How do geography and environment affect society? Use examples to show how geography and environment affect civilization development.


Pericles’ Funeral Oration By Thucydides

“Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we

are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its

administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is

called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice

to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement

in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not

being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the

way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the

obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our

ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel

called upon to be angry with our neighbor for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those

injurious looks which cannot fail to be offensive, although they inflict no positive penalty. But

all this ease in our private relations does not make us lawless as citizens. Against this fear is our

chief safeguard, teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws, particularly such as regard the

protection of the injured, whether they are actually on the statute book, or belong to that code

which, although unwritten, yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.

“Further, we provide plenty of means for the mind to refresh itself from business. We celebrate

games and sacrifices all the year round, and the elegance of our private establishments forms a

daily source of pleasure and helps to banish the spleen; while the magnitude of our city draws the

produce of the world into our harbor, so that to the Athenian the fruits of other countries are as

familiar a luxury as those of his own.

“If we turn to our military policy, there also we differ from our antagonists. We throw open our

city to the world, and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or

observing, although the eyes of an enemy may occasionally profit by our liberality; trusting less

in system and policy than to the native spirit of our citizens; while in education, where our rivals

from their very cradles by a painful discipline seek after manliness, at Athens we live exactly as

we please, and yet are just as ready to encounter every legitimate danger. In proof of this it may

be noticed that the Spartans do not invade our country alone, but bring with them all their allies;

while we Athenians advance unsupported into foreign territory, and fighting upon a foreign soil

usually vanquish with ease men who are defending their homes. Our united force was never yet

encountered by any enemy, because we have at once to attend to our marine and to dispatch our

citizens by land upon a hundred different services; so that, wherever they engage with some such

fraction of our strength, a success against a detachment is magnified into a victory over the

nation, and a defeat into a reverse suffered at the hands of our entire people. And yet if with

habits not of labor but of ease, and courage not of art but of nature, we are still willing to

encounter danger, we have the double advantage of escaping the experience of hardships in

anticipation and of facing them in the hour of need as fearlessly as those who are never free from


“Nor are these the only points in which our city is worthy of admiration. We cultivate refinement

without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than

for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the

struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and

our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public

matters; for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as

unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate,

and, instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an

indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all. Again, in our enterprises we present the

singular spectacle of daring and deliberation, each carried to its highest point, and both united in

the same persons; although usually decision is the fruit of ignorance, hesitation of reflection. But

the palm of courage will surely be adjudged most justly to those, who best know the difference

between hardship and pleasure and yet are never tempted to shrink from danger. In generosity we

are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring, not by receiving, favors. Yet, of course,

the doer of the favor is the firmer friend of the two, in order by continued kindness to keep the

recipient in his debt; while the debtor feels less keenly from the very consciousness that the

return he makes will be a payment, not a free gift. And it is only the Athenians, who, fearless of

consequences, confer their benefits not from calculations of expediency, but in the confidence of


“In short, I say that as a city we are the school of Hellas, while I doubt if the world can produce a

man who, where he has only himself to depend upon, is equal to so many emergencies, and

graced by so happy a versatility, as the Athenian. And that this is no mere boast thrown out for

the occasion, but plain matter of fact, the power of the state acquired by these habits proves. For

Athens alone of her contemporaries is found when tested to be greater than her reputation, and

alone gives no occasion to her assailants to blush at the antagonist by whom they have been

worsted, or to her subjects to question her title by merit to rule. Rather, future ages will wonder

at us, as the present age wonders at us now, since we have not left our power without witness,

but have shown it by mighty proofs; and far from needing a Homer for our panegyrist, or other

of his craft whose verses might charm for the moment only for the impression which they gave

to melt at the touch of fact, we have forced every sea and land to be the highway of our daring,

and everywhere, whether for evil or for good, have left imperishable monuments behind us. Such

is the Athens for which these men, in the assertion of their resolve not to lose her, nobly fought

and died; and well may every one of their survivors be ready to suffer in her cause.”