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His Diction—its purity.

The diction of Lysias is distinguished in the first place by its purity. This is a quality upon which no modern could have pronounced authoritatively, but for which the ancient Greek critic vouches. In the Augustan age the reaction from florid Asianism to Atticism had set in strongly, and especial attention was paid by Greek grammarians to the marks of a pure Attic style. Dionysios may be taken as a competent judge. He pronounces Lysias to be ‘perfectly pure in expression, the best canon of Attic speech,— not of the old used by Plato and Thucydides,’ but of that which was in vogue in his own time1. This may be seen, he adds, by a comparison with the writings of Andokides, Kritias and many others. Two ideas are included under the ‘purity’ praised here; abstinence from words either obsolete (γλῶσσαι) or novel, or too decidedly poetical; and abstinence from constructions foreign to the idiom of the day— an excellence defined elsewhere as ‘accuracy of dialect2.’ Lysias is not rigidly pure in these respects. The only instance of an old-fashioned syntax, indeed, which has been noticed in him, is the occasional use of τε as a copula3; nor does he use such pedantic words as were meant by ‘glossae;’ but rare or poetical words and phrases occur in many places4. The praise of purity must be taken in a general and relative sense. Of those who came after Lysias, Isokrates most nearly approached him in this quality5; but Isaeos is also commended for it6.

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