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1. The son of Aristander, of Phaselis, a Dorian city of Pamphylia, on the borders of Lycia, was a highly distinguished rhetorician and tragic poet in the time of Philip of Macedon (Suid. s.v. Steph. Byz. s. v. Φασηλίς (Eustath. ad Dion. Perieg. 855). he was a pupil of Isocrates (Pseudo-Plut. Vit. Isocr. 10, p. 837d.); and also, according to Suidas, of Plato and of Aristotle. The greater part of his life was spent at Athens, where he died at the early age of forty-one, while his father was still alive, and was buried by the side of the sacred road to Eleusis (Paus. 1.37.3; Pseudo-Plut. l.c.). The following epitaph, which was inscribed upon his tomb, is preserved by Stephanus (l.c.) : --

Ἥδε χθὼν κόλποισι Φασηλίτην Θεοδέκτην
, ὃν ηὔξησαν Μοῦσαι Ὀλυμπιάδες:
Αὐτὰρ ἐπὶ χθόν̓ ἐὼν
1 ἱεραῖς τρισὶ καὶ δέχ̓ ἁμίλλαις
Ὀκτὼ ἀγηράντους ἀμφεθέμην στεφάνους

The people of his native city also honoured the memory of Theodectes with a statue in their agora, which Alexander, when he stopped at Phaselis on his march towards Persia, crowned with garlands, to show his respect for the memory of a man who had been associated with himself by means of Aristotle and philosophy (Plut. Alex. 17 ; the words are τιμὴν ἀποδιδοὺς τῇ γενομένῃ δἰ Ἀπιστοτέλην καὶ φιλοσοφίαν ὁμιλίᾳ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα.) On this passage the question arises, whether the somewhat vague expressions used by Plutarch are to be understood as meaning simply that Alexander recognized a sort of tie between Theodectes and himself on account of their common connection with Aristotle, or whether the strict sense of the word ὁμιλίᾳ is to be so urged as to establish a personal acquaintance between the king and Theodectes; each of these opinions having been maintained by eminent scholars (see Welcker, Kayser, Wagner, and Clinton, as quoted below). We believe the former view to be the right one ; but the question is too minute to be discussed here; nor is it of much importance, since the age of Theodectes can be determined on other grounds.

He was one of the orators who contended for the prize proposed by Artemisia for a funeral oration in honour of Mausolus, in B. C. 352 (Suid. s.v. Aul. Gel. 10.18 : Suidas, however, gives the date wrongly, Ol. 103, ργ', instead of Ol. 107, ρζ' ; see Clinton, F. H. vol. ii. s. a., and p. 287). Now the visit of Alexander to Phaselis was in Ol. 111. 4, B. C. 333; and, if we assume that the statue of which he took such special notice had been but recently erected, we may suppose that Theodectes died about B. C. 335 or 334, and therefore, according to Suidas's account of the length of his life, that he was born about B. C. 376 or 375. He would then be about 23 or 24 at the time of the funeral of Mausolus; about the same age as Theopompus, his rival on that occasion, and his fellow-pupil under Isocrates; and about ten years younger than Aristotle, a result agreeing with the account which makes him not merely the friend, but the pupil of that philosopher (Suid. l.c. ; Cic. Orat. 51, 57), and also with a story respecting their relation to each other, preserved by Athenaeus (xiii. p. 566e). It is said that Theodectes was distinguished for his personal beauty (see also Steph. Byz. l.c.), which excited the admiration of Aristotle, as much as the beauty of Alcibiades enchanted Socrates. The several passages of Aristotle, in which Theodectes is mentioned, furnish decisive evidence of the strong regard and high esteem in which he was held by the philosopher. (Aristot. Rh. 2.23.13, &c.)

