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Style, etc.

Lycurgus is called a pupil of Isocrates; whether he was actually a student under the great master we cannot be sure, but undoubtedly he had studied the master's works. The influence of the Panegyric may be traced here and there in the forms of sentences and in certain terms of speech which are characteristic of the epideictic style. Blass and others have drawn attention to isolated sentences in the speech against Leocrates which might have been deliberately modelled, with only the necessary changes of words for the different circumstances, on sentences in Isocrates.1 The employment of a pair of synonyms, or words of similar sense, where one would suffice, also belongs to this style (compare p. 134, above) — e.g. safeguard and protect, § 3; infamous and inglorious, § 91; greatheartedness and nobility, § 100.

With these we must class such phrases as τὰ κοινὰ τῶν ἀδικημάτων for τὰ κοινὰ ἀδικήματα2 (§ 6), and the employment of abstract words in the plural, as εὔνοιαι, φόβοι, § 48, 43.

Lycurgus is very variable with regard to hiatus. In some instances he has deliberately avoided it by slight distortions of the natural order of words;3 in some passages he has been able to avoid it without any dislocation of order—a work of greater skill;4 but again there are sentences where the sequences of open vowels are frequent and harsh.5 Other instances of careless writing may be found in the inartistic joining of sentences and clauses, for instance in §§ 49-50, where several successive clauses are connected by γάρ,6 or in the clumsy accumulation of participles, as in § 93.7 We must conclude that Lycurgus, though so familiar with the characteristics of Isocratean prose as to reproduce them by unconscious imitation, was too much interested in his subject to care about being a stylist; and that though, like Demosthenes, he wrote his speeches out, he really belongs rather to the class of improvisatory speakers like Phocion.

His tendency towards the epideictic style is also seen in his treatment of his subject-matter; thus §§ 46-51 are nothing but a condensed funeral speech on those who died at Chaeronea. It is introduced with an apology (§ 46); it may seem irrelevant, he says, but it is frankly introduced to point the contrast between the patriot and the traitor. The concluding sections of the eulogy are as follows:

“And if I may use a paradox which is bold but nevertheless true, they were victorious in death. For to brave men the prizes of war are freedom and valour; for both of these the dead may possess. And further, we may not say that our defeat was due to them, whose spirits never quailed before the terror of the enemy's approach; for to those who fall nobly in battle, and to them alone, can no man justly ascribe defeat; for fleeing from slavery they make choice of a noble death. The valour of these men is a proof, for they alone of all in Greece had freedom in their bodies; for as they passed from life all Greece passed into slavery; for the freedom of the rest of the Greeks was buried in the same tomb with their bodies. Hence they proved to all that they were not warring for their personal ends, but facing danger for the general safety. So, Gentlemen, I need not be ashamed of saying that their souls are the garland on the brows of their country.

This, with the exception of a slight imperfection of style already noticed, is good in its way, in the style which tradition had established as appropriate to such subjects. It is less conventional and, in spite of its bold metaphors, less insincere than Gorgias, avoiding as it does the extravagance of his antithetical style.

But in spite of the speaker's apology we feel that it is out of place, and its effect is spoiled by the use to which it is put in the argumentative passage which immediately follows:

“And because they showed reason in the exercise of their courage, you, men of Athens, alone of all the Greeks, know how to honour noble men. In other States you will find memorials of athletes in the market-places; in Athens such records are of good generals and of those who slew the tyrant. Search the whole of Greece and you will barely find a few men such as these, while in every quarter you will easily find men who have won garlands for success in athletic contests. So, as you bestow the highest honours on your benefactors, you have a right to inflict the severest punishments on those by whom their country is dishonoured and betrayed.

His use of examples from ancient history is similar to that of Isocrates, e.g. in the Philip and the Panegyric; but many of these episodes are forcibly dragged into a trial of the kind with which Lycurgus was concerned, whereas those of Isocrates always help to convey the lesson which he is trying to enforce. Thus the following passage, which succeeds a quotation from Homer, leads up to a digression on Tyrtaeus, accompanied by a lengthy quotation from his works. There is only a bare pretence that all this has anything to do with the case:

“Hearing these lines and emulating such actions, our ancestors were so disposed towards manly courage that they were content to die not only for their own fatherland but for all Greece, as their common fatherland. Those, at any rate, who faced the barbarians at Marathon, conquered the armament of all Asia, by their individual sacrifice gaining security for all the Greeks in common, priding themselves not upon their fame but on doing deeds worthy of their country, setting themselves up as champions of the Greeks and masters of the barbarians; for they made no nominal profession of courage, but gave an actual display of it to all the world.

