Therefore, they were willing to run risks in its defense, make sacrifices on its behalf, and restrain their passions and desires to preserve it. Other historians have questioned the Plutarch's bias, but his record is the one which remains the most intact. . In a democracy, there is equal justice for all in private disputes. And we decide public questions ourselves, or at least come to a sound understanding of them” (2.40.2). Death is the end; beyond it is silence and darkness. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful. The Athenian democracy would encourage merit in its traditional form and reward it with victory, glory, and immortality. 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. . Sparta’s system appealed especially to aristocrats, such as the young men who conversed with Socrates in the gymnasia. Filed Under: Essays. The newer image, provided by Sparta, took shape no earlier than the seventh century but immediately captured the imagination of many and continued to fascinate Greek thinkers for centuries. .he may not wander about comfortably acting like someone with a clean reputation or else he is beaten by his betters. Furthermore, he believes that even those who have lost a loved one in the war should be honored, as seen by his comments towards the elderly and the bereaved. These solemn commemorations, apparently unique to the Athenian democracy, had a political dimension, for the speaker was someone “chosen by the polis as the man who seemed wisest in judgment and foremost in reputation” (Thucydides 2.34.6). Overall, Pericles’s speech acted as an instigator of pride and morale for fellow Athenians at the time, but now emphasize the level of patriotism that fueled Athenian democracy. In the few of his speeches we have, Pericles spoke chiefly of the empire and military glory, and these were certainly important values to him and the Athenians. Although Pericles himself seemed to firmly believe in the advantages of Athenian democracy to the point that he advocated it as the flawless system of government, there were minute flaws that contrast it to today’s democracy. While the rest of the world continued to be characterized by monarchical, rigidly hierarchical, command societies, democracy in Athens was carried as far as it would go before modern times, perhaps further than at any other place and time. The first two characters with which the reader becomes […], If a student tells his or her teacher that adhering to grammatical rules proves unnecessary to acceptable writing, the teacher would in all likelihood balk at the student’s claim and […], In much of the poetry of Gerard Manly Hopkins it is his mental anguish and suffering that strikes a chord with the reader. Most believe that Pericles was praising Athenian democracy, yet some claim that he was, in fact, downplaying the importance of democracy. Although limited to adult males of native parentage, Athenian citizenship granted full and active participation in every decision of the state without regard to wealth or class. Funerals after such battles were public rituals and Pericles used the occasion to make a classic statement of the value of democracy. The Spartans were famous for their brevity and distrust of subtle reasoning, but Pericles praises the democracy’s fondness for debate and discussion. The last phase in the political development of Athens and its democracy occurred during the political ascendancy of the democratic leader Pericles. Yet an Athenian reared in the Homeric tradition could also ask, “How can I achieve kleos and thereby a chance at immortality? In 430–429 B.C.E., Athens was devastated by a mysterious epidemic, which reared its … If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. These aristocratic values never lost their powerful attraction to all Greeks, and Pericles claimed them for the Athenian democracy. Special offer for LiteratureEssaySamples.com readers. His choice of words convince the Athenians to fight for their democracy and the city they love. “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. They followed a written code that was exclusively in the interest of the ruling class. That conception ran counter to Greek experience, which had always been full of turbulence and warfare. 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. Most poleis had aristocratic or oligarchic governments, but they were ruled by laws arrived at in discussions in the sovereign assemblies, and they were executed by councils and magistrates selected by the citizens from among themselves. 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. It existed for only two centuries in Athens and less than that in a small number of Greek states. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in settings. “These men have shown themselves valiant in action, and it would be enough, I think, for their glories to be proclaimed in action…” Through the use of syntax and diction, Pericles points out the gallant and glorious men who have died in the war, essentially saying that they died for a just cause. Yet this tolerant, easygoing way of life does not entail a disrespect for law or an invitation to licentious behavior. By sharing in the common responsibility he was able to develop powers and aspects of himself that allowed him to become more fully human than he could have on his own. 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.”. He was one of those rare individuals who do not merely accept the conditions of the world they find but try to shape it to an image in their own minds. 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. He calls for those who are well off to join the battle, knowing that they will be the least likely to throw away their good fortune. 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. Pericles emphasizes the greatness of a democracy in his funeral oration. Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings. Wars were frequent, and in order to survive and flourish each polis required devotion and sacrifice from its citizens. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again. . At times, the third qualification is the most important and can compensate for weaknesses in the other two. Furthermore, Pericles attempts to convince the Athenians that death is preferable to dishonor and that an honorable sacrifice will be looked upon with reverence. Welcome as this prospect was, it nonetheless presented a problem. The older was the aristocratic image that emerged from the epic poems of Homer and dominated Greek society for hundreds of years. They were a very small minority of the total population over which they ruled. Attempts to expand it would not only be unnecessary but endanger what already existed. Furthermore, women were not included as citizens in Athens, which would further destroy the idea of a democracy. Since the time of Homer the Greek thirst for glory had centered on brave deeds in war: What would replace these in a world at peace? The very last line of Lincoln’s speech states, “that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” (quote). In contrast, Pericles points to the limited jurisdiction of the Athenian regime, which leaves a considerable space for individualism and privacy, free from public scrutiny: “Not only do we conduct our public life as free men but we are also free of suspicion of one another as we go about our every-day lives. Its chief purpose, even more important than praising the dead, was to explain why they had been right to risk their lives and why the living should be willing to do likewise. 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