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His style

Ancient critics dealt severely with Andocides. Though Alexandrine criticism included him in the list of the ten standard orators, Dionysius barely mentions him (de Lysia, ch. 2); Quintilian disparages his work (Quint., xii. 10, 21), and Herodes Atticus modestly hopes that he himself is at least superior to Andocides.1 Hermogenes sums up his defects as an orator as follows:

‘He aims at being a statesman, but does not quite succeed. He lacks proper articulation and distinctness in his “figures,” he lacks order in connecting his sentences and rounding them off, losing distinctness by the use of parentheses, so that he strikes some as ineffectual and needlessly obscure. He has very little finish or arrangement and little vigour. He has a small, but very small, portion of cleverness in systematic argument, but practically none of any other kind.’2

It is with some hesitation that I give this tentative translation of a difficult passage. It seems to mean that Andocides, though he uses ‘figures,’ such as antithesis, rhetorical question and irony, does not attain ‘precision’ or make them distinct enough. His sentences are sometimes deformed because a parenthesis overpowers the main clause. His diction is unpolished and unconvincing. The only credit which he deserves is for his μέθοδος—his system of stating his case; wherein Hermogenes was perhaps thinking of the way in which the orator arranges his material, giving only part of the narrative at a time, and criticizing it as he goes along, rather than keeping narrative and arguments quite separate. Later and more practised orators have been commended for this method. By general cleverness, Hermogenes probably means skill in the use of the usual sophistries of the rhetorician.

The Pseudo-Plutarch is less severe on the orator:

‘He is simple and inartificial in his narratives, straightforward and free from “figures.”’3

It must at once be granted that many of the criticisms aimed at Andocides hit their mark; but it is open to doubt whether they can penetrate deep enough to deal a vital blow at his reputation. The ancient critics were academic and tended to lose sight of practical details. They were, as a rule, more concerned with the impressions that a speech produced on the reader than with its effect on the hearers; they laid great emphasis on the artistic side, and in examining a speech looked carefully to see how closely the orator had followed the artificial rules of the rhetorician. But this kind of estimate may lead to injustice, for not only must the critic refer to an artificial standard established by convention, a standard which might not have been recognized by the orator's contemporaries, but, even granting that certain rules of rhetoric should generally be followed, we may maintain that particular circumstances justify a speaker in departing from them. Rhetoric is a practical art, whose object, as Plato tells us, is persuasion; and though most people who practise it will do best to move on the accustomed lines, there may be some who can succeed without following the beaten track.

Andocides is not to be compared to his predecessor Antiphon in the points which are the latter's chief characteristics—dignity of manner, balance of clauses and verbal antithesis; but, on the other hand, he has command of a fairly lucid style, and a gift for telling a straightforward narrative of events, two matters in which the older orator was not conspicuously successful. Again, Andocides starts with one signal advantage. If we read the tetralogies of Antiphon, excellent as they may be in showing the writer's grasp of the technique of his trade, and turn from them to one of the real speeches, the Herodes, for instance, we feel at once how great a gain it is to have the human interest before us. A speech in which real persons are concerned must always have this advantage over a declamatory exercise. But we still feel that the personal element is not so prominent as it might be, simply because the orator is not giving voice to his own thoughts on an occasion where his own interests are deeply concerned, but stringing together sentences which an obscure young man from Mitylene may clumsily stumble through without, perhaps, in the least comprehending their cleverness. But Andocides is a real live man speaking in his own person and in his own defence on a most serious charge. He is in grave danger, and must exert himself to the utmost; he must rise to the great occasion, or expect to pay the penalty—perhaps with his life. This is an occasion, if there ever can be one, when style may be completely put in the background, where matter is of more importance than method, where the means are of no account unless the end can be attained; for epigram cannot temper the hemlock-cup, and the laws of Athens are stronger than the rules of oratory.

It was natural to Antiphon to pay attention to details of style, and his style is of a rather archaic tone. Andocides, on the other hand, was not a trained orator, except in so far as every Athenian was trained in youth in the elements of speaking. He was not either a professional pleader or a frequent speaker in public—indeed, from the fact that he lived long in exile he cannot have had many opportunities of appearing either in the law-courts or the assembly. Possessing a convenient fluency of speech and a thorough command of the language of daily life, he finds in it a satisfactory means of expression. In most cases he seems to have by nature what Lysias obtained by art—a clear and direct way of expressing his thoughts, a simplicity of language in which nothing strained or unfamiliar strikes the ear. On the other hand, there are inconsistencies in his style; there are times when, apparently without premeditation, he does use words or phrases slightly foreign to the speech of common life. We have a feeling that this was done without affectation; that in the course of his fluent and rapid utterance he used just those words which naturally occurred to him as appropriate.4 In this he differs from Lysias, who took the common speech and perfected it into a literary form, attaining by study a refined simplicity and purity which only careful practice could produce.

