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Pericles: Rhetoric and the Democratic Leader - Essay Example

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Name Date Course Section/# Pericles: The Orator, Statesman, Warrior What should first be understood by the reader who is attempting to comprehend the weight and importance of Pericles’ “Funeral Oration” is a basic level of understanding of the man behind the speech…
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Pericles: Rhetoric and the Democratic Leader
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Download file to see previous pages As a function of this level of education and skill, his powers as an orator were increased exponentially (Message Messenger Audience 393). In this way, this brief analysis will seek to consider the ways in which Pericles skill as an orator contributed to his overall success as a leader/statesman by means of analyzing his use of ethos, logos, pathos, and vision described within the “Funeral Oration”. Furthermore, a level of inference into the way in which the speech can be viewed within the contexts of the representative democracies that abound around the globe currently will also be discussed. Pericles opens the speech providing a stark contrast to the usually doleful and morose tone that had pervaded funerary speeches in Athens for the past many years (Kimball 15). As a means of doing this, he heavily relied on the powers of pathos and emotional appeals to awaken a sense of nationalism, pride, honor, and virtue within the attending crowd, Pericles helped to cement a strong ethos-based argument in which the audience would have little choice but to accept and adhere to. Similarly, Pericles utilized logos with reference to the way that he sought to separately engage the women of the audience with the solemn duty that they must perform (Zaretsky 54). Rather than dwelling too heavily on this sensitive topic however, likely for fear that too great of an empowerment of women could prove disastrous within the given society, Pericles next moved on to ethos by describing in detail the way in which the Athenian state had developed to be the most civilized society in all of the known developed world. Such an invocation doubtless engaged his audience with the idea of “specialness” that Pericles was attempting to invoke (Mackin 15). As a means of utilizing the three tenets of rhetoric effectively, Pericles was able to deliver a spell-binding speech that broke with tradition and invigorated the audience with regards to the particular point of view he was attempting to deliver to them. Though rousing and powerful, the speech by Pericles cannot be understood as fully honest or truthful. One should of course remember that regardless of the beauty of the oratory, Pericles was nonetheless a statesman and a general who was interested in furthering his own ends at the expense of others; not unlike our very own politicians today (Winston 155). In this way, Pericles use of what this author will call “half truths” and “less than truths” help to engage his audience with an understanding that they are special, unique, and elite among all nations and peoples. Although such a construct is effective, it represents the very type of hyper-nationalism and ethnic pride that has seen so much death and destruction visited upon the world over the course of human history (Mackin 251). Though it is an important facet of his speech to re-engage the audience with an identity of who they are, why they fight, and what the civilization represents, languishing upon these factors for too long means that a non-realistic straw man is built with regards to unrealistic interpretations and understandings of how the society has evolved and who and what it ultimately represents (Hanson 5). Whereas the intent of the speech was obviously to engage the audience with the ideas and precepts which Pericles believed Athenian society held to be most dear, what it ultimately ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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