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The Periclean Ideal - Essay Example

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The Periclean Ideal

Aside from this, they do not only follow the rules and abide by the constitution because they are required but they willingly do it because they want to. Athenians had thus achieved something quite unique - being both ruled and rulers at one and the same time. This had forged a unique type of citizen. Clever, tolerant, and open minded,
Although restricted to adult males of local ancestry, Athenian nationality established complete and active involvement in every judgment of the state with no consideration to affluence or class. The Athenians disqualified women, children, resident aliens, and slaves from political life, but the code of equal opportunity in the political population that they invented was the starting point of the contemporary thought of collective egalitarianism that flourished during the French Enlightenment.
The Funeral Oration was declared in a battle that was obviously going to persist for some time. Its principal function, even more significant than flattering the deceased, was to make clear why they had been correct to risk their lives and why the living should be willing to do likewise. The deceased armed forces' goal was to safeguard a Constitution and a way of life that was distinctive and commendable of sacrifice. Pericles presented his visualization for Athens and the kind of inhabitant its exceptional constitution and way of life would create. It enclosed an apparent, if repeatedly implied, difference with the Spartan way of life, which so many Greeks accepted but which Pericles regarded as substandard to the Athens he envisioned.
One of the strengths of the ideals was emphasis on competition, excellence, or merit and the undying glory that rewarded it. These aristocratic values never lost their powerful attraction to all Greeks, and Pericles claimed them for the Athenian democracy. He rejected the notion that democracy turned its back on excellence, reducing all to equality at a low level. Instead, it opened the competition for excellence and honor to all, removing the accidental barriers imposed in other constitutions and societies.
The rewards conferred by these aristocratic virtues are precisely those sought by the epic heroes: greatness, power, honor, fame. For Pericles, Athens itself was a competitor for these prizes in the agon among poleis, past and present. But they are won by and for all the citizens of democratic Athens, and Pericles does not hesitate to assert the superiority of this collective achievement, going so far as to reject the need for an epic poet to guarantee its renown.
Another strength of Pericles' ideals is the Athenians value for thought, deliberation, and discussion. Pericles praises the democracy's fondness for debate and discussion. Freedom of speech, extended to each and every citizen, was its hallmark and this freedom was the target of ridicule, not only by aristocrats who thought only those bred in political tradition or formally educated should speak, but also by the admirers of Sparta where decisions were made by acclamation without debate. Here Pericles has identified a critical element of his vision for Athens: its commitment to reason and intelligence. Thought is not a barrier to the achievement of heroic goals. 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. ...Show more


The Funeral Oration of Pericles was written in commemoration of the soldiers who fought and died during the Peloponnesian War. The work of Pericles provides an overview of the Athenian democracy and how it has worked wonders for them. The writer mentioned the qualities and characteristics of the Athenians as well as their virtues which made it possible for them to gain supremacy and governance.
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The Periclean Ideal essay example
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