Scholtz, Andrew. 2007. Concordia discors: Eros and Dialogue in Classical Athenian Literature. Hellenic Studies Series 24. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_ScholtzA.Concordia_Discors.2007.
Chapter 2. “Lovers of It”: Erotic Ambiguity in the Periclean Funeral Oration
Pericles son of Xanthippus was chosen to speak.” And so he did in the epitaphios logos of 431 BCE, the “speech at the grave” to honor the past year’s war dead.  The written text of Pericles’ speech, if it ever existed, has not survived. What has is Thucydides’ version (2.35–46), which reaches its climax when the orator, having just expounded the rationale behind the heroes’ choice to die, proceeds to advise his listeners that rational calculation—logos—will not suffice if they, the living, are to live up to the standard set by the fallen. “No, you must actually fix your gaze daily upon the city’s power, and become lovers of it,” he declares. But why the sudden inadequacy of logos in this epitaphios logos? And what is this “it” (autês) that the orator expects his listeners to fall in love with? Is it the city or—more unsettling—its power?
Erôs and Oratory
Festival and Ceremony
Doubtless our speaker apologizes for the bleak import of his words. But those sentiments would not have packed the punch they do without the extravagant comparison framing them.
Erôs and Revalorization
Like Thucydides and Euripides, Isocrates characterizes an adventurous, ambitious spirit as erôs, one that befell (enepesen) a whole group of individuals. But Thucydides and Euripides present that erôs as deeply problematic—Euripides, as a deinos erôs, a “fierce” or “frightening lust.”  Isocrates sees it, or at least, “spins” it, differently. For Isocrates, the erôs prompting the whole Trojan War needs to be understood as ambition of heroic proportions, an erôs ennobled by the gods’ “rational decision” (eulogôs…egnôsan) to risk the lives of their children, the half-gods who would fight before the walls of Troy. And their decision serves to rationalize the orator’s own decision to praise Helen’s beauty, and the erôs aroused by it, as “extravagantly” as he does (54–55).
“To gain the advantage” translates pleonexia, a word whose negative connotations Isocrates both flags and derides as “the way that the foolish think of it.” How do the “foolish” think of it? As the unprincipled pursuit of personal gain, in a word, “greed,” or so Isocrates implies (276). But that is just how pleonexia was commonly understood.  We are, then, dealing with an explicitly counterintuitive construction of pleonexia, one as positive as “vulgar” notions of it are negative. So, too, the notion of a “lust” or erôs for the power to persuade (tou peithein dunasthai…erastheien) will have carried with it a certain shock value. Evoking popular mistrust of the technologies of persuasion,  it challenges common notions.
It could not have been easy for Pericles to rally the support he needed. Pericles himself, in the speech Thucydides assigns him near the end of book one of the History, remarks that “farmers are the sort of people who will more readily expose their bodies than their possessions to the hazards of war” (1.141.5). The context of that generalization concerns Peloponnesians,  but Pericles generalizes; he could just as easily have been referring to the middling farmers of Attica, citizen-soldiers frustrated at not being allowed to defend their farms.  Those farmers probably would not have been alone in their disaffection. Important, too, would have been the landed gentry, who, as cavalry, carried the burden of protecting the city, but on top of that assumed burdens of a financial character.  By contrast, the thêtes, the landless poor, would have had less to complain about.  Yet Pericles, in his attempts to conciliate the others, could not risk alienating thêtes viewed by one writer as the mainstay of Athens’ maritime empire and radical democracy (Pseudo-Xenophon).
Action responds. Its directedness shapes itself to the world experienced within the perception-horizon of the acting subject—it is, in its way, dialogical. If speech is a form of action, then any given set of speech-acts, even a rhetorical monologue like Pericles’, will likewise shape itself to the contours of the world—the audience—it confronts. 
For readers of Thucydides’ History, those words will resonate with the historian’s characterization of Periclean democracy as “democracy in name (logôi), though in fact (ergôi) rule (arkhê) exercised by the first man” (2.65.9), a words-versus-deeds antithesis privileging deeds as the more reliable criterion.  So, too, in the Periclean Funeral Oration, we have in Pericles’ definition of democracy a words-versus-deeds antithesis, only here, the “reality” proves subtly meritocratic. By the 430s, all nine major archonships at Athens were filled by lottery from a pool more or less coextensive with the body politic; virtually anyone might serve. Though archons so selected will have played a largely ceremonial role in many respects, the egalitarian character of their selection was, nevertheless, regarded as a defining feature of democracy at Athens.  But that is not what the orator highlights. Rather, he alludes to the fact that unpaid officials chosen by ballot, the generals especially, actually ran things—a fact earning grudging admiration for Athenian democracy from an otherwise antidemocratic text dating from the late 400s.  It is, then, striking that Pericles similarly contrasts the name “democracy” with the all important fact that, “for the most part,” not just anyone (as might be inferred from the name given to Athens’ constitution) but persons judged qualified were chosen “for public service.”