Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Study the Best Orators...

Filed Under: "You've Gotta Check This Out!"

Over at The Art of Manliness, there is a great compilation of "The 35 Greatest Speeches in History."

Examining the words of Socrates to Jesus, Lincoln to Douglas, Kennedy to Reagan, Churchill to Martin Luther King, Jr., The Art of Manliness insists,
If a man wishes to become a great orator, he must first become a student of the great orators who have come before him. He must immerse himself in their texts, listening for the turns of phrases and textual symmetries, the pauses and crescendos, the metaphors and melodies that have enabled the greatest speeches to stand the test of time.

There was not currently a resource on the web to my liking that offered the man who wished to study the greatest orations of all time-from ancient to modern-not only a list of the speeches but a link to the text and a paragraph outlining the context in which the speech was given. So we decided to create one ourselves. The Art of Manliness thus proudly presents the “35 Greatest Speeches in World History,” the finest library of speeches available on the web.

These speeches lifted hearts in dark times, gave hope in despair, refined the characters of men, inspired brave feats, gave courage to the weary, honored the dead, and changed the course of history. It is my desire that this library will become a lasting resource not only to those who wish to become great orators, but to all men who wisely seek out the great mentors of history as guides on the path to virtuous manhood.
I, for one, plan to work my way through these great speeches and learn and grow.


Brian said...

I agree that those are all great speeches, but I'm curious - Have about half (or more?) of the greatest speeches of ALL TIME reall been made by Americans?! And four by Theodore Roosevelt alone!?

ninepoundhammer said...

(This is not directed at you, John)--If a person enjoys sophistry, posturing, hyper-nationalism, and lyrical dishonesty, there is plenty in that list that fits the bill.

As for Lincoln, his deification has resulted in what he SAID taking precedence over what he DID. Yet, his First Inaugural Address seems to be relegated to the Memory Hole; in it he states very clearly that he was NOT interested in eradicating slavery in the South.

I like the perspective given by the erudite H. L. Mencken on the abominable Gettysburg Address:

'The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history...the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; IT WAS THE CONFEDERATES who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.'

(And don't get me started on Churchill, the Roosevelts, and De Gaulle!)

Whew! Now I feel better.

John said...

Brian--good point.

Matt--I get the sense that your not a big fan of Lincoln!