Memorials of Eternal Words

Demosthenes, Funeral Oration, 35

“It is a hard thing for a mother and father to lose their children and to be deprived of their loved ones’ care in their old age; but it is a sacred comfort to see their offspring earn ageless honors and a public memorial of their virtue, when they are considered worthy of immortal sacrifices and contests. It is painful for children to become orphaned from their father; but it is ennobling to receive a share of their parent’s glory.”

χαλεπὸν πατρὶ καὶ μητρὶ παίδων στερηθῆναι καὶ ἐρήμοις εἶναι τῶν οἰκειοτάτων γηροτρόφων· σεμνὸν δέ γ᾿ ἀγήρως τιμὰς καὶ μνήμην ἀρετῆς δημοσίᾳ κτησαμένους ἐπιδεῖν, καὶ θυσιῶν καὶ ἀγώνων ἠξιωμένους ἀθανάτων. λυπηρὸν παισὶν ὀρφανοῖς γεγενῆσθαι πατρός· καλὸν δέ γε κληρονομεῖν πατρῴας εὐδοξίας.

Plutarch, Sayings of the Spartans, 251 Agesliaos

“When he was sailing back from Egypt, he began to die. He was telling those near him that a painting, or picture, or any statue of his body was not to be made, saying, “if I have accomplished anything good, let that be my memorial. If I have not, all the statues and the works of craftsmen will be worth nothing at all.”

Κατὰ δὲ τὸν Αἰγύπτου1ἀπόπλουν ἀποθνῄσκων ἐνετείλατο τοῖς περὶ αὐτὸν μήτε πλαστὰν μήτε γραπτὰν μήτε μιμηλὰν τοῦ σώματος εἰκόνα ποιήσασθαι, “εἰ γάρ τι καλὸν ἔργον πεποίηκα, τοῦτό μου μνημεῖον ἔσται· εἰ δὲ μή, οὐδ᾿ οἱ πάντες ἀνδριάντες, βαναύσων καὶ οὐδενὸς ἀξίων ἔργα ὄντες.”

Seneca, De Consolatione ad Polybium 2

“Extend the memory of your brother with some memorial of your writing: this is the only thing in human affairs which no storm can weaken and no expanse of time can consume. The rest—those made through the mounding of marble and stones or building up tombs of earth—they don’t last beyond a long day, since they will perish too. But creativity’s memory meets no death.”

Fratris quoque tui produc memoriam aliquo scriptorum monimento tuorum; hoc enim unum est in rebus humanis opus, cui nulla tempestas noceat, quod nulla consumat vetustas. Cetera, quae per constructionem lapidum et marmoreas moles aut terrenos tumulos in magnam eductos altitudinem constant, non propagant longam diem, quippe et ipsa intereunt; immortalis est ingeni memoria.

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Thucydides, 2.43.3 (Perikles’ Funeral Oration)

 

“The whole earth is the tomb of heroes: their epitaph shines out not just for local attention, but their unwritten memory lives on in the esteem of each man more than on any monument.”

 

ἀνδρῶν γὰρ ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος, καὶ οὐ στηλῶν μόνον ἐν τῇ οἰκείᾳ σημαίνει ἐπιγραφή, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῇ μὴ προσηκούσῃ ἄγραφος μνήμη παρ᾽ ἑκάστῳ τῆς γνώμης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ ἔργου ἐνδιαιτᾶται.

 

Xenophon, Symposium 1.1

 

“In addition to their consequential deeds, the other acts of great men, even those in jest, are worth remembering.”

 

Ἀλλ᾿ ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ τῶν καλῶν κἀγαθῶν ἀνδρῶν ἔργα οὐ μόνον τὰ μετὰ σπουδῆς πραττόμενα ἀξιομνημόνευτα εἶναι ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ ἐν ταῖς παιδιαῖς