Following the analysis of how tenses helped imbue the deceased’s actions with posthumous presence, this section explores how tenses did the same for the words that the deceased had actually or allegedly spoken while alive. The focus is on the representation of dead orators, both from classical antiquity and from more recent times (in the parlements of France). The tenses with which Du Vair describes both groups tend paradoxically to attribute greater posthumous presence to the more temporally remote group (the ancient orators). Others attributed a stronger posthumous presence to the oratory of recently deceased parlementaires. And, in the paratexts of humanist editions and translations of ancient orators, tenses created an oscillation between (what humanism construed as) present object and absent context, with the once-spoken words sometimes ‘breaking through’ from their originary context into the present.
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