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Hyperides, a member of a middle-class family, was born in 389 B.C., and so was almost exactly contemporary with Lycurgus, whose political views he shared. He too, according to his biographer, was a pupil of Isocrates and of Plato, but the influence of the latter can nowhere be traced in his work.

A man of easy morals and self-indulgent habits, he presents a striking contrast to the austerity of Lycurgus. The comic poets satirized his gluttony and his partiality for fish, and the Pseudo-Plutarch records that he took a walk through the fish-market every day of his life; but the pursuit of pleasure did not impair his activity.

He was at first a writer of speeches for others, as Demosthenes was at the beginning of his career;1 but before he reached the age of thirty he began to be concerned personally in trials of political import. He prosecuted the general Autocles on a charge of treachery, in 360 B.C.; he appeared against the orator Aristophon of Azenia, and Diopeithes. He impeached in 343 B.C., Philocrates, who had brought about the peace with Philip.2 He was sent as a delegate to the Amphictyonic Council (Demos., de Cor., §§ 134-135), and showed himself a vigorous supporter of the policy of Demosthenes; in 340 B.C., when an attack on Euboea by Philip was anticipated, he collected a fleet of forty triremes, two of which he provided at his own cost. Shortly before Chaeronea he proposed a decree to honour Demosthenes; after the battle he took extreme measures for the public safety, including the enfranchisement of metoeci and the manumission of slaves. He was prosecuted by Demades for moving an illegal decree, and retorted, ‘The arms of Macedon made it too dark to see the laws; it was not I who proposed the decree, but the battle of Chaeronea.’ (Fr. 28). He was able to retaliate soon afterwards by prosecuting Demades for the same offence of illegality. Demades had proposed to confer the title of proxenos on Euthycrates, who had betrayed Olynthus to Philip. A fragment which remains of Hyperides' speech on this subject shows him to be a master of sarcasm (below, p. 295).

We know nothing for certain about the origin of the breach between him and Demosthenes; it may have been due to his disapproval of the latter's policy of inactivity when Sparta in 330 B.C. wished to fight with Antipater; at any rate his language in 334 B.C. shows him to be an irreconcilable adversary of Macedon. Nicanor had sent a proclamation to the Greeks requesting them to recognize Alexander as a god, and to receive back their exiles. At the same time Harpalus, Alexander's treasurer, had deserted from the king's side and arrived at Athens with a considerable treasure. Demosthenes was in favour of negotiating with Alexander; Hyperides wished to reject the proposals of Nicanor, and use the treasure of Harpalus for continuing the war against Macedon. Harpalus was arrested, but succeeded in escaping, and many prominent statesmen came under suspicion of having received bribes from him. Hyperides was chosen as one of the prosecutors, and Demosthenes was exiled.

Hyperides, after Alexander's death, took the chief responsibility for the Lamian war, and was chosen to pronounce the funeral oration on his friend, the general Leosthenes, and the other Athenians who fell in the war. Demosthenes had now returned from exile; the two patriots were reconciled, and persisted in the policy of resistance from which the prudence of Phocion had long striven to dissuade Athens. After the battle of Crannon, Antipater demanded the surrender of the leaders of the war party; Hyperides fled, was captured and put to death in 322 B.C. He is said to have bitten out his tongue for fear that he might, under torture, betray his friends. His body was left unburied till the piety of a kinsman recovered it and gave him interment in the family tomb by the Rider's Gate. He had proved himself consistent throughout his public life, and however mistaken his policy, especially in the latter years, may have been, honour is due to him for the unflinching patriotism which led him to martyrdom in a vain struggle to uphold his country's honour.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, Hyperides was known to the modern world only from the criticisms of Dionysius and other ancient scholars, and from a few minute fragments preserved here and there by quotations in scholiasts and lexicographers. A manuscript is believed to have existed in the library at Buda, but when that city was captured by the Turks in 1526 the library was destroyed or dispersed, and Hyperides was lost.

