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Composition.

Lysias, as we have seen, had exchanged the rigid monotony of the old periodic writing for a manner better suited to real contests, for a style more flexible and more various, in which the periods are relieved by sentences not periodic, and the proportion borne by one element to the other is determined by the scale of the subject. Lysias was, however, fond of antithesis; and the result is that, while his composition as a whole has variety, the structure of his periods themselves is apt to be too stiff and uniform1. Now Isaeos is exempt from this desire of formal antithesis, and, as a consequence, from this rigidity. His non-periodic passages have much of the old ‘running’ style; the use of τε in linking clause to clause is archaic2; and the pursuit of free movement is occasionally carried even to an ungraceful negligence3. Yet, on the whole, the composition of Isaeos is mainly distinguished from that of Lysias by the stamp of art. The composition of Isaeos tends to keep the hearer's mind at strain by a continual sense, not merely of earnestness, but of trained and confident skill; it cannot be quite content to forego the advantage resigned by Demosthenes and the great deliberative speakers —of seeming comparatively artless; at the same time, its own eager strength renders it profoundly incapable of suppressing tones which are militant and aggressive. It is important to see clearly the general distinction between the two orators;—that, while Lysias is secure in a modest art of his own, Isaeos is halting between this indirect art, in which he is too sophisticated and morally not fine enough really to excel, and the direct, masterly art of eloquence to which he has not perfectly attained.

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