Antiphon the most antique of the orators.ANTIPHON stands first among the orators of the Attic canon; and he claims this place not merely because he was born a few years earlier than any one of the rest. A broad difference separates him from those who were nearly his contemporaries hardly less than from men of the next century, from Andokides and Lysias as well as from Demosthenes and Hypereides. He represents older ideas and an older conception of the manner in which these ideas are to find expression. His successors, taken collectively, are moderns; compared with them, he is ancient.
The beginnings of Greek Prose.The outburst of intellectual life in Hellas during the fifth century before Christ had for one of its results the creation of Greek prose. Before that age no Greek had conceived artistic composition except in the form of poetry. The Ionians who had already recorded myths or stated philosophies in prose had either made no effort to rise above the ease of daily talk, or had clothed their meaning in a poetical diction of the most ambitious kind. As the mental horizon of Greece was widened, as subtler ideas and more various combinations began to ask for closer and more flexible expression, the desire grew for something more precise than poetry, firmer and more compact than the idiom of conversation. Two special causes aided this general tendency. The development of democratic life, making the faculty of speech before popular assemblies and popular lawcourts a necessity, hastened the formation of an oratorical prose. The Persian Wars, by changing Hellenic unity from a sentiment into a fact, and reminding men that there was a corporate life, higher and grander than that of the individual city, of which the story might be told, supplied a new motive to historical prose. Athens under Perikles became the focus of all the feelings which demanded this new utterance, and of all the capabilities which could make the utterance artistic. The Athenian mind, with its vigour, its sense of measure, its desire for clearness, was fitted to achieve the special excellences of prose1, and moulded that Attic dialect in which the prose-writer at last found his most perfect instrument. But the process of maturing the new kind of composition was necessarily slow; for it required, as its first condition, little less than the creation of a new language, of an idiom neither poetical nor mean. Herodotos, at the middle point of the fifth century, shows the poetical element still preponderant. The close of that century may be taken as the end of the first great stage in the growth of a prose literature. If a line is drawn there, Lysias will be perhaps the first representative name below it: Antiphon and Thucydides will be among the last names above it.
Character of the early Prose.The leading characteristic of the earlier prose is dignity. The newly created art has the continual consciousness of being an art. It is always on its guard against sliding into the levity of a conversational style. The composer feels above all things that his written language must be so chosen as to produce a greater effect than would be produced by an equivalent amount of extemporary speaking. Every word is to be pointed and pregnant; every phrase is to be the condensed expression of his thought in its ultimate shape, however difficult this may be to the reader or hearer who meets it in that shape for the first time; the movement of the whole is to be slow and majestic, impressing by its weight and grandeur, not charming by its life and flow. The prose-writer of this epoch instinctively compares himself with the poet. The poet is a craftsman, the possessor of a mystery revealed to the many only in the spell which it exerts over their fancies; just so, in the beginnings of a literary prose, its shaper likes to think that he belongs to a guild. He does not care to be simply right and clear: rather he desires to have the whole advantage which his skill gives him over ordinary men; he is eager to bring his thoughts down upon them with a splendid and irresistible force. In Greece this character, natural to immature prose, was intensified by a special cause —the influence of the Sophists. In so far as these teachers dealt with the form of language, they tended to confirm that view of the prose-writer in which he is a professional expert dazzling and overawing laymen. The Sophists of Hellas Proper dwelt especially on the minute proprieties of language, as Protagoras on correct grammatical forms2 and Prodikos on the accurate use of synonyms3; the Sophists of Sicily taught its technical graces4. In this last respect the teaching of Gorgias was thoroughly reactionary, and was calculated to hinder the growth of a good prose just at the critical point. At the moment when prose was striving to disengage itself from the diction of poetry, Gorgias gave currency to the notion that poetical ornament of the most florid type was its true charm. When, indeed, he went further, and sought to imitate the rhythm as well as the phrase of poetry, this very extravagance had a useful result. Prose has a rhythm, though not of the kind at which Gorgias aimed; and the mere fact of the Greek ear becoming accustomed to look for a certain proportion between the parts of a sentence hastened the transition from the old running style to the periodic.
