previous next


The ‘austere’ manner is, in one respect, better represented by Thucydides than by Antiphon. Its αὐθάδεια, or haughty independence, finds a larger scope in the work of the philosophical historian. We are concerned here, not with the individual genius of Thucydides, but with the rhetorical prose-writer as influenced by his age: and for us, therefore, the
his speeches.
speeches are most significant. These are the essays of Thucydides himself in an oratory which is dramatic as regards the sentiment, but not as regards the form. They may be taken, then, as indicating his relation both to the practice and to the theory of his day. Out of forty-one speeches (excluding the two dialogues) one is panegyrical—the Epitaphios: thirtyeight are hortatory: and two are forensic—those, namely, of the Plataeans and the Thebans before
Influence on them of Sicilian Rhetoric.
their Lacedaemonian judges1. The Epitaphios, the forensic speeches, and (e.g.) the deliberative speeches of Hermokrates and Athenagoras in Book VI., all bear the impress of the Sicilian Rhetoric in their conscious partition. Proem, prothesis, narrative, proof, epilogue succeed each other—with more or less completeness according to circumstances—as distinct parts. Figures, whether of thought or of language, are avoided even more than by Antiphon. The influence of Gorgias is seen only faintly and generally in attention to parallelism or symmetry: his distinctive ornaments—parison and the like—are eschewed. Nothing is more Thucydidean than the
Bent of Thucydides in expression.
determination to express each idea, or part of an idea, in the way that best suits it, regardless of what has gone before or what is coming: hence his changes of construction. His freer, though rougher, handling of the periodic style, as compared with Antiphon's, arises from his effort to present a complex idea as an organic whole. He will not make his sentence a bed of Prokrustes for his thought. This alone would explain the sympathy with Thucydides
Thucydides and Demosthenes.
felt by the intense Demosthenes, who saw that the ‘austere’ style had something more than an antiquarian interest—that it meant a certain set of capacities in the organ which he wished to perfect; and who studied these capacities, not in Antiphon, but in Thucydides.

1 III. 53—59; 61—67.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: