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Clearness and conciseness.

Closely connected with this simplicity is his clearness. Lysias is clear in a twofold sense; in thought, and in expression. Figurative language is often a source of confusion of thought; and the habitual avoidance of figures by Lysias is one reason why he not only speaks but thinks clearly. In regard to this clearness of expression Dionysios has an excellent remark. This quality might, he observes, result merely from ‘deficiency of power,’ i.e. poverty of language and of fancy which constrained the speaker to be simple. In the case of Lysias it does, in fact, result from wealth of the right words1. He uses only plain words; but he has enough of these to express with propriety the most complex idea. The combination of clearness with conciseness is
achieved by Lysias because he has his language thoroughly under command; his words are the disciplined servants of his thoughts2. Isokrates is clear; but he is not also concise. In the union of these two excellences, Isaeos3 perhaps stands next to Lysias. There are, indeed, exceptions to the conciseness of Lysias, as there are exceptions to the purity and the plainness of his diction. Instances occur in which terms nearly synonymous are accumulated, either for the sake of emphasis or merely for the sake of symmetry4; but such instances are not frequent.

1 De Lys. c. 4 καὶ εἰ μὲν δἰ ἀσθένειαν δυνάμεως ἐγίγνετο τὸ σαφὲς οὐκ ἄξιον ἦν αὐτὸ ἀγαπᾶν: νῦν δὲ πλοῦτος τῶν κυρίων ὀνομάτων ἐκ πολλῆς αὐτῷ περιουσίας ἀποδείκνυται ταύτην τὴν ἀρετήν.

2 ib. c. 4 οὐ τοῖς ὀνόμασι δουλεύει τὰ πράγματα παρ᾽ αὐτῷ, τοῖς δὲ πράγμασιν ἀκολουθεῖ τὰ ὀνόματα.

3 It is remarkable that Dionysios expressly denies to Demosthenes the invariable clearness of Lysias, De Lys. c. 4 τῆς μὲν Θουκυδίδου λέξεως καὶ Δημοσθένους, οἳ δεινότατοι τὰ πράγματα ἐξειπεῖν ἐγένοντο, πολλὰ δυσείκαστά ἐστιν ἡμῖν καὶ ἀσαφῆ.

4 For emphasis (e.g.) in Or. XIII. § 63 οἱ δ᾽ αὐτῶν περιγενόμενοι καὶ σωθέντες, οὓς οὗτος μὲν ἀπέκτεινεν ὠμῶς καὶ θάνατος αὐτῶν κατεγνώσθη, δὲ τύχη καὶ δαίμων περιεποίησε . . . τιμῶνται ὑφ᾽ ὑμῶν. For symmetry (e.g.) in Or. XXVIII. § 3 καὶ γὰρ δὴ δεινὸν ἂν εἴη εἰ νῦν μὲν οὕτως αὐτοὶ πιεζόμενοι ταῖς εἰσφοραῖς συγγνώμην τοῖς κλέπτουσι καὶ τοῖς δωροδοκοῦσιν ἔχοιτε, ἐν δὲ τῷ τέως χρόνῳ καὶ τῶν οἴκων τῶν ὑμετέρων μεγάλων ὄντων καὶ τῶν δημοσίων προσόδων μεγάλων οὐσῶν, θανάτῳ ἐκολάζετε τοὺς τῶν ὑμετέρων ἐπιθυμοῦντας: where, as Blass observes, the words μεγάλων οὐσῶν are superfluous, and the phrase τοὺς τῶν ὑμετέρων ἐπιθυμοῦντας where τοὺς τοιούτους would have sufficed, is meant to balance τοῖς κλέπτουσι καὶ τοῖς δωροδοκοῦσιν.Another strong instance of redundancy of the former kind—the emphatic—is Or. XXI. § 24 οὐδεπώποτ᾽ ἠλέησα οὐδ᾽ ἐδάκρυσα οὐδ᾽ ἐμνήσθην γυναικὸς οὐδὲ παίδων τῶν ἐμαυτοῦ, οὐδ᾽ ἡγούμην δεινὸν εἶναι εἰ τελευτήσας ὑπὲρ τῆς πατρίδος ὀρφανοὺς καὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ἀπεστερημένους αὐτοὺς καταλείψω. Favorinus, according to Gellius (II. V.), used to say:—‘If you remove a single word from a passage of Plato, or alter it, however suitably to the sense, you will still have taken away something from the elegance; if you do so in Lysias, you will have taken away something from the sense.’ This praise, as we have seen, needs modification.

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