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When Pericles Spoke

In response to:

The Art of Abraham Lincoln from the July 16, 1992 issue

To the Editors:

In his review of Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills [NYR, July 16], James M. McPherson makes an apt comparison between Lincoln’s speech and the Funeral Oration of Pericles as reported by Thucycides. But I noticed, and I suppose many other readers noticed, that he assigns the Periclean speech to 531 BC, a whole century too early.

We can at least be thankful that no classical author ever claimed that Pericles jotted down his notes for the Funeral Oration on the verso of a used sheet of papyrus.

Gordon M. Messing
Emeritus Professor of Classics and Linguistics
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

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