Theodectes devoted himself, during the first part of his life, entirely to rhetoric, and afterwards he turned his attention to tragic poetry, but his dramatic works partook largely of the rhetorical character, so that, while in tragedy he may be regarded as, to some extent, an imitator of Euripides, he must be considered, in his whole literary character, as the disciple of Isocrates, whose style he is said to have followed very closely. (Dionys. de Is. 19 ; Hermipp. apud Ath. x. p. 451f.; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 260, p. 487a. 1, Bekker; Suid. l.c.) Like his master, he was a professional teacher of rhetoric and composer of orations for others, and was in part dependent on this profession for his subsistence, as we learn from a passage of Theopompus, who, while placing himself and Theodectes and Naucrates, with their common master Isocrates, at the head of the oratorical profession (τῆς ἐν λόγοις παιδείας) among the Greeks, boasts that he and Naucrates were independent by their fortunes, while Isocrates and Theodectes were compelled by their necessities to teach, and to write orations for pay. (Phot. Bibl. 176, p. 120b. 30, foll.) Such a boast betrays, perhaps, a consciousness that, in real merit and in public esteem, Theodectes stood above the other pupils of Isocrates, and nearest to his master. It appears, however, pretty certain that, on one great occasion, when these four orators were placed in competition with each other, namely, at the funeral of Mausolus, the prize was gained by Theopompus, who in this case also betrayed his jealousy and vanity by the manner in which he boasted of his victory over his master Isocrates. (Euseb. Praep. Ev. 10.3.) In the accounts of this transaction an important question arises respecting the share of Theodectes in the contest. Some writers have concluded, from the testimonies on the subject, that, while the other three orators came forward with funeral orations in honour of Mausolus, Theodectes entered the contest with a tragedy on the subject of the king's life, under the title of Mausolus. This idea is perhaps sufficiently absurd to carry with it its own refutation; but it is also quite unsupported by the testimonies on which it professes to rest, a careful examination of which will show that Theodectes composed both an oration and a tragedy on the same subject; that, though he was defeated by Theodectes in the competition of oratory, his tragedy gained the prize; and that, while his oration was lost, his tragedy was extant down to the time of Gellius. (Gel. 10.18; Pseudo-Plut. Vit. Isocr. p. 838b.; Suid. s. vv. Θεοδέκτης, Ἰδοκράτης). In this, as in so many other cases, we have to thank Suidas for originating the error by confounding the testimonies together; but the truth may be detected even in his confused account. (Suid. s. v. Θεοδέκτης: καὶ ἐνίκησε [ Θεοδέκτης] μάλιστα οὐδοκιμήσας ἐν εἶπε τραγῳδία: ἄλλοι δέ φασι Θεόπομπον ἔχειν τὰ πρωτεῖα). There still remains, however, a minor, and not unimportant question; namely, whether the tragedy of Theodectes was brought out in a dramatic contest (or perhaps merely recited) at the funeral of Mausolus, or whether it was afterwards composed for the Athenian stage, and there rewarded with the first prize. It is no sufficient answer to the latter idea, to say that the subject was not one which would interest the Athenians, for, besides that the tragedies of that day derived nearly all their interest from their manner rather than their matter, the Athenians could not be indifferent to a subject which was employing the genius, not only of the greatest rhetoricians, but also of the greatest artists whom they then possessed. (See Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Mausoleum, 2d ed.) The only safe conclusion, we believe, is that the evidence is insufficient to determine the question.

For excellence in the art of rhetoric, as it was practised by the school of Isocrates, Theodectes appears to have possessed the highest qualifications. Among these, no mean place must be assigned to that personal beauty which has been already mentioned. His memory was so strong, that he could repeat any number of verses, after they had been read to him only once. (Quint. Inst. 11.2.51 ; Aelian, Ael. NA 6.10; Pollux, 6.108; Cic. Tusc. 1.24). Connected with this strength of memory was a power greatly prized by the rhetoricians of the day, and possessed in a high degree by Theodectes, of solving a kind of complicated riddles called γρῖφοι. (Poll. l.c. ; Athen. p. 451f.; where two examples are given from his tragedies; Fr. 8, 19, ed. Wagner).

