How does the funeral oration relate to democracy in ancient Greece? How did the death of an individual citizen-soldier become an occasion to praise the city of Athens? In The Invention of Athens, Nicole Loraux traces the different rhetoric, politics, and ideology of funeral orations from Thucidydes, Gorgias, Lysias, and Demosthenes to Plato.
This new edition of The Invention of Athens includes Loraux’s significant revisions undertaken in 1993 to render this groundbreaking work accessible to nonspecialists. Loraux’s introduction to this revised volume, as well as important revisions to the existent 1986 English translation, make this publication an important addition to scholarship in the humanities and the social sciences.
“In The Invention of Athens, her astonishing first book, Nicole Loraux launched her imaginative exploration of Greek — and more particularly Athenian — self-representations: in this case, through the funeral oration. Coordinating past, present, and future generations, the funeral oration emerges in Loraux’s account as the state institution and genre through which official memory is performed, cultivated, and transmitted. In her brilliant anatomy of the institution and genre of the epitaphios, Loraux illuminates the politics, myths, and gendered discourses and institutions of Antiquity. Loraux shows us again and again how the field of representation, particularly as it emerges in a democratic terrain, is the field of contest. Loraux’s work was always concerned with the politics of memory — What shall be remembered? And how? And by whom? And for whom? — the way in which the city represents itself, how it constitutes itself, how it remembers and members itself are among Loraux’s central preoccupations, and she makes them ours. Confounding those who defensively police the boundaries of their disciplines, Loraux unapologetically ranges among history, philology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, literary studies, and studies of myth and ritual. Loraux acknowledges the ‘risk that anyone working on the edges of a discipline must incur’ — as she wrote in her introduction to The Invention of Athens, ‘we no longer believe naively that we are the posterity whom the orators exhorted to remember Athens.’” — Laura Slatkin, author of The Power of Thetis: Allusion and Interpretation in the Iliad