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Place of Lysias in the history of Rhetoric.

On reviewing the general position of Lysias among the Attic orators, it will be seen to result mainly from his discovery, made at a time when Rhetoric had not yet outlived the crudest taste for finery, that the most complete art is that which hides itself. Aided not only by a delicate mastery of language but by a peculiar gift for reading and expressing character, he created a style of which the chief mark was various naturalness. It was long before the art of speaking reached, in general practice, that sober maturity which his precocious tact had given to it in a limited field; it was long before his successors freed themselves to any great extent— few wholly freed themselves—from the well-worn allurements which he had decisively rejected when they were freshest. But at least no one of those who came after dared to neglect the lesson taught by Lysias; the attempt to be natural, however artificially or rarely, was henceforward a new element in the task which professors of eloquence conceived to be set before them. Lysias remains, for all aftertimes, the master of the plain style.

This supremacy in a definite province is allowed

The ancient critics upon Lysias.
to him by the general voice of antiquity through the centuries in which its culture was finest; the praise becoming, however, less discriminating as the instinct which directed it became less sure.

Plato's satire1 upon Lysias—for not having seen that the writing of love-letters is a branch of Dialectic—is joined to a notice of the clearness, compactness, finished polish of his language2; and it would perhaps be unfair to Plato to assume that in the one place where he seems at all just to Lysias he meant to be altogether ironical. Isaeos was a careful student of Lysias3. If Aristotle4 seldom quoted him, if Theophrastos5 appears to have missed and Demetrics6 to have underrated his peculiar merits, one of the first orators of their generation, Deinarchos7, often took him for a model. When the taste for Attic simplicity, lost during two centuries in the schools of Asia, revived at Rome, Lysias was recognised as its truest representative. Though most of his Roman imitators appear to have become feeble in seeking to be plain, one of them, Licinius Calvus, is allowed at least the praise of elegance8. Cicero's criticism of Lysias is not close; it does not analyse with any exactness the special qualities of his style; but the general appreciation which it shows is just. For Cicero, Lysias is the model, not of a plain style merely, but of Attic refinement9; he has also the highest degree of vigour10; and though grandeur was seldom possible in the treatment of such subjects as he chose, some passages of his speeches have elevation11. Yet, while Demosthenes could use the simplicity of Lysias, it is doubtful (Cicero thinks) whether Lysias could ever have risen to the height of Demosthenes12; Lysias is ‘almost’ a second Demosthenes13, or, what is the same thing, ‘almost’ a perfect orator14; but his mastery is limited to a province. The Augustan age produced by far the best and fullest of known ancient criticisms upon Lysias, that of Dionysios15. The verdict of Caecilius has perished with his work on the Ten Orators; but the remark preserved from it, that Lysias was abler in the invention than in the arrangement of arguments16, shows discernment. This quality marks in a less degree the judgments of subsequent writers. Quintilian17 only commends Lysias in general terms for plain elegance of language and mastery of clear exposition; Hermogenes18 especially praises, not his winningness, but his hidden force, classing him, with Isaeos and Hypereides, next to Demosthenes in political eloquence. Photios19 goes wide of the mark; he praises Lysias for those things in which he was relatively weak, pathos and sublime intensity; and disputes the just observation of Caecilius that Lysias excelled in invention rather than in arrangement.

1 Plat. Phaedr. p. 264 B: οὐ χύδην δοκεῖ βεβλῆσθαι τὰ τοῦ λόγου; φαίνεται τὸ δεύτερον εἰρημένον ἔκ τινος ἀνάγκης δεῖν δεύτερον τεθῆναι; It is on this ground—the unphilosophic character of Lysias—that Plato gives such a decided preference to Isokrates. Compare the remark of Dionysios that Isaeos differs from Lysias in this among other things—τῷ μὴ κατ᾽ ἐνθύμημά τι λέγειν ἀλλὰ καὶ κατ᾽ ἐπιχείρημα (De Is. 16). That is, Isaeos frequently makes an attempt (ἐπιχείρημα) at strict logical proof; whereas Lysias rarely goes beyond the rhetorical syllogism (ἐνθύμημα).

2 Phaedr. p. 234 E: τί δέ; καὶ ταύτῃ δεῖ τὸν λόγον ἐπαινεθῆναι, ὡς τὰ δέοντα εἰρηκότος τοῦ ποιητοῦ, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐκείνῃ μόνον, ὅτι σαφῆ καὶ στρογγύλα, καὶ ἀκριβῶς ἕκαστα τῶν ὀνομάτων ἀποτετόρνευται;

3 Dionys. De Is. 2: [Plut.] vit. Isae.

4 In the extant works of Aristotle there occur but two quotations from authentic speeches of Lysias: (1) In Rhet. III. ad fin. εἴρηκα, ἀκηκόατε, ἔχετε, κρίνατε. cited as an example of effective asyndeton. This is probably an inaccurate citation of the ἀκηκόατε, ἑωράκατε, πεπόνθατε, ἔχετε, δικάζετε with which the speech Against Eratosthenes closes. (2) In Rhet. II. c. 23 § 18 there is a quotation from § 11 of the speech of Lysias περὶ τῆς πολιτείας (Or. XXXIV.): εἰ φεύγοντες μὲν ἐμαχόμεθα ὅπως κατέλθωμεν, κατελθόντες δὲ φευξόμεθα ὅπως μὴ μαχώμεθα.The citation in Rhet. III. c. 10 § 7 (διότι ἄξιον ἦν ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳσυγκαταθαπτομένης τῇ ἀρετῇ αὐτῶν τῆς ἐλευθερίας) from § 60 of the ἐπιτάφιος ascribed to Lysias (Or. II.) cannot be reckoned, since that speech is unquestionably spurious. Blass remarks that the words quoted by Demetrios (περὶ ἑρμ. § 28) from a lost work of Aristotle περὶ δικαιοσύνης resemble what we read in § 39 of the speech Against Eratosthenes. (Att. Bereds. p. 377, note 3.)

