Politics In Lincoln And Pericles And The Peloponnesian War

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Throughout human history millions of people have died for their countries, leaving loved ones and fellow citizens to question whether this ultimate sacrifice was warranted. The number of deaths resulting from war is immense, and often results in a collective examining of the governments for which these individuals perished. This contemplation can range from the quality of life a state affords its people to the ideals on which it was founded. After the first year of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles attempts to alleviate these concerns when eulogizing the dead. Similarly, after the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln speaks of the government for which the soldiers died. Both Lincoln and Pericles attempt to elevate the state to a level worthy of …show more content…
After detailing the strengths of Athens’s military prowess, Pericles returns to the inhabitants of the city-state, claiming “we alone count the unpolitical man not “leisured” but useless.” Unlike Pericles’s previous discussion of policy, he now aligns a citizen’s worth with political participation. The unreserved choice of “useless” reveals the weight he places on involvement in policy discussion. Pericles goes on to laud his fellow citizens’ “moral code.” However, this inclusion is brief compared to the lengthy discussion of democracy’s structure and greatness. This difference mirrors the aforementioned sharp contrast between “political arrangement” and “social values.” Pericles does not dismiss the former but he elevates the …show more content…
When speaking about the Civil War, Lincoln ponders whether “that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” By including “any nation,” Lincoln takes the focus off the United States and shifts it to the ideals with which it was “conceived” and to which it is “dedicated.” This change does not undermine the importance of the United States. Rather, it makes the United States a significant player in Lincoln’s chief concern: whether any nation with such ideals can persevere. In a time when the United States is young and vulnerable, Lincoln realizes many are questioning the viability of democracy. He stresses that the Civil War will determine the survival of the United States as it was originally conceived. Furthermore, he asserts that the soldiers at Gettysburg died attempting to protect this original vision of the

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