Here Lycurgus has reverted to the antithetical style of Antiphon, the opposition of ‘word’ and ‘deed,’ ‘private’ and ‘public,’ and the like. We are also from time to time reminded of Antiphon by the prominence given in the Leocrates to religious considerations. The digressions may be partly explained by the speaker's avowed motive in introducing some of them —his wish to be an educator. He introduces a very moral tale of a young Sicilian who, tarrying behind to save his father, on the occasion of an eruption of Etna, was providentially saved while all the others perished. This is his excuse—‘The story may be legendary, but it will be appropriate for all the younger men to hear it now’ (§ 95); and the manner of the lecturer is evident elsewhere—‘There are three influences above all which guard and protect the democracy and the welfare of the city,’ etc. ‘There are two things which educate our youth:—the punishment of evil-doers and the rewards bestowed on good men.’8

Quite apart fron these decorative digressions, Lycurgus admits into his ordinary discourse poetical phrases and metaphors which the stricter taste of Isocrates would have excluded. The bold personifications in his epilogue and elsewhere are cases in point:

‘So imagine, Athenians, that the land and its trees are supplicating you; that the harbours, the dockyards, and the walls of the city are imploring you; that the temples and holy places are urging you to come to their help.’9

Lycurgus must have tried the patience of his hearers by his lengthy quotations from the poets. No other orator, perhaps, would have dared to recite fifty-five lines of Euripides and to follow them, after a short extract from Homer, with thirty-two lines of Tyrtaeus. Aeschines, no doubt, was fond of quoting, but his extracts are comparatively short and generally to the point; he can make good use of a single couplet. Demosthenes too, in capping his great adversary's quotations, observed moderation and season. But the long quotations in Lycurgus are superfluous; that from Euripides is a mere excrescence, for he has already summarized in half a dozen lines the story from which he draws his moral; and the only purpose in telling the story at all is to introduce the refrain ‘Leocrates is quite a different kind of person.’

In this matter Lycurgus lacks taste—that is to say, he lacks a sense of proportion; but for all that he is felt to be speaking naturally quite according to his own character; he is attaining the highest ethos by being himself. We know his interest in the tragedians from the fact that he caused an official copy of the plays to be preserved; and though religious motives would suffice to account for this decree, probably personal feeling, the statesman's private affection for the works which he thus perpetuated, to some degree influenced his judgment.

Though he may be unskilful, if judged by technical standards, Lycurgus impresses us by his dignified manner. He will not condescend to any rhetorical device which might detract from this dignity. He has no personal abuse for his opponent; he promises to keep to the specific charge with which the trial is concerned (§ 11), and at the end of the speech can justly claim that he has done so (§ 149). Though it may lay him open to the suspicion of sycophancy, he disclaims any personal enmity against Leocrates; he professes to be impelled entirely by patriotic motives, and we believe him (§ 5). He may seem to us excessively severe; we may regard the crime of Leocrates as nothing worse than cowardice; but we are convinced that to Lycurgus it appeared as the greatest of all crimes; and the Athenian assembly too was apparently so convinced.10

Failure in patriotism was to Lycurgus an offence against religion, and religion has the utmost prominence in his speech. There can be no doubt of his sincerity. The court of the Areopagus, which was more directly under religious protection and more closely concerned with religious questions than any other court, is mentioned by him with almost exaggerated praise.11 The Areopagus was very highly respected by all Athenians, but it was not a democratic court; it was a survival from pre-democratic days. An orator who only wished to propitiate the good-will of his popular audience would praise not the old aristocratic court but the modern popular assembly before which he was speaking. Lycurgus gives praise and blame where he thinks them due. He is by no means satisfied with the democratic courts.

“I too, shall follow justice in my prosecution, neither falsifying anything, nor speaking of matters extraneous to the case. For most of those who come before you behave in the most inappropriate fashion; for they either give you advice about public interests, or bring charges, true or false, of every possible kind rather than the one on which you are to be called on to give your verdict.

There is no difficulty in either of these courses; it is as easy to utter an opinion about a matter on which you are not deliberating as it is to make accusations which nobody is going to answer. But it is not just to ask you to give a verdict in accordance with justice when they observe no justice in making their accusations. And you are responsible for this abuse, for it is you who have given this licence to those who appear before you. . . .

