Thucydides Pericles’ Funeral Oration (431
- Apology for inadequacy of his words
- It is tough speaking in
situations like this because I always disappoint my audience. One
listener will argue that I ignored a main detail of the battle, and
another will never believe my praise of the dead if he could not have
equaled their heroics. BUT I will do my best.
- Honor to Ancestors
- Our forefathers passed down
this land to us through their valor.
- Our fathers defeated the
Persians and expanded the land we control.
- Our generation too has
sacrificed to make our country strong enough to hold its own among
- I am not interested in recounting
past glories. We hear that enough. However, I am interested in the customs and
habits of our people, the practices of our form of government which have helped
produce our society.
what was the road by which we reached our position, what the form of
government under which our greatness grew, what
the national habits out of which it sprang; these are questions which I
may try to solve before I proceed to my panegyric upon these men.”
- The Characteristics of Democratic Society
- Our government favors the many
rather than the few.
- Our laws offer equal justice
- Class considerations do not
affect our judgment of merit, and poverty does not bar advancement in our
- We value our own freedom, but
we safeguard freedom by not judging those who live differently than we do.
Tolerance is at the core of our conception of freedom.
- Our freedom enables us to
pursue happiness via the many forms of recreation available in Athens,
and our wealth allows us to select from a wide array of commodities from
all around the Mediterranean that are traded in our port.
- We live in an open society,
unafraid of exposing our defenses to the eyes of potential enemies
because we recognize that the true secret to our strength is the energy
and commitment to duty of our citizens themselves.
- The Characteristics of the Citizen in a Democracy
cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without
we employ more for use than for show.
place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in
declining the struggle against it.
public men have, besides politics, their private business affairs to attend
to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of
industry, are still fair judges of public matters.
our citizens have only themselves to depend upon to earn a living,
they prove equal to many
emergencies and are graced with versatility which proves highly useful
when they are called upon for public service.
of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we
think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all
also acquire friendship by conferring, not by receiving, favours. We do so not from
calculations of expediency, but in the confidence of liberality.
- The Advantages of a Democracy
in War: Citizen Soldiers
- Our citizens are free to do
whatever they please with their lives unlike the Spartans who are
required to train for war from birth.
our stake in the
struggle is not the same as those who do not have the blessings of
freedom to lose.
- We regard victory in any
excursion as a victory for our whole people instead of an opportunity for
to the Fallen
Athens that I have celebrated is only what the heroism of these [fallen dead] and
their like have made her