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Lysias: Style

Lysias a literary artist

An appreciation of Lysias is, in one sense, easy for modern criticism. He was a literary artist, and his work bears the stamp of consummate literary skill. The reader may fail to realise the circumstances under which a particular speech was delivered, the force with which it appeals to emotion or to reason, the degree in which it was likely to prove persuasive or convincing. But he cannot fail to be aware that he is reading admirable prose. The merit of Lysias as a writer is secure of recognition. It is his oratorical power which runs some danger of being too lightly valued, unless attention is paid to the conditions under which it was exerted. The speech Against Eratosthenes, indeed, in which he expresses the passionate feeling of his own mind, would alone suffice to prove him in the modern sense eloquent. But a large majority of his other speeches are so comparatively tame, so poor in the qualities of the higher eloquence, that his oratorical reputation, to be understood, needs to be closely interpreted by the scope of his oratory.

Although on a few occasions he himself came forward as a speaker, the business of his life was to write for others. All sorts of men were among his clients; all kinds of causes in turn occupied him. Now he lent his services to the impeachment of an official charged with defrauding the Athenian treasury, or to the prosecution of some adherent of the Thirty, accused of having slandered away the lives of Athenian citizens; now he supplied the words in which a pauper begged that his obol a day from the State might not be stopped, or helped one of the parties to a drunken brawl to demand satisfaction for a black eye. The elderly citizen who appeals against the calumny of an informer to his past services as trierarch or choregus; the young man checked on the threshold of public life by some enemy's protest at his dokimasia for his first office,—in turn borrow their eloquence from Lysias. If he had been content to adopt the standard which he found existing in his profession, he would have written in nearly the same style for all these various ages and conditions. He would have treated all these different cases upon a uniform technical system, merely seeking, in every case alike, to obtain the most powerful effect and the highest degree of ornament by applying certain fixed rules. Lysias was a discoverer when he perceived that a purveyor of words for others, if he would serve his customers in the best way, must give the words the air of being their own. He saw that the monotonous intensity of the fashionable rhetoric—often ludicrously unsuited to the mouth into which it was put—was fatal to real impressiveness; and, instead of lending to all speakers the same false brilliancy, he determined to give to each the vigour of nature. It was the desire of treating appropriately every case entrusted to him, and of making each client speak as an intelligent person, without professional aid, might be expected to speak in certain circumstances, which chiefly determined the style of Lysias.

Lysias the representative of the Plain Style.

This style, imitated by many, but marked in Lysias by an original excellence, made him for antiquity the representative of a class of orators. It was in the latter part of the fourth century B. C. that Greek critics began regularly to distinguish three styles of rhetorical composition, the grand, the plain and the middle. The grand style aims constantly at rising above the common idiom; it seeks ornament of every kind, and rejects nothing as too artificial if it is striking. The plain style may, like the first, employ the utmost efforts of art, but the art is concealed; and, instead of avoiding, it imitates the language of ordinary life. The ‘middle’ style explains itself by its name. Theophrastos appears to have been the first writer on Rhetoric who attempted such a classification; there is, at least, no hint of it in Aristotle or in the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum1. Vague as the classification necessarily is, it was frequently modified according to the taste of individual teachers. The two extremes—the grand and the plain styles—were recognised by all; but some discerned two2, some three3 shades between them; while others thought it needless to distinguish anything intermediate4. On the whole, however, the tripartite division kept its ground down to Roman times. It was adopted, with variations of detail, by Cicero5, Dionysios6 and Quintilian7. The characteristics of the ‘plain’ style
General characteristics of the Plain Style.
—with which we are most concerned at present—are only sketched by Dionysios8; but they are more precisely given by Cicero. There is a difference, indeed, between the points of view of the two critics. Dionysios treats the three styles historically; Cicero treats them theoretically. The ‘middle’ style of Cicero differs, therefore, from the ‘middle’ style of Dionysios in being an ideal. But Cicero's description of the ‘plain’ style, at least, would probably have been accepted in the main by Dionysios; and it is clear that for Cicero, as for Dionysios, Lysias was the canon of that style. According to Cicero, the chief marks of the ‘genus tenue’ are these:—1. In regard to composition—a free structure of clauses and sentences, not straining after a rhythmical period9

Originality of Lysias.

