Ariadne: Resources for Athenaze


Pericles' Speech to the Assembly

After reading Pericles' speech to the assembly (Thucydides 1.140-46) on the eve of the Peloponnesian War, go back through it and see how Pericles sets up a dichotomy between the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians and their allies. Divide a piece of paper into two columns and draw up a list of how the Lacedaemonians differ from the Athenians.

  1. How does each side view the treaty?
  2. What resources does each side have?
  3. What does each side think about the land and the sea?
  4. What do the Lacedaimonians demand? What does Pericles demand?

After outlining the major ways the two sides disagree, then it is time to analyze how Pericles shapes the debate through his choice of words. Some of the ways that you might notice are

  • what actions characterize each side, according to Pericles?
  • what descriptive words does Pericles use to characterize each side?
  • How does Pericles use pronouns to create opposition between the two sides?
  • How does Pericles persuade the Athenians that they must fight the Lacedaemonians?

Photo credit: Marble sculpture, Berlin 1530, Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz: Antikensammlung


Classical Studies
Cornell College

Last Update: July 15, 2008 8:39 am
John Gruber-Miller