Essay on Pericles

Speeches are written to amuse and persuade the audience and eventually lead them to agree with the speaker’s views. Pericles is an example of an orator, who spoke about his funeral oration. An oration is a persuasive speech intended to inspire and incite people to action. It is often called the art of persuasion.

Carefully planned, an oration has certain recognizable parts such as the opening, the narration of facts, the definition of terms to be explained, the intention, evidence addressing the arguments for or against the proposition, a contradiction of the opposing arguments, and the conclusion summarizing the arguments. In order for Pericles to go about these parts, he must use the three rhetorical devices: pathos, ethos, and logos to help the audience support his views more easily.

Rhetorical devices are the art of oratory, speaking, or writing effectively. The first type of rhetorical device in which Pericles uses is pathos. Pathos persuades the listeners with the orator’s emotions and feelings about the social issue. Pericles uses pathos in both the opening and closing scene. Pericles begins his speech by saying the total opposite of what the audience expects. He allows the audience to know how he feels about his glory of being an Athenian. For example, Pericles says “I will speak first of our ancestors, for it is right and seemly that now, when we are lamenting the dead, a tribute should be paid to their memory” (Thucydides 374) The closing scene summarizes the arguments and stirs up the audience. He mentions glory in a woman, which shows his personal feelings to persuade the audience one last time.

The second type of rhetorical device that Pericles uses is ethos. Ethos is a bit different because it discusses the morals and issues that the Athenians came across. Pericles uses ethos in his introduction because Pericles gives the audience credibility. He also uses ethos during the proposition to clarify the points and state what he wants to prove, and in the confirmation to address the arguments for and against the proposition. Dying for the country is an example, and Pericles uses the following quote to justify this: “The sacrifice which they collectively made was individually repaid to them: for they received again each one for himself a praise which grows not old, and the noblest of all tombs, I speak not of that in which their remains are laid, but of that in which their glory survives, and is proclaimed always and on every fitting occasion both in word and deed” (375).

The final rhetorical devise is logos. Logos or logic is the facts and information in the speech, such as “If we turn to our military policy, there also we differ from out antagonists. We throw open our city to the world, and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing” (375). Pericles uses this in his narration because it is the recital of facts. Pericles uses facts when he gives proof that the city is open to the world, and that they have no periodical deportations in order to prevent people observing or finding out secrets which might have been military advantage to the enemy. He proves this by using the Spartans and their allies as examples.

Therefore, rhetorical devices are a big part in changing an audience’s opinion. Rhetorical devices concentrate on the three main principals that are needed to get a point across. The devices also help appeal to audience’s religious, moral, and patriotic emotions drastically. Pericles always tried to communicate a sense of the glory of being an Athenian, which also helped persuade them. Pericles also appeals to his audience by using language to which they were accustomed.

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