Dionysios on the ‘austere’ style.Dionysios has described vividly the characteristics of that elder school of composition to which Antiphon belonged. He distinguishes three principal styles, the austere, the smooth and the middle5. He cites poets, historians and orators who are examples of each. Among orators Antiphon is his representative of the austere style, Isokrates of the smooth, Demosthenes of the middle. The austere style is thus described6: ‘It wishes its separate words to be planted firmly and to have strong positions, so that each word may be seen conspicuously; it wishes its several clauses to be well divided from each other by sensible pauses. It is willing to admit frequently rough and direct clashings of sounds, meeting like the bases of stones in loose wall-work, which have not been squared or smoothed to fit each other, but which show a certain negligence and absence of forethought. It loves, as a rule, to prolong itself by large words of portly breadth. Compression by short syllables is a thing which it shuns when not absolutely driven to it. ‘As regards separate words, these are the objects of its pursuit and craving. In whole clauses it shows these tendencies no less strongly; especially it chooses the most dignified and majestic rhythms. It does not wish the clauses to be like each other in length of structure, or enslaved to a severe syntax, but noble, simple, free. It wishes them to bear the stamp of nature rather than that of art, and to stir feeling rather than to reflect character. It does not usually aim at composing periods as a compact framework for its thought; but, if it should ever drift undesignedly into the periodic style, it desires to set on this the mark of spontaneity and plainness. It does not employ, in order to round a sentence, supplementary words which do not help the sense; it does not care that the march of its phrase should have stage-glitter or an artificial smoothness; nor that the clauses should be separately adapted to the length of the speaker's breath. No indeed. Of all such industry it is innocent... It is fanciful in imagery, sparing of copulas, anything but florid; it is haughty, straightforward, disdainful of prettiness, with its antique air and its negligence for its beauty.’ It is important to remember that this description is applied to a certain kind of poetry as well as of prose, to Pindar and Aeschylos as well as to Thucydides and Antiphon; and that, taken in reference to prose alone, it needs modification. It is not true, for instance, of the older prose that it always shrank from the display of artificialism. Negligent it often was; but at other times it was consciously, ostentatiously artificial. Its general characteristics, however, are admirably given by Dionysios. It is dignified; it relies much on the weight of single words; it is bold but not florid; it aims at moving the hearer rather than at reflecting the character of the speaker. Antiphon, his representative orator, exemplifies these points clearly,—as will be seen better if he is compared from time to time with the critic's representative historian, Thucydides.
Antiphon's style—its dignity.In the first place, then, Antiphon is preeminently dignified and noble. He is to his successors generally as Aeschylos to Euripides. The elder tragedy held its gods and heroes above the level of men by a colossal majesty of repose, by the passionless utterance of kingly thoughts; and the same feeling to which these things seemed divine conceived its ideal orator as one who controls a restless crowd by the royalty of his calm power, by a temperate and stately eloquence. The speaker who wins his hearers by blandishments, who surprises them by adroit turns, who hurries them away on a torrent of declamation, belonged to a generation for which gods also and heroes declaimed or quibbled on the stage. Plutarch has described, not without a tinge of sarcasm, the language and demeanour by which Perikles commanded the veneration of his age7. ‘His thoughts were awe-inspiring8, his language lofty, untainted by the ribaldry of the rascal crowd. His calm features, never breaking into laughter; his measured step; the ample robe which flowed around him and which nothing deranged; his moving eloquence; the tranquil modulation of his voice; these things, and such as these, had over all men a marvellous spell.’ The biographer goes on to relate how Perikles was once abused by a coarse fellow in the market-place, bore it in silence until he had finished his business there, and when his persecutor followed him home, merely desired a slave to take a lantern and see the man home9. It is not probable that the receiver of the escort felt all the severity of the moral defeat which he had sustained; and he is perhaps no bad representative of the Athenian democracy in its relations to the superb decorum10 of the old school. Much of this decorum survives in Antiphon, who, in a literary as in a political sense, clung to traditions which were fading. Yet even in him the influence of the age is seen. The Tetralogies, written for practice, and in which he had to please no one but himself, are the most stately of his compositions. The speech On the Murder of Herodes is less so, even in its elaborate proem; while part of the speech On the Choreutes, doubtless the latest of his extant works, shows a marked advance towards the freedom and vivacity of a newer style. It was in the hands of Antiphon that rhetoric first became thoroughly practical; and for this very reason, conservative as he was, he could not maintain a rigid conservatism. The public position which he had taken for his art could be held only by concessions to the public taste.