Dionysius places him, with Aristotle, at the head of the writers on the art of rhetoric. (De Comp. Verb. 2, de Vi dic. in Dem. 48.) His treatise on the subject, entitled τέχνη ῥητορική (Suid. Steph. Eustath. ll. cc.), is repeatedly referred to by the ancient writers, from the comic poet Antiphanes, who was his elder contemporary (Ath. iv. p. 134b.), down to Tzetzes (Chil. 12.573). If we may believe Suidas (s. v.) it was in verse. Some appear to have believed the Rhetoric of Aristotle to be the work of Theodectes; but this is a manifest error. (Quint. Inst. 2.15.10; with Spalding's Note; comp. V. Max. 8.14.3.) It seems, however, as might have been expected, that his work had some things in common with Aristotle's views, especially as to the classification of words, and the exclusion of the idea of metrical numbers front prose composition (Dion. ll. cc.), and we are told that Aristotle wrote an introduction (εἰσαγωγή) to the work of Theodectes. (D. L. 5.24; Anon. Vit. Aristot., where it is called Συναγωγή, and is said to have been in three books.) Cicero quotes certain statements, respecting the alleged occurrence of certain feet in prose, from the work of Theodectes, whom he calls in primis politus scriptor atque artifex (Orat. 51). The work is now entirely lost, as are also his orations, which are mentioned under the title of λόγοι ῥητορικοί (Steph. Byz. l.c.), and which Eustathius (l.c.) calls λόγοι ἀγαθοί. All that we know of their subjects is that one of them was a defence of Socrates (Aristot. Rh. 2.23 ; Phot. Frag. Cantab. p. 671, where he is wrongly called Θεόδεκτος), and that another was entitled Νόμος. (Aristot. l.c.) A most valuable account of all that is known of the prose compositions of Theodectes is contained in the work of Märcker, de Theodectis Phaselitae Vita et Scriptis comment. I., Vratislav. 1835.

We now turn to his dramatic works. It was not till after he had obtained renown in rhetoric, that he turned his attention to tragedy. (Suid. Plut. Vit. Isocr. ; Phot. Bibl. 260, ll. cc.). If, therefore, the view above stated be correct, that he brought out his tragedy of Mansolus at the funeral of the Carian prince in B. C. 352, it may be assumed that this was about the time when he began to compose tragedies. The number of his dramas is uniformly stated as fifty. (Suid.; Steph.; Eustath. ; ll. cc.) According to his epitaph, quoted above, he entered the dramatic contests thirteen times, and gained eight victories. Hence the conjecture seems very probable, that he always brought out a tetralogy, and that the fifty dramas ascribed to him are to be taken as a round number, for fifty-two; or it may be said that he brought out eleven tetralogies and two trilogies; but the latter, though a more literal, is a less natural and more arbitrary explanation. We have the titles of ten of these dramas, Αἴας, Ἀλκμαίων, Ἑλένη, Θυέστης, Λυγκεύς, Μαύσωλος, Οἰδίπους, Ὀπέστης, Τυδεύς, Φιλοκτήτης, to which three may be added with great probability, namely, Βελλεποφόντης, Θησεύς, and Μέμνων ν̓̀ Ἀχίλλευς. Popular as his dramas were, on account of their adaptation to the taste of his contemporaries, it is probable, from the fragments which survive, that they would be condemned by a sound aesthetic criticism, as characterised by the lax morality and the sophistical rhetoric of the schools of Euripides and Isocrates. The former censure is meant to apply to the choice of his subjects rather than to the manner in which he treated them; for we find in the fragments sound moral sentiments, lamentations over the growing vice of the poet's times, examples of the heroic virtues, arguments against impiety and atheism, and in favour of divine providence and justice; the last of which subjects appears to have been treated in such a manner as entirely to reject the old doctrine of fate, and consequently to make an essential change in the whole character and spirit of tragedy. II is tragedies contained many of the enigmas to which reference has been made above; an ingenious specimen is the attempt of a rustic to describe the letters which compose the name Θησεύς.

A story is related about Theodectes, which, though almost certainly fabulous, ought not to be passed over, namely, that, in one of his tragedies he borrowed, or thought of borrowing, something from the sacred books of the Jews, and was struck blind as a punishment for his profanity; but, on his repenting of the crime, his sight was restored to him. (Aristeas, de LXX. Interpr. in Gallandii Bibl. Patr. vol. ii. p. 803; J. AJ 12.2.14; Euseb. Praep. Ex. vii.; and other writers cited by Wagner, p. 114b.) A sufficient proof of the fabulous character of the story is derived from the non-existence, at that time, of any Greek version of the Old Testament.

Theodectes had a son of the same name (see below), and a domestic slave, who was also his amanuensis (ἀναγνώστης καὶ οἰκέτης), named Sibyrtius, who is said to have been the first of his condition who devoted himself to the study of rhetoric. He wrote a treatise on the art, τέχναι ῥητορικαί, according to Suidas, who, however, is just as likely as not to have confounded the master and the slave. (Suid. s. v. Σιβύρτιος.)

1 * Some crities read ἐν δὲ χορῶν τραγικῶν.

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