Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality

By Stephen A. Usher | Go to book overview

II
CEREMONIAL ORATORY

Any search for innovation in this genre is immediately discouraged by the opening sentences of the earliest extant example of it, the Funeral Speech of Pericles. Thucydides makes him say ( 2. 35. 1, 3):

Most of those who have spoken in the past (ἤδη) have praised the man who added this oration to our funeral rites . . . and since our forefathers gave this custom their approval, I too must follow it and fulfil the wishes and expectations of each of you, as far as possible.

Whether or not a precise date for the earliest epitaphios can be established,1 it is clear that this main sub-genre of ceremonial or epideictic oratory was already formalized and its contents were determined2 even before the beginnings of Sicilian rhetoric.3 Unlike the topics of forensic rhetoric, which were subject to the

____________________
1
The attribution to Solon ( Anaximenes Fr. 44) may be dismissed. Somewhat vaguer, yet less easy to discount, is the statement in Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 5.17. 2-4, that the Athenians instituted the Funeral Oration 'in honour of those who fought at Artemisium, Salamis, and Plataea, and died for their country, or to the glory of their exploits at Marathon'. It has been correctly observed (by N. Loraux, The Invention of Athens, trans. A. Sheridan ( Harvard and London, 1986), 57) that Dion. Hal. is using this information to prove the priority of the genre at Rome; but a later date for the first Athenian epitaphios would have suited his argument even better, while no greater occasion for its inauguration could have been conceived than the victories over the barbarians which formed the most constant topics of the later speeches.
2
Although Thucydides' language in the above passage is imprecise, Pericles' undertaking to follow a custom (ἑπόμενον τῳ + ̑ νόμῳ) and fulfil his audience's wishes and expectations (πειρα + ̑σθαι ὑμω + ̑ν τη + ̑ς ἑκάστου βουλήσεώς τε καὶ δόξης τυχει + ̑ν) at least implies his realization that they would be expecting something they would recognize from past examples. And his first topic, praise of ancestors ( 36. 1), is the commonest in all epitaphioi. Later ( 44. 1) he identifies an established topic--commiseration with the bereaved--by repudiating it.
3
Loraux ( The Invention of Athens, 57-60) argues for the 460s as the time of the earliest public epitaphioi, mainly because praise of democratic institutions fits this period better than an earlier one. But there is little evidence that Athens' young democracy was in any way suppressed before that time. It is, however, interesting that Loraux's argument depends on the assumption that the topoi found in later epitaphioi were the same as those used in the earliest epitaphioi.

-349-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 390

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.