The Funeral Oration of Pericles
In Pericles funeral oration, focus is put on the living instead of the dead. Pericles tells how the people of Athens live in a peaceful society because they are good people, respect the laws, and are simply oriented to do the right thing. Instead of focusing on the life of a particular soldier, he glorifies Athens as a whole.
He begins by speaking about their ancestors and giving them credit for acquiring the empire and delivering it to the present generation. He then moves to speak of the government in Athens and how it is unique to all of the other states and an example to them also. Equality at law for everyone is emphasized. He then talks about methods of preparing for war; how the city does not rely on secrecy and deceit, but on courage in order to gain advantage over the enemy. Pericles proves this by explaining how allies never invade Athens by themselves.
The main focus of Pericles speech is on the people of Athens and how they make the city superior. He describes the people as lovers of nobility with restraint, and lovers of wisdom without any softening of character, meaning the people of Athens remain strong and solid while still maintaining honorable characteristics. Wealth is seen as opportunity for action, and poverty is not exceedingly looked down upon. He explains how the citizens of Athens are very proud and involved in public affairs. The citizens are also credited for being exceptional friends to one another by doing favors instead of expecting them.
Pericles concludes by saying that Athens is a lesson for all of Greece. The self sufficiency, diversity, and grace of every citizen is obviously the reason for the great character and power of Athens as a whole. His statements instill a feeling of patriotism towards Athens, and not any sort of sadness for their dead. His focus on life shows that a key value of Athenian society was the preservation of the superior city, and that death was just a part of the greatness of it.