Kritias, Andokides, Thrasymachos
Kritias and Andokides stand together as cultivated amateurs of the phase when this earlier manner of Antiphon and Thucydides was already felt to be too rigid for practical life, but when, nevertheless, an alternative manner had not yet been artistically shaped. Kritias, like Andokides, appears to have avoided the poetical diction as well as the figures of Gorgias; and is named along with Andokides as a witness to the currency of the idiom used by Lysias1
Thrasymachos of Chalkedon gave a new turn to
the progress of Attic prose. The modern world knows him best from the Phaedros,
where he figures as a puerile pedant of the Sicilian Rhetoric. To Aristotle and Theophrastos, however, he was known less as a theorist than as an orator, and as an orator, moreover, of original and remarkable merits. These
merits were chiefly three. First, he was the founder of a ‘middle’ style: intermediate, not between the Gorgian and the Lysian—for the Lysian had not yet arisen—but between the Gorgian, or poetical, and the colloquial. Secondly, he matured that terse, compact period (στρογγύλη, συνεστραμμένη
), fittest for real contests, which in Antiphon is still
rude, but which is found in the more artistic speeches of Lysias. Thirdly, he corrected the Gorgian idea of rhythmical beauty (εὐρυθμία
) in prose, by moderating the effort to frame prose in the strict rhythms of verse, and, according to Aristotle—though the fragments of Thrasymachos do not illustrate that statement—by introducing the paeon2
His place in the history.
significance of Thrasymachos is twofold. In respect to rhythm and to his conception of a middle style, he may be considered as the forerunner of Isokrates. In respect to his development of the terse period, to his training in the forensic Rhetoric, and to the practical bent of his work, he is the pioneer of Lysias and of those orators, whether forensic or deliberative, who are in contrast with the Gorgians and Isokratics.