On the whole, Andocides is most effective when he is most simple; when he uses common words and makes no attempt at the rhetorical artifices which do not come natural to him. The following narrative will emphasize my point:

When we had all been taken to prison, and it was night and the prison gates were shut, and one man's mother had come, and another's sister, and another's wife and children, and sounds of lamentation were heard as they wept and bewailed our miserable state, Charmides spoke to me—he was a cousin of mine, of the same age as myself, and he had been brought up in our home from childhood.

“Andocides,” he said, “you see what serious trouble we are in; and though I did not want to say anything, or to annoy you at all before, I am now forced to do so on account of the misfortune we are come to.

“Your other friends and associates, apart from us who are your relations, have some of them already been executed for the charges on which we are being done to death, while others have admitted their guilt by fleeing from the country.

“If you have heard anything about this affair, tell the truth, and by doing so save both yourself, and your father, who must be very dear to you, and your brother-in-law, who is married to your only sister, and finally, all the rest of your family and friends, not to mention me—for in all my life I have never caused you annoyance, but am devoted to you and ready to do anything I can to help you.”

His exposure of Dioclides is simple and effective; he repeats the informer's statement, and with a very few words of comment makes it appear ridiculous:

Encouraged by his country's misfortunes Dioclides laid information before the Council. He asserted that he knew the persons who had mutilated the Hermae, and that there were about three hundred of them. He proceeded to relate how he had come across the matter.

He said that he had a slave working at Laureion, and had to go there to get the man's wages. He rose very early, having mistaken the time, and started on his way. The full moon was shining, and as he passed the gateway of Dionysus, he saw a number of men coming down from the Odeum into the Orchestra. He was afraid of them, and so went into the shadow and sat down between the pillar and the pedestal on which the bronze statue of the General stands.

He estimated the number of the men he saw at about three hundred, and they were standing round in groups of five or ten, or, in some cases, twenty. He could recognize most of them, as he saw the moonlight shining on their faces.

Now he made this monstrous statement in the first place in order that it might be in his power to say that any citizen he liked was or was not a member of that company.

After seeing all this, he said, he went on to Laureion, and on the next day heard of the mutilation of the Hermae. So he knew at once that it was the work of the men whom he had seen.

The opening of the speech shows a reasonable use of the sort of commonplaces which custom demanded as a preface to argument—the malignity and ingenuity of the speaker's enemies and the perplexity caused by the number of their accusations which makes it difficult to know where to begin.

Nearly all of you know, Gentlemen, with what persistency my enemies have contrived to harm me in every possible way, by fair means or foul, from the time when I first came to Athens, and there is no need for me to dwell upon the subject; but I shall ask you only for just treatment, a favour which is as easy for you to grant as it is important for me to gain.

First, I would have you bear in mind that I have now appeared before you without having been in any way forced to await my trial; I have neither surrendered to bail, nor have I suffered the constraint of imprisonment. I appear because I have put my trust above all in the justice of my cause, and secondly, in your character; feeling as I do that you will give a just decision, and not allow me through a perversion of justice to be ruined by my enemies, but that you will much rather save me by allowing justice to take its course in accordance with the laws of the city, and the oaths which you have sworn as a preliminary to the verdict which you are about to record.

It is reasonable, Gentlemen, that, in the case of men who voluntarily face the danger of a trial, you should take the same view of them as they do of themselves. Those who refuse to await their trial practically stand selfcondemned, so that you may reasonably pass on them the sentence which they have passed on themselves; but as for those who wait to stand their trial in the confidence that they have done no wrong, you have a right to hold the same opinion about them which they have held about themselves, and not decide, without a hearing, that they are in the wrong. . . .

I am considering, therefore, from which point I ought to begin my defence. Shall I begin with the last-mentioned plea, that my indictment was illegal? or with the fact that the decree of Isotimides is not valid? or shall I appeal to the laws and the oaths which you have taken? or, lastly, shall I start by relating the facts from the beginning?

