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Lysias composed an extraordinary number of speeches; of the 425 attributed to him, Dionysius pronounced 233 to be genuine.1 There are now extant thirty-four, either complete or, in some cases, with portions missing. A hundred and twenty-seven speeches are known by the preservation of their titles or of small fragments.

As we cannot trace with any certainty a chronological development in style, the most convenient classification of the speeches is according to their subject-matter.

Epideictic Speeches

The fragment of the ‘Olympiac’ speech, which is undoubtedly genuine, is an interesting specimen of compositions of this class.

The Sophists had early realized the opportunities which the great assembly of all Greek States gave for an expression of national feeling, and though perhaps the speech-making was instituted chiefly for the display of oratory, the custom had grown up of making it an occasion for discussing broad political questions. Thus Gorgias had preached the necessity of union among Greeks, and in later time Isocrates in his Panegyric was to urge again the need of putting aside petty disputes among cities for the good of the Greek nation.

In 388 B.C. Dionysius of Syracuse had sent a magnificent embassy to the Olympic festival. Lysias, realizing that this despot of the West, who had reduced important cities of Sicily, had defeated Carthage, and was now threatening the towns of Magna Graecia, might become, especially if allied with Persia, a serious menace to the independence of the cities of Greece proper, urged them to sink their private animosities for the good of all, and as a foretaste of their enmity he called upon them to tear down the royal pavilion at Olympia and scatter its treasures.

In the extant fragment the speaker warns his hearers that much of the Greek world is in the hands of tyrants, and much under barbarian sway. This is owing to the weakness caused by internal discord. Empire depends on command of the seas, and Dionysius and Artaxerxes are both strong in ships. “You ought therefore to lay aside your war with each other, and by harmonious action make a bid for safety; you should view the past with shame and the future with apprehension.

He invites Sparta to take the lead. The substance of the end of the speech is known to us only from the ‘argument,’ but the fragment is long enough to be judged as a simple yet dignified composition.

The Epitaphios or Funeral Speech purports to relate to the Athenians who fell in the Corinthian war, about 394 B.C., though it is impossible to determine the year precisely.

Such speeches were habitually delivered at Athens, a speaker of established reputation being generally chosen to perform the service. Now Lysias, not being a citizen, could not be so chosen, and, if the speech was really delivered, he can hardly have composed it; for a practised public speaker would probably not require the services of a professional logographos.2

An extract from the peroration will give a general idea of the style:

“And so we may deem these men most happy, in that they faced and met their end on behalf of all that is great and noble, not committing themselves to chance, nor awaiting the death that comes in nature's course, but choosing the noblest way of dying.

For their memory is ageless, and their honour is envied of all men; we mourn for them as mortal in their nature, but we celebrate them as immortal for their valour. They are receiving a public funeral, and in their honour we institute displays of strength and wisdom and wealth, holding them who have died in battle worthy to be honoured with the same honour as the immortals. So I call them happy in their death, and envy them therefor, and think it should be said that life was worth the possessing only for those men who, endowed with mortal bodies, have left behind them through their valour a memorial that is immortal. Still, we must follow ancient custom, and, obeying the law of our fathers, make lamentation for those whom we are burying to-day.

There is nothing striking or original in this peroration, which recalls the fragment of the funeral speech of Gorgias, especially in the forced and repeated contrasts between ‘mortal’ and ‘immortal.’ In manner and in substance it is infinitely inferior to the famous speech of Pericles, which, with all its extravagances of style, has a note of true feeling. The Epitaphios of Lysias rings hollow; it is feeble in imagery, it contains very little reference to the dead, and holds out no hope of comfort to the living. The allusions to the Persian war are part of the rhetorical paraphernalia such as stirred the bile of Aristophanes, while the historical references to the supposed circumstances of the speech are so vague as not to be appropriate to any particular occasion.

On internal evidence, therefore, we may well believe that it is not a real speech, but a declamatory exercise.

There is the further question, whether it was composed by Lysias or not.

The composer of a ‘declamatio’ may allow himself liberties which he would not take in a real speech; yet it is hard to believe that Lysias would have committed such faults of taste as to drag the wars of the Amazons into discussion or to indulge in the exaggerations of the opening sections: ‘All time would not be enough for all men to prepare a speech adequate to such deeds!’ and again, ‘Everywhere and among all men do those who mourn for their own sorrows proclaim the valour of these dead!’

This is not appropriate to the Corinthian war nor to any war in the lifetime of Lysias, and Lysias did not elsewhere say things so inappropriate.3

The speech is probably an exercise composed by a writer who had before him the speech of Pericles and other such compositions. It is actually quoted by Aristotle, who, however, does not assign it to Lysias (Rhet., iii. 10. 7). The general lack of restraint in tone is suspicious, and is, on the whole, the strongest argument against authenticity.

Only one fragment (Or. xxxiv.) remains of a speech composed for the ecclesia. According to its title, it was delivered in opposition to some proposals to abolish or limit the ancient constitution after the fall of the Thirty (403 B.C.). Dionysius doubts whether it was actually delivered, but considers it to be written in a style suitable for debate (de Lys., ch. 32). It is significant historically that the speaker dares to compare the position of Athens in relation to Sparta with that of Argos and Mantineia. The Athenians must have been broken in spirit to tolerate such a reference.

Public Causes

These γραφαί fall under various heads; they deal with all offences against the State, directly comprising treason, sacrilege, embezzlement, unconstitutional procedure, evasion of military service, wrongful claims for admission to office; or against the State in the person of an individual, e.g. charges of murder or attempted murder.

They range in importance from high treason (e.g. Ergocles) and deliberate murder (e.g. Eratosthenes) to the attempt of the Cripple (Or. xxiv.) to obtain an insignificant pension by alleged false pretences.

For Polystratus (Or. xx.), 411-405 B.C. This speech is entitled ‘For Polystratus; defence on a charge of attempting to subvert the democracy.

Polystratus had held office under the Four Hundred, and had even been a member of that body. The nature of the charge brought against him is uncertain, but as the penalty proposed was only a fine, it cannot have been so serious as the title implies. Modern critics decide that the speech is spurious, entirely on grounds of style and method. The arrangement is at times confused, the argument obscure, and the style weak.

This kind of argument against genuineness must always be a subjective one; it is hard to prove the case. The speech Against Theomnestus (see below, p. 100) has faults unworthy of Lysias, and yet, according to the same critics, it is undoubtedly genuine.

It should be remembered that the present speech is earlier by some years (around 407 B.C.) than any of the orations accepted as genuine, and perhaps in the case of an orator's earlier efforts we should look for less precision and finish.

Or. xxi., on a charge of taking bribes, is only the second half of the speech. The first part, dealing with specific charges, is lost. The defendant points to his distinguished public services as a proof that he is not the sort of man to be bribed to betray his country. The date is probably 402 B.C.

Against Ergocles (Or. xxviii.), Against Epicrates (Or. xxvii.), and Against Philocrates (Or. xxix.) may be taken together as speeches delivered by a public prosecutor, all in the year 389 B.C.; they assume that the previous speakers have gone fully into the charges, so that they themselves need only recapitulate them. The speakers are vigorous and concise, but impersonal. There was no need in such formal orations for the kind of adaptation to the speaker's character which we find elsewhere. Ergocles was prosecuted and put to death for betraying Greek cities in Asia and enriching himself by embezzlement. Philocrates had been his subordinate and confederate. Epicrates was also accused of embezzling public money when in a position of trust.

Against Nicomachus (Or. xxx.), date probably 399 B.C.—The only charges against Nicomachus are that, having been appointed to revise certain laws, he was dilatory in his work and did not finish it within the appointed time, and has caused an excessive expenditure of public money—not, be it noted, for his own advantage. Though Nicomachus at the worst was unbusinesslike and indiscreet, the accuser thinks fit to shower abuse on him, chiefly in connection with his humble origin, for his father was a freedman. (Compare p. 90, above).

Against the Corn-dealers (Or. xxii.) is a plain, unpretentious speech arising out of the laws relating to the corn supply; the dealers were not allowed to make a profit of more than one obol a bushel, and monopoly was strictly guarded against. The date is uncertain; possibly about 390 B.C.

