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The Two Great Speaches Essay

1405 words - 6 pages

The Two Great Speeches

Throughout history many speeches have astonished humanity, two specifically, are very much alike and served the same purpose yet they occurred at different times in history. Pericles’ Funeral Oration, which happened between 431-404 BC, and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which took place on November 19 1863, share several common aspects. Both speeches pertained to honor the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War and the United States Civil War. Due to the fact that both Pericles and Lincoln were politicians we can infer that they were experts in getting their point across to the masses. Pericles’ Funeral Oration happened thousands of years before Lincoln’s ...view middle of the document...

This convinced the Athenians that the war could be won and although some of the people were not on the battlefield, like women or children, they were still part of the fight. On the other hand, in the Gettysburg Address by Lincoln, the speech demonstrated many features of American culture during the Civil War. Lincoln not only recognized the ones who had died for the cause but encouraged the states of the Union to defeat the Confederate states. Lincoln expressed his beliefs and reasoning throughout his speech. He said, “these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” Given that the Civil War began in 1861 and ended in 1865, Lincoln delivered this speech right in the middle of it, in 1863. As he claims, “these dead shall not have died in vain” he motivates the people to finish what the fallen comrades had started. The time period of both of these speeches could not have come at a better time as it inspired the people and caused them to embrace the departed, the war, and the meaning of the words spoken to them. Both Pericles and Lincoln were able to successfully accomplish what they set out for, with their speeches; it is possible to compare the differences and similarities in the structure and methods they used.

Being politicians, public speeches were a safe and reliable method of conveying their intent and their goals, in this case, for Athens and the United States. Pericles delivered a very long detailed speech. Throughout its entirety it is possible to say that he was targeting people’s emotions which tend to be a great way to persuade them, for Pericles case it was the people of Athens. Pericles structures his words with relatable descriptions, arguments, and comparisons. He mentioned, "Comfort, therefore, not condolence, is what I have to offer to the parents of the dead who may be here. Numberless are the chances to which, as they know, the life of man is subject; but fortunate indeed are they who draw for their lot a death so glorious…” In this quote, Pericles targets the parents of the dead in a very descriptive manner in which he presents the optimistic view of their child’s death, referring to it as “glorious”. He also compared Athens to the rest of humanity and said, “I doubt if the world can produce a man who, where he has only himself to depend upon…graced by so happy a versatility, as the Athenian.” This comparison exhibits how Pericles reinforces the Athenians beliefs, insisting they are superior to any others. Meanwhile Lincoln used a shorter more straight forward speech but with similar structure. He began mentioning the ancestors, then the dead, next the purpose of the war, and ended with the goals he wants to accomplish. Throughout the whole speech Lincoln was persuasive, he related his words to the people’s emotions using metaphors, and used repetition to get his message across....

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