Reliance on single words.Antiphon relies much on the full, intense significance of single words. This is, indeed, a cardinal point in the older prose. Its movement was slow; each word was dropped with deliberation; and now and then some important word, heavy with concentrated meaning, came down like a sledge-hammer. Take, for instance, the chapter in which Thucydides shows how party strife, like that in Corcyra, had the effect of confusing moral distinctions. Blow on blow the nicely-balanced terms beat out the contrasts, until the ear is weary as with the clangour of an anvil. ‘Reckless daring was esteemed loyal courage,—prudent delay, specious cowardice; temperance seemed a cloak for pusillanimity; comprehensive sagacity was called universal indifference11.’ ‘Remonstrance is for friends who err; accusation for enemies who have done wrong12.’ In Antiphon's speech On the Murder of Herodes, the accused says (reminding the court that his case ought not to be decided until it has been heard before the Areiopagos):—‘Be now, therefore, surveyors of the cause, but then, judges of the evidence,—now surmisers, but then deciders, of the truth13.’ And in the Second Tetralogy:—‘Those who fail to do what they mean are agents of a mischance; those who hurt, or are hurt, voluntarily, are authors of suffering14.’ Examples of this eagerness to press the exact meaning of words are frequent in Antiphon, though far less frequent than in Thucydides. It is evidently natural to that early phase of prose composition in which, newly conscious of itself as an art, it struggles to wring out of language a force strange to the ordinary idiom; and in Greece this tendency must have been further strengthened by the stress which Gorgias laid on antithesis, and Prodikos on the discriminating of terms nearly synonymous. Only so long as slow and measured declamation remained in fashion could the orator attempt thus to put a whole train of thought into a single weighty word. What the old school sought to effect by one powerful word, the later school did by the free, rapid, brilliant development of a thought in all its fulness and with all the variety of contrasts which it pressed upon the mind.
Antiphon is imaginative but not florid.A further characteristic of the older style—that it is ‘fanciful in imagery, but by no means florid’— is exemplified in Antiphon. The meaning of the antithesis is sufficiently clear in reference to Aeschylos and Pindar, the poets chosen by Dionysios as his instances. In reference to prose also it means a choice of images like theirs, bold, rugged, grand; and a scorn, on the other hand, for small prettinesses, for showy colouring, for maudlin sentiment. The great representative in oratory of this special trait must have been Perikles. A few of his recorded expressions bear just this stamp of a vigorous and daring fancy;—his description of Aegina as the ‘eyesore’ of the Peiraeus15; his saying that, in the slain youth of Athens, the year had lost its spring16; his declaration, over the bodies of those who fell at Samos, that they had become even as the gods; ‘for the gods themselves we see not, but infer their immortality from the honours paid to them and from the blessings which they bestow17.’ The same imaginative boldness is found in Antiphon, though but rarely, and under severe control. ‘Adversity herself is wronged by the accused,’ he makes a prosecutor exclaim, ‘when he puts her forward to screen a crime and to withdraw his own villainy from view18.’ A father, threatened with the condemnation of his son, cries to the judges:—‘I shall be buried with my son—in the living tomb of my childlessness19.’ But in Antiphon, as in Thucydides, the haughty20, careless freedom of the old style is shown oftener in the employment of new or unusual words or phrases21. The orator could not, indeed, go so far as the historian, who is expressly censured on this score by his Greek critic22; but they have some expressions of the same character in common23. While Antiphon is sparing of imagery, he is equally moderate in the use of the technical figures of rhetoric. These have been well distinguished as ‘figures of language’ (σχήματα λέξεως) and ‘figures of thought’ (σχήματα διανοίας）—the first class including various forms of assonance and of artificial symmetry between clauses; the second including irony, abrupt pauses, feigned perplexity, rhetorical question and so forth. Caecilius of Calacte, the author of this distinction, was a student of Antiphon, and observed that the ‘figures of thought’ are seldom or never used by him24. The figures of language all occur, but rarely25. Blass26 and K. O. Müller27 agree in referring this marked difference between the older and later schools of oratory—the absence, in the former, of those lively figures so abundant in the latter—to an essential change which passed upon Greek character in the interval. It was only when fierce passion and dishonesty had become strong traits of a degenerate national character that vehemence and trickiness came into oratory. This seems a harsh and scarcely accurate judgment. It appears simpler to suppose that the conventional stateliness of the old eloquence altogether precluded such vivacity as marked the later; and that the mainspring of this new vivacity was merely the natural impulse, set free from the restraints of the older style, to give arguments their most spirited and effective form.
