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Topic of the Month: Renewal Oration
Following the invocation given by Thyatis' chief prelates, acknowledging the Immortals that watch over the empire, Eusebius ascended the lectrum at the centre of the forum, and spoke thusly:
"Most of my predecessors as emperor have praised her who gave us our constitution and laws, as well as those who, before even the rise of the empire, made it our custom to honour those who died in battle. I believe that the value of the contributions made by these persons should be shown by deeds emulating the spirit they embodied, not by words alone, and therefore I might wish that the reputations of these valiant people would not depend upon the quality of my speech. It is difficult to speak well on a subject when one must also strive to convince listeners of the value of what one says. This is especially true when foreigners among the crowd or who may hear accounts of these words might be led by envy to suspect us of exaggeration if they hear anything that surpasses their own experience. However, since custom and tradition demand a speech recognising the courage of the dead, I shall do my best to put into words what is beyond mere words.
"I begin with recognising those in whose path we follow, our revered ancestors. They inhabited this country without interruption for sixteen centuries. It is they who, through their valorous struggles, liberated Thyatis from the yoke of the invader, and who handed her down to us as a free commonwealth. If our ancestors deserve praise, then our fathers deserve great praise as well. For they repelled the ominous assault against our liberty in the middle of the last century, and spared no effort to build up the imperium and leave a strong and vigorous patrimony the present generation. There is hardly a region of our empire which has not been enhanced by the contributions of those of us who are here as well, who have given to our state everything we can, enabling her to depend upon her own resources in both war and peace. The history of the conflicts we have faced in the last decade, and of our resilience in the face of this adversity, is familiar to you all since we have faced these challenges together. But our achievement in overcoming these crises was made possible by the institutions upon which our greatness depends, and the national character of our people. These characteristics are often forgotten, but must be invoked, so that they will be recognised and valued for what they give us. For it is these qualities that made the sacrifices of these fallen men worthy, and thus it is proper to remind us all-citizen and foreign observer alike-of the reasons why these sacrifices were not in vain, but were indeed worthy ones.
"Our constitution and laws do not copy those of neighbouring states or those of the despotic empires which came before us, but instead are of our own design, and are emulated in many lands. The administration of our empire is designed to benefit the many instead of just the few. If we look at our laws, they afford equal justice to all regardless of social station. Advancement in public life is based on reputation for capacity and merit, not class considerations or inborn talent unrelated to the position. Not even poverty bars the way, if a man is able to contribute by skill and diligence, he is not hindered from doing so because of social barriers to advancement. We promote liberty and are tolerant in our private lives; but in public affairs we keep to the law. This is because it commands our deep respect. In public affairs, we give our obedience to those whom we put in positions of authority, and we obey the laws themselves, especially those enacted for the protection of the downtrodden. We do so whether these laws are in the statutes or belong to those unwritten laws which it is an acknowledged shame to break-the laws of virtue.
"But we also provide plenty of means for relaxation, living not just in duty and service. We celebrate games and holidays throughout the year, and the elegance of our private establishments provides a daily source of relief from the burdens of work and duty. Our public structures and monuments provide a visible display of the quality of our arts and the expertise of our people, as they are built not so much by magical artifice but by our own skill foremost. Magic is used in our crafts only to complement the skill of our people rather than to replace it. The magnitude of our city brings the produce of the world into our harbour, so that the fruits of other nations are as available to us as our own.
"Nor are these the only attributes that make our city worthy of respect. We cultivate refinement without wasteful extravagance, and knowledge without effeteness. Our public officials do not set themselves apart from common affairs, while our citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of enterprise, have a voice in political deliberations, uniting us with a common bond. In our endeavours we use both daring and deliberation to achieve efficient results. We admire those among us who know the difference between hardship and pleasure but do not shrink from danger. In generosity, we are also unrivalled, insuring that all have enough to eat and that their basic needs are accounted for.