The whole speech is pervaded by references to religion; Rehdantz has noted that the word θεός occurs no less than thirty-three times; and other words of religious import are very frequent, though the orator never uses ejaculations such as the γῆ καὶ θεοί of Demosthenes. This reiteration is of less significance than the serious tone of the passages in which such references occur; his opening sentences indicate the attitude which he is to maintain:

“Justice and Piety will be satisfied, men of Athens, by the prosecution which I shall institute, on your behalf and on behalf of the gods, against the defendant Leocrates. For I pray to Athena and the other gods, and to the heroes whose statues stand in the city and in the country, that if I have justly impeached Leocrates; if I am bringing to trial the betrayer of their temples, their shrines and their sanctuaries, and the sacrifices ordained by the laws, handed down to you by your forefathers, they may make me to-day a prosecutor worthy of his offences, as the interests of the people and the city demand; and that you, remembering that your deliberations are concerned with your fathers, your children, your wives, your country, and your religion, and that you have at the mercy of your vote the man who betrayed them all, may prove relentless judges, both now and for all time to come, in dealing with offenders of this kind and degree. But if the man whom I bring to trial before this assembly is not one who has betrayed his fatherland and deserted the city and her holy observances, I pray that he may be saved from this danger both by the gods and by you, his judges.

Passages later in the speech deepen this impression, and contain definite statements of belief which we cannot disregard:

“For the first act of the gods is to lead astray the mind of the wicked man; and I think that some of the ancient poets were prophets when they left behind them for future generations such lines as these:

For when God's wrath afflicteth any man,
By his own act his wits are led astray,
And his straight judgment warped to crooked ways,
That, sinning, he may know not of his sin.12

The older men among you remember, the younger have heard, the story of Callistratus, whom the city condemned to death. He fled the country, and hearing the god at Delphi declare that if he went to Athens he would obtain his due, he came here, and took sanctuary at the altar of the twelve gods; but none the less he was put to death by the city.

This was just; for a criminal's due is punishment. And the god rightly gave up the wrong-doer to be punished by those whom he had wronged; for it would be strange if he revealed the same signs to the pious and the wicked.’

But I am of opinion, Gentlemen, that the god's care watches over every human action, particularly those concerned with our parents and the dead, and our pious duty towards them; and naturally so, for they are the authors of our being, and have conferred innumerable blessings on us, so that it is an act of monstrous impiety, I will not say to sin against them, but even to refuse to squander our own lives in benefiting them.

The following fragment deserves quotation as an example of his dignified severity:

‘You were a general, Lysicles; a thousand of your fellow citizens met their death, two thousand were made prisoners, and our enemies have set up a trophy of victory over Athens, and all Greece is enslaved; all this happened under your leadership and generalship; and yet do you dare to live and face the sun's light, and invade the market-place—you, who have become a memorial of disgrace and reproach to your country?’ (Against Lysicles, fr. 75.)

1 E.g. compare § 3,ἐβουλόμην δ᾽ ἄν, ὥσπερ όυφέλιμόν ἐστι”, etc., with Isocr. viii. (de Pace), § 36,ἠβουλόμην δ᾽ ἄν, ὥσπερ προσῆκόν έστιν”, etc. also § 7 with Isocr. vii. (Areopagiticus), § 43, etc.

2 This circumlocution may have been employed originally for the avoidance of hiatus, as in the example quoted, and in § 111,τὰ καλὰ τῶν ἔργων”; it is, however, also used in cases where no such consideration enters, e.g. § 48,τοὺς ποιητοὺς τῶν πατέρων”.

3 E.g. § 7,οὐ μικρόν τι μέρος συνέχει τῶν τῆς πόλεως, οὐδ᾽ ἐπ᾽ όλιγὸν χρόνον”, where συνέχει οὐδ᾽ is deliberately avoided.

4 E.g. §§ 71-73.

5 E.g. § 143,καὶ αὐτίκα μάλ᾽ ὑμᾶς ἀξιώσει ἀκούειν αὐτοῦ ἀπολογουμένου”. § 20,πολλοὶ ἐπείσθησαν τῶν μαρτύρων αμνημονεῖν μὴ έλθεῖν ἑτέραν πρόφασιν εὑρεῖν”.

6 See the translation below.

7 φυγόντα, καὶ . . . ἀκούσαντα . . ., ἀφικόμενον καὶ . . . καταφυγόντα, καὶ οὐδὲν ἦττον . . . ἀποθανόντα.

8 §§ 3, 10; cf. also § 79.

9 § 150, cf. also § 43. ‘He contributed nothing to the nation's safety, at a time when the country was contributing her trees, the dead their sepulchres, and the temples their arms.’ And § 17,οὔτε τοὺς λιμένας τῆς πόλεως ἐλεῶν”; § 61,πόλεώς ἐστι θάνατος ἀνάστατον γενέσθαι”. Hyperides has a similarly bold expression, ‘Condemning the city to death.’

10 Leocrates was acquitted by one vote only.

11 § 12. ‘It is so far superior to other courts that even those who are convicted before it do not question its justice. You should take it as your model.’

12 Apparently from a tragedy, but not otherwise known

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