Pathos and Êthos in Antiphon.Nothing in the criticism of Dionysios on the ‘austere’ style is more appreciative than his remark, that it aims rather at pathos than at êthos. That is, it addresses itself directly to the feelings; but does not care to give a subtle persuasiveness to its words by artistically adjusting them to the character and position of the person who is supposed to speak them. It is tragic; yet it is not dramatic. There has never, perhaps, been a greater master of stern and solemn pathos than Thucydides. The pleading of the Plataeans before their Theban judges, the dialogue between the Athenians and the Melians, the whole history of the Sicilian Expedition and especially its terrible closing scene, have a wonderful power over the feelings; and this power is in a great degree due to a certain irony. The reader feels throughout the restrained emotion of the historian; he is conscious that the crisis described was an agonising one, and that he is hearing the least that could be said of it from one who felt, and could have said, far more. On the other hand, a characteristic colouring, in the literary sense, is scarcely attempted by Thucydides. No writer is more consummate in making personal or national character appear in the history of actions. And when his characters speak, they always speak from the general point of view which he conceived to be appropriate to them. But in the form and language of their speeches there is little discrimination. Athenians and Lacedaemonians, Perikles and Brasidas, Kleon and Diodotos28 speak much in the same style; it is the ideas which they represent by which alone they are broadly distinguished29. The case is nearly the same with Antiphon. His extant works present no subject so great as those of Thucydides, and his pathos is necessarily inferior in degree to that of the historian; but it resembles it in its stern solemnity, and also in this, that it owes much of its impressiveness to its self-control. The second30 and fourth31 speeches of the First Tetralogy, and the second32 and third33 of the Second, furnish perhaps the best examples. In êthos, on the contrary, Antiphon is weak; and this, in a writer of speeches for persons of all ages and conditions, must be considered a defect. In the Herodes case the defendant is a young Mytilenean, who frequently pleads his inexperience of affairs and his want of practice as a speaker. The speech On the Choreutes is delivered by an Athenian citizen of mature age and eminent public services. But the two persons speak nearly in the same strain and with the same measure of self-confidence. Had Lysias been the composer, greater deference to the judges and a more decided avoidance of rhetoric would have distinguished the appeal of the young alien to an unfriendly court from the address of the statesman to his fellow citizens.
