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Rhetoric - Essay Example

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Pericles’ Funeral Oration has been considered the most important speech because after the Peloponnesian war between Sparta and Athens, Pericles’ eulogy was strongly comforting for the Athenian polis. His speech assured the people that their city is safe and tried to console…
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Rhetorical Analysis of Pericles’ Funeral Oration Pericles’ Funeral Oration has been considered the most important speech because after the Peloponnesian war between Sparta and Athens, Pericles’ eulogy was strongly comforting for the Athenian polis. His speech assured the people that their city is safe and tried to console with the relatives of the deceased people. Analysis of his speech brings a range of rhetorical devices to the surface that he used to gain his audience’s positive emotional appeal. Pericles made assertions to transform people’s perception of him. Rhetorical devices frequently observed in the speech include but are not limited to antithesis, repetition, and emphasis on certain syllables by Pericles. For example, in the speech’s original Greek version, a deliberate effect called as proparoxytone that Pericles used at his speech’s climax to enhance the level of engagement of the audience is the rapid ending syllables succession all of whose words start with the letter e.
One of the most significant statement of the speech is “Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others” (Pericles cited in Hooker). By making this statement, Pericles tried to impress about other nations that Athens’s government neither interferes with nor challenges other governmental forms and rules. “Rivalry” is the key work Pericles used her to undermine any sense of competition among the governments of nations. He justified his claim by saying, “Our government does not copy our neighbors’, but is an example to them” (Pericles cited in Hooker). These words were meant to please the audience for they lose their relatives in a winning cause and also because Athens leads other nations by being an example, rather than following other nations.
It is the opinion of certain critics that Pericles’ speech is just a typical politician’s empty rhetoric on the basis of the description of democracy in Athens. Pericles states, “It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few” (Pericles cited in Hooker). Here, the strategy used by Pericles is this assumption that the democratic form of government is known to everybody because it is controlled by a majority rather than a minority.
Rather than empty rhetoric, Pericles’ speech is a model of epideictic oratory which is used to blame or praise in ceremonies. Epideictic rhetoric is a rhetoric of commemoration, demonstration, declamation, and ceremony on one hand, and on other hand, is the rhetoric of display, entertainment, and self-display. The fact that the speech was a funeral oration and that Pericles made several statements to emphasize the nobility of cause for which the deceased lost their lives and the safety and security of the people of the city state reflects epideictic rhetoric in the speech. Pericles concluded the speech by justifying consolation rather than lamentation based on the continuing community’s needs and the deceased people’s nobility. At the speech’s end, Pericles reinforced the abstract entity called Athens as something that has the ultimate value in the audiences’ lives which again indicates the epideictic rhetoric’s working.
Works Cited:
Hooker, Richard. “Thucydides, Pericles Funeral Oration.” University of Minnesota. 1996. Web.
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