My greatest difficulty is that the various counts of the indictment do not stir you all equally to resentment, but each of you has some point which he would like me to answer first. It is impossible to deal with them all at once, and so it seems to me the best course to relate the whole story from the beginning, omitting nothing; for if you thoroughly realize what actually occurred, you will easily recognize the lies which my accusers have told to my discredit.

The peroration is simple and vigorous in its directness:

Do not deprive yourselves of your hopes of my help, nor deprive me of my hopes of helping you. I now request those who have already given proof of the highest nobility of feeling towards the democracy to mount the platform and advise you in accordance with what they know of my character. Come forward, Anytus and Cephalus, and you members of my tribe who have been chosen to plead for me—Thrasyllus and the rest.

Reference has already been made to the vitality of his speech. Compared with his life-like vigour, the ‘austerity’ of Antiphon becomes dull and pompous. The most striking feature of his work is the ease with which, in reporting conversations or explaining motives, he breaks into direct quotation, recalling his own words or putting words into the mouths of others to express what they said or thought. We recognize in this something of a Homeric quality; it is comparable to the Epic use of ὧδε δέ τις εἴπεσκε and καὶ ποτέ τις εἴπῃσι.

The following extract shows how the main thread of the sentence may be lost in a tangle of such parenthetical quotations:

From the first, though many people informed me that my enemies were saying that I should never await my trial—“For what could induce Andocides to await his trial, when he may leave the city and still be well off? If he sails to Cyprus, where he comes from, there is waiting for him a large and flourishing farm of which he has the freehold; will he prefer to put his neck into a halter? With what end in view? Cannot he see which way the wind blows here?” I, Gentlemen, disagree entirely with this view. I would not live and enjoy the utmost prosperity somewhere else at the price of losing my fatherland; and even if the wind did blow here as my enemies say it does, I would rather be a citizen of Athens than of any other city; prosperous, for the present, as such other cities may seem to me to be. Holding such views as these I have committed to you the decision about my life.

It has been noted that Andocides is not addicted to the use of verbal antithesis such as Thucydides and Antiphon have made too familiar. We do not find him playing upon the contrasts between ‘word and deed,’ ‘being and seeming’ with such recurrent monotony.

There is, however, one kind of antithesis to which he is somewhat partial—an antithesis of thought rather than language. He is fond of explaining a difficulty of choice by putting it in the form of a dilemma.

As far as his own personal conduct was concerned, he must often have had to face dilemmas. From the part which he had played in the sacrilege, and the awkward positions in which consequently he found himself placed, it must often have been equally difficult and dangerous for him to lie and to speak the truth. So it is not unnatural that we should often find sentences like the following:

How would each of you have acted, Gentlemen, if you had had to choose either to die nobly, or to owe your life to a disgraceful action?

Some may say that what I did was base, but many would have chosen as I did.

This appeal to the individual feelings, especially the request by which it is prefaced, that they will judge ‘by human standards’ (ἀνθρωπίνως), is effective in its boldness. The speaker must have felt sure of his audience before he ventured to appeal to the lower nature which every one would like to repudiate.

In marked contrast to the dignity of Antiphon, Andocides from time to time lapses into scurrility, dragging into his speech discreditable anecdotes relating to his opponents which are quite irrelevant to his proper subject and merely serve to raise a laugh at the moment. Thus the long recital about the domestic affairs of Callias (§§ 123-130) has no bearing at all on the trial. A man whose father has been three times unhappily married may still be a trustworthy witness. The introduction of the irrelevant story is then quite unjustifiable, but, since such examples of bad taste were freely tolerated at Athens, it was worth while to make a score by such foul hitting, especially if one could deliver the blows as neatly as in the following passage:

‘At the mother's request, the relations took the child to the altar at the time of the Apaturia. They brought a victim, and requested Callias to perform the sacrifice. He asked who was the father of the child. “Callias, the son of Hipponicus.”—“But I'm Callias.”—“Yes, and it's your child.”

