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Principle of distinction between ‘public’ and ‘private’ law-speeches.

In classifying forensic speeches the first thing to be done is to fix the principle of distinction between the public and the private. One method is to consider solely the form of procedure, and to distinguish ‘public’ and ‘private’ as they were technically distinguished by Greek law. Another method is to consider rather the substance than the form of each cause, and to arrange the causes according as their practical interest was more directly for the State or for the individual. Blass adopts the latter plan1. The speech On the Murder of Eratosthenes [Or. I.], for instance, is referred by Blass to the private class, since the cause, though formally public (as being a γραφὴ φόνου), was of no properly political interest. The obvious objection to such a mode of classification is its uncertainty. The definite technical distinction once abandoned, it becomes hard to say what is or is not a ‘public’ cause. Thus the speeches Against Eratosthenes [Or. XII.] and Against Agoratos [Or. XIII.] are placed by Blass in a rank by themselves, intermediate between the properly public and the properly private, because in each case, though an individual is mainly concerned, the issue is of high moment to the State. Such differences have a real literary importance, and have already been recognised (p. 166) as corresponding to different shades of style. But they appear too indefinite to form a good basis for scientific classification. The necessity of drawing a doubtful or arbitrary line is avoided by taking the classification supplied by Greek law itself. Classified as public and private (δημόσιοι and ἰδιωτικοί) in the Greek sense, the speeches of Lysias will stand thus:—

    A. Speeches in public causes.

    I. Causes relating to Offences directly against the State (γραφαὶ δημοσίων ἀδικημάτων); such as treason, malversation in office, embezzlement of public moneys.
    • 1. For Polystratos [Or. XX.].
    • 2. Defence on a Charge of Taking Bribes [Or. XXI.].
    • 3. Against Ergokles [Or. XXVIII.].
    • 4. Against Epikrates [Or. XXVII.].
    • 5. Against Nikomachos [Or. XXX.].
    • 6. Against the Corndealers [Or. XXII.].
    II. Cause relating to Unconstitutional Procedure (γραφὴ παρανόμων).
    • On the Property of the Brother of Nikias [Or. XVIII.].
    III. Causes relating to Claims for Money withheld from the State (ἀπογραφαί.)
    • 1. For the Soldier [Or. IX.].
    • 2. On the Property of Aristophanes [Or. XIX.].
    • 3. Against Philokrates [Or. XXIX.].
    IV. Causes relating to a Scrutiny (δοκιμασία), especially the Scrutiny by the Senate of Officials designate.
    • 1. Against Evandros [Or. XXVI.].
    • 2. For Mantitheos [Or. XVI.].
    • 3. Against Philon [Or. XXXI.].
    • 4. Defence on a Charge of seeking to abolish the Democracy [Or. XXV.].
    • 5. For the Invalid [Or. XXIV.].
    V. Causes relating to Military Offences (γραφαί λειποταξίου, ἀστρατείας, κ. τ. λ.).
    • 1. Against Alkibiades, I. [Or. XIV.].
    • 2. Against Alkibiades, II. [Or. XV.].
    VI. Causes relating to Murder or Intent to murder (γραφαὶ φόνου, τραύματος ἐκ προνοίας).
    • 1. Against Eratosthenes [Or. XII.].
    • 2. Against Agoratos [Or. XIII.].
    • 3. On the Murder of Eratosthenes [Or. I.].
    • 4. Against Simon [Or. III.].
    • 5. On Wounding with Intent [Or. IV.].
    VII. Causes relating to Impiety (γραφαὶ ἀσεβείας).
    • 1. Against Andokides [Or. VI.].
    • 2. For Kallias [Or. V.].
    • 3. On the Sacred Olive [VII.].

1 Blass's classification is as follows:—I. Public Causes: Against Epikrates [Or. XXVII]: Against Ergokles [XXVIII]: Against Philokrates [XXIX]: Against Nikomachos [XXX]: Against the Corndealers [XXII]: Against Evandros [XXVI]: Against Philon [XXXI]. Against Alkibiades [XIV, XV]: Defence on Charge of Taking Bribes [XXI]: For Polystratos [XX]: Defence on a Charge of seeking to abolish the Democracy [XXV]: For Mantitheos [XVI]: On the Property of the Brother of Nikias [XVIII]. On the Property of Aristophanes [XIX].II. Private Causes in which the person of the accused, or the consequences of the offence in question, had a specially high importance for the Commonweal (Att. Bereds. p. 539). Against Eratosthenes [XII]: Against Agoratos[XIII]: Against Andokides [VI] III. Properly Private Causes. On the Murder of Eratosthenes [I]: Against Simon [III]. On Wounding with Intent [IV]: For Kallias [V]: On the Sacred Olive [VII]: For the Soldier [IX]: Against Theomnêstos [X, XI]: Against Diogeiton [XXXII]: On the Property of Eraton [XVII]: Against Pankleon [XXIII].IV. Bagatelle Speeches. For the Invalid [XXIV]: To his Companions [VIII].—Att. Bereds. pp. 445—660.

2 The MSS. give κατὰ Θεομνήστου A. as Or. X. and κατὰ Θεομνήστου B. as Or. XI. But the so-called Second Speech is a mere epitome of the first: see below.

3 Entitled in the MSS. περὶ δημοσίων ἀδικημάτων.

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Selections from the Attic Orators, 16.9
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