On the Confiscation of the Property of the Brother of Nicias (Or. xviii.), about 396-385 B.C.—Nicias' brother Eucrates was put to death by the Thirty in 404 B.C., and at some time later a decree was passed for the confiscation of his estate. The sons and nephew of Eucrates plead against the enforcement of this sentence. Of the fragment which remains the greater part consists of an appeal to pity, which is very unusual in the speeches of Lysias.

For the Soldier (Or. ix.), 394-387 B.C.; a defence of Polyaenus, who is prosecuted for non-payment of a fine, is of doubtful authenticity, though the arguments concerning it are not conclusive.

On the Property of Aristophanes (Or. xix.), 387 B.C., is another case dealing with confiscation. The speech is very carefully constructed to meet what was evidently a difficult case.

Against Evandrus (Or. xxvi.), 382 B.C.—This is a considerable fragment of a speech relating to a scrutiny (δοκιμασία). Leodamas, the first man to be elected as archon for the year 381 B.C., having been rejected as unfit, the second choice, Evandrus, becomes archon if he can pass the scrutiny; but his enemies refer to his actions in the time of the oligarchy, and, while admitting that he has been blameless since the Restoration, refuse him all credit for this. The bitterness and injustice of this speech are unusual in Lysias, but its genuineness is not suspected.

For Mantitheus (Or. xvi., above p. 85), about 392 B.C.; Against Philo (Or. xxxi.), 405-395 B.C.; and the wrongly entitled Defence on a charge of subversion of the democracy (Or. xxv.), 402-400 B.C., are all concerned with δοκιμασία. There is more bitterness in the κατὰ Φίλωνος than in the speech against Evandrus, but with more justification, for Philo, if the stories told of him are true, must have been a very objectionable scoundrel.

The speech For the Cripple (Or. xxiv.), about 400 B.C., is also concerned with a δοκιμασία, though of a different kind. A pension was given by the State to certain persons who could not, on account of bodily infirmity, support themselves, and had no other means of living. The defendant in this case is accused of claiming the pension, whereas he is comparatively well off (above, pp. 85-6).

Against Eratosthenes (Or. xii.), 403 B.C.—This, the most famous of Lysias' speeches, has been to some extent dealt with already (above, pp. 76-7). It is generally classed as a speech in a prosecution for murder, but it seems more probable that it was delivered on the occasion of the εὔθυνα of Eratosthenes; for the amnesty passed after the expulsion of the Thirty specially provided that any of them who chose to give an account of their actions should receive a fair trial (Andoc., de Myst., § 90). Eratosthenes and Pheidon were the only two who embraced this opportunity.

The latter view finds some support in the fact that only the first part of the speech (§§ 1-37) deals with the murder of Polemarchus; the longer portion (§§ 37-100) deals more generally with the character of Eratosthenes and the crimes of the Thirty in general.

Against Agoratus (Or. xiii.), 400-398 B.C.—Agoratus, an informer, is prosecuted for having caused the death of the speaker's cousin, Dionysodorus. There is much historical matter in the speech, but the accuser keeps definitely to the charge of murder, touching on political matters only incidentally.

On the Murder of Eratosthenes (Or. i.), date uncertain, is of interest chiefly as illustrating domestic life among the middle class at Athens (above, p. 87).

Defence against Simon (Or. iii.), after 394 B.C.; and On wounding with intent (Or. iv.), date uncertain, are both speeches in defence on the charge of wounding with intent to kill (τραύματος ἐκ προνοίας). The defendant in the latter, wishing to prove that he was formerly on good terms with the prosecutor, tells an extraordinary story of corruption. The prosecutor was nominated by the defendant as judge at the Dionysia, on the understanding that, if elected, he should award the prize to the latter's tribe. He left a written note of this agreement; but unfortunately he was not elected, so that the prize went to a chorus which either sang better or organized its corrupt practices with more skill (§ 3).

For Callias (Or. v.), date uncertain, is a defence, apparently, on a charge of sacrilege. The precise charge is unknown.

On the Sacred Olive (Or. vii.), about 395 B.C., is in defence of a man charged with uprooting the stump of a sacred olive—a sacrilege punishable by banishment and confiscation of property.

