Tucídides, “Historia de la guerra del Peloponeso”, Gredos, Madrid (1990) Discurso fúnebre de Pericles

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Tucídides reproduce el discurso fúnebre que realizó Pericles en honor de los caídos durante la guerra del Peloponeso. Durante el mismo, Pericles expone las virtudes del sistema político de la época (al cual denomina democracia) y la sociedad ateniense.

Durante la primera parte del discurso, Pericles desgrana todos aquellos aspectos positivos de la democracia ateniense; la igualdad para todos en asuntos privados, la importancia del mérito personal por encima de razones de clase en cuanto a la elección de cargos públicos, la posibilidad de prestar servicio público independientemente de la posición económica de los ciudadanos, la obediencia que ejercen los ciudadanos a quien gobierna y a las leyes existentes, la hospitalidad de la ciudad con los extranjeros (a la que califica de Ciudad abierta), las virtudes del sistema educativo no basado en el entrenamiento militar, la capacidad de derrotar a los enemigos de Atenas  y el entretenimiento  (juegos, fiestas y casas privadas con instalaciones para disfrute de todos y todas) a disposición de los ciudadanos. También destaca al  estado que asume la educación de los hijos de los caídos en combate  hasta los 16 años.

En este discurso, Pericles expone una sociedad ideal con un sistema político ideal.

Durante la segunda parte del discurso, Pericles alaba la sociedad ateniense. La describe como una sociedad sabia y culta, informada e interesada en todo lo que concierne a la vida pública, implicada en el desarrollo de la labor pública a pesar de sus propios menesteres, orgullosa y valiente a la vez que humilde (capaces de asumir su pobreza, pero avergonzados si no hacen nada para solventarla), sacrificada, generosa, confiada y desinteresada debido a la libertad de la que goza, y que antepone el bien común al bien individual. Una sociedad intolerante con la demagogia, cuyo mayor castigo es la vergüenza y el reproche (sacrificando su vida con tal de evitarlo) y que considera que es más honroso permanecer en el recuerdo por la bondad de sus obras que no por el tamaño de la lápida que puedas poseer. Una sociedad si no conoce sufiente, no opina.

En este discurso, Pericles expone una sociedad ideal con un sistema político ideal. Realiza un discurso político aprovechando el funeral de los caídos en combate, para mantener viva la llama de la guerra, consolando por un lado a los familiares de los difuntos mostrando que su sacrificio ha sido en pos de un territorio único y superior tanto a nivel político como a nivel social, y por otro exponiendo los argumentos por los cuáles se debe seguir luchando para mantenerlo. Esta manera de ofrecer consuelo, se puede entender debido a la ausencia de religión en la época tal como la entendemos hoy día (existencia de vida después de la muerte). Por otro lado, el discurso de Pericles podría ser tomado como ejemplo para realizar un discurso nacionalista moderno, exaltando las virtudes de la sociedad y aludiendo al sentimiento patriótico del territorio. Por último, es interesante observar como en esta época, el estado ya asumía la educación de los hijos de los caídos en combate, evitando así que quedaran marginados de la sociedad dotándolos de los conocimientos básicos para poder formar parte de la vida pública. Podríamos estar ante uno de los primeros documentos que describa un modelo de educación pública por parte del estado.

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