The Funeral Oration Essay

1273 words - 5 pages

Delaney AdamsSpring 2014HIS111 deMayoApril 8, 2014"The Funeral Oration" was a eulogy originally spoken by Pericles amidst the Athenian war on Sparta in 431 B.C.E. that was later recalled, and recorded for posterity by the famous Athenian historian Thucydides. Pericles, the orator and original writer of "The Funeral Oration," was a very loyal Athenian. He was a statesman, politician, and army general. As such, Pericles was a very gifted orator. No stranger to rallying his troops, or his fellow citizens, Pericles knew how to use his words to inspire action, change minds and sway opinions. Pericles was an avid supporter, not only, of Athenian democracy, but also of the spread of Athenian democracy. During the time that this funeral oration was given, Pericles had a lot at stake. Greece was experiencing heavy amounts of turmoil at the hands of the war waging between Athens and Sparta. This war, and the deaths that were a result of it, were the driving factors behind Pericles writing and speaking his "Funeral Oration." Pericles took to his natural inclination to speak and inspire, and used the excuse of a eulogy as an opportunity to get his message across to the good people of Athens. "The Funeral Oration of Pericles" offers many insights into the life if Athenians at the time it was written, allowing the reader to learn about the author, the audience and the political atmosphere of Athens, Greece in 431 B.C.E.The attitude and mindsets of the aforementioned Athenians in the audience receiving Pericles' "Funeral Oration" can be determined from the manner and tone that Pericles maintains throughout the oration. Pericles would allege that the eulogy of the fallen soldiers was to be given to their friends, families and loved ones to help assuage the grief: "Wherefore I do not now commiserate the parents of the dead who stand here; I would rather comfort them."(Reilly, Page 106), however, the tone of the oration suggests that this passage is for the benefit of more people than just the grieving families. The oration speaks also to those in the audience, and throughout Athens that do not agree with the ideals of Pericles and his fellow statesmen, in regards to the spread of Athenian democracy. Pericles speaks to them reminding them that democracy has gotten them as far as they have come and that he believes, and they should too, that democracy is the path they should continue to take: "I should like to point out by which principles we rose to power…For I conceive that such thoughts are not unsuited to the occasion, and that this numerous assembly of citizens and strangers may profitably listen to them."(Reilly, page 103) Whether Pericles is using his allotted time to eulogize the fallen soldiers by instilling patriotism in the hearts of their surviving relatives, or to speak to his opposition in an effort to boost support and change the minds of those that disagree, the audience point of view is the same or very similar.Many Athenians were beginning...

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