Lysias was not without a sense of humour, and sometimes employed sarcasm which could be delicate and playful or bitter to the point of brutality according to circumstances; thus in the Epitaphios
he remarks how the Persians thought that their best chance of success would be to invade Greece ‘while Greece was still quarrelling as to the best means of defence against invasion.’1
Other sentences may be found in the speech For the Cripple.
(above, pp. 83 sqq.
). Sometimes a sarcastic reference is introduced by a play on words—as βουλεύειν— δουλεύειν
in Philo, § 26
— ‘He desires the position of a public servant; that of a public slave is what he deserves.’ Out of several instances in the Nicomachus
one may be quoted, in comparison with a rather similar passage in Andocides: ‘He has now become a citizen instead of a slave, a rich man instead of a poor man, a legislator instead of an under-clerk.’
This is far less effective than the unexpected turn which Andocides gives to a similar passage.2
Finally, the fragment of the speech against Aeschines the Socratic contains a long humorous passage. Aeschines has a mania for borrowing money which he never repays. ‘His neighbours are so badly treated by him that they all move as soon as they can and take houses at a distance. . . . The crowd of creditors round his doors at daybreak makes people think they are assembling for a funeral,’ and so on, in a comic vein, till the speaker ends with a spiteful remark about Aeschines' mistress, that ‘you could count her teeth more easily than the fingers of her hand.’