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The Enduring Necessity of Periclean Politics

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image of Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

Thucydides’ interest in Pericles best comes to sight when we examine Pericles’ first speech in context. Situated at the end of Book I of the History, that speech concludes a set-piece that begins with the Corinthians’ final speech and whose bridge is the ‘digression’ on Cylon, Pausanias and Themistocles. Read as part of this narrative structure, Pericles’ speech represents the successful conclusion of a debate over political rule broadly understood. For Thucydides, that success consists in the ability of Pericles’ rhetoric to invite his audience to reflect on the ends of political life, a rhetoric that Thucydides promises to represent in his historiography.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science 329 Founders Hall, Assumption College, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester, ma 01609USA


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