Isaeos and Lysias compared to schools of painting.
Dionysios sums up the relation of Isaeos to Lysias in one of those illustrations which he loves to draw from painting or sculpture. ‘There are some old pictures, simply wrought as to colouring, with no variety of tints, but accurate in drawing, and thereby delightful; while the later paintings are inferior in drawing, but more elaborate, with variety of light and shade, and derive their effectiveness from the multitude of their hues1
.’ Lysias is compared with such correct and conscientious draughtsmen as Polygnotos and Aglaophon; Isaeos with such subtle chiaroscurists or colourists as Zeuxis and Parrhasios2
. The estimate agrees
substantially with the judgment of Hermogenes3
,— delivered in his own technical dialect:—‘In Isaeos,
besides the other things which constitute Political Oratory in the proper sense4
(i.e. Forensic and Deliberative speaking), the element of fiery earnestness5
is large,—bringing him near, indeed, to the noblest type of civil eloquence. His finish
, again, is consummate beyond the measure of Lysias. Complete, too, is his skill in amplifying
, and in the other constituents of grandeur6
, especially in a certain striking vigour;
so that, in these respects, though he is not a little inferior to Demosthenes, he is far superior to
Lysias. That power which is shown in method
is considerable in Isaeos,—but less than in Lysias.’ The last remark might seem disputable; for, as Dionysios truly says7
, Isaeos greatly excels Lysias in arrangement (οἰκονομία
): by ‘method,’ however, Hermogenes means the faculty of seizing ‘the proper moment8
’ for each oratorical artifice; and his estimate, therefore, amounts to this—that Isaeos, compared with Lysias, is superior in power
, but inferior in tact.
The result, obtained by too rigid and mechanical a process, is incomplete; but it is interesting for its careful and respectful estimate of an orator whom (with the great exception of Dionysios) the criticism of the Roman age neglected9
; and it is not, so far as it goes, incorrect.