With certain exceptions, which will be noticed in their place, Lysias has these characteristics, and is the best representative of the plain style, whether viewed historically or in the abstract. That style gradually came to be used by almost all writers for the ekklesia or the law-courts; but it was Lysias, says Dionysios, who ‘perfected’ it, and ‘brought it to the summit of the excellence proper to it14.’ In order that the originality of Lysias may not be underrated, attention must be given to the precise meaning of this statement. It appears to speak of him merely as having succeeded better than others in a style used by nearly all writers of speeches for the law-courts. But what was, in fact, common to him and them was this only—the avoidance of decidedly poetical ornament and the employment of sober prose. This is all that the ‘plain’ style, as opposed to the ‘elaborate,’ necessarily means. That which he had, and which no other had in the same degree, was the art of so writing this prose that it should be in character with the person who spoke it. Their style was monotonously plain; his was plain too, but it was more, it was variously natural. Dionysios shows elsewhere that he appreciated to the full the originality of Lysias; but he has hardly brought it out with sufficient clearness in the passage which has just been noticed. Lysias may, in a general sense, be regarded as the perfecter of a style already practised by many others; but it is closer to the truth to call him the founder of a new one, and of one in which he was never rivalled15.

It does not, perhaps, strike the modern mind as very remarkable that a man whose business was to write speeches for other people should have conceived the idea of making the speech appropriate to the person. In order to understand why this conception was, at the time, a proof of genius, it is necessary to remember how rhetoric was then viewed. Prose composition in its infancy was a craft, a close profession, just as much as poetry. Beside the sacred band of ‘wise’ poets stood the small group of experts skilled to fashion artistic prose. When a man wished for help in a law-suit he applied, as a matter of course, if he could afford it, to one of these; and it was equally a matter of course that the speech supplied to him should bear the same stamp as others turned out by the same machine. There was no pretence of its being the work of the speaker, and no expectation, therefore, that it should reflect his nature; a certain rhetorical colour, certain recognized forms of argument and appeal, were alone looked for. The idea of writing for a client so that he should have in court the whole advantage of professional aid, and, in addition to this, the advantage of appearing to have dispensed with it, was not only novel but daring. This is what Lysias first undertook to do, and did admirably.

Had his style been florid before it became plain?

His dramatic purpose—if it may be so called— decided the special characteristics of his style. But, even without this purpose, an instinctive dislike of exaggeration would of itself have given his style some general characteristics, sufficient to distinguish it from that of any of his contemporaries. On this account we must dissent from a view advanced by K. O. Müller in his History of Greek Literature16. Lysias had, he thinks, two distinct styles at two different periods of his life; the earlier, ‘forced and artificial;’ the later, plain. Müller recognises the former in the speech in the Phaedros, and in the Epitaphios. The turning-point was, he conceives, the impeachment of Eratosthenes, when ‘a real feeling of pain and anger’ in the mind of Lysias gave ‘a more lively and natural flow both to his spirits and to his speech.’ ‘This occasion’—Müller adds— ‘convinced Lysias what style of oratory was both the most suited to his own character and also least likely to fail in producing an effect upon the judges.’ Ingenious as the theory is, we have no belief in the fact of any such abrupt transition as it supposes. That temperate mastery with which Lysias cultivated the ‘plain’ style is doubly a marvel if it was only a sudden practical experience which weaned him from his first love for a forced and artificial rhetoric. Converts are not proverbial for discretion; and the exquisite judgment shown by Lysias after his supposed reformation ought to have prevented its necessity. Like all his contemporaries he must, unquestionably, have had his earliest training in the florid Sicilian school; but there is nothing to show that its precepts ever took a strong hold upon him; and there is overwhelming reason to believe that a genius of the bent of his must very early have thrown off such pedantic trammels. It is true that the speech in the Phaedros —assuming its genuineness—is more stiffly composed than any of his presumably later writings: but, on the other hand, it is, as Müller allows, entirely free from the ornaments of Gorgias. As for the Epitaphios, its spuriousness is now a generally recognised fact17.

Special characteristics of his style.

Plainness and an easy versatility are, then, the general characteristics of Lysias. We propose now to consider in detail his special characteristics; speaking first of his style in the narrower sense, his composition and diction; next of his method of handling subject-matter.

His Composition.

