Steven Runciman - Proem: The problem of Oratory: being a brief thesis on the World, oral, written and remembered; in a word History.
From the New Griffon, A Gennadius Library Publication, American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Editor: Haris A. Kalligas, Director, Gennadius Library. Athens 2002.
STEVEN RUNCIMAN APPROVED OF Oratory in principle, so long as speeches were not too long, not too heavy, and delivered at the right time and place. His first advice to me was in the House by Herod's Gate in Jerusalem in 1942, when he advised against my using terms I learned from my friend the kitchen boy below, in the salon above, where Miss Stark might misunderstand them, for her Arabic was classical. That was one way Steven put the story (he had a more racy version) but I am grateful that it entered Runciman's canon, for it gives authority to an event of which I confess no memory. But his second piece of advice was in 1967 and comes oratio recta. In examination of my Oxford D.Phil, thesis, he picked the thing up wearily and said: "Awfully long and heavy, Mr Bryer. I trust you are not going to publish it". I wish I had taken that advice too in the Gennadius Library. His friends knew that Steven's apparently extempore speeches were a test of memory - his grace was natural. His formal oratory was picked out painfully with one finger on the typewriter, where you can still hear his voice. In the party in the Gennadeion, I compromised with an index card of headings to speak to. Now Dr Harris Kalligas kindly asks me to contribute what I said, on paper. Is this how Cicero or the Chrysostom did it? What is History, oral, written or reconstructed? Other speakers at the Gennadius Library gave measured and authentic papers, such as on Runciman and History (on which I write elsewhere for the British Academy). All I can find in my pocket is a card reading:
"I. STEVEN AND PARTIES;
II. STEVEN AND LEAR;
III. STEVEN AND ATHENS.
Add CONSISTENCY passim ". Here goes –