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Ancient historians regularly argue that the Athenian dēmos (‘people’) held sailors in much lower esteem than hoplites. They cite in support of this the extant funeral speech of Pericles. Certainly this famous speech said a lot about courageous hoplites but next to nothing about sailors. Yet it is also clear that this was not a typical example of the genre. Funeral speeches usually gave a detailed account of Athenian military history. In 431 BC Pericles decided to skip such an account because of the difficult politics that he faced. In rehearsing military history funeral speeches always mentioned naval battles and recognised sailors as courageous. Old comedy and the other genres of public oratory depicted sailors in the same positive terms. Their sailors displayed no less courage than hoplites, with both groups equally benefitting the state. All these non-elite genres assumed that a citizen fulfilled his martial duty by serving as either a sailor or a hoplite. They used a new definition of courage that both groups of combatants could easily meet. In tragedy, by contrast, characters and choruses used the hoplite extensively as a norm. In epic poetry heroes spoke in the same hoplitic idiom. By copying this idiom the tragic poets were setting their plays more convincingly in the distant heroic age. In spite of this, tragedy still recognised Athens as a major seapower and could depict sailors as courageous. In Athenian democracy speakers and playwrights had to articulate the viewpoint of non-elite citizens. Their works put beyond doubt that the dēmos esteemed sailors as highly as hoplites.