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Thucydides 2.35 and 45.2: against praise

  • R.I. Winton (a1)

Abstract

This paper suggests that two much-discussed passages in Pericles' Funeral Speech in Thucydides Book 2, the first in 2.35.2, the second in 2.45.2, are more closely related than has previously been recognized: both express a negative view of praise - praise of the fallen; and of their widows. It proposes new interpretations of the passages in question: in the first sentence of 35.2 Pericles is contrasting the splendour of the funeral ceremony with the necessary restraint of a funeral speech (which Pericles does not in this chapter imply was a later addition to the former); in the second sentence of 45.2 he seeks to hearten the widows of the fallen by reminding them, first, that marriage has brought them fulfilment as women and, secondly, that they, as Athenian women, can be relied upon to conduct themselves fittingly – in implicit contrast to the most celebrated, and notorious, of Greek women: Helen.

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