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The variation of sentence-construction is a minor help towards the delineation of character—a necessary part of the business of a professional speech-writer who tries to be realistic. But, in order that the speech may seem appropriate to the speaker, it is necessary that not only his words and phrases but his sentiments should be consonant with his character. This effect Lysias attempted to produce, and he is credited with having attained great success.

We may to some extent discover from the speeches what was the nature of the speakers, but not altogether, for we have no indication as to tone or manner of delivery.

However, from data of various kinds, we can form conceptions of many of the speakers. Thus the defendant on a charge of receiving bribes (Or. xxi.) gives a long and prosy catalogue of his services to the State, with an account of the moneys that he has spent on liturgies (§§ 1-10); all this leads up to his conclusion that he, who desired little for himself and expended all his fortune for his country's good, had no inducement to take bribes to injure her.

From the Mantitheus we get quite a vivid and pleasing picture of a young Athenian of good birth and breeding, who ingenuously admits to having some fashionable affectations and owns to an overpowering ambition to distinguish himself as a speaker in the ecclesia, as he has already done good service in the field.

The speech throughout is frank and self-confident, but not by any means boastful:

“From such records as these you ought to judge a man who in his public life is guided by ambition combined with moderation; you ought not to detest a man because he does his hair in the fashionable way: such habits hurt nobody personally, and do no harm to the community; while all of you alike are benefited by those who willingly face your enemies. So it is not fair either to love or to hate any one on account of his looks; you should judge by his actions. Many people who talk little and dress quietly have been the authors of great harm, while others who do not affect such deportment have done you great services. . . .

I have observed, too, that some people are offended with me because I have ventured to speak in public when I am in their opinion too young: but in the first place I have been forced to speak publicly about matters which concern me, and besides, I think I am by nature somewhat excessively ambitious.

I reflect that my ancestors have never ceased to serve the State, and—to be candid—I observe that you think that such people alone deserve your notice.

Seeing that such is your opinion, who would not be encouraged to act and speak on the State's behalf? And why should you be displeased with those who do so? No one else has a right to judge them; it is for you alone.

A very different picture is that of the cripple (Oration xxiv.) who defends himself on a charge of receiving a State pension under false pretences. He seems to protest too much about his infirmity, his poverty, and his general helplessness, while he keeps a sneering tone throughout, and hardly troubles to conceal a malicious temper:

“I am almost grateful to the prosecutor for instituting this trial. Hitherto I have had no pretext for giving you an account of my life: now I have obtained one— through him. In my speech I shall attempt to show that he is a liar, and that up to the present day my life has been one that should win praise rather than be exposed to jealousy, for I cannot think that he has brought me to trial from any other motive than jealousy. But if a man feels jealousy towards one whom all others pity, what baseness will he not sink to, do you suppose?

It is not to gain money that he has laid this information, and he is not trying to punish an enemy; he is a bad character, with whom I have had no dealings either friendly or hostile. So it is clear, Gentlemen, that he is jealous of me because, though thus afflicted, I am a better citizen than he is. For I think that one should compensate for bodily misfortunes by good habits of mind; and if I show a disposition of mind to match my unfortunate body, and fashion my life accordingly, I shall be as bad as he is. . . .

“As to my riding, which he has had the audacity to mention, having no fear of fortune or respect for you, there is not much to say. I know that all who labour under any incapacity seek some such relief, and speculate how best they may alleviate their suffering. I am one of this class, and, being afflicted as you see, have found riding a great comfort for a journey of any length. . . .

If I had the means, I would ride in comfort on a mule, instead of a borrowed horse; but as I cannot afford a beast of my own, I am compelled often to use a borrowed horse. . . . I am surprised that he does not make it a ground for accusation that I walk with two sticks, while others use one — on the plea that only the affluent can afford two.

“Again, he says that I associate with numerous bad characters who have spent all their own money, and are plotting against those who want to keep what belongs to them. But reflect that this accusation does not hit me more than anybody else who practises a trade; nor does it apply to my visitors more than those of the rest of the working-class. Every one of you pays visits to the perfumer, the barber, the shoemaker, or any tradesman, and most people go to the establishments nearest the marketplace, and fewest to those farthest away. So if you condemn my visitors as scoundrels, it is clear that you must equally condemn those who spend their time in other people's shops; and if they are guilty, all the inhabitants of Athens must be; for you are all in the habit of paying visits and spending your time somewhere or other.

Another good example of this realism in depicting character is the speech de Caede Eratosthenis. Lysias seems to have given us just the kind of speech that is appropriate to a rather stupid man of the lower middle classes who, by his own showing, is no better than his neighbours, though no worse. Incidentally, the whole speech is an important contribution to our knowledge of domestic arrangements in an Athenian home:

“So things went on, till one day I returned unexpectedly from the country. After dinner the baby was crying and fidgeting—the servant had been teasing it on purpose, to make it cry, for Eratosthenes was in the house: I heard all about that afterwards.—I told my wife to go and feed the baby, to stop it crying. She refused at first, pretending to be glad to have me back after so long; but when I grew annoyed and told her again to go, “Yes,” said she, “and leave you and the servant alone up here; I know how you behaved one night when you were drunk.” I laughed, but she got up and went away and shut the door, treating it as a joke, and drew the bolt outside. I thought nothing of it, and had no suspicion, and was glad to go to sleep after my day's work in the country. Early in the morning she came back and opened the door, and when I asked why the doors had banged in the night, she told me that the lamp beside the child's bed had gone out, and she had fetched a light from a neighbour. I made no remark, supposing that this was the truth. I had an idea that her face was powdered, although her brother had died less than a month ago; but for all that I said nothing more about it, and left the house and went on my business without comment.

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