plague many engaged in crime, for they thought that their judgment was predetermined for them already, and they might as well use each day for what it's worth. As Thucydides states, "men, not knowing what to become of them became utterly careless of everything, whether sacred or profane", (p.34, paragraph 52). Even the burial rights were disregarded - people just threw the corpses of their relatives or friends upon somebody's pyre and ignited it. Those methods would seem unholy and barbaric to the same individuals that were executing them just a year before the plague...

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