The Building Blocks of a Military
To become a powerhouse in Greece, it took many qualities. Athens had all the right qualities for that, and that is why they were worthy of the position. Both the military and the rest of Athens knew how to live. They were born with bravery and confidence but at the same time knew how to have fun and reward themselves. The men, who fought in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta, from 431 to 404 B.C.E., were well respected and honored by the city of Athens. After analyzing the speech Pericles gave, one can see that the Athenian men in the military were extremely courageous, which is how Athens became the leading empire in the Greek world.
“…And when the moment for fighting came, they held it nobler to suffer death than to yield and save their lives…..”(Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles, 59.) As described by Pericles, the men of Athens did not worry about their own lives when they fought in the war. They fought strictly for the purpose of protecting their city of Athens. This meant that their fighting strategy would be different. They would lay it all out on the table and give it all they had. By fighting that style, they were never on the defense waiting for something to happen, they were the aggressors. Those men were born ready for war. “And in the matter of education, whereas from early youth they are always undergoing laborious exercises which are to make them brave…” (Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles, 59.) Instead of focusing on war at a later age, those men were natural bread warriors. The military in Athens put great stress on the idea of training their men at a very young age. That idea morphed the young boys to be brave in war from the very beginning. That strategy wasn’t only to get the men to think like they were brave, but to actually be mentally and physically brave without even having to think about it.
Courage was not the only strong quality the Athens military had. Pride and confidence goes hand in hand with courage, they feed off each other. With high courage comes high confidence, and vice versa. Not only were the soldiers themselves confident, the entire city of Athens was confident. This helped make them a strong powerhouse because they were all in it together and had lots of support. “Furthermore, none have provided more relaxations for the spirit from toil; we have regular games and sacrifices throughout the year; our homes are furnished with elegance; and the delight which we daily feel in all these things banishes melancholy.” (Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles, 59.) Athenians lived life the right way. They were so confident and strong that they could afford to have fun and have leisure time. They worked hard and played hard. To be a strong country they needed time to relax and not focus all one hundred percent of their time around training for war, but yet when war came they were recharged and ready for action.
Athenians who fought in the war, those who died and those who didn’t, were all well respected. Pericles puts great emphasis on how much those men were respected and honored by their city. “Such was the conduct of these men; they were worthy of Athens.” (Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles, 59.) Athenians put those men up on a pedestal, like they deserved to be, and looked up to them. “For even those who come short in other ways may justly plead the valor with which they have fought for their country; they have blotted out evil with good and their public services have outweighed the harm they have done in their private actions…” (Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles, 59.) As Pericles said, those men did so much by dying for their city that it didn’t matter how much wrong they had done in their lives. The people of Athens knew they gave their lives for them and the city so they honored them as good.
After all this, one can conclude that the city of Athens knew what qualities they needed to be the strongest military possible. Since war in this time period was fought with only swords, bows, horses, etc., the men had to fight a different style. Courage was the building blocks of the Athens military, and with this comes confidence. After having both of these qualities, they were honored and well respected. Living this way became the Athens way of life and it was just natural, which makes them a huge piece of history in present day life.