The style of Antiphon: how far periodic.The place of Antiphon in the history of his art is further marked by the degree in which he had attained a periodic style. It is perhaps impossible to find English terms which shall give all the clearness of the Greek contrast between περιοδική and εἰρομένη λέξις34. The ‘running’ style, as εἰρομένη expresses, is that in which the ideas are merely strung together, like beads, in the order in which they naturally present themselves to the mind. Its characteristic is simple continuity. The characteristic of the ‘periodic’ style is that each sentence ‘comes round’ upon itself, so as to form a separate, symmetrical whole35. The running style may be represented by a straight line which may be cut short at any point or prolonged to any point: the periodic style is a system of independent circles. The period may be formed either, so to say, in one piece, or of several members (κῶλα, membra), as a hoop may be made either of a single lath bent round, or of segments fitted together. It was a maxim of the later Greek rhetoric that, for the sake of simplicity and strength, a period should not consist of more than four36 of these members or segments; Roman rhetoric allowed a greater number37. Aristotle38 takes as his example of the ‘running’ style the opening words of the History of Herodotos; and, speaking generally, it may be said that this was the style in which Herodotos and the earlier Ionian logographers wrote. But it ought to be remembered that neither Herodotos, nor any writer in a language which has passed beyond the rudest stage, exhibits the ‘running’ style in an ideal simplicity. In its purest and simplest form, the running style is incompatible with the very idea of a literature39. Wherever a literature exists, it contains the germ, however immature, of the periodic style; which, if the literature is developed, is necessarily developed along with it. For every effort to grasp and limit an idea naturally finds expression more or less in the periodic manner, the very nature of a period being to comprehend and define. In Herodotos, the running style, so congenial to his direct narrative, is dominant; but when he pauses and braces himself to state some theory, some general result of his observations, he tends to become periodic just because he is striving to be precise40. From the time of Herodotos onward the periodic style is seen gradually more and more natured, according as men felt more and more the stimulus to find vigorous utterance for clear conceptions. Antiphon represents a moment at which this stimulus had become stronger than it had ever before been in the Greek world. His activity as a writer of speeches may be placed between the years 421 and 411 B.C.41. The effects of the Peloponnesian war in sharpening political animosities had made themselves fully felt; that phase of Athenian democracy in which the contests of the ekklesia and of the lawcourts were keenest and most frequent had set in; the teaching of the Sophists had thrown a new light upon language considered as a weapon. Every man felt the desire, the urgent necessity, of being able in all cases to express his opinions with the most trenchant force; at any moment his life might depend upon it. The new intensity of the age is reflected in the speeches of Antiphon. Wherever the feeling rises highest, as in the appeals to the judges, he strives to use a language which shall ‘pack the thoughts closely and bring them out roundly42.’ But it is striking to observe how far this periodic style still is from the ease of Lysias or the smooth completeness of Isokrates. The harshness of the old rugged writing refuses to blend with it harmoniously,—either taking it up with marked transitions, or suddenly breaking out in the midst of the most elaborate passages43. It is everywhere plain that the desire to be compact is greater than the power. Antitheses and parallelisms44 are abundantly employed, giving a rigid and monotonous effect to the periods which they form. That more artistic period of which the several parts resemble the mutually-supporting stones of a vaulted roof45, and which leads the ear by a smooth curve to a happy finish, has not yet been found. An imperfect sense of rhythm, or a habit of composition to which rhythmical restraint is intolerable except for a very short space, is everywhere manifest. The vinegar and the oil refuse to mingle. Thucydides presents the same phenomenon, but with some curious differences. It may perhaps be said that, while Antiphon has more technical skill (incomplete as that skill is) in periodic writing, Thucydides has infinitely more of its spirit. He is always at high pressure, always nervous, intense. He struggles to bring a large, complex idea into a framework in which the whole can be seen at once. Aristotle says that a period must be of ‘a size to be taken in at a glance46;’ and this is what Thucydides wishes the thought of each sentence to be, though he is sometimes clumsy in the mechanism of the sentence itself. Dionysios mentions among the excellences which Demosthenes borrowed from the historian, ‘his rapid movement, his terseness, his intensity, his sting47;’ excellences, he adds, which neither Antiphon nor Lysias nor Isokrates possessed. This intensity, due primarily to genius, next to the absorbing interest of a great subject, does, in truth, place Thucydides, with all his roughness, far nearer than Antiphon to the ideal of a compact and masterly prose. Technically speaking, Thucydides as well as Antiphon must be placed in the border-land between the old running style and finished periodic writing. But the essential merits of the latter, though in a rude shape, have already been reached by the native vigour of the historian; while to the orator a period is still something which must be constructed with painful effort, and on a model admitting of little variety.
