They say one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. Which, I suppose, is one of the reasons the living get away with so much.

The original version of that popular little finger-wag was even more restrictive. De mortuis nil nisi bonum, the Romans told us, echoing the ancient Greeks who’d given them the idea: “Of the dead nothing but good is to be said”. In other words, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. ..

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