Let me start off today with the very happy news that Lauren made it through the night. She's still alive, and I could not be happier, nor more proud. She contacted me late last night, and it was such a relief. Thank you, everyone, for the supportive messages. In yesterday's emotional blog post, I quickly brought up the epitaphios logos (ἐπιτάφιος λόγος). I did not have the faculties to fully address its purpose and form yesterday, so I thought I would do it today.

The epitaphios logos, or funerary oration, was deemed an indispensable component of the funeral ritual, especially in ancient Athens, where it came into practice around 470 BC for the honored (war) dead. A large part of Hellenic rituals of the dead speak of honoring the dead by name, so their names will never be forgotten, their honor never lost. This practice starts with the epitaphios logos, in which the deceased is remembered for their greatest of deeds.

Because Plato was eternally weary of the abilities of others to conduct the oration in the way it was intended, he made a guide for it, describing the four steps. My interpretation yesterday would probably upset him, but perhaps my zeal would have been enough to placate the master of words. In this abridged version of the oration of Aspasia the Milesian, he explains what the key components of the oration are by noting down an oration in full. From Plato's Menexenus:

"If I remember rightly, she began as follows, with the mention of the dead:—(Thucyd.)

There is a tribute of deeds and of words. The departed have already had the first, when going forth on their destined journey they were attended on their way by the state and by their friends; the tribute of words remains to be given to them, as is meet and by law ordained. For noble words are a memorial and a crown of noble actions, which are given to the doers of them by the hearers. A word is needed which will duly praise the dead and gently admonish the living, exhorting the brethren and descendants of the departed to imitate their virtue, and consoling their fathers and mothers and the survivors, if any, who may chance to be alive of the previous generation. What sort of a word will this be, and how shall we rightly begin the praises of these brave men? In their life they rejoiced their own friends with their valour, and their death they gave in exchange for the salvation of the living. And I think that we should praise them in the order in which nature made them good, for they were good because they were sprung from good fathers. Wherefore let us first of all praise the goodness of their birth; secondly, their nurture and education; and then let us set forth how noble their actions were, and how worthy of the education which they had received.

And first as to their birth. [...] The country is worthy to be praised, not only by us, but by all mankind; first, and above all, as being dear to the Gods. [...] Thus born into the world and thus educated, the ancestors of the departed lived and made themselves a government, which I ought briefly to commemorate. For government is the nurture of man, and the government of good men is good, and of bad men bad. And I must show that our ancestors were trained under a good government, and for this reason they were good, and our contemporaries are also good, among whom our departed friends are to be reckoned. 

[...] This, O ye children and parents of the dead, is the message which they bid us deliver to you, and which I do deliver with the utmost seriousness. And in their name I beseech you, the children, to imitate your fathers, and you, parents, to be of good cheer about yourselves; for we will nourish your age, and take care of you both publicly and privately in any place in which one of us may meet one of you who are the parents of the dead. [...] Considering this, you ought to bear your calamity the more gently; for thus you will be most endeared to the dead and to the living, and your sorrows will heal and be healed. And now do you and all, having lamented the dead in common according to the law, go your ways." 

From this we can distil the key features of the epitaphios logos. It started with the preamble, which describes why this oration is held and how the audience should behave during it and after it. This part tends to include an apology from the speaker that he or she will never do true justice to the achievements of the dead. Following that, there is a long talk of the origin and ancestors of the deceased, followed by an account of the bravery and other good attributes of the dead. this part tended to include they devotion to the Athenian Polity. Finaly, there was an epilogue, which constitutes a consolation and an encouragement for the families of the dead. The epilogue employs a traditional dismissal of the mourners.

In the greater narrative, the epitaphios logos was used mostly to praise the city of Athens and remember all their victories in war, but many examples of these orations have been found addressing loved ones and speaking the best of them out of a deep connection to the person, not the city they lived in. In this regard, they are very similar to the modern eulogy.

The epitaphios logos was almost solely used for the dead of war, but in this modern age, with the freedom to stretch these cultureal limits, we can count depression and the battle with suicide as a personal war. There is no dishonor in losing your life to it, and you will not--should not--be mourned over it any less. When I thought my brave and beautiful friend was dead, I could not but help consider her a fallen warrior, and she deserved an oration, even if Plato would have disapproved.