Athens Document B Pericles' Funeral Oration The excerpt below is from an oration (speech) given in 431 BCE by the famous Athenian leader, Pericles. After the first few battles of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, Pericles gave the speech at a funeral for Athenian soldiers killed in battle. Pericles used the opportunity to make a classic statement of the value of democracy. 1 Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are a pattern 2 to others rather than imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many 3 instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they 4 afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, 5 advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations 6 not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a 7 man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. 8 VOCABULARY constitution - the system of basic laws that govern a country social standing - social class (in this case, he’s referring to the upper social classes) capacity - ability merit - value or worth poverty - the condition of being poor, not having money hindered - held back or blocked obscurity - the state or condition of being unknown Pericles' Funeral Oration by Philipp Foltz (1852) Athens Document C Solon’s Laws About Social Class The excerpt below is from a book written around 75 CE by the Greek historian and Roman citizen Plutarch. The book is about Solon, an Athenian lawmaker who died in 539 BCE. 1 Solon was willing to allow the rich men to continue to be the officers, but he wanted 2 to allow the poor citizens to participate in the government. He therefore classed the 3 citizens according to income. The lowest class, the thetes, were ineligible for election 4 to any office. However, the thetes were allowed to come into the Assembly, and as 5 jurors they decided cases submitted to their vote. Since Solon's laws were deliberately 6 obscure and ambiguous, the courts had significant powers of interpretation. What 7 had seemed an insignificant concession to the poor turned out to be a significant 8 privilege. 9 VOCABULARY classed - ranked or put in order income - money you get from work that you do or property that you own thetes - free men, but without land or other resources ineligible - not qualified for, not considered worthy Assembly - the regular gathering open to all citizens of Athens to speak their minds and exercise their votes regarding the government of their city jurors - members of a jury, a group that decides the outcome of a trial obscure and ambiguous - unclear, having more than one possible meaning powers of interpretation - the power to decide what the laws mean insignificant concession - unimportant or minor thing given up in a negotiation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Our government is original and doesn’t copy other countries. Instead, other people try to be like us. Our government is run by many of the people, not just a few of them, and that is why it is called a democracy. Our laws treat everyone equally even when they have disagreements with each other. Even if you are poor or aren’t a part of the upper class, you can still be part of the government if people think you are capable of doing a good job. People will look at your ability not at your social class. And being poor won’t keep you from being part of the government either. If a man can help with the government, the fact that he isn’t well known won’t get in his way.