Course of the Decline and the Revival.
From 300 to about 250 B.C. the general course of the decline can be made out with tolerable clearness. From 250 to about 150 B.C. all is dark. When light comes again, Asianism is seen fully developed and wholly triumphant; but a reaction to Atticism is setting in. This reaction may be considered as beginning with Hermagoras of Temnos, about
110 B. C.1
, and as completed at Rome by Dionysios of Halikarnassos, about 20 B.C.
The general character of Asianism, or the New Prose, results from the fact that it is founded on no theory of prose-writing as an art. The prose composition, whether history or oration, is not contemplated as a whole, and consequently no care is taken to preserve a symmetry of parts. Hence arises
Source of the vices in style— exaggeration. Its two chief forms.
exaggeration; and this exaggeration is usually in one of two principal directions. Sometimes it is an exaggerated desire of grandeur or splendour which leads the writer to say all things in a diction which should have been kept for the great things. Sometimes it is an exaggerated desire of point which makes him heedless whether the thought which he is expressing is obscured or made ridiculous by the turn which he gives to it. Asianism oscillates between bombast and importunate epigram. The fresh currents of public criticism in the Athens of Perikles would have blown such tricks to the winds: in schools or palaces their sickly growth was sheltered:—
and not the Sun-god's fire, Not heaven's pure dew comes there, nor any wind.