Cicero, as we have seen, counts among the marks of the ‘plain’ style a free structure of sentences and clauses, not straining after a rhythmical period (Orator § 77, quoted above). Dionysios, speaking of êthopoiïa in Lysias, says that he composes ‘quite simply and plainly, aware that êthos is best expressed, not in rhythmical periods, but in the lax (or easy) style’ (ἐν τῇ διαλελυμένῃ λέξει18. In another place, however, he praises Lysias for a vigour, essential in contests, ‘which packs thoughts closely and brings them out roundly’ (στρογγύλως19—that is, in terse periods. Both remarks are just. Nothing more strikingly distinguishes Lysias from his predecessors and from nearly all his successors than the degree in which the structure of his sentences varies according to his subject. His speeches may in this respect be classified under three heads. First, those which are of a distinctly public character; in which the composition is thoroughly rhythmical, and which abound with artistic periods, single or combined20. Secondly, those speeches which, from the nature of their subjects, blend the private with the public character; which show not only fewer combinations or groups of periods, but a less careful formation of single periods21. Thirdly, the essentially private speeches; which differ from the second class, not in the mould of such periods as occur, but in the larger mixture with these of sentences or clauses not periodic22. Further, in each of these three classes, a greater freedom of composition distinguishes the narrative from the argument. The narrative parts of the properly public speeches are usually thrown into what may be called the historical as opposed to the oratorical period; that is, the sentences are more loosely knit and are drawn out to a greater length. According as the speech has more of a private character, these freer periods are more and more relaxed into a simple series (λέξις εἰρομένη) of longer or shorter clauses. Yet, while there are so many shades in the composition of Lysias, the colour of the whole is individual. Isokrates develops period out of period in long, luxuriant sequence; Demosthenes intersperses the most finished and most vigorous periods with less formally built sentences which relieve them; Lysias binds his periods, by twos or threes at the most, into groups always moderate in size but often monotonous in form; excelling Isokrates in compactness, but yielding to Demosthenes in life23.

His Diction—its purity.

The diction of Lysias is distinguished in the first place by its purity. This is a quality upon which no modern could have pronounced authoritatively, but for which the ancient Greek critic vouches. In the Augustan age the reaction from florid Asianism to Atticism had set in strongly, and especial attention was paid by Greek grammarians to the marks of a pure Attic style. Dionysios may be taken as a competent judge. He pronounces Lysias to be ‘perfectly pure in expression, the best canon of Attic speech,— not of the old used by Plato and Thucydides,’ but of that which was in vogue in his own time24. This may be seen, he adds, by a comparison with the writings of Andokides, Kritias and many others. Two ideas are included under the ‘purity’ praised here; abstinence from words either obsolete (γλῶσσαι) or novel, or too decidedly poetical; and abstinence from constructions foreign to the idiom of the day— an excellence defined elsewhere as ‘accuracy of dialect25.’ Lysias is not rigidly pure in these respects. The only instance of an old-fashioned syntax, indeed, which has been noticed in him, is the occasional use of τε as a copula26; nor does he use such pedantic words as were meant by ‘glossae;’ but rare or poetical words and phrases occur in many places27. The praise of purity must be taken in a general and relative sense. Of those who came after Lysias, Isokrates most nearly approached him in this quality28; but Isaeos is also commended for it29.


Next, in contrast with the Sicilian school of rhetoric, Lysias is characterised by a general avoidance of ornamental figures. Such figures as occur are mostly of the kind which men use in daily life without rhetorical consciousness,—hyperbole, metaphor, prosopopoiïa and the like30. As a rule, he expresses his meaning by ordinary words employed in their normal sense31. His panegyrical speeches and his letters are said to have presented a few exceptions to this rule; but all his business-works, as Dionysios calls them—his speeches for the ekklesia and for the law-courts—are stamped with this simplicity. He seems, as his critic says, to speak like the ordinary man, while he is in fact the most consummate of artists32,—a prose poet who knows how to give an unobtrusive distinction to common language, and to bring out of it a quiet and peculiar music33. Isokrates had the same command of familiar words, but he was not content to seek effect by artistic harmonies of these. His ambition was to be ornate; and hence one of the differences remarked by Dionysios: Isokrates is sometimes vulgar34; Lysias never is. There is one kind of ornament, however, which Lysias uses largely, and in respect to which he deserts the character of the plain style. He delights in the artistic parallelism (or opposition) of clauses. This may be effected: (1) by simple correspondence of clauses in length (isokôlon); (2) by correspondence of word with word in meaning (antitheton proper); (3) by correspondence of word with word in sound (paromoion)35. Examples are very numerous both in the public and in the private speeches. This love of antithesis—shown on a larger scale in the terse periodic composition—is the one thing which sometimes blemishes the êthos in Lysias.

