Calvus and Messalla Corvinus: pure Atticism

The pure Atticism of Rome may be dated from about 60 B.C. Its best representative was the poet and forensic orator, Gaius Licinius Calvus (82—48 B.C.), who imitated Lysias in a field of work as limited as the Greek writer's own, but who, like Lysias, was not untouched by a generous sympathy with the great political interests of his day. Next to Calvus probably came Messalla Corvinus, who
Messalla Corvinus.
translated the defence of Phryne by Hypereides, and who is said to have been not unsuccessful in reproducing something of the master's eloquence. Atticism was the return, not to a school, but to a phase of the Greek mind: and, as the men who represented this phase were most various, it was inevitable that the revival should have factions. One sect of the earlier Roman Atticists worshipped
The sects of Roman Atticism;
Xenophon; another, Thucydides; another, Lysias and Hypereides. To adopt Xenophon as an
oratorical standard was a mere mistake: in style, he is an unpractical Andokides: and for the advocate, at least, no model could be less suitable1.
Thucydides, again, is at once transitional and unique: to imitate him in another language was therefore a twofold error. The Lysians and Hypereideans
Lysians and Hypereideans.
could have shown far better reason for their choice, if only the distinctive excellence of Lysias and Hypereides, their χάρις or grace, had not been the very thing which no Greek had succeeded in reproducing, and which manifestly could not be translated into an idiom which was not its own. At last Dionysios came forward to maintain that
the excellences of Thucydides, of Isokrates, of Lysias, and if these, then the excellences of Xenophon and Hypereides too, meet in Demosthenes.

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