Pericles was one of the leaders of Athens in the ancient Greek, who ensured that the city achieved greatness through all available means. In one of the funerals, Pericles showed that the main aim of the leaders of the city was to achieve greatness implying that leaders were not interested in self-interest but instead they aimed at raising the standards of people.
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Several years later, Sophocles came up with a play that reflected the views of Pericles. The play suggested that the people of Athens had to rise up to the occasion in order to ensure that the city achieves greatness. The play writer showed that the character of Oedipus was to be emulated because his main aim was to uplift the standards of living of the poor.
The King was wise because he was never given leadership training yet he knew that people were suffering by paying excessive taxes. The King ensured that the city achieved greatness by doing away with some issues that would interfere with individual fulfillment. According to Sophocles in his play Oedipus the King, each Athenian had to ensure that he or she works for the good of the city. Individual interests were to be avoided at all costs if the city was to achieve greatness.
During the time of Pericles, citizens were loyal to their leaders and they were proud of their city. The population believed that the King was number one among the equals. Justice was the main virtue among citizens since it protected the poor from oppression. Pericles claimed that the government of Athens was democratic because it respected the views of each individual. In other words, the Kingdom provided the fundamental rights and freedoms to its citizens.
This was important if greatness was to be realized. In the Kingdom, the rule of law prevailed over dictatorship since other neighboring states exercised tyrannical form of leadership. Pericles stated, “Our form of government does not imitate the laws of neighboring states” (Sophocles 7).
This meant that the government of Athens was representative and listened to the wishes and desires of the people. The form of leadership exercised in Athens was a model to other neighboring cities because its main objective was to achieve greatness. It never mattered who an individual was but what was important was greatness. This means that each person strived to do what was right and avoid evil irrespective of societal position.
Dispute resolution mechanism was one of the qualities that characterized the city since each person was equal before the law. Each citizen could seek for elective leadership, as long as he or she qualified. In other words, discrimination based on social status, age, gender and ethnicity was highly discouraged. The city tolerated all forms of behaviors because the government welcomed criticisms.
To achieve greatness, Pericles advised the citizens of Athens to be welcoming. He observed that the government of Athens had never formulated laws intended to lock out other races from participating in nation building. All foreigners had a right to conduct businesses in the city since this would open up the city to foreign investment. To achieve greatness, leaders must always strive to be fair in policy formulation, particularly in making foreign policies.
However, Pericles warned the civil servants never to expose secrets to foreigners in case they wanted to achieve greatness for their city. This was because the enemy could use the information to launch an attack on the city. For a city to be great, citizens had to tighten their belts because the enemy is always after harming the populous city. In this regard, soldiers had to be courageous, apart from keeping state secrets.
This did not mean that the state introduced compulsory conscription whereby children could be recruited into the military to be subjected to torturous training. Pericles observed that this was only to instill manly courage to an individual, which could not match the kind of military training offered in the city of Athens. Athenians had to explore other options that could help them win the war.
For instance, he gave an example of Sparta, which attacked an enemy with the help of its allies. Athens employed a different tactic that helped to win the war even the land of the enemy. Pericles noted that funding the military and proving professional training was the reason behind success.
In his masterpiece works on Oedipus the King, Sophocles noted with pain that the city was losing greatness because of a number of reasons. He noted “For the city, as you yourself see, is now sorely vexed, and can no longer lift her head from beneath the angry waves of death. Blight has fallen on the fruitful blossoms of the land, the herds among the pastures, the barren pangs of women.” Sophocles requested the King to do something since people were suffering.
Even though the King was not equal to god, he had a sole responsibility of ensuring that the city achieves greatness. It was upon the leader to come up with strategies that would help him secure the interests of the majority in the city. From the play, Sophocles suggested that the leader had to be consistent in his actions because the King of Oedipus started on a very high note but his popularity was falling. In the play, Sophocles warned the King that he could be remembered for bringing down the famous city.
If a leader does not achieve greatness for the city, he or she would be perceived as the lord of wasteland rather than the lord of men. A city is nothing if its people are not provided with the basic needs such as food, shelter, education, medical care, security, and protection from slavery. Sophocles said, “Neither walled town nor ship is anything, if it is empty and no men dwell within” (Thucydides 4)
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The two writings show that each individual in the city of Athens had to strive for greatness, which would bring about greatness for the city. Pericles noted that even though the city loved beauty, it did not mean that people were extravagant. Moreover, the love of the things of mind did not mean citizens were soft.
Therefore, the city never boasted about their wealth but instead it intended to use the wealth to achieve greatness. In other words, the leader meant that property had to be distributed equally among citizens for there to be justice. In the city, businesspersons were always informed about the matters pertaining to politics.
An individual who concentrated on his own private matters without being involved in matters related to the city was considered a misfit. Sophocles was in terms with the views of Pericles when he urged the King solve the problems that affected people with urgency. Sophocles was urged to act because it was eminent that people were suffering.
Sophocles observed that it would be of no help if the king intervened to save his people after a good number had already perished. Pericles had earlier noted that those considered strong in society are those who have the ability to assess the situation, by evaluating the benefits and dangers before moving in to confront the problem. Based on this, Sophocles advised the Oedipus King to solve the issues affecting people before it was too late.
Sophocles. The Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles. Trans. R. Jebb. The Internet Classics Archive. Cambridge University Press, 2 Sept. 1887. Web. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0192%3Acard%3D1516>.
Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian War. R. Crawley. About. Com. Ancient/ Classical History, 4 Aug. 2012. Web.