Clearness and conciseness.

Closely connected with this simplicity is his clearness. Lysias is clear in a twofold sense; in thought, and in expression. Figurative language is often a source of confusion of thought; and the habitual avoidance of figures by Lysias is one reason why he not only speaks but thinks clearly. In regard to this clearness of expression Dionysios has an excellent remark. This quality might, he observes, result merely from ‘deficiency of power,’ i.e. poverty of language and of fancy which constrained the speaker to be simple. In the case of Lysias it does, in fact, result from wealth of the right words36. He uses only plain words; but he has enough of these to express with propriety the most complex idea. The combination of clearness with conciseness is
achieved by Lysias because he has his language thoroughly under command; his words are the disciplined servants of his thoughts37. Isokrates is clear; but he is not also concise. In the union of these two excellences, Isaeos38 perhaps stands next to Lysias. There are, indeed, exceptions to the conciseness of Lysias, as there are exceptions to the purity and the plainness of his diction. Instances occur in which terms nearly synonymous are accumulated, either for the sake of emphasis or merely for the sake of symmetry39; but such instances are not frequent.


Vividness, ἐνάργεια—‘the power of bringing under the senses what is narrated40’—is an attribute of the style of Lysias. The dullest hearer cannot fail to have before his eyes the scene described, and to fancy himself actually in presence of the persons introduced as speaking. Lysias derives this graphic force from two things;—judicious use of detail, and perception of character. A good example of it is his description, in the speech Against Eratosthenes, of his own arrest by Theognis and Peison41. Dionysios ascribes vividness, as well as clearness, to Isokrates also42; but there is perhaps only one passage in the extant work of Isokrates which strictly justifies this praise43. A description may be brilliant without being in the least degree graphic. The former quality depends chiefly on the glow of the describer's imagination; the latter depends on his truthfulness and skill in grouping around the main incident its lesser circumstances. A lifelike picture demands the union of fine colouring and correct drawing. Isokrates was a brilliant colourist; but he was seldom, like Lysias, an accurate draughtsman.


From this trait we pass naturally to another which has just been mentioned as one of its sources— the faculty of seizing and portraying character. Of all the gifts of Lysias this is the most distinctive, and is the one which had greatest influence upon his style. It is a talent which does not admit of definition or analysis; it can be understood only by studying its results. It is shown, as Dionysios says, in three things—thought, diction, and composition44; that is, the ideas, the words, and the style in which the words are put together, always suit the person to whom they are ascribed45. There is hardly one of the extant speeches of Lysias upon which this peculiar power has not left its mark. Many of them, otherwise poor in interest, have a permanent artistic value as describing, with a few quiet touches, this or that type of man. For instance, the Defence which is the subject of the Twenty-first Oration is interesting solely because it embodies to the life that proud consciousness of merit with which a citizen who had deserved well of the State might confront a calumny. In the speech on the Sacred Olive, if the nameless accused is not a person for us, he is at least a character—the man who shrinks from public prominence of any kind, but who at the same time has a shy pride in discharging splendidly all his public duties46. The injured husband, again, who has taken upon Eratosthenes the extreme vengeance sanctioned by the law, is the subject of an indirect portrait, in which homeliness is combined with the moral dignity of a citizen standing upon his rights (De caed. Eratosth. (Or. I.) §§ 5 ff., 47—50). The steady Athenian householder of the old type, and the adventurous patriot of the new, are sketched in the speech On the Property of Aristophanes47. The accuser of Diogeiton, unwilling to prosecute a relative, but resolved to have a shameful wrong redressed;—Diogeiton's mother, pleading with him for her sons;—are pictures all the more effective because they have been produced without apparent effort48. But of all such delineations—and, as Dionysios says, no character in Lysias is inartistically drawn or lifeless49—perhaps the cleverest and certainly the most attractive is that of Mantitheos, the brilliant young Athenian who is vindicating his past life before the Senate. Nowhere is the ethical art of Lysias more ably shown than in the ingenuous words of apology with which, as by an afterthought, Mantitheos concludes his frank and highspirited defence:—

