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The Peloponnesian Persuasion. The Corinthian Argument To The Spartans On The Necessity Of War. From Thucydides' History Of The Peloponnesian War.

1250 words - 5 pages

While the title of this paper may not stir the hearts of men faced with war, The Corinthian debate to the Spartans evoked more sentiment and conviction and has stood the test of time of time as a call to arms. As the Spartans and the Peloponnesian League were debating a war that one Greek historian believed to be, "a great war, and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it (I.1.1)," one member of the confederacy was able, with only words, to unite a body of such diversity that all of the allies of the League were ready to wage and win a war of unprecedented magnitude. The Corinthian argument for war against Athens did not merely convince the members of the need for war but effectively won them over with a well-scripted mix of politics, nationalism, a broad appeal to man and state, and a strong mix of details and passion.What makes a speech convincing? What kinds of words are able to ignite the flame of war to such an extent that men are willing to risk not being alive to reap the fruits of their victory? The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language(1) says that to convince is, "to bring by the use of argument or evidence to firm belief or a course of action." The Corinthians were able to convince the allies that war was necessary through their effective appeals to each of the allies but also in their description of how the war was to be won and why the fall of Athens was inevitable. The first and, in my opinion, the most fundamental way was to appeal not only to the states but to go further by reaching out to the individual sense of pride as well. At the level of the man the orators appeal to their sense of individual freedom by highlighting the harsh reality that to be conquered by the Athenians means certain slavery. The Corinthians were able create images of servitude in each man's mind and bring the fear to a human level and not just a national sense of fear. The second way was to list in detail the ways that Athens was weak and the Peloponnesians had an advantage. This appeal worked to interest those who may not have been so easily persuaded by emotion and thereby strengthened the resolve of the allied unity. In their argument the Corinthians list the course of action that is best to win a war against Athens. First they make the case for unity of all the states. They argue that the sheer number of men and the experience in war that each has is a formidable step to success. They further advance their optimism by explaining how a naval fleet can be paid for and that their superb military obedience can overcome a superior sea power. To finalize their detailed approach the Corinthians propose the need to divide Athens allies by causing them to revolt against her. Their approach by way of unity and details is such a convincing argument that perhaps, in the midst of current events at the time, they could have stopped there and been confident that to approve war would be the only course of action.In order to construct an...

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