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Demosthenes

Demosthenes belongs to the plan of the present
Demosthenes —his place in the development
work only in so far as his style has a definite relation to the historical growth and development of Attic oratorical prose. The first and principal question is—Has Dionysios conceived this relation
as viewed by Dionysios.
rightly? Dionysios sets out from the three types distinguished by Theophrastos. The archaic type, with its harsh dignity, is represented by Antiphon and Thucydides; the type of plain elegance, by Lysias; the middle or normal type, by Thrasymachos, Isokrates and Plato. Demosthenes, says Dionysios, joins the excellences of these three types. He uses the middle style ordinarily, and applies the other two where they are fitting: but in each one of the three types he excels its special masters1. Demosthenes thus represents the final stage in the development of Attic prose. For Thucydides, language is not as yet a plastic material; for Lysias, it is more plastic, indeed, but not perfectly so, and the treatment is one-sided; for Isokrates it is perfectly plastic, but the treatment is again one-sided. Demosthenes comes to find a middle prose mature, indeed, but limited; he enfranchises it by working in older tendencies native to Attic prose; and the result is the most complete organ of speech into which the elements were capable of being wrought. The same conclusion had been reached by others before Dionysios; but no one had so thoroughly worked out the process. Both the conclusion and the method will bear scrutiny, and may be accepted
Dionysios is right, and by the right process.
as sound. The doctrine involves two leading notions —that of a normal prose, and that of an eclectic and recombining genius. The first will be illustrated in the next chapter. The second appears to describe correctly what Demosthenes did in the province of expression considered as an art. The moral characteristics of his eloquence, the individual tone of the soul which he breathed into the form thus modelled, belong to another field of inquiry: though, since his art was essentially one with his enthusiasm, it must be attempted presently to suggest what the distinctive stamp of that enthusiasm was.

1 Dionys. Demosth. 1—46.

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