History of Athenian oratory begins with Antiphon
The earliest of those Athenian orators who have left writings is not the disciple of him who most represented the new art of oratory. Antiphon was chiefly formed, not by the new Oratory, but by the
a disciple, not of Gorgias, but of the Sicilian Rhetoric.
new Rhetoric, not by Gorgias but by Tisias. The influence of Gorgias meets us somewhat, of course, even in Antiphon, but far more decidedly in Thucydides, and then, chastened to a form of which its beginnings had little promise, in Isokrates. The
Rhetoric and Popular Dialectic at Athens from 450 B.C.
second half of the fifth century at Athens had already given a place in the popular life to the new culture. While Comedy set itself against that culture, Tragedy had been more compliant. No
contrast could be more significant than that between the singular barrenness of the trial-scene in the Eumenides,
or the measured controversies of the Ajax,
and the truly forensic subtleties of the Orestes.
Nor was the exercise only mimic. Already the public advocates (συνηγόροι
) formed a class. The
private advocate was forbidden to take money. Hence he usually begins by defining the personal interest which has led him to appear. In the next century, at least, the law was not strictly observed1
; private advocacy was often paid; and it is not rash
to suppose that this practice was as old as the frequency of litigation.