Antiphon's treatment of subject-matter.These seem to be the leading characteristics of Antiphon as regards form: it remains to consider his treatment of subject-matter. The arrangement of his speeches, so far as the extant specimens warrant a judgment, was usually simple. First a proem (προοίμιον) explanatory or appealing; next an introduction (technically προκατασκευή) dealing with the circumstances under which the case had been brought into court, and noticing any informalities of procedure: then a narrative of the facts (διήγησις): the arguments and proofs (πίστεις), the strongest first, finally an epilogue or peroration (ἐπίλογος). The Tetralogies, being merely sketches for practice, have only proem, arguments and epilogue, not the ‘introduction’ or the narrative. The speech On the Murder of Herodes and the speech On the Choreutes (in the latter of which the epilogue seems to have been lost) are the best examples of Antiphon's method. It is noticeable that in neither of these are the facts of the particular case dealt with closely or searchingly; and consequently in both instances the narrative of the facts falls into the background. Narrative was the forte of Andokides and Lysias; it appears to have been the weak side of Antiphon, who was strongest in general argument. General presumptions,—those afforded, for instance, by the refusal of the prosecutors to give up their slaves for examination, or by the respective characters of prosecutor and prisoner and by their former relations—are most insisted upon. The First Tetralogy is a good example of Antiphon's ingenuity in dealing with abstract probabilities (εἰκότα); and the same preference for proofs external to the immediate circumstances of the case is traceable in all his extant work. The adroitness of the sophistical rhetoric shows itself, not merely in the variety of forms given to the same argument, but sometimes in sophistry of a more glaring kind48. The rhetorician of the school is further seen in the great number of commonplaces, evidently elaborated beforehand and without reference to any special occasion, which are brought in as opportunity offers. The same panegyric on the laws for homicide occurs, in the same words, both in the speech On the Choreutes and in that On the Murder of Herodes. In the last-named speech the reflections on the strength of a good conscience49, and the defendant's contention that he deserves pity, not punishment50, are palpably commonplaces prepared for general use. Such patches, unless introduced with consummate skill, are doubly a blemish; they break the coherence of the argument and they destroy everything like fresh and uniform colouring; the speech becomes, as an old critic says, uneven51. But the crudities inseparable from a new art do not affect Antiphon's claim to be considered, for his day, a great and powerful orator. In two things, says Thucydides, he was masterly,—in power of conception and in power of expression52. These were the two supreme qualifications for a speaker at a time when the mere faculty of lucid and continuous exposition was rare, and when the refinements of literary eloquence were as yet unknown. If the speaker could invent a sufficient number of telling points, and could put them clearly, this was everything. Antiphon, with his ingenuity in hypothesis and his stately rhetoric, fulfilled both requirements. Remembering the style of his oratory and his place in the history of the art, no one need be perplexed to reconcile the high praise of Thucydides with what is at first sight the startling judgment of Dionysios. That critic, speaking of the eloquence which aims at close reasoning and at victory in discussion, gives the foremost place in it to Lysias. He then mentions others who have practised it,—Antiphon among the rest. ‘Antiphon however,’ he says, ‘has nothing but his antique and stern dignity; a fighter of causes (ἀγωνιστής) he is not, either in debate or in lawsuits53.’ If, as Thucydides tells us, no one could help so well as Antiphon those who were fighting causes (ἀγωνιζομένους）54 in the ekklesia or the lawcourts; if, on his own trial, he delivered a defence of unprecedented brilliancy; in what sense is Dionysios to be understood? The explanation lies probably in the notion which the critic attached to the word ‘agonist.’ He had before his mind the finished pleader or debater of a time when combative oratory considered as an art had reached its acme; when every discussion was a conflict in which the liveliest and supplest energy must be put forth in support of practised skill; when the successful speaker must grapple at close quarters with his adversary, and be in truth an ‘agonist,’ an athlete straining every nerve for victory. Already Kleon could describe the ‘agonistic’ eloquence which was becoming the fashion in the ekklesia as characterized by swift surprises, by rapid thrust and parry55; already Strepsiades conceives the ‘agonist’ of the lawcourts as ‘bold, glib, audacious, headlong56.’ This was not the character of Antiphon. He was a subtle reasoner, a master of expression, and furnished others with arguments and words; but he was not himself a man of the arena. He never descended into it when he could help; he had nothing of its spirit. He did not grapple with his adversary, but in the statelier manner of the old orators attacked him (as it were) from an opposite platform. Opposed in court to such a speaker as Isaeos, he would have had as little chance with the judges as Burke with one of those juries which Curran used to take by storm. Perhaps it was precisely because he was not in this sense an ‘agonist’ that he found his most congenial sphere in the calm and grave procedure of the Areiopagos.