‘I have understood, Senators, that some people are annoyed with me for this too—that I presumed, though rather young, to speak in the Assembly. It was about my own affairs that I was first compelled to speak in public; after that, however, I do suspect myself of having been more ambitiously inclined than I need have been,—partly through thinking of my family, who have never ceased to be statesmen,— partly because I saw that you (to tell the truth) respect none but such men; so that, seeing this to be your opinion, who would not be invited to act and speak in behalf of the State? And besides— why should you be vexed with such men? The judgment upon them rests with none but yourselves50.’

The ‘propriety’ and ‘charm’ of Lysias.

The ‘propriety’ which has always been praised in Lysias depends mainly on this discernment of what suits the character of each speaker; but it includes more—it has respect also to the hearers and to the subject, and generally to all the circumstances of the case. The judge, the ekklesiast, the listener in the crowd at a festival are not addressed in the same vein; different excellences of style characterise the opening, the narrative, the argument, the final appeal51.
His ‘charm.’

It remains to say a few words on the peculiar and crowning excellence of Lysias in the province of expression,—his famous but inexplicable ‘charm.’ It is noticeable that while his Roman critics merely praise his elegance and polish, regarding it as a simple result of his art52, the finer sense of his Greek critic apprehends a certain nameless grace or charm, which cannot be directly traced to art,—which cannot be analysed or accounted for: it is something peculiar to him, of which all that can be said is that it is there. What, asks Dionysios, is the freshness of a beautiful face? What is fine harmony in the movements and windings of music? What is rhythm in the measurement of times? As these things baffle definition, so does the charm of Lysias. It cannot be taken to pieces by reasoning; it must be seized by a cultivated instinct53. It is the final criterion of his genuine work. ‘When I am puzzled about one of the speeches ascribed to him, and when it is hard for me to find the truth by other marks, I have recourse to this excellence, as to the last piece on the board. Then, if the Graces of Speech seem to me to make the writing fair, I count it to be of the soul of Lysias; and I care not to look further into it. But if the stamp of the language has no winningness, no loveliness, I am chagrined, and suspect that after all the speech is not by Lysias; and I do no more violence to my instinct, even though in all else the speech seems to me clever and well-finished; believing that to write well, in special styles other than this, is given to many men; but that to write winningly, gracefully, with loveliness, is the gift of Lysias.’54

A modern reader would be sanguine if he hoped to analyse the distinctive charm of Lysias more closely than Dionysios found himself able to do. He may be content if study by degrees gives him a dim apprehension of something which he believes that he could use, as Dionysios used the qualities detected by his ‘instinct,’ in deciding between the genuine and the false. Evidently the same cause which in great measure disqualifies a modern for estimating the ‘purity’ of the language of Lysias also disqualifies him for estimating its charm. This charm may be supposed to have consisted partly in a certain felicity of expression,—Lysias having a knack of using the word which, for some undefinable reason, was felt to be curiously right; partly in a certain essential urbanity, the reflection of a nature at once genial and refined. The first quality is evidently beyond the sure appreciation of a modern ear: the second less so, yet scarcely to be estimated with nicety, since here too shades of expression are concerned. At best a student of Lysias may hope to attain a tolerably true perception of what he could not have written: but hardly the faculty of rejoicing that he wrote just as he did.

His treatment of subject, matter.

Having now noticed the leading characteristics of Lysias in regard to form of language, we will consider some of his characteristics in the other great department of his art—the treatment of the subject-matter. In this the ancient critics distinguished two chief elements, Invention and Arrangement55.

By ‘invention’ was meant the faculty of discovering

the arguments available in any given circumstances; the art, in short, of making the most of a case. Sokrates, criticising the speech in the Phaedros, is made to express contempt for the inventive power of Lysias56. Arguments, however, which would not pass with a dialectician, might do very well for a jury. If Plato found Lysias barren of logical resource, Dionysios emphatically praises his fertile cleverness in discovering every weapon of controversy which the facts of a case could yield to the most penetrating search57. The latter part of the speech against Agoratos may be taken as a good example of this exhaustive ingenuity58. It is a fault, indeed, that there the speaker attempts to make too many small points in succession; and one, at least, of these is a curious instance of overdone subtlety59.

