I should say we made a pilgrimage to Keramikos because this is where - according to Thucydides - Pericles made his famous speech over the graves of young Athenian men who had died in the first years of the Peloponnesian War. Here are a few lines from Pericles' speech:"But before I praise the dead, I should like to point out by what principles of action we rose ~ to power, and under what institutions and through what manner of life our empire became great. For I conceive that such thoughts are not unsuited to the occasion, and that this numerous assembly of citizens and strangers may profitably listen to them.
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others.
Our government does not copy our neighbors', but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private business we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes; we do not put on sour looks at him which, though harmless, are not pleasant.
While we are thus unconstrained in our private business, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws, having a particular regard to those which are ordained for the protection of the injured as well as those unwritten laws which bring upon the transgressor of them the reprobation of the general sentiment."
Pericles' funeral oration was the inspiration for Lincoln's Gettysburg Address - considered by many to be the finest speech in English and the cemetery of Kerameikos is said to have inspired the cemetery movement that produced Pere Lachaise in Paris, Cristobol Colon in Havana and the Necropolis in Lvov
The tram maintenance buildings near Kerameikos are covered with colourful murals and many of the streets in the area have become the canvas for graffitti artists.