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Narrative.

The narrative is sometimes short1, and followed by a separate argument; more often it is a long and elaborate statement divided into sections, of which the proofs—from witnesses, from documents or from laws—are given, not collectively at the end, but section by section2. The sixth speech, On the Estate of Philoktemon, is a good example. Here the adversaries (1) denied that the testator had adopted a son, (2) asserted that he had sons of his body; and there is a corresponding division of the narrative into two distinct parts (§§ 5—7, §§ 18—42), with the proofs subjoined. Will-cases would often, of course, involve such a long and intricate narrative; it would be difficult or impossible for the judges to follow the chapters of an argument detached from the corresponding chapters of facts; but Isaeos, in obeying a necessity, made it a virtue, and carried to a high perfection the combination of luminous recital with perspicuous reasoning. ‘Reading the narratives of Lysias,’ says Dionysios, ‘one would suppose that nothing was said artificially or insidiously, but everything in accordance with the dictates of nature and of truth,—forgetting that the imitation of nature was the chief task of his art. The narratives of Isaeos are apt to give the opposite sensation, and to make one fancy that nothing is spontaneous or unpremeditated, even when things are related as, in fact, they happened. All seems the result of artifice; all seems contrived to deceive, or to secure some sort of underhand advantage. Lysias will be believed even when he lies; Isaeos will not be heard without suspicion even when he tells the truth3.’ Dionysios greatly over colours the contrast,—as he sometimes does through that solicitude for ‘the meanest capacity’ which belongs to his eager and genial interpretation; but the main point is clear—the consummate and victorious art which he finds in the narrative of Isaeos. Now here we may almost certainly recognise a practical lesson which Isaeos owed to Isokrates—whose teaching in the matter of expression had influenced him so little. The Aeginetikos is perhaps the earliest example of narrative interwoven with proof in the manner which Isaeos perfected4.

1 e.g. Or. X. (Aristarchos) §§ 4— 6. So it was (Dionys. Isae. 14) in the lost speeches Against Medon and Against Hagnotheos, and in that speech Against the Demesmen of which the proem remains.

2 e.g. Or. III. (Pyrrhos) §§ 1—56: Or. v. (Dikaeogenes) §§ 5—24: Or. VII. (Apollodoros) §§ 5—28. So it was (Dionys. Isae. 14) in the lost specches Against Hermon, and Against Eukleides, and in that speech For Euphiletos of which a large fragment remains.

3 Dionys. Isae. 4.

4 Cf. Dionys. De Isocr. c. 4: vol. I. p. 180. In the Aeginet. (vol. VI. p. 218) we have—(1) narrative, §§ 5—9: proof, §§ 10—15: (2) narrative, §§ 16—33: proof, §§ 34—46.

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