5 Dionysios expresses indignant astonishment at the assertion of Theophrastos (ἐν τοῖς περὶ λέξεως) that Lysias had a taste for vulgar redundancy of ornament (φορτικῶν καὶ περιέργων αὐτὸν οἴεται ζηλωτὴν γενέσθαι λόγων). Moderns may share this surprise, when they find that Theophrastos referred in support of his opinion to a speech said to have been composed by Lysias for the captive general Nikias. The few words quoted by Theophrastos suffice to indicate the work of a third-rate rhetorician: see above, p.147. Cf. Sauppe's remarks on the fragment, O.A. II. p. 199.

6 In a passage of the περὶ ἑρμηνείας (§ 128) already noticed, the epithets which Demetrios gives to the ‘graces’ of Lysias are εὐτελεῖςκωμικώτεραι. It is significant that Demetrios should have mistaken ἀφέλεια for εὐτέλεια, plainness for paltriness. He lived at the time when Greek eloquence, in the first stage of its decline, was beginning to affect the tawdry ornament of the Rhodian school. (See Westerm. Griesch. Bereds. p. 165.)

7 Dionysios names certain speeches of Deinarchos as bearing especially the Αυσιακὸς χαρακτήρ. Hypereides and (of course) Demosthenes were the two other masters by whom Deinarchos was chiefly influenced. (Dionys. De Dein. c. 5.)Among the less eminent imitators of Lysias who belonged nearly to the age of Deinarchos, Cicero names Charisios and Hegesias of Magnesia (Brut. § 286: Orator § 226).

8 Cic. Brutus § 283Accuratius quoddam dicendi et exquisitius afferebat genus.” He treated this style scienter eleganterque, though with a certain self-conscious and overwrought care which deprived it of freshness and force.

9 De Oratore III. 7 § 28Suavitatem Isocrates, subtilitatem Lysias, acumen Hyperides, sonitum Aeschines, vim Demosthenes habuit.” Compare Orator § 29intelligamus hoc esse Atticum in Lysia, non quod tenuis sit atque inornatus, sed quod nihil habeat insolens aut ineptum.

10 Brutus § 64Quanquam in Lysia saepe sunt etiam lacerti, ita sic ut fieri nihil possit valentius.

11 De opt. gen Oratorum § 9Est enim (Lysias) multis locis grandior; sed quia et privatas ille plerasque et eas ipsas aliis et parvarum rerum caussulas scripsit, videtur esse ieiunior, quom se ipse consulto ad minutarum genera caussarum limaverit.

12 ib. § 10Ita fit ut Demosthenes certe possit summisse dicere, elate Lysias fortasse non possit.

13 Orator § 226, “Lysiamalterum paene Demosthenem.

14 Brutus § 35 “Quem iam prope audeas oratorem perfectum dicere; nam plane quidem perfectum, et cui nihil admodum desit, Demosthenem facile dixeris.

15 Besides the special essay on Lysias, and the short notice in the κρίσις ἀρχαίων v. 1, there is much criticism upon him in the essays upon Isokrates, Isaeos, Demosthenes and Deinarchos. It is necessary to study these in connexion with the essay on Lysias; they explain, or limit, many statements found there.

16 The criticism is cited, and contested, by Photios, p. 489 B, quoted below.

17 Quint. IX. 4. 16: X. 1. 78 (Lysias)...“quo nihil, si oratori satis est docere, quaeras perfectius.

18 In the περὶ ἰδεῶν II. c. 41 Hermogenes ranks Lysias, with Isaeos and Hypereides, next to Demosthenes in mastery of the πολιτικὸς λόγος. In his chapter περὶ δεινότητος (περὶ ἰδ. II. 9) he says that there are three kinds of δεινότης, —that which is and seems, that which seems and is not, and that which is but does not seem. The last, or hidden, δεινότης is, he thinks, most perfectly exemplified in Lysias.

19 Photios cod. 262: ἔστι δὲ Αυσίας δεινὸς μὲν παθήνασθαι, ἐπιτήδειος δὲ τοὺς πρὸς αὔξησιν διαθεῖναι λόγους.—Id. p. 489 B. 13: Καικίλιος δὲ ἁμαρτάνει εὑρετικὸν μὲν τὸν ἄνδρα εἴπερ ἄλλον τινὰ συνομολογῶν, οἰκονομῆσαι δὲ τὰ εὑρεθέντα οὐχ οὕτως ἱκανόν: καὶ γὰρ κἀν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει τῆς ἀρετῆς τοῦ λόγου οὐδενὸς ὁρᾶται καταδεέστερος—injudicious praise indeed.

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