“a Take on the Pericles’ and Socrates’ Views on Athenian Society”

1110 WordsDec 25, 20125 Pages
Athens is a major Greek city-state in European history. It was a great center of cultural and intellectual development, and thus home to philosophers. Socrates and Pericles, two of these philosophers, had polarizing opinions about the city-state and its citizens. While Pericles chooses to praise the Athenian citizen, Socrates criticizes Athens’ people. Pericles gave his opinion at a funeral during the first battles of the Peloponnesian War, while Socrates gave his during the trial that ultimately led to his death. The Athenian city-state has become a model for today’s systems of government and a hearth for western philosophy, so Pericles’ opinion seems to be the one that is more accurate. Pericles starts his speech talking about the…show more content…
The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life” (Pericles’ Funeral Oration, Thucydides). In other words, it doesn’t matter what your social rank is, if you are a citizen of Athens, you have a right (and duty) to serve in the government. This is known as a direct democracy today, and it is where we, citizens of the United States, took inspiration for our current system of government. Pericles is right to praise the city-state in this regard, as its legacy still has effect on the world millenniums after its time. Socrates, however, wasn’t as keen on democracy. Socrates, a critic of Athenian society, is also known as a critic of democracy. “Athens is a democracy, a city in which the many are the dominant power in politics, and it can therefore be expected to have all the vices of the many” (“Socrates’ criticism of democracy,” Encyclopedia Britannica). Socrates claims that he did not want to take part in government because he feared imprisonment or death, which eventually became his fate. Socrates’ problem with democracy was his concern with the citizens who run the
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