Saturday, May 20, 2017

An Oath of Not Remembering

From After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars by Paul Cartledge.
One absolutely key way in which the Athenians dragged themselves out of the mire of civil bloodshed and internecine hatred was by imposing upon themselves a great oath, an oath of forgetting - or, as they put it the other way round, "not-remembering." That is, in the sight of the gods as witnesses, they publicly and collectively threw a veil over the black deeds of especially those Athenians who in a frenzy of ideological madness had embraced the most extreme form of anti-democracy. Strict observance of this oath of Amnesty was put under great strain in the coming decades, but nonetheless it did still, just, hold. Even non- or anti-democrats such as Xenophon were loud in their praise of the Athenians for that achievement, and rightly so.
Not dissimilar to modern day Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. But what an example. An Oath of Not Remembering.

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