Peloponnesian War Speech Analysis

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The Peloponnesian War was a 30-yearlong battle between the Grecian cities of Athens and Sparta. Thucydides, an exiled general of the Peloponnesian War, wrote “The History of the Peloponnesian War”. In his writings, he describes three specific events that contributed to the downfall of democracy in Athens. Throughout the war, Athenian democracy shifts from an ideal that works for the people and the progression of society, to a military approach dedicated to maintaining their war by any means possible. In the first document, “Pericles’ Funeral Oration”, Thucydides is writing about a speech given at Pericles’ funeral. The speaker talks about how Pericles was looked at as a perfect ruler. It is mentioned that Athens was, “a pattern to others than imitators ourselves.” This statement implies that because Athenian democracy was so perfect, other cities modeled themselves after Athens. Towards the end of the speech, the speaker switches gears to …show more content…
The Melians stayed neutral throughout the Peloponnesian War. However, the Athenians want to take over the city in order to make their empire bigger. The Melians insist on that fact that Athens does not need to take over by saying, “…we will try to save ourselves. Meanwhile, we invite you to allow us to be friends to you”. They are trying the best that they can to save themselves from total domination. Despite their efforts, Athens does not listen. They are no longer interested in the people they are affecting, and only want to win the war as soon as possible. When Athens saw that the Melians were not going to back down, “the generals at once betook themselves to hostilities, and drew a line of circumvallation around the Melians”. They took to means of threat and coercion rather than using peaceful diplomacy. At this point, the Athenians lost all sense of democracy and instead shifted to total

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