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____________________