Pericles Funeral Oration was developed in order to promote Athens and its war heroes. Pericles had a firm believe in his people and in their capabiltites to fight with any adversity. The goal that Pericles achieved through this speech was to make the people feel proud to be Athenians. Athenians had a great sense of admiration for the war heroes, they were categorized as heroes of the country and regarded them as the highest members of the society. The funeral oration was made in order to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers who had died in Peloponnesian War, trying to defend Athens (James A. Mackin Jr, pp. 251-262). Due to this ultimate dedication and sacrifice of these war heroes, Athens has become, what it is today.
Pericles truly believed in citizens of Athens and he considered them as the best when it comes to sacrifice and determination. Pericles also told its citizen that their ancestors deserve huge praise, because of them they are living in a free state (James A. Mackin Jr, pp. 251-262). These ancestors have to lose a whole lot in order to give us what we have today in form of Athens. On the other hand, Pericles also wanted the people of Athens to believe in themselves and they should know that they have did something substantial because of their own ability and not because of their ancestors (Shawna, Ritchie, pp. 7-13). Pericles believed that love for a country will always encourage its soldiers to fight for their homeland. Pericles wanted the people to recognize the fact that everyone was proud to be part of Athens and that soldiers of Athens will protect their country, no matter what.
The primary theme of this speech is centered around the fallen Athenian soldiers during Peloponnesian War. In his speech, Pericles share many distinctive abilities of the People of Athens, redefining lot of customary Greek virtues in a new light. The intial theme of the speech was made in order to give due honor to the war heroes (Pressfield, Steven, N.p.). The speech emphasized the role of war heroes and motivated soldiers that dying in line of duty protecting the property and citizens of city, is considered as the most courageous way a man can hope to die. Pericles also emphasized that if a soldier die during protection of his city, his death won’t go in vain as people will always remember his sacrifice and he will always be remembered as a lucky person who died as a ‘hero’.
The ultimate focus of Pericles in this speech is that the people of Athens should be capable enough to put away their trivial issues and instead, they should be able to struggle for the greater good of Athens. People of Athens should believe that If they are united, then no one will be able to defeat them, despite how powerful and strong they are (Pressfield, Steven. N.p.). The people of Athens should follow all the rules and regulations and obey the public administrators in every way possible as it would make them more disciplined. According to Pericles, By following principles of democracy, Athenians have become the ideal of the Greek world.
Pericles also talks about the uniqueness of Athens, how its government system is based upon the principles of democracy. According to Pericles, Athenian democracy is a system of government where men rule on the basis of merit only, rather than on wealth or class. In Athens, any man can be allowed to rule, as long as he has the required capability. People are not discriminated based on wealth, caste, and race in Athens. Pericles describes how in Athens, men are free to do or say anything without fear of judgement as long as they are following the basic rules and regulations (Bryan, Lindenberger. N.p.). Pericles also praises the justice system in Athens, giving equal rights to all under the law. Pericles recognize that democracy is the best form of government and in his view, Athens have adopted democracy in its finest form, making it superior to all of the other states.
After critically analyzing the Pericles’ Funeral Oration Response, I came to the conclusion that the primary thinking for the speech was due to catastrophic deaths of soldiers, however the content within the Funeral oration was very revealing and powerful. Generally, I donot believe everything about Athens, that Pericles has to say. I think he intentionally made a emotional speech to boost morale of his soldiers so that they would be keenly invested in fighting a war and winning it. Pericle used this funeral oration to start a fire inside the heart of his soldiers so that they would want to take revenge of their fallen solderis and keep on fighting the war. Pericles oration response was more of a political move rather than an event of honoring the fallen soldiers of Athens. One thing I do beleive from Pericles speech is how he described democracy in Athens, according to him democracy in Athens was made in order to favor the general public. I agree with Pericles that democracy and proper justice system is the ultimate form of government and a way to progress even further.
James A. Mackin Jr, Schismogenesis and Community: Pericles’ Funeral Oration: Quarterly Journal of Speech: Vol. 77, No 3. (2009) pp. 251-262
Shawna, Ritchie: POLITICAL MYTH AND ACTION IN PERICLES’ FUNERAL ORATION. Vol. 8 (2008) pp. 7-13
Pressfield, Steven: War Stories: Pericles’ Funeral Oration. Stevenpressfield.com. (2011). N. p.
Bryan Lindenberger: Pericles Funeral Oration Analysis. Bryanberg.net. (2006). N. p.