Libanius, from the funeral Oration for the Emperor Julianus

“Right were it, my friends, that the thing for which I and all mankind were praying, had been accomplished-that the power of the Persians had ere this been overthrown; that Romans, in the place of Satraps, were governing and administering their country according to our laws; that our temples at home should be decorated with the trophies brought from thence, whilst he that had achieved this success, seated on his imperial throne, should be receiving our panegyrics upon his victory; for so were it, I ween, but just and proper, and a fit return for the numerous sacrifices which he had offered. But since an evil daimon hath proved stronger than our well-founded hopes, and he has been carried back from the confines of Babylon a corpse, who had come so near to the accomplishment of his enterprise, whilst all the tears it was natural to drop have been shed by every eye, and it is not in our power to prevent the end-let us do what is left for us, and, at the same time, the most acceptable service to him who is no more; before a different kind of audience let us discourse upon his achievements, since he himself has been debarred upon hearing our eulogy upon the deeds he has performed.
For, in the first place, we should be unjust if, after he had braved every danger for the sake of gaining praise, we on our side should defraud him of the prize of his exploits; and secondly, it were the basest of conduct, that he, when dead, should not receive the same homage wherewith we honoured him when living, besides its being an act of the lowest sycophancy to pay court to those who survive, but to forget those who are departed. As for the living, though one should not gain their favour by means of speech, yet one can do so in many other ways; but with respect to those who are gone, one way only is left to us, namely, eulogies and speeches handing down their virtuous actions to all time to come”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s