Extant and lost works
The Plutarchic biographer of Lysias says:—‘425 compositions pass under his name; of which 233 are pronounced genuine by Dionysios and Caecilius’.1
The precise number 233 was probably given by Dionysios or
Caecilius, not by both; but it may be taken as representing roughly the proportion of genuine to spurious allowed by the Augustan Atticists. It is not difficult to understand how the list of works attributed to Lysias had become so large and so inaccurate. His fertility was known to have been great; his style was distinguished less by any salient features than by marks needing for their recognition a finer sense, especially an instinct for the niceties of Attic idiom; and it was not until the Attic revival under Augustus that such an
instinct, dead during two centuries, was brought back to an artificial life. Meanwhile the grammarians of Pergamos and Alexandria, presuming on the reputation of Lysias for industry, had probably been lavish in ascribing to him such anonymous forensic speeches as bore the general stamp of the ‘plain’ style.
Proportion of Extant to Lost Works.
Thirty-four speeches, entire, or represented by large fragments, are extant under the name of Lysias. A hundred and twenty-seven lost speeches are known from smaller fragments or by their titles. Three letters, cited by grammarians, are identified by the names of the persons to whom they were addressed. If to this list is added the disputed Erôtikos in Plato's Phaedros, 165 of the 425 compositions mentioned in the Plutarchic Life have been accounted for; 260 remain unknown2
Condition of the Extant Speeches.
Of the 34 speeches now usually reckoned as extant, three are mere fragments, though large fragments, preserved by Dionysios alone, and printed with the rest only in the more recent editions of Lysias. These are nos. XXXII. (Against Diogeiton); XXXIII. (Olympiakos); XXXIV. (Defence of the Constitution). Of the other 31 speeches eight are more or less mutilated. In the first place an entire quaternion (eight pages), and three pages of another, are wanting in the Palatine MS. The lost quaternion contained the end of Or. XXV. (Defence on a Charge of abolishing the Commonwealth), the speech
Against Nikides, and the beginning of Or. XXVI. (Against Evandros). The imperfect quaternion contained on its first two pages the end of Or. v. (For Kallias), and the beginning of Or. VI. (For Andokides); on its last page, a passage in Or. VI. corresponding to the lacuna in § 49 after ἀνταποδούς
. In the next place the archetype of the Palatine MS. itself was defective. The gaps are at the beginning of Or. IV. (On Wounding with Intent); at the end of Or. XVII. (On the Property of Eraton); at the beginning of Or. XVIII. (On the Property of Eukrates); and at the beginning of Or. XXI. (On a Charge of taking Bribes.) Thus of the 34 speeches only 23 are entire3
Leaving aside the three speeches known only
from Dionysios, the other 31, as arranged in the MSS., form three divisions. The first division consists of the solitary epideictic speech, No. II. (the Epitaphios)—interpolated, as it were, by accident, and (considering its almost certain spuriousness) possibly at a late time. The second division consists of Orations I. and III. to XI. inclusive,—all forensic, except VIII., and arranged with an attempt at classification of subjects. Oration I. refers to a case of murder; III. and IV. to cases of wounding with murderous intent; V. VI. VII. deal with cases of impiety; VIII.—XI. (inclusive) concern, directly or indirectly, cases of libel (κακηγορία
);—No. VIII., though not forensic, being numbered with these
for convenience. In the third division, consisting of Orations XII.—XXXI. inclusive, no such system of arrangement can be discovered; but the twenty speeches have this in common, that all relate to causes either formally or virtually public. Oration XVII. (On Eraton's Property—in the MSS. περὶ δημοσίων ἀδικημάτων
), though not formally public, is so virtually, as concerning a confiscation to the treasury; the case dealt with by Or. XXIII. (Against Pankleon), though private in form, is so far akin to a public cause that it turns upon a disputed claim to Athenian citizenship.
It seems probable that each of these two divisions—Or. I. with III. to XI., and Or. XII. to XXXI.— is a fragment of a manuscript edition which originally comprised all the speeches of Lysias; but whether both fragments belong to the same edition can hardly be decided4
The extant speeches of Lysias may be considered under the heads of Epideictic, Deliberative and Forensic. After these, it will remain to speak of the Miscellaneous Writings ascribed to him, represented by the Address to his Companions (Or. VIII.) and the Platonic Erôtikos. Lastly the Fragments of speeches and letters will claim notice.