Four epithets given to the style of Andokides by the author of the Plutarchic Life.
It is somewhat difficult to analyse the style of a speaker whose real strength lay in a natural vigour directed by a rough tact; and who, in comparison with other Greek orators, cared little for literary form. An attempt at such an analysis may, however, start from the four epithets given to Andokides in the Plutarchic Life1
. He is there said to be ‘simple’ (ἁπλοῦς
); ‘inartificial in arrangement’ (ἀκατάσκευος
); ‘plain’ (ἀφελής
); and ‘sparing of figures’ (ἀσχημάτιστος
). The first two epithets apparently refer to the order in which his thoughts are marshalled; the last two, to the manner in which they are expressed. We will first speak of the latter, and then come back to the former.
The diction of Andokides is ‘plain’ (ἀφελής).
The sense in which the diction of Andokides is ‘plain’ will be best understood by a comparison with Antiphon and Lysias. Antiphon consciously strives to rise above the language of daily life; he seeks to impress by a display of art. Lysias carefully confines himself to the language of daily life; he seeks to persuade by the use of hidden art. Andokides usually employs the language of daily life; he is free, or almost free, from the archaisms of Antiphon, and writes in the new-Attic dialect, the dialect of Lysias and his successors2
. On the
other hand, he does not confine himself to a rigid simplicity. In his warmer or more vigorous passages, especially of invective or of intreaty, he often employs phrases or expressions borrowed from the idiom of Tragedy3
. These, being of too decidedly poetical a colour, have a tawdry effect; yet it is evident that they have come straight from the memory to the lips; they are quite unlike prepared fine things; and they remind us, in fact, how really natural a speaker was Andokides,—neither aiming, as a rule, at ornament, nor avoiding it on principle when it came to him. The ‘plainness’ of Lysias is an even, subtle, concise plainness, so scrupulous to imitate nature that nature is never suffered to break out; the ‘plainness’ of Andokides is that of a man who, with little rhetorical or
literary culture, followed chiefly his own instinct in speaking. Lysias had at his command all the resources of technical rhetoric, but so used them towards producing a sober, uniform effect that his art is scarcely felt at any particular point; it is felt only in the impression made by the whole. Andokides had few of such resources. As his
biographer says, he is ‘sparing of figures.’ Here the distinction already noticed between ‘figures of language’ and ‘figures of thought’ must be kept in mind. Andokides uses scarcely at all the ‘figures of language’: that is, he seldom employs antitheses —aims at parallelism between the forms of two sentences—or studies the niceties of assonance4
. His neglect of such refinements—which, in his day, constituted the essence of oratorical art, and which must have been more or less cultivated by nearly all public speakers—has one noticeable effect on his composition. There is no necessary connection between an antithetical and a periodic style. But, in the time of Andokides, almost the only period in use was that which is formed by the antithesis
or parallelism of clauses. Hence, since he rarely uses antitheses or parallelisms, Andokides composes far less in a periodic style than Thucydides or Antiphon or even Lysias. His sentences, in the absence of that framework, are constantly sprawling to a clumsy length; they are confused by parentheses, or deformed by supplementary clauses, till the main thread of the sense is often almost lost5
. But while he thus dispenses with the ornamental ‘figures of language,’ Andokides uses largely those so-called ‘figures of thought’ which give life to a speech;—irony—indignant question, and the like6
This animation is indeed one of the points which most distinguish his style from the ordinary style of Antiphon, and which best mark his relative modernism.
As Andokides is ‘plain’ in diction and avoids ornamental figures, so he is also ‘simple’ in treatment of subject-matter, and avoids an artificial arrangement7
. His two speeches before the ekklesia— that On his Return and that On the Peace—shew, indeed, no distinct or systematic partition. In his speech On the Mysteries he follows, with one difference, the arrangement usually observed by Antiphon and more strictly by Lysias. There is a
proem, followed by a short prothesis or general statement of the case; then narrative and argument; lastly epilogue8
. But the narrative as a whole is not kept distinct from the argument as a whole. Each section of the narrative is followed by the corresponding section of the argument. Dionysios notices such interfusion as a special mark of art in Isaeos9
. In Andokides it is rather a mark of artlessness. He had a long story to tell, and was unable, or did not try, to tell it concisely. The very length of his narrative compelled him to break it up into pieces and to comment upon each piece separately. He has not effected this without some loss of clearness, and one division of the speech is thoroughly confused10
. But it should be remembered that a defective ordering of topics, though a grave fault, was less serious for Andokides than it would have been for a speaker in a different style. The main object of Andokides was to be in sympathy with his audience—amusing them with stories, however irrelevant—putting all his arguments in the most vivid shape—and using abundant illustration. Lucid arrangement, though always important, was not of firstrate importance for him. His speeches were meant to carry hearers along with them, rather than to be read and analysed at leisure.