Manage episode 377476291 series 3513273
Five speeches from the legendary orators Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Cicero, and Pericles.
431 BCE: Pericles’ Funeral Oration is a valedictory and eulogy for the great age of Athenian democracy. Reported by Thucydides, it was given at the first annual public funeral for casualties of the Peloponnesian War. That war ended twenty-seven years later with the democratic government of Athens overthrown by an oligarchy known as The Four Hundred.
324BCE: Two speeches by Alexander the Great, reported by the historian Arrian in his Anabasis. Both speeches are a direct address to his army on embarking on a new campaign.
The first was given in Opis, Mesopotamia, when rallying his armies to start a new campaign into Persia. The army took heart, and successfully conquered the Persian Empire, adding it to Alexander’s many existing conquests. The second speech is given after the first campaign is over. This time Alexander is ready to move into the Indian subcontinent.
After travelling across the known world, the entire army took the offer to quit fighting and go home. This leaves Alexander understandably upset, and produces history’s most finely worded example of saying “After all I’ve done for you! Well, you can all get stuffed then, you bunch of ingrates. I hope you choke.”
In 63BCE, the Cataline Conspiracy shook Rome. It was a deep shock to the Roman system, and risked civil war, and included here are speeches by the Consul Cicero and the only extant speech of Julius Caesar.
Cicero’s First Speech is a rabble-rousing, impassioned, and slightly unhinged attack upon Cataline and his associates. It speaks to the outrage of the body politic and the masses.
Caesar’s speech is a jurisprudential appeal to create no new laws to punish these crimes. Caesar argues that the republic would be ultimately harmed if they were not punished only under existing laws, as people remember the punishment but not the crime.