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LEADERSHIP AND INDIVIDUALITY IN THE ATHENIAN FUNERAL ORATIONS

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Abstract

Athenian funeral orations did not simply celebrate Athenian military achievements or renew and augment a specifically anonymous collective identity and hoplite ideology. Rather, the speeches also model the role and importance of sub-groups within the democratic polis and celebrate some individual generals for their attributes and achievements as leaders. Furthermore, internal and contextual evidence shows that the prominent leaders who were chosen to deliver these speeches were often promoting or defending their own particular involvement and advocacy of the military campaign in question. This stress on the importance of the individual ‘voice’ of the orator and the speeches' inscription of exemplary individuals (probably, but by no means certainly, much more common from the 380s downwards) offers a significant contribution to literary and historical understanding of this genre and its cultural and ideological functioning.

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