"If we turn to our other policies, here too we differ from our antagonists. We throw open our city to the world, and never exclude foreign persons or ideas from any opportunity in our commonwealth. We benefit greatly from the influx of new ideas and vigorous persons. Our sense of liberty is combined with an understanding of personal responsibility and a sense of duty. This allows us to live our lives as we please while still rising to meet every occasion to preserve our empire. No enemy has ever yet extinguished our united resolve or subdued our resiliency. We give accolades to our forces when they achieve victory, but share the responsibility for setbacks rather than engaging in finger-pointing and recriminations.
"We have spread civilisation throughout the known world, while simultaneously buffering it from the impositions and attacks of our rivals. Our country produces men of versatility who are able to overcome any difficulty through application of a clever mind. This is no mere boast, either, but instead a simple matter of fact as evidenced by the survival and prosperity of our empire, founded on these habits, through the grave adversities we have faced throughout the millennium of our history. The fact that we have overcome these adversities and risen to overcome every challenge is a sign of the mettle of our people when put to the test. For it is Thyatis alone which is found to be greater than her reputation, and which alone does not subjugate those she has vanquished, but rather accepts them as equal citizens to make their contributions to our empire, measured only by merit. This unites all our people in a true commonwealth. This is the Thyatis that those men, in their resolve not to lose her, nobly fought and died, and for which every one of us must likewise prepared to suffer in her cause.
"Indeed, if I have spent much time describing the nature of our empire and her people, it is to show the stake in defending her. It is to demonstrate how sacrifices on behalf of Thyatis are different from those of others who have no such blessings to lose and thus who sell their lives in vain for no reason. The Thyatis that we commemorate is only what the heroism of her people made it, and whose fame, unlike those of most nations with inflated reputations, is no greater than what is deserved. We believe that the greatness of the country is more advantageous to its citizens than any individual richness coupled with public humiliation. A man may be personally well off, but if the country is ruined then he will be ruined with it, but a flourishing commonwealth always provides chances to unfortunate individuals.
"There is some justice in the belief that the steadfastness of our people's resolve in the battles we have faced should cloak whatever imperfections we have, since our good actions have surpassed the bad, and the merits of our citizens more than outweigh whatever deficiencies they may have. None of these hallowed dead allowed hazards or fear to cause them to waver in their duty, instead they willingly met the risk, acting boldly and trusting in themselves and their fellows. They met danger and overwhelming odds face to face, and in one brief but shining moment left behind them not their fears or flaws, but their everlasting glory.
"You, the survivors, should reflect upon what is owed to the sacrifice of those who died, and resolve to be deserving of their efforts. Let the love for the empire that these brave and noble men found worthy of fighting and dying for fill your hearts. When the recognition of the greatness of our empire dawns upon you, reflect that the courage, sense of duty, and honourable deeds of these men generated the greatness of our country. For this sacrifice of the most valuable thing they had to offer, made by them all in common gives each of them individually a renown that will never age. Their tomb is not a vault, in which their bones lay, but is instead the noblest of sepulchres, the eternal remembrance of their bravery in every occasion in which the story of their deeds shall be told. For heroes have the entire world for their tomb, even in lands far from their own, because there is enshrined within every breast an unwritten record with no monument to preserve it except for the soul. Let the example set by these fallen men guide your actions, and judge happiness to be the fruit of liberty, and liberty to be the fruit of valour, and never avoid the hardships of war. For the miserable are not these who died, but those who fail to have such resolve. People who waver in the face of adversity have nothing to live for. Instead it is those for whom life may bring reverses as yet unknown, but who would face them resolutely, who will have led a life worthy of commemoration even if it is cut short.
"Turning to the sons and brothers of the dead, you have a difficult struggle before you. For you must carry on in the wake of these sacrifices, and restore that which the killers of these men have despoiled in their passage through our lands. Born, however, as you are, citizens of a great state, and brought up, as you have been, with habits equal to your birth, you should be ready to face the greatest disasters and still keep intact the lustre of your name. For the widows and daughters of these men, great will be your own glory in not falling short of your natural character, to carry on as well, and let no one say ill of your lost beloved. And for those who have lost both parents and been orphaned, as always the state owes you a debt that can never be repaid in full, but as always we shall look after your upbringing, and insure you suffer no want. May the blessings of the Immortals be with you all."