In regard to arrangement, Lysias is distinguished

from all other Greek orators by a uniform simplicity. His speeches consist usually of four parts, which follow each other in a regular order: proem, narrative, proof, epilogue60. In some cases, the nature of the subject renders a narrative, in the proper sense, unnecessary; in others, the narrative is at the same time the proof; in a few, the proem is almost or entirely dispensed with. But in no case is there anything more elaborate than this fourfold partition, —and in no case is the sequence of the parts altered. This simple arrangement, contrasting with the manifold subdivisions which Plato notices as used by the rhetoricians of his day61, is usually said to have been first made by Isokrates62. This may be true in the sense that it was he who first stated it theoretically. In practice, however, it had already been employed by Lysias; and more strictly than by Isokrates himself63. The difference between their systems, according to Dionysios, is precisely this;—Lysias uses always the same simple framework, never interpolating, subdividing or defining64; Isokrates knows how to break the uniformity by transpositions of his own devising, or by novel episodes65. The same difference, in a stronger form, separates Lysias here from his imitator in much else, Isaeos. Every kind of artifice is used by Isaeos in shifting, subdividing, recombining the four rudimentary elements of the speech according to the special conditions of the case66. It was this versatile tact in disposing his forces—this generalship67, as Dionysios in one place calls it—which chiefly procured for Isaeos the reputation of unequalled adroitness in fighting a bad cause68. Lysias had consummate literary skill and much acuteness; but his weapons were better than his plan of campaign; he was not a subtle tactician. ‘In arranging what he has invented he is commonplace, frank, guileless;’69 while Isaeos ‘plays all manner of ruses upon his adversary,’70 Lysias ‘uses no sort of knavery.’71 Invention and selection are admirable in him: arrangement is best studied in his successors72.

Parts of the oration

If we turn from his general plan to his execution of its several parts, Lysias will be found to shew very different degrees of merit in proem, narrative, proof and epilogue.


His proem, or opening, is always excellent, always gracefully and accurately appropriate to the matter in hand. This inexhaustible fertility of resource calls forth the special commendation of Dionysios. ‘The power shown in his proems will appear especially marvellous if it is considered that, though he wrote not fewer than 200 forensic speeches, there is not one in which he is found to have used a preface which is not plausible, or which is not closely connected with the case. Indeed, he has not twice hit upon the same syllogisms, or twice drifted into the same thoughts. Yet even those who have written little are found to have had this mischance,—that, I mean, of repeating commonplaces; to say nothing of the fact that nearly all of them borrow the prefatory remarks of others, and think no shame of doing so.’73 The opening of the speech against Diogeiton may be cited as an example of a difficult case introduced with singular delicacy and tact.


The same kind of cleverness which never fails to make a good beginning finds a more important scope in the next stage of the speech. In narrative Lysias is masterly. His statements of facts are distinguished by conciseness, clearness and charm, and by a power of producing conviction without apparent effort to convince74. If these qualities mark almost equally some of the narratives in the private orations of Demosthenes75, it is yet Lysias and not Demosthenes to whom Dionysios points as the canon of excellence in this kind76. He goes so far as to say that he believes the rules for narrative given in the current rhetorical treatises to have been derived from study of models supplied by Lysias.


In the third province—that of proof—this supremacy is not maintained. Rhetorical proofs are of three kinds: (1) direct logical proofs which appeal to the reason; and indirect moral proofs which appeal (2) to the moral sense, and (3) to the feelings.

In the first sort Lysias is strong both by acuteness in discovering, and by judgment in selecting, arguments. In the second he is effective also; and succeeds, even when he has few facts to go upon, in making characters seem attractive or the reverse by incidental touches. In the third he is comparatively weak; he cannot heighten the force of a plea, represent a wrong, or invoke compassion77, with sufficient spirit and intensity.


Hence in the fourth and last department, the epilogue, he shows, indeed, the neatness which suits recapitulation, but not the power which ought to elevate an appeal. The nature of his progress through a speech is well described by an image which his Greek critic employs78. Like a soft southern breeze, his facile inspiration wafts him smoothly through the first and second stages of his voyage; