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Posts Tagged ‘memorials’

Thucydides doesn’t mention the fact that a statue of the Athenian tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, occupied a prominent position in the agora; almost certainly he didn’t have to, as this would be well known to his readers, but in any case he had a bigger and more important target: the story that the statue was intended to commemorate. “People accept the traditions that they hear quite uncritically, even when it relates to their own country,” he remarked caustically (1.20) – though perhaps he should have said especially when it relates to their own country, in the light of his observation a little further on (1.22) that accounts of the same event might vary “depending on individual loyalties”. Athenians – at any rate the democratically-inclined majority – knew what their past was all about, without any need for inconvenient historical fact, and they would surely have been outraged at any proposal that the statue should be removed because the real story behind it wasn’t quite as straightforwardly noble and democratic as they believed. (more…)

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Snow News Day

If you follow me on the Twitter, you might have noticed the little icon that appears when I post a link to this blog, showing a pile of Greek helmets; the same image appears on the cover of Harloe & Morley, eds., Thucydides and the Modern World (2012). It’s part of the Greek section of the Inter-Allied WWI Memorial at Liège, which also features a long quote from Pericles’ Funeral Oration, which is of course why I first came across it; with its explicit echo of ancient commemorative practices, the pile of empty helmets also evoking a macabre heap of skulls, it’s rather stunning. I’ve not seen it in the snow, so I’m very grateful to Bernard Wilkin, a historian at the Belgian State Archives, who spotted my image and sent over this recent picture…

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There’s a great scene in the 1990s Welsh teenage drama series Pam fi, Duw? [Why me, God?], where everyone has gone to London (can’t remember why) and the indomitable grandmother insists on dragging the family across the city to visit the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square – to their utter bemusement, as she’s a dyed-in-the-wool socialist, but you don’t argue with Mamgu. When they finally get there, she sticks up two fingers at it and says something to the effect of “That’s for Tonypandy, you bastard!” (more…)

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