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The Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens began in 431 BC and would last for almost 28 years. In the end, Sparta prevailed, but its hegemony would not last long, since first Thebes and then Macedonia, would end up imposing themselves on the Greek world.

At the end of the first year of the war, the Athenians, as was their custom, gathered for a ceremony to honor and remember the fallen. As Thucydides recounts, it consisted of a procession that accompanied the ten coffins (cypress coffers, one for each Athenian tribe, plus one always empty in memory of the disappeared) to their burial place in the Ceramic, the most important cemetery in Athens, which can still be visited today. There, a speaker chosen from among the leading men of the polis, gave a complimentary speech.

Pericles' Funeral Oration

Pericles' Funeral Oration by Philipp Foltz (1852)


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