Religious feeling of Antiphon.Nor was it by the stamp of his eloquence alone that he was fitted to command the attention of that Court. In politics Antiphon was aristocratic; in religion, an upholder of those ancient ideas and conceptions, bound up with the primitive traditions of Attica, of which the Areiopagos was the embodiment and the guardian. For most minds of his day these ideas were losing their awful prestige,—fading, in the light of science, before newer beliefs, as obligarchy had yielded to democracy, as Kronos to the dynasty of Zeus. But, as Athene, speaking in the name of that dynasty, had reserved to the Eumenides a perpetual altar in her land (Aesch. Eum. 804), so Antiphon had embraced the new culture without parting from a belief in gods who visit national defilement57, in spirits who hear the curse of dying men58 and avenge blood crying from the ground. In the recent history of his own city he had seen a great impiety followed by a tremendous disaster59. The prominence which he always gives to the theological view of homicide means more than that this was the tone of the Court to which his speeches were most frequently addressed: it points to a real and earnest feeling in his own mind. There is no better instance of this feeling than the opening of the Third Tetralogy—a mere exercise, in which the elaborate simulation of a religious sentiment would have had no motive:— ‘The god, when it was his will to create mankind, begat the earliest of our race and gave us for nourishers the earth and sea, that we might not die, for want of needful sustenance, before the term of old age. Whoever, then, having been deemed worthy of these things by the god, lawlessly robs any one among us of life, is impious towards heaven and confounds the ordinances of men. The dead man, robbed of the god's gift, necessarily bequeaths, as that god's punishment, the anger of avenging spirits —anger which unjust judges or false witnesses, becoming partners in the impiety of the murderer, bring, as a self-sought defilement, into their own houses. We, the champions of the murdered, if for any collateral enmity we prosecute innocent persons, shall find, by our failure to vindicate the dead, dread avengers in the spirits which hear his curse; while, by putting the pure to a wrongful death, we become liable to the penalties of murder, and, in persuading you to violate the law, responsible for your sin also60.’
Aeschylean tone in Antiphon.The analogy of Antiphon to Aeschylos in regard to general style has once already been noticed; it forces itself upon the mind in a special aspect here, where the threat of judgment from the grave on blood is wrapt round with the very terror and darkness of the Eumenides. In another place, where Antiphon is speaking of the signs by which the gods point out the guilty, the Aeschylean tone is still more striking. No passage, perhaps, in Aeschylos is more expressive of the poet's deepest feeling about life than that in which Eteokles forebodes that the personal goodness of Amphiaraos will not deliver him:—
In the Herodes trial the defendant appeals to the silent witness which the gods have borne in his behalf:—‘You know doubtless that often ere now men red-handed or otherwise polluted have, by entering the same ship, destroyed with themselves those who were pure towards the gods; and that others, escaping death, have incurred the extremity of danger through such men. Many again, on standing beside the sacrifice, have been discovered to be impure and hinderers of the solemn rites. Now in all such cases an opposite fortune has been mine. First, all who have sailed with me have had excellent voyages: then, whenever I have assisted at a sacrifice it has in every instance been most favourable. These facts I claim as strong evidence touching the present charge and the falsity of the prosecutor's accusations61.’ Coincidences of thought and tone such as these deserve notice just because they are general coincidences. There is no warrant for assuming a resemblance in any special features between the mind of Antiphon and the mind of Aeschylos: all the more that which the two minds have in common illustrates the broadest aspect of each. By pursuits and calling Antiphon belonged to a new Athenian democracy antagonistic to the old ideas and beliefs: by the bent of his intellect and of his sympathies he belonged, like Aeschylos, to the elder democracy. It is this which gives to his extant work a special interest over and above its strictly literary interest. All the other men whose writings remain to show the development of oratorical Attic prose have around them the atmosphere of eager debate or litigation; Antiphon, in language and in thought alike, stands apart from them as the representative of a graver public life. Theirs is the spirit of the ekklesia or the dikastery; his is the spirit of the Areiopagos.
“Alas that doom which mingles in the world
A just man with the scorners of the gods! ...
Aye, for a pure man going on the sea
With men fierce-blooded and their secret sin
Dies in a moment with the loathed of heaven