Against Alcibiades, I. and II. (Or. xiv. and Or. xv.), about 395 B.C.—The first is on a charge of desertion, the second of avoiding military service—two different aspects of the same offence. The defendant, a son of the great Alcibiades, had presumed to serve in the cavalry when he was only entitled to be a hoplite. The young Alcibiades evidently paid for the sins of his father, to whom half of the present indictment is devoted. On this point we may compare the subjectmatter of the speech of Isocrates in defence of Alcibiades (see below, p. 150), and the speech against him which is attributed to Andocides, but is probably a later work (above, p. 72).

Private Speeches

Against Theomnestus (Or. x.), 384-383 B.C., is a speech for the prosecution in an action for defamation. The speaker deals at quite disproportionate length with a verbal quibble by which the defendant has tried to escape justice. The argument is ingenious, but owing to the slightness of the subject-matter the speech has no interest except to students of method.4

Against Diogiton (Or. xxxii.), 400 B.C., is a truly excellent statement of the case against a dishonest guardian. In addition to the skilful handling of financial details, there is much dramatic skill in description and suggestion of character.

On the Property of Eraton (Or. xvii.), 397 B.C.—This speech occurred in a διαδικασία between an individual and the State. The speaker asserts a claim to the property of Eraton (which has been confiscated), for the repayment of a debt.

Against Pancleon (Or. xxiii.), date uncertain.— Pancleon, accused on some unknown charge, and supposed by the prosecutor to be a metoecus, has put in a plea that he is a Plataean citizen and therefore not amenable to the law under which he was indicted. He turns out after all to be a runaway slave.

These last two speeches consist almost entirely of narrative.

Spurious or Doubtful Speeches

Against Andocides (Or. vi.), 399 B.C.—It is generally believed that this speech is not by Lysias, the most serious argument being that the writer of it is a blunderer. As Jebb points out, he makes at least three damaging admissions calculated seriously to injure his own case. It may, however, really be a speech delivered against Andocides. It contains some statements which do not agree with Andocides' own admissions, but, as we have seen, it cannot be proved that Andocides was always veracious. On the ground of general agreement with Andocides' statements we may believe that it was composed by some contemporary orator, and not, as has been sometimes asserted, by a late Sophist. It may have been actually delivered at the trial of Andocides in 399 B.C.

Eroticus.—Phaedrus, in the dialogue of Plato which bears his name, reads aloud a speech of Lysias which Socrates criticizes.

If Plato could be taken literally, we should believe that what is read was the authentic work of Lysias; but Plato is if anything too emphatic in his attempts to produce this illusion, and most readers will probably be left with the impression that Plato is following his usual custom; he tries to give his myths the solemnity of fact, and what he produces here is an imitation too close to be called a parody. We may compare Plato's reproduction of Aspasia's oration in the Menexenus.

The speech To his Companions (Or. viii.) cannot reasonably be attributed to Lysias, and indeed is so trivial that it can hardly be the work of any self-respecting forger. It is probably to be regarded as a declamatory exercise.

The speaker complains that his friends have slandered him by asserting that he forced his company on them; they have sold him an unsound horse, and accused him of inducing others to slander them. He therefore abjures their friendship.

Extracts from six lost speeches are preserved by quotation in various writers:

Against Cinesias (Athenaeus, xiii. 551 D); Against Tisis (Dion., de Demos., ch. xi.); For Pherenicus (Dion., de Isaeo, ch. vi.); Against the Sons of Hippocrates (ibid.); Against Archebiades (ibid., ch. x.); Against Aeschines (Athenaeus, xiii., 611 E-612 C). Compare p. 90, above.

The fragments of other speeches, in the Suda, Harpocration, and others, are negligible.

1 Ps.-Plut., Lives of the Ten Orators; Dion., de Lys., ch. 17, διακοσίων οὐκ ἐλάσσους δλκανικοὺς γράψας λόγους.

2 However, Socrates, in Plato's Menexenus, 236 B, suggests that Pericles' famous Funeral Speech was composed for him by Apasia.

3 The reference to the Amazons and the general vagueness of the historical setting are closely paralleled by the Funeral Speech in Plato's Menexenus, which is generally regarded as a parody.

4 The second speech with the same title is only an epitome of the first.

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