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Posts Tagged ‘Pericles’

Interesting to note that the Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell is declining to speak in this afternoon’s Margaret Thatcher Respectful Tribute Slam in Parliament.  “It is not a university and I am not the public orator.  I don’t want it to be thought that I have to get up and make a Periclean speech every time there is a tragedy.”

My initial response was to wonder whether a Cleonic oration might be more appropriate for the occasion; my second was to start thinking about Sir Peter’s use of the term ‘Periclean’.  Of course the Funeral Oration is meant, as the standard go-to for commemoration of the glorious dead in speeches and epitaphs – see Jennifer Roberts’ chapter in Thucydides and the Modern World on the tradition from Gettysburg to the aftermath of 9/11, and a piece I wrote for Aeon on the use of quotes on war memorials.  But that was a speech to commemorate the deaths of a fair number of people in war, and that’s how, more or less, it’s been used since – not least as a means of co-opting those deaths into the national cause, reducing the individuals involved and their grieving families into faceless components of the collective endeavour.  It’s not an obvious choice for memorialising a single individual, which might be a good reason for eschewing Periclean orations in this instance – but my reading of his comment is that Sir Peter doesn’t think that they are inappropriate per se, just that he doesn’t see why he has to be the one to give them every time.

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Monumental Folly

Just a quick cross-platform plug for my new piece on the reception of Pericles’ Funeral Oration over at Aeon, a new online magazine with a whole load of articles well worth reading, besides this one. No comments on it, unfortunately, despite all my efforts last week at getting online – despite being in the depths of the Bayerischer Wald – in case I needed to respond to anything…

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