I. 1. For Polystratos, Or. XX
1. For Polystratos.
[Or. XX.]—Harpokration describes this as a ‘Defence for Polystratos on a charge of seeking to abolish the Democracy.’1
But from the speech itself the precise nature of the charge cannot be gathered. All that can be safely inferred is that the offence alleged was of a political nature, and was connected with the oligarchical revolution of 411 B. C. Polystratos had held several offices under the oligarchy (§ 5), and had been elected to a vacancy in the Council of the Four Hundred just eight days before the defeat of the Athenian fleet by the Spartans at Eretria, immediately after which the government fell (§ 14). His most important employment had been that of enrolling the 5000 persons to whom the Council conceded the franchise; and he takes credit for having placed, in his capacity of registrar, 9000 instead of 5000 on the roll. It was only in their last peril that the Oligarchy took steps for giving a real existence to the nominal body of 5000; and this agrees with the account of Polystratos, who dates his registrarship from his entry into the Council only eight days before its overthrow (§ 14). When the democracy was re-established, Polystratos was prosecuted and heavily fined; probably on the ground of malversation in some office which he had held under the Oligarchy.
In the present case malversation in his registrarship
Probable nature of the charge.
may have been the special charge against him. The penalty threatened was pecuniary; but he says that, as he has no money with which to meet it, the result for him, if condemned, will be disfranchisement as a state-debtor.
The date must lie between 411 and 405. The war in the Hellespont is noticed (§ 29); but there is no reference to Arginusae or subsequent events; and the early part of 407 is therefore the latest date which appears probable.
Polystratos, who was a man past sixty (§ 10), is represented by the eldest of his three sons (§ 24).
The first part of the speech sets forth that Polystratos was one of the least prominent and least culpable of the oligarchs; that he had already suffered severely, and is now accused maliciously; and that the general tenor of his past life proves his patriotism (§§ 1—23). The speaker then relates his own services in Sicily after the disaster of 413, and reads a patriotic letter written to him by his father at that time. He recounts also the services of his brothers, the second and third sons of Polystratos; of whom the former had been active at the Hellespont, and the latter at home (§§ 24—29). In return for all that the father and his three sons have done for the city, they ask only to be spared a verdict which would rob them of citizenship (§§ 30—36).
The speech probably spurious.
The only ancient notice of this speech is by Harpokration, who once refers to it; then, indeed, without suspicion2
. But the general opinion of recent critics3
pronounces it spurious. In one respect alone
it has at first sight a resemblance to the style of Lysias. It is thoroughly natural. Yet the naturalness is not that of Lysias. It is the absence, not the concealment, of art; the simplicity, not of a master, but of a composer wholly untrained. A want of logical method renders the statements in the first part (§§ 1—23) confused, and the language throughout clumsy, sometimes obscure. Instead of the compact sentences of Lysias there are long strings of clauses loosely joined;—see especially § 14. Were the speech genuine, it would be the only known forensic speech of Lysias earlier than the fall of the Thirty Tyrants. But it seems hardly doubtful that it must be rejected.