Who do you think were the intended audiences of Pericles' Funeral Oration and Xenophon’s description of the Spartan state? How might their purpose and intended audience affect their tone? Can we take these accounts at face value? Why or why not? What else would you like to know from the author?

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One important thing to consider in reading the Funeral Oration is that it was recorded by Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian Wars. In other words, it is not exactly a primary source, and its content was almost certainly edited by Thucydides himself, who was an Athenian. Of course, the Funeral Address is essentially a paean to the Athenian way of life, as Pericles (and Thucydides) extols Athenian democracy, using the address to give meaning to the deaths of the slain and to the war itself. Pericles asserts that the war was being fought to defend this way of life, which was under threat from the Spartans. The fact that Pericles, a civic leader in time of crisis, was speaking to a crowd of Athenian citizens needs to be remembered. His is not a dispassionate description of Athenian society and political systems. Rather, it is a political speech, heavy in propaganda, that is intended to rally his listeners to make continued sacrifices to the cause.

Xenophon, a historian like...

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