Pericles’ funeral oration: What is democracy?
Reread Pericles’ funeral oration in Thucydides 2.35-46, and answer the following question: What specific cultural values, lifestyle choices, and forms of social and political organization and functioning does Pericles consider an integral part of a democracy? In your answer to the question above, be sure to address the following questions (not necessarily in the same order) and support your answer with the evidence from the text:
- (1) If modern criteria of evaluation were applied to Pericles’ view of democracy, would ancient Athens still be considered a democratic state?
- (2) Are there gaps and/or flaws in Pericles’ characterization of democracy?
- (3) Do the main principles of democracy outlined by Pericles correspond to the modern (or your own)
understanding of equality and justice?
- (4) In what specific ways, according to Pericles, is Athenian democracy able to favor both individual rights
and the interests of the community?