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Emotion and drama

Though Lysias shows dramatic instinct in the representation of character, he seldom employs theatrical effects for the purpose of overpowering the feelings of the court. He trusts more to logic than to the elements of pity and terror, and shows a moderation of language comparable to the self-restraint which characterizes his style in general. He avoids exaggeration of every kind; even the story of his own arrest is told in a dispassionate, almost impersonal style (above, p. 76). There can be no doubt that Lysias thus gains greatly in dignity. The prison scene described by Andocides (above, p. 62) may appeal more to our feelings, but certainly more impressive is the solemnity of a similar scene in Lysias:

“When they were condemned to death, and their end was near, they sent for various kinswomen—sister, mother, wife, as the case might be—to visit them in prison, in order that they might, before they died, bid them a last farewell. Dionysodorus sent for my sister, who was his wife. Receiving the message, she came dressed in mourning as a fit tribute to her husband's condition.

The prisoner then disposed of his property, and ‘solemnly warned his wife, if she should bear a son, to tell the child that Agoratus had killed his father, and bid him take vengeance on the murderer.’

There is no hint here of such weeping and wailing as Andocides describes; nothing but the quiet pathos of the story itself to work upon the feelings. To a certain class of audience this style would appeal more truly than any extravagance of grief, and passages of this kind should be enough to refute the common charge against Lysias that he lacks pathos.

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