In 1847 portions of his speeches began to reappear among the papyri discovered in Egypt. In that year a roll, containing fragments of the speech Against Demosthenes and of the first half of the Defence of Lycophron, was brought to England; a second roll discovered in the same year was found to contain the second half of the Lycophron and the whole of the Euxenippus. In 1856 were discovered considerable fragments of the Funeral Speech. In 1890, some fragments of the speech Against Philippides were acquired by the British Museum, while the most important discovery of all was that of the speech Against Athenogenes. The MS. was purchased for the Louvre in 1888, but the complete text was only published in 1892. Its importance may be estimated by the fact that Dionysius couples this speech and the defence of Phryne as being the best examples of a style in which Hyperides surpassed even Demosthenes. The papyrus itself is of interest as giving us one of the very earliest classical MSS. that we possess; it dates from the 2nd century B.C.3

In many points Hyperides challenges comparison with Lysias. The criticism of Dionysius is well worth our consideration: ‘Hyperides is sure of aim, but seldom exalts his subject; in the technique of diction he surpasses Lysias, in subtlety (of structure) he surpasses all. He keeps a firm hold throughout on the matter at issue, and clings close to the essential details. He is well equipped with intelligence, and is full of charm; he seems simple, but is no stranger to cleverness.’4

The first sentence contrasts Hyperides once for all with his contemporary Lycurgus, who, while less sure of his aim, has a personal dignity which gives exaltation to every theme.

We have hardly enough of the work of Hyperides to enable us to form a first-hand judgment as to the merits of his diction compared with that of Lysias. He has, indeed, the same simplicity and naturalness, but hardly, so far as we can judge, the same felicity of expression.

Hermogenes blames him for carelessness and lack of restraint in the use of words, instancing such expressions as μονώτατος, γαλέαγρα, ἐπήβολος, etc., which seem to him unsuited for literary prose. As we have had occasion to notice already, rare and unusual words may be found occasionally in every orator, almost in every writer. Hyperides was no purist; he enlivened his style with words taken from the vocabulary of Comedy and of the streets. He did not wait for authority to use any expression which would give a point to his utterance.

Critics who expected dignified restraint in oratorical prose may have been shocked by the adjective θριπήδεστος, ‘worm-eaten,’ which he applied to Greece; to us it seems an apt metaphor. Of his other colloquialisms some recall the language of Comedy—as κρόνος (‘an old Fossil’), the diminutive θεραποντίον, and ὀβολοστάτης5 (‘a weigher of small change’=‘usurer’), προσπερικόπτειν (‘to get additional pickings’—the metaphor is apparently from pruning a tree), παιδαγωγεῖν in the sense of ‘lead by the nose.’ Others seem to be merely colloquial, part of that large and unconventional vocabulary which was soon to form the basis of Hellenistic Greek; for we must remember that we are already on the verge of Hellenism, and that the Attic dialect must soon give way before the spread of a freer language. In this class we may put ἐποφθαλμιᾶν (‘to eye covetously’), ὑποπίπτειν (‘to put oneself under control of somebody’), ἐνσείω (‘to entrap’), κατατέμνειν (‘to abuse’), ἐπεμβαίνω (poetical or colloquial, ‘to trample on’).

In some of his speeches relating to hetairai he seems to have used coarse language which offended his critics; nothing offensive is found in his extant speeches.6

Other metaphors and similes abound; he is fond of comparing the life of the State to the life of a man, as Lycurgus does also—ἓν μὲν σῶμα ἀθάνατον ὑπείληφας ἔσεσθαι, πόλεως δὲ τηλικαύτης θάνατον κατέγνως. ‘You imagine that one person (i.e. Philip) can live for ever, and you passed sentence of death on a city as old as ours.’ The Homeric phrase ἐπὶ γήρως ὀδῷ (=ἐπὶ γήραος οὐδῷ, ‘on the threshold of old age’) is curiously introduced into a serious passage in the Demosthenes without any preparation or apology. We can only suppose that it was so familiar to his hearers that it would not strike them as being out of place in ordinary speech. It is similarly used by Lycurgus (Leoc., § 40). In the same speech (Against Demosthenes) Hyperides speaks of the nation being robbed of its crown, but the metaphor is suggested by the fact that actual crowns had been bestowed on Demosthenes. Such metaphors as ‘others are building their conduct on the foundations laid by Leosthenes,’ though less common in Greek than in English, are perfectly intelligible. A happy instance of his ‘sureness of aim’ which Dionysius commended is preserved in a fragment about his contemporaries:

“Orators are like snakes; all snakes are equally loathed, but some of them, the vipers, injure men, while the big snakes eat the vipers.

