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Êthopoiïa.

From this trait we pass naturally to another which has just been mentioned as one of its sources— the faculty of seizing and portraying character. Of all the gifts of Lysias this is the most distinctive, and is the one which had greatest influence upon his style. It is a talent which does not admit of definition or analysis; it can be understood only by studying its results. It is shown, as Dionysios says, in three things—thought, diction, and composition1; that is, the ideas, the words, and the style in which the words are put together, always suit the person to whom they are ascribed2. There is hardly one of the extant speeches of Lysias upon which this peculiar power has not left its mark. Many of them, otherwise poor in interest, have a permanent artistic value as describing, with a few quiet touches, this or that type of man. For instance, the Defence which is the subject of the Twenty-first Oration is interesting solely because it embodies to the life that proud consciousness of merit with which a citizen who had deserved well of the State might confront a calumny. In the speech on the Sacred Olive, if the nameless accused is not a person for us, he is at least a character—the man who shrinks from public prominence of any kind, but who at the same time has a shy pride in discharging splendidly all his public duties3. The injured husband, again, who has taken upon Eratosthenes the extreme vengeance sanctioned by the law, is the subject of an indirect portrait, in which homeliness is combined with the moral dignity of a citizen standing upon his rights (De caed. Eratosth. (Or. I.) §§ 5 ff., 47—50). The steady Athenian householder of the old type, and the adventurous patriot of the new, are sketched in the speech On the Property of Aristophanes4. The accuser of Diogeiton, unwilling to prosecute a relative, but resolved to have a shameful wrong redressed;—Diogeiton's mother, pleading with him for her sons;—are pictures all the more effective because they have been produced without apparent effort5. But of all such delineations—and, as Dionysios says, no character in Lysias is inartistically drawn or lifeless6—perhaps the cleverest and certainly the most attractive is that of Mantitheos, the brilliant young Athenian who is vindicating his past life before the Senate. Nowhere is the ethical art of Lysias more ably shown than in the ingenuous words of apology with which, as by an afterthought, Mantitheos concludes his frank and highspirited defence:—

‘I have understood, Senators, that some people are annoyed with me for this too—that I presumed, though rather young, to speak in the Assembly. It was about my own affairs that I was first compelled to speak in public; after that, however, I do suspect myself of having been more ambitiously inclined than I need have been,—partly through thinking of my family, who have never ceased to be statesmen,— partly because I saw that you (to tell the truth) respect none but such men; so that, seeing this to be your opinion, who would not be invited to act and speak in behalf of the State? And besides— why should you be vexed with such men? The judgment upon them rests with none but yourselves7.’

1 De Lys. c. 8 τριῶν τε ὄντων ἐν οἷς καὶ περὶ τὴν ἀρετὴν ταύτην συμβέβηκεν εἶναι, διανοίας τε καὶ λέξεως καὶ τρίτης τῆς συνθέσεως, ἐν ἅπασι τούτοις αὐτὸν ἀποφαίνομαι κατορθοῦν.

2 Francken (Commentationes Lysiacae, pp. 5—7) thinks it doubtful whether by the ἠθοποιΐα of Lysias Dionysios meant the appropriate delineation of each several character, or the attribution to all characters alike of a certain attractive simplicity. Francken inclines to the latter view. He refers to cases in which, as he thinks, Lysias has failed, or has not tried, to mark individual character, or in which the general stamp of simplicity is exaggerated. The appreciation of êthos depends much upon taste; it scarcely admits of argument. But it is clear to me what Dionysios, at least, meant by the ἠθοποιϊα of Lysias. He meant the appropriate delineation of each several character. Surely he says so very plainly: De Lys. c. 8 οὐ γὰρ διανοουμένους μόνον ὑποτίθεται χρηστὰ καὶ ἐπιεικῆ καὶ μέτρια τοὺς λέγοντας, ὥστε εἰκόνας εἶναι δοκεῖν τῶν ἠθῶν τοὺς λόγους ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν λέξιν ἀποδίδωσι τοῖς ἤθεσιν οἰκείαν. Cf. K. O. Müller, Hist. Gr. Lit. II. p. 143 (tr. Donaldson):—‘Lysias distinguished, with the accuracy of a dramatist, between the different characters into whose mouths he put his speeches, and made everyone, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, speak according to his quality and condition: this is what the ancient critics praise under the name of his Êthopoiia. The prevalent tone, however, was that of the average man.’

3 De sacra Olea §§ 1—3, 30.

4 De Aristoph. bonis §§ 18— 23, 55—64.

5 In Diogeit. §§ 1—3, 12—17.

6 De Lys. c. 8 ἁπλῶς γὰρ οὐδὲ εὑρεῖν δύναμαι παρὰ τῷ ῥήτορι τούτῳ πρόσωπον οὔτε ἀνηθοποίητον οὔτε ἄψυχον.

7 Pro Mantith. §§ 20, 21.

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