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THUCYDIDES . FUNERAL ORATION OF PERICLES.

Translation from the New Greek by Emmanuel Nikolaidis

 

Excerpts from the book, THUCYDIDES, HISTORY, 2ed book.[i]  

 

 Section 37. About Democracy (small excerpt from the ancient Greek text)

Χρώμεθα γάρ πολιτεία ου ζηλούση τους των πέλας νόμους, παράδειγμα δε μάλλον αυτοί όντες τισίν ή μιμούμενοι ετέρους.  Και όνομα μεν δια το μη ες ολίγους αλλ’ ες πλείονας  οικείν Δημοκρατία κέκληται …

 Translation of section 37. 

"We have a regime that does not copy the laws of others, but we, ourselves, are the example to them, than their imitators. And this regime is named Democracy, because it is run not by few but by most of the citizens.

And all citizens are equal before the laws for their private differences: but, for their personal enhancement and prices, according to their differentiation, they are chosen in public affairs because they are more capable and not because  they are elected by lot.

Neither again anyone because he is poor, while he can do something good for the state, is prevented to do so owing to his insignificant social status.

And not only in public life we live free, but also in our daily relationships, we are redeemed from the mistrust between us and don’t get angry with our neighbor if he does something what pleases him. We also don’t take against him the expression of annoyed, which doesn’t harm but certainly distress him.

And while in our private life we do not disturb each other, in public affairs we do not wrongdoing mostly out of an internal impulse, obedient to our current lords and laws, particularly to the laws which have been voted to protect the underprivileged and to those which, though unwritten, bring shame to undeniable offenders. 

 

 

Section 40. About the citizens of the Athenian Democracy. (Small excerpt from the ancient Greek text)

Φιλοκαλούμεν τε γάρ μετ’ ευτελείας και φιλοσοφούμεν άνευ μαλακίας· …

 

Translation of section 40.

 

We love the beauty in its simplicity.

We love the culture without ending up to flabbiness.

We have the wealth more as an opportunity for deeds, rather than as a cause for boasting.

Admitting ones’ poverty is not a shame.

Greater shame is the reduction of ones’ own poverty when he avoids the work.

We ourselves take care of our own affairs as well as of those of the state, and though everybody is occupied with his own work, we are not less aware in politics. Only we, him who doesn’t participate in any politics, consider not as peace-lover but as a useless man.

We do righteous thoughts and suggestions on the state affairs, or, at least, we take the right decisions for them, because we don’t think that speeches do damage to the works, damage on the contrary is done when we avoid to be elucidated on what we have to do. 

And we are different also on that: we are much daring and thoughtful on what we undertake, because ignorance leads others to thoughtless courage and knowledge to hesitation.

And a stronger soul would rightly be imputed to those, who, although clearly know both the terrible and the delightful, they don’t avoid to undertake the danger.

In manifesting friendliness to others we are opposed to many others. We make friends not because we are benefited from them but we benefit them. A benefactor friend is more stable because he tries to maintain the grace owed to him out of sympathy towards him who has done the good. On the other hand a benefited person is less willing, because he knows that he will do his goodness not because the others owe to him thanks, but because he owe to repay his debt.

And only we help others not out of interested calculations, but out of our guileless liberal beliefs.

 

 

Website’s reflection / question:  If Thucydides lived today, what he would write in Sections 37 and 40 for the current " Democracy" and for the modern Greek Citizens ?  With great interest the site will host your opinions.

 

 

 



[1]Thucydides is a famous ancient Greek historian (5th century BC ), who  wrote the history of the Peloponnesian War with exemplary respect to the truth of the events. He believed that the knowledge of the historical events leads to reliable predictions of the future. (Doctrine of History’s Necessity).  

[2] Funeral Oration was the traditional laudatory speech and honor for the dead of wars. The speech was made in the cemetery of Keramikos , during the ceremony of burial , from a reliable, respectable and highly  accepted citizen, appointed by the Ecclesia of Demos . This book contains Pericles’ Funeral Oration.

[3] Emmanuel Nikolaidis is Electronic Physicist, former Director of OTE and former chairman of CEPT. He is member of the Association, “The Friends of Digital Direct Democracy”.

[i] THUCYDIDES, HISTORY, 2ed book. Ancient Greek Secretariat.  «The Greeks". Publisher: Κάκτος 1994. Translation in New Greek: Anastasios Georgopapadakos.

 

 

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