In The History of Peloponnesian War, does Pericles's funeral oration come across as war propaganda? If so, why?

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No—Pericles's famed "Funeral Oration" has nothing in common with the mindless jingoism that one normally associates with war propaganda. And to those who might view it as simply propaganda for the city-state of Athens, it's difficult to see how that definition is appropriate, if we agree that the salient feature...

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No—Pericles's famed "Funeral Oration" has nothing in common with the mindless jingoism that one normally associates with war propaganda. And to those who might view it as simply propaganda for the city-state of Athens, it's difficult to see how that definition is appropriate, if we agree that the salient feature of propaganda is that is, in some essential respect, deceptive or misleading in its claims.

Instead, Pericles's celebrated panegyric offers an accurate contrast between the virtues of a democracy like Athens and a proto-totalitarian militaristic city-state like Sparta:

Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many rather than the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to our laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit ...

If we turn to our military policy, there also we differ from our antagonists. We throw open our city to the world, and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing, although an enemy may occasionally profit by our liberality.... while in education, where our rivals from their very cradles by a painful discipline seek after manliness, at Athens we live exactly as we please, and yet are just as ready to encounter every legitimate danger.

Fundamental to his political vision is the notion that the essential freedom that democracy affords will always motivate its citizens to fight that much more valiantly against those who would try to destroy it or take it from them.

These take as your model and, judging happiness to be the fruit of freedom and freedom of valor, never decline the dangers of war.

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