Aspasia: “Pericles’ Funeral Oration” from Plato’s Menexenus (c. 387–367 b.c.e.)
General topics discussed:
Does Aspasia accomplish her goals?
1. Praise the dead
2. Gently admonish the living (vulnerability? susceptibility?)
3. Console survivors
How do we understand her claims about the “The order in which nature made [men] good?”
1. Sprung from good fathers
2. Nurture & education
3. Nobel actions
4. Worthy of education they received
What is the importance of being from the “land of birth” – not immigrants?
In what way is “Community” a true mother which should be “praised by all, dear to the gods”?
Do “justice and religion” separate us from the animals?
What of her claim of the “Necessity of nursing to motherhood“?
Is dying in battle redemptive? When? Why?
Does it matter if Aspasia or Pericles wrote it?
Is it possible to infer Socrates attitude? Plato’s attitude?
•The reading might benefit from a pairing. Consider including Queen Elizabeth I as well.
Further reading suggestions:
Excerpt(s) from Plutarch’s Lives about Pericles, specifically the sections featuring Aspasia.