Menander Rhetor, Treatise 2

LCL 539: 278-279




1. Λέγεται μὲν παρ’ Ἀθηναίοις ἐπιτάφιος ὁ καθ’ ἕκαστον ἐνιαυτὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς πεπτωκόσιν ἐν τοῖς πολέμοις λεγόμενος λόγος, εἴληφε δὲ τὴν προσηγορίαν οὐδαμόθεν ἄλλοθεν ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ λέγεσθαι ἐπ’ αὐτῷ τῷ σήματι, οἷοί εἰσιν οἱ τρεῖς Ἀριστείδου λόγοι· οἵους γὰρ ἂν εἶπεν ὁ πολέμαρχος, ἐπειδὴ καὶ τούτῳ τὸ τῆς τιμῆς ταύτης ἀποδέδοται παρ’ Ἀθηναίοις, τοιούτους ὁ σοφιστὴς συνέταξεν. 2. ἐκνενίκηκε δὲ διὰ τὸ χρόνον πολὺν παρεληλυθέναι ἐγκώμιον γενέσθαι· τίς γὰρ ἂν ἔτι θρηνήσειε παρ’ Ἀθηναίοις τοὺς πρὸ πεντακοσίων ἐτῶν πεπτωκότας; Θουκυδίδης δὲ λέγων ἐπιτάφιον ἐπὶ τοῖς πεσοῦσιν ἐπὶ τοῖς Ῥειτοῖς κατ’ ἀρχὰς τοῦ Πελοποννησιακοῦ πολέμου οὐχ ἁπλῶς ἐγκώμιον μόνον εἶπε τῶν ἀνδρῶν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπεσημήνατο ὅτι πεσεῖν ἐδύναντο· ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ θρήνου τόπον ἐφυλάξατο διὰ τοῦ πολέμου τὴν χρείαν, οὐ γὰρ ἦν ῥήτορος <ποιεῖν>1 δακρύειν οὓς προετρέπετο πολεμεῖν· ἔθηκε δὲ τὸν ἀπὸ τῆς παραμυθίας τόπον.

  • 1suppl. RW



1. “Funeral speech” (epitaphios logos) is the name given in Athens to the speech delivered each year over those who have fallen in war. It is so named simply because it isspoken over the actual grave. Examples are the three speeches of Aristides,1 for the sophist composed his speeches like ones that would have been delivered in Athens by the polemarch, to whom this honor is assigned. 2. But over the long course of time, it has evolved into an encomium, for who in Athens would still lament those who had fallen five hundred years before?2 When Thucydides composed his Funeral Oration3 over the fallen at Rheiti4 at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, he did not simply deliver an encomium of the men, but made the point that they had dared to fall in battle.5 He also avoided the topic of lament because of the demands of the war, for it was not the task of an orator to bring to tears those whom he was exhorting to fight. He did, however, include the topic of consolation.6

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.menander_rhetor-treatise_2.2019