There is more to be said in justification of the attack on Epichares. To prove, or to assert violently, that his accuser was an enemy of the democracy and a person of vile character formed a presumption in favour of the defendant. Demosthenes himself made a custom of such practices, and was not less unscrupulous or less irrelevant than Andocides:

But Epichares, who is the worst of them all, and wants to keep up his reputation, and so acts vindictively against himself—for he was a member of the Council in the time of the Thirty; and what is the provision in the law which is inscribed on the pillar in front of the Council room? “Whosoever shall hold office in the city when the democracy has been overthrown, may be slain without penalty, and his slayer shall be free from blood-guiltiness, and shall possess the property of the slain.” Surely then, Epichares, any one who slays you now will have clean hands, according to Solon's law? Let me have the law on the pillar read aloud?

But Andocides in such cases certainly violates the laws of good taste, and in the matter of this personal abuse, though less fertile in vocabulary, is a worthy forerunner of the great orators. His scurrility is hardly excused by the ingenuity of its epigrammatic form: “You jackal, you common informer! . . . are you allowed to live and prowl about the city? Little do you deserve it; under the democracy you lived by the informer's trade; under the oligarchy, for fear of being forced to give up the money you had made by informing, you were a menial of the Thirty. . . .


and again:

“One result of your decision to observe the present laws is that he has been restored from exile to citizenship, and from legal disability to the free exercise of the informer's trade.

The use of parenthesis is sometimes carried by Andocides to extremes. An instance has been quoted in which the grammatical construction breaks down because the writer introduces an imaginary conversation into the middle of it (above, p. 66). The style is sometimes so loose and discursive that not only is the construction difficult to follow, but the argument is obscure. The writer suffers from an inability to keep to the point, or rather, he tries to explain several things at once, and so makes nothing clear. An extreme instance is to be found in §§ 57 sqq. of the de Mysteriis. His thoughts run too fast for his tongue, and he has not the technical skill to guide them on their proper courses. Such sentences afford a practical comment on the introduction to the same speech, in which he states that he does not know where to begin (§ 8).

On the other hand, passages may be found in which a series of short sentences, loosely combined, and disturbed by anacoluthon, are really effective, since they simulate the broken utterance of passion. Of such is the following:

“Then the herald inquired who had deposited the suppliant's branch, and no one answered. Now we were standing close by, and Callias could see me. When nobody answered, he retired into the temple. Eucles, stepping forward—oblige me by calling him up—Now then, Eucles, first of all give evidence whether I am speaking the truth.

1 Philostratus, vita Her. Att., ii. 1, § 14.

2 Hermogenes, περὶ ἰδεῶν, ch. xi. p. 416. Spengel (Rhetores Graeci).

3 Ps.-Plut., Lives of the Ten Orators.

4 The following is a list of some of the poetical or unusual words and phrases occurring in the speeches— de Myst.: § 29ταῦτα τὰ δεινὰ καὶ φρικώδη ἀνωρθίαζον”. § 67πίστιν . . . ἀπιστοτάτην”. § 68ὁρῶσι τοῦ ἡλίου τὸ φῶς”. § 99ἐπίτριπτον κίναδος”. § 130κληδών”. § 146γένοςοἴχεται πᾶν πρόρριζον”. de Pace: § 7τὸν δῆμον . . . ὑψηλὸν ἦρε”. § 8 and in three other passages “κατηργάσατο” (secure, bring about, cf. Eur. Her., 646πόλει σωτηρίαν κατεργάσασθαι”). § 18κρατιστεύειν”. § 31ἐκτεῖναι τὸν θυμὸν, ἀρχὴν πολλῶν κακῶν”. The de Pace is noticeable for the recurrence of two grammatical forms which do not occur in the other speeches, the use of τοῦτο μὲν, τοῦτο δέ after the manner of Herodotus for the simple μέν and δέ; and the repetition of δέ with a resumptive force, as, e.g., § 27 δὲ πρὸς τούτους μόνους ἐκεῖνοι συνέθεντο, ταῦτα δ᾽ οὐδεπώποτ᾽ αὐτούς φασι παραβῆναι”. The illogical use of the plural of οὐδείς in the same sense as the singular ( de Myst., § 23οὐδένας”, § 147οὐδένα”) is perhaps colloquial. There are many instances of the use of this plural in the later orators, a point which Liddell and Scott did not observe, or, at any rate, failed to make clear. Another phrase which may be colloquial is “τῇ γνώμῃ καὶ ταῖν χεροῖν ταῖν ἐμαυτοῦde Myst., § 144).

5 συκόφαντα καὶ επίτριπτον κίναδος, κ.τ.λ.,de Myst., § 99.

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