75: Pericles' Funeral Oration

Pericles' Funeral Oration

The end of the first campaigning season of the Peloponnesian war had now drawn to a close. Sparta had invaded Attica with their offensive strategy, while Athens resisted with the defensive policy employed by Pericles. Athens had also launched naval operations which would harass the Peloponnese and secure Athens defensive position even further. However, no resolution to the war would be reached as the year came to a close and the conflict would drag on.

In Athens it was tradition during times of war that funeral processions were held to honour the fallen. This would allow the citizens to grieve for their loss as a collective, while it would also be a chance to install pride and honour into the Athenians. This tradition would prove to be very important, as it would help maintain morale during times of continued war.

To mark the end of the funeral procession an important Athenian figure would deliver a speech to the people. This time around it would be Pericles, and Thucydides would record the entire speech that he would give. In Thucydides account Pericles funeral oration would also mark the end point of the first year before continuing events into the second year of the war.

Pericles funeral oration would prove to be a speech that would inspire and shape political speeches all the way to our times, with It proving to be an example in oratory, literary and rhetoric skill. It was designed to install pride and honour to the Athenian people, celebrating the achievements of their city. It would show to those left behind that the fallen had not died in vain but had sacrificed themselves for a greater good. While in the end it would convince the Athenians that continuing the struggle was worth the continued hardships.

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