’ Funeral Oration And Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Essay, Research Paper
The Parallels Between Pericles’ Funeral Oration and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Upon evaluating Pericles’ funeral oration and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the reader is able to clearly notice the parallels between the two speeches. Although there is a significant length difference the content of the two orations is quite similar. Throughout the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln noticeably echoes Pericles, transforms the words and ideas of his predecessor, and makes his speech resemble that of the Athenian leader.
Although many centuries separate the time these two speeches were given, it is evident that Lincoln echoes the funeral oration of Pericles. One instance in which Lincoln echoes this great leader is when he pronounces, “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation.”(lines 1-3) Pericles began his speech in the same way when he said, “I shall began by speaking about our ancestors.” (Thucydides p. 214) Another occurrence is when Lincoln proclaims, “we cannot consecrate -we cannot hallow-this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it.” (lines 16-19) Pericles also feels the same way, in that the men being honored have proved themselves valiant on the battlefield, and
their glories shall be proclaimed in action, not in a speech given by one man. (Thucydides p.214) In his address Lincoln also echoes Pericles’ mention and praise of democracy. The famous ending of the Gettysburg Address, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” exhibits Lincoln view on democracy. (Lincoln 34-36) Likewise Pericles seems to adorn democracy when he says, “power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people our political life is free and open.”(Thucydides p.215)
Along with echoing Pericles’ funeral oration, Lincoln also transforms the words and ideas of his predecessor while giving his address at Gettysburg. One way in which he does this is by stating that “all men are created equal.”(Lincoln 4-5), which is in accordance to Pericles’ quotes of “everyone is equal before the law” and “what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses.” (Thucydides p.215) Lincoln is able to rearrange Pericles’ words but still relay the same idea that Pericles was trying to put forth. Another example of this is when Pericles states “We who remain behind must resolve to keep the dame daring spirit against the foe,” and Lincoln rewords this by saying “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for
which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” (Thucydides p.217; lines 27-30) Here Lincoln is once again able to rephrase the words of Pericles but at the same time confer the same ideas.
The purpose of both Pericles’ and Lincoln’s speech was to commemorate those who died in battle. In giving his speech, Lincoln most likely had Pericles’ oration in mind because it was given for the exact same reason Lincoln had for giving his address. Also Lincoln might had resembled Pericles’ speech because he too had to install hope into the mourners. This is evident in the speech given by Pericles when he says “For these reasons I shall not commiserate with those parents of the dead Instead I shall try to comfort them” (Thucydides p.218) In giving his speech Lincoln too tried to put forth this optimistic attitude.