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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,
Hermogenes on 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.

1 Dionys. Isae. 4.

2 See Overbeek, Die Antiken Schriftquellen zur Geschichte der Bildenden Künste bei den Griechen (1868), esp. pp. 67, 110, 204. Cf. Quint. XII. 10 §§ 1—6.—Can it be that, when Dionysios used this illustration, he had in his mind that place of the Poetics (I. 6) where Aristotle speaks of poets related to each other as Zeuxis to Polygnotos— μὲν γὰρ Πολύγνωτος ἀγαθὸς ἠθογράφος, δὲ Ζεύξιδος γραφὴ οὐδὲν ἔχει ἦθος —a comparison which so exactly and curiously suits the relationship between Lysias and Isaeos?

3 Hermog. περὶ ἰδεῶν B. C. 11 (Spengel Rh. Gr. II. 411).

4 ἁπλῶς: as opposed to the sense in which it includes the πανηγυρικὸς λόγος: vol. I. p. 90.

5 As to ‘fiery earnestness’ (γοργότης), ‘finish’ (ἐπιμέλεια) and ‘amplification’ (περιβολή), in the language of Hermogenes, see vol. I. p 91 f.

6 ‘Grandeur’ (μέγεθος, for which ἀξίωμα or ὄγκος is sometimes a synonym) denotes, for Hermogenes, one of those seven cardmal excellences of oratory which he finds in Demosthenes, his canon of eloquence: περὶ ἰδ, A. 1. This μέγεθος is, in its turn, composed of six specifie qualities (ἰδέαι): and all of these, says Hermogenes, Isaeos has. They are:—1. σεμνότης, majesty. 2. The power of ‘amplifying (περιβολή) just mentioned;—by which Hermog. means sometimes generalisation, sometimes development of an idea. 3. ‘Vigour,’ — ἀκμή, — a quality which springs, as a rule, from the union of the two next (see περὶ ἰδ. A. 10). ἀκμαῖος λόγος is a robust, sinewy eloquence, which presses the adversary hard. 4. τραχύτης, asperity: 5. λαμπρότης, brilliancy: 6. σφοδρότης, vehemence. [On the distinction between 4 and 6 see περὶ ἰδ. A. 7: τραχύτης is properly said of rebuking superiors—e.g. judges or ekklesiasts. σφοδρύτης, of rebuking (real or assumed) inferiors, e.g. ἀντίδικοι, or those whom the hearers like to hear censured: it is σφοδρότης when Demosth, assails Philip]Of these, 2 and 3 are named in the text: but we must bear in mind that the other four are understood.

7 Isae. 14.

8 καιρὸς ἴδιος: Hermog. περὶ μεθόδου δεινότητος c. 1: above, vol. I. 91.

9 ‘After all, one cannot help wondering, that, although Dionysius lived in the very age of Cicero, and was copied almost too closely by Quintilian, yet the name of Isaeus is not so much as mentioned in the rhetorical pieces of the two Romans’ (Sir W. Jones, Pref. Discourse, p. vi).Cicero, it is true, never mentions Isaeos. Quintilian, however, does once mention him—and then in not very select company. Speaking of the ‘Attici,’ he says (XII. 10 § 22), ‘Transeo plurimos, Lycurgum, Aristogitona, et his priores Isaeum, Antiphontem: quos, ut homines, inter sc similes, differentes dixeris specie.’ The style of Lykurgos was not highly esteemed by the Augustan or later critics; he is αὐξητικός and σεμνός, says Dionysios, but not ‘elegant or pleasing’ (ἀστεῖοςἡδύς), vet. scrip. cens. 3. As to Aristogiton, the adversary of Demosthenes (see [Dem.] Orr. XXV. XXVI. and Deinarchos Or. II.), he was of small repute every way. Maximus Planudes speaks of that sycophantic oratory, συκοφαντική, ἧς ἡγήσαντο Ἀριστογείτων καὶ Ἡγήμων (Proleg. in Walz Rh. Gr. v. 214): and he is mentioned, with Phrynon and Philokrates, among the ἄδοξα πρόσωπα by the scholiast on Hermog., ib. IV. 90. The truth is that Quint. made no careful study of the Greek orators, except Isokrates, Demosthenes, and (in a measure) Lysias: but this treatment of Isaeos is especially remarkable.

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