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Funeral Oration | Study Guide


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Course Hero. "Funeral Oration Study Guide." July 18, 2019. Accessed June 5, 2023.


Course Hero, "Funeral Oration Study Guide," July 18, 2019, accessed June 5, 2023,




Year Delivered

431 BCE


Primary Source


History, Speech

At a Glance

  • Pericles (495–429 BCE) was one of the greatest leaders of the ancient Greek city-state of Athens at the height of its power.
  • Democratic Athens fought its militaristic neighbor, Sparta, in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE). Pericles gave this speech to honor the Athenian dead c. 431 BCE.
  • Pericles's speech is an argument for the greatness and superiority of Athens.
  • Pericles argues that Athens's greatness stems from its openness, freedom, democracy, military excellence, and the civic and moral strength of its citizenry.
  • Pericles's praise of Athens also serves to compare it favorably with Sparta and to criticize Sparta's values, lifestyle, and form of government.
  • Pericles's funeral oration was recorded by the Athenian historian Thucydides (c. 460–c. 404 BCE) in his History of the Peloponnesian War. Many historians believe that Thucydides likely edited the speech to some extent.
  • The Athenians would go on to lose the war with Sparta. Their empire was dismantled, and Sparta became the most powerful Greek city-state.
  • Pericles's speech praising those who died for democracy influenced later speechwriters, including President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), whose Gettysburg Address (1863) contains many parallels to Pericles's text.


This study guide for Pericles's Funeral Oration offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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