Fr. 80.

He uses simile, however, with varying success; the following, though the conception is good, is not properly worked out, as the parallelism breaks down:

“As the sun traverses the whole world, marking out the seasons, and ordering everything in due proportion, and for the prudent and temperate of mankind takes charge of the growth of their food, the fruits of the earth and all else that is beneficial for life; so our city ever continues to punish the wicked and help the righteous, preserving equal opportunities for all, and restraining covetousness, and by her own risk and loss providing common security for all Greece.

The Epitaphios from which the last quotation is taken is a speech of a formal kind composed in the epideictic style, and naturally recalls similar speeches of Isocrates and others. Its composition shows much greater care than was taken with the other speeches; thus there are few examples of harsh hiatus, a matter to which the author as a rule paid no attention. All the other extant speeches have far more instances of clashing vowels.7 The antithetical sentences are appropriate to the style, and the periodic structure is like that of Isocrates, except that the sentences are, on the whole, shorter and simpler.

In other speeches he mingles the periodic and the free styles with discretion. The objection to a long period is that it takes time to understand it; we cannot fully appreciate the importance of any one part until we have reached the end and are in a position to look back at the whole. For practical oratory it is far better to make a short statement which may be in periodic form, and amplify it by subsequent additions loosely connected by καί, δέ, γάρ, and such particles. This is what Hyperides does with success, for instance in the opening of the Euxenippus, an argumentative passage.8 In narrative passages a free style is expected.9

In contrast to this flowing style we must notice the quick abrupt succession of short sentences which he sometimes affects, either in the form of question and answer, as in the following fragment, or otherwise:

““Did you propose that the slaves should be made free?” “I did, to save the free men from becoming slaves.” “Did you move that the disfranchised citizens should be enfranchised?”—“I did, in order that all in harmony might fight side by side for their country.”

(Frr. 27-28).

Still more effective is the following:

“It is on this account that you have enacted laws to deal separately with every possible offence that a citizen may commit. A man commits sacrilege—prosecution for sacrilege before the king-archon. He neglects his parents—the archon sits on his case. A man proposes an illegal measure —there is the council of the Thesmothetae. He makes himself liable to arrest—the “eleven” are permanent officials.

Hyperides possessed an active wit which enabled him on many occasions to evade an argument by making his opponent appear ridiculous. Euthias, in prosecuting Phryne for impiety, made his audience shudder by describing the torments of the wicked in Hades. ‘How is Phryne to blame,’ asked Hyperides, ‘for the fact that a stone hangs over the head of Tantalus?’ (Fr. 173.) In the Euxenippus, he complains that the process of impeachment before the assembly has been applied to the present case:

“Impeachment has hitherto been employed against people like Timomachus, Leosthenes, Callistratus, Philon, and Theotimus who lost Sestos—some of them for betraying ships which they commanded, some for betraying cities, and one for giving, as an orator, bad advice to the people. . . . The present state of affairs is ridiculous— Diognides and Antidorus are impeached for hiring fluteplayers at a higher price than the law allows; Agasicles of Piraeus is impeached for being registered as of Halimus; and Euxenippus is impeached on account of the dream which he says he dreamed.

His sarcasm is playful at times, even in serious passages; for instance the following:

“These Euboeans Demosthenes enrolled as Athenian citizens, and he treats them as his intimate friends; this need not surprise you; naturally enough, since his policy is always ebbing and flowing, he has secured as his friends people from Euripus.

Another good example of his sarcastic humour appears in the defence of Euxenippus against the charge of Macedonian sympathy:

“If your assertion (the prosecutor's) were true, you would not be the only person to know it. In the case of all others who in word or deed favour Philip, their secret is not their own; it is shared by the whole city. The very children in the schools know the names of the orators who are in his pay, of the private persons who entertain and welcome his emissaries, and go out into the streets to meet them on their arrival.

This same sarcasm is in many places a powerful weapon of offence, as in the next extract from the indictment of Demosthenes:

“You, by whose decree he was put in custody, who when the watch was relaxed did nothing to assure it, and when it was abandoned altogether did not bring the guilty to trial—no doubt it was for nothing that you turned the opportunity to such advantage. Are we to believe that Harpalus gradually paid out his money to the minor politicians, who could only make a noise and raise an uproar, and overlooked you, who were master of the whole situation?

The following fragment contains the most striking example of irony to be found anywhere in his works; the situation explains itself:

“The reasons which Demades has introduced are not the true justification for Euthycrates’ appointment, but if he must be your proxenos, I have composed, and now put forward, a decree setting forth the true reasons why he should be so appointed:—Resolved—that Euthycrates be appointed proxenos, for that he acts and speaks in the interests of Philip; for that, having been appointed a cavalry-leader, he betrayed the Olynthian cavalry to Philip; for that by so doing he caused the ruin of the people of Chalcidice; for that after the capture of Olynthus he acted as assessor at the sale of the prisoners; for that he worked against Athens in the matter of the temple at Delos; for that, when Athens was defeated at Chaeronea, he neither buried any of the dead nor ransomed any of the captured.

Fr. 76.

We have seen already how he could turn his wit against the whole class of orators, to which he belonged himself; it is pleasant to find him, in a speech which he wrote for a fee, thus describing Athenogenes: ‘A common fellow, a professional writer of speeches.’ ( Athenogenes, col. 2,ἄνθρωπον λογόγραφόν τε καὶ ἀγοραῖον”) It was the business of the logographos to sink his own personality in that of his client, and Hyperides, who was an artist by instinct, did so more successfully than any other speech-writer, except, perhaps, Demosthenes. In the present instance he must have felt a peculiar satisfaction in his work.

In private speeches he introduces many matters extraneous to the case; thus in the Athenogenes, though the question is only about a shady business transaction, he rouses odium by references to his adversary's political offences. No doubt many weak cases succeeded by such devices, which call forth the just indignation of Lycurgus (Lycurgus, Leocr., § 11; cf. § 149). In public cases he has a higher ideal. When Lycurgus was an advocate on the other side, Hyperides referred to him with all the respect due to his character. Even the speech against Demosthenes is entirely free from personal abuse, if we except a little mild banter about Demosthenes' austere habits of sobriety.11 The indictment of Demosthenes' public actions is vigorous enough, but it is restrained within the limits of good taste, and this is not for the sake of ancient friendship, which Hyperides repudiates:

“After that will you dare to remind me of our friendship? . . . (as if it were) not you yourself who dissolved that friendship, when you received money to do your country harm, and changed sides? When you made yourself ridiculous and brought disgrace on us who hitherto had been of your party? Whereas we might have been held in the highest respect by the people, and been attended for the rest of life's journey by an honourable repute, you shattered all such hopes, and are not ashamed at your age to be tried by the younger generation for receiving bribes. On the contrary, the younger politicians ought to receive education from men like you; if they committed any hasty action they ought to be rebuked and punished. Things are quite different now, when it falls upon the young men to correct those who have passed the age of sixty. And so, Gentlemen, you may well be angry with Demosthenes, for through you he has had his fair portion of wealth and renown; and now, with his foot on the threshold of old age, he shows that he cares nothing for his country.

Dionysius approves the diversity of Hyperides' manner in dealing with his narratives:—‘He tells his story on a variety of ways, sometimes in the natural order, sometimes working back from the end to the beginning.’12 We have no means of judging; the Euxenippus, the only complete forensic speech, contains practically no narrative; the story of the Athenogenes is, apparently, told straight through without a break, and then followed by evidence and criticism and legal arguments. Then follows the attempt to blacken the character of Athenogenes by extraneous arguments.

We may conclude this section by a few sentences from the treatise On the Sublime, expressing an estimate of the general character of his oratory:

“If successes were to be judged by number, not by magnitude, Hyperides would be absolutely superior to Demosthenes. He has more tones in his voice, and more good qualities. He is very nearly first-class in everything, like a pentathlete, so that, while other competitors in every event beat him for the first prize, he is the best of all who are not specialists.’ . . . ‘Where Demosthenes tries to be amusing and witty, he raises a laugh, but it is against himself. When he attempts to be graceful, he fails still more signally. At any rate, if he had attempted to compose the little speech about Phryne or the one against Athenogenes, he would have established still more firmly the reputation of Hyperides.’ ‘But . . . the beauties of the latter, though numerous, are not great; his sobriety renders them ineffective, and leaves the hearer undisturbed—no one, at any rate, is moved to terror by reading Hyperides.

And the passage concludes with a sincere tribute to the titanic force of Demosthenes.

Hyperides had seventy-seven speeches ascribed to him, of which fifty-two were thought by the Greek biographer to be genuine (Ps.-Plut., § 15). Blass has collected the titles of no less than sixty-five, in addition to the five which are extant in the papyri; so that only seven are unknown by name. Some quotations have been given from the indictment of Demosthenes (above, p. 18, 294-296); the subject matter has been explained (above, p. 225-227), and the treatment, so far as we can judge from the fragments, criticized (above, p. 296). The date is 324 B.C. The Defence of Lycophron is a speech in an εἰσαγγελία in which Lycurgus was one of the prosecutors. Lycophron, an Athenian noble, was a commander of cavalry in Lemnos, and was accused of seducing a Lemnian woman of good family, the wife of an Athenian who died before the case came on. The date is uncertain; perhaps around 338 B.C. The case of Euxenippus arises out of the fact that Philip, after Chaeronea, restored the territory of Oropus to Athens. It was divided into five lots, and one lot assigned to every two tribes. A question arose whether the portion given to the Hippothoöntid and Acamantid tribes was not sacred to Amphiaraüs, and Euxenippus and two others were deputed to sleep in the shrine of the hero and obtain from their dreams a divination on the subject. They reported a dream which could be interpreted in favour of their tribes. In the present instance they are prosecuted for having given a false report of their dreams. The defendant and another advocate had already preceded Hyperides, so that the present speech is mainly devoted to bickering with the prosecutors, of whom Lycurgus was one. Date about 330 B.C.

The speech Against Philippides13 is very much mutilated. It is a γραφὴ παρανόμων against Philippides, otherwise unknown, who had proposed a vote of thanks to a board of πρόεδροι or presidents of the ecclesia for their action in passing a certain decree, which seems to have been a vote of honour to Philip. It was passed under compulsion, and Philippides attempted subsequently to exonerate them from all possible blame by a decree which is here declared illegal.

The Epitaphios or Funeral Speech is a composition in a well-known conventional form. The topics for such a speech were already laid down by long custom. The skill of the orator is seen in his original way of handling the traditional commonplaces. First of all there is the strong personal note. He had been associated in politics with Leosthenes, and with him was jointly responsible for the Lamian war in which the latter met his death (322 B.C.). His personal feeling for the general is very prominent in the speech; Leosthenes is in fact the principal theme; he is put, as M. Croiset remarks, almost on a level with Athens:—‘Leosthenes seeing all Greece humbled and cowering, brought to ruin by the traitors whom Philip and Alexander had bought; seeing that our city wanted a man, and all Greece wanted a city, to take the leadership, freely gave himself for his country and gave our city for the Greeks to win their freedom.’ (Epitaphios, § 10). It is not, he says, that he wishes to slight the other patriots, but in praising Leosthenes he is praising all. He draws a fancy picture of the heroes of antiquity welcoming Leosthenes in Hades. It is a sign of the times that the individual should so be exalted; we have travelled far indeed from the cold impersonality of Pericles, to whom the nameless heroes who sacrifice their lives are but part of a pageant passing before the eyes of the deathless city. The consolation to the living is remarkable for containing references to a future life, which is quite without precedent:—‘It is hard to comfort those who are in such grief; for neither speeches nor laws can send sorrow to sleep’ . . . (there follow remarks about eternal praise, which are not particularly characteristic; but he concludes in a higher strain):—‘Furthermore, if the dead are as though they had never been, our friends are released from sickness and pain and the other misadventures which afflict mankind; but if the dead have consciousness, and are under the care of God, as we believe, we may be sure that they, who upheld the honour of the gods when it was threatened, are now the objects of God's loving kindness.’ (Epitaphios, §§ 41-43.) Truly Socrates had not lived in vain.

The speech Against Athenogenes14 is an admirable example of the orator's lighter style. Its chief merit is the way in which the narrative of the events is delivered by the speaker.

Hyperides' client, a young Athenian, wished to obtain possession of a young slave, who was employed in a perfumery-shop. Athenogenes, the owner of the shop— ‘a vulgar speech-maker, and worst of all an Egyptian’ —saw his opportunity for a good stroke of business, and at first refused to sell the slave. A quarrel ensued. At this point Antigona, once the most accomplished courtesan of her day, but now retired, came and offered her services to the young man. She contrived to pick up for herself a gratuity of 300 drachmas, just as a proof of his good opinion. Later, she told the young man that she had persuaded Athenogenes to release the boy, not separately, but together with his father and brother, for forty minas. The young man borrowed the money; a touching scene of reconciliation followed, Antigona exhorting the two adversaries to behave as friends in future. ‘I said that I would do so, and Athenogenes answered that I ought to be grateful to Antigona for her services; “and now,” he said, “you shall see what a kindness I will do you for her sake.”’ He offered, instead of setting the slaves free, to sell them formally to the plaintiff, who could then set them free when he liked, and so win their gratitude. ‘As to any debts they have contracted, you can take them over; they are trifling, and the stock remaining in the shop will easily cover them.’ Assent having been given, Athenogenes produced a contract in these terms, which he had brought with him, and it was signed and sealed on the spot. Within three months the unhappy purchaser found himself liable for business debts and deposits amounting to five talents. Athenogenes made the preposterous excuse that he had not known anything about this enormous debt. His dupe was in an awkward position, as he had formally taken over the business and its liabilities. He tries to prove that the contract should be held not valid. His legal claim is very slight; the appeal is really to equity. The second part of the speech deals with Athenogenes in his political relations. The epilogue exhorts the judges to take this opportunity of punishing such a scoundrel on general grounds, even if he cannot actually be brought under any particular law.

1 He could not afford to be particular as to the kind of cases which he took up; the affair of Athenogenes is far from respectable on either side, and several of his speeches were in connexion with hetairai of the less reputable sort. His defence of the famous Phryne was his masterpiece.

2 He mentions these three among the most famous cases in which he has been concerned (For Euxenippus, § 28).

3 The agreement of Blass and Kenyon on this point may be taken as conclusive. Small fragments of another speech For Lycophron have been recently published (Pap. Oxyrh., vol. xiii.).

4 ἀρχαίων κρίσις, v. 6.

5 ὸβολοστατεῖν was used by Lysias also (fr. 41).

6 Demetrius, περὶ ἑρμηνείας, § 302.

7 Cf. de Demos., col. xi, “ἐν τῷ δήμῳ ἑπτακόσια φήσας εῖναι τάλαντα, νῦν τὰ ἡμίση ἀναφέρεις, καὶ οὐδ᾽ ἐλογίσω ὄτι τοῦ πάντα ἀνενεχθῆναι ὸρθῶς, κ.τ.λ.” Ibid., col. xiii., “καὶ οἰ ἄλλοι φίλοι αὐτοῦ ἔλεγον ὄτι ἀναγκάσουσι, κ.τ.λ.Euxenippus, § 19, etc.

8 §§ 1-3, although a full stop occurs in the second line of § 3, are all really one sentence, but in spite of its length it is perfectly lucid.

9 A good example of a story told by a succession of short sentences joined by καὶ is to be found in Athenogenes, § 5.

10 The tide in the Euripus, which ebbed and flowed nine times a day, was, of course, proverbial.

11 Col. xxxix., the last two fragments of the speech in Blass' edition.

12 de Dinarcho, ch. 6.

13 Date 336-5 B.C.

14 Date between 328 and 323 B.C.

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