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Power Of Respect In Pericles' Leadership Of Athens

1765 words - 8 pages

Respect, it is a very simple gesture; however the individual who chooses to be respectful can gain a lot more in return. This was proven through the success of an Athenian political leader, Pericles, who was known for getting his argument across without offending the listener. The gift of communication was something Pericles learned to use to his own advantage. His well worded speeches can be found on the pages of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, where it is clear that his sharp tongue and outspoken personality have played a key role in his political career. Through up rises and down fall Pericles continued to lead Athens and never spoke negatively about his city. His ...view middle of the document...

Everything Pericles did was out of humane means and out of love for his nation. This alone plays a key factor in why he was re-elected general year after year. His sincere personality was shown before his election when as stated by Plutarch he refused to go directly into politics “since he was rich, of brilliant lineage, and had friends of the greatest influence, he feared that he might be ostracized” (Plut.Per.7) instead he “devoted himself rather to a military career, where he was brave and enterprising” (Plut.Per.7). After his outstanding military performance, Pericles began to dedicate more time to politics. As written in Thucydides’ book, Pericles was chosen to make a speech at the public burial of the fallen soldiers. He was highly intellectual and generally respectable, making him the perfect candidate for this responsibility. In his speech, Pericles, addressed not only the ones who passed away in that battle, but made sure to mention the importance of other individuals who had a great influence on these soldiers. He began by talking about their ancestors and how it was through “their courage and their virtues, [they have been handed], a free country” (Thuc.2.36). He believed that they deserved praise for the foundation that they set for Athens. Pericles believed that without the hard work and blood shed of the generations before him the state would not be able to take care of itself in peace, let alone in war. Later in his speech Pericles stated the importance of a democracy and how
[Their] system of government does not copy the institutions of [their] neighbours. It is more the case of [them] being a model to others, than of [them] imitating anyone else. [Their] constitution is called a democracy because power is in the hands of a minority but of the whole people. When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a public responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses. (Thuc.2.37)
Equality was vital in the eyes of Pericles, since he believed in the influence of an individual’s gifts rather than his material status. He was a strong believer of freedom; however he stressed in his speech the importance of law and how it was the foundation of mutual respect. Pericles was never selfish himself and advocated the significance of being good to others out of friendliness instead of the means of self-gain. He publicly announced that “when [they] do kindness to others, [they] do not do them out of any calculations of profit or loss: [they] do them without afterthought, relying on [their] free liberty” (Thuc.2.40). In his sympathy, Pericles did not forget to mention the woman and even talked about their significance and duties. He addressed the entire citizen body with respect and love; however a carrier of even greater value for Pericles was his state.
Pericles’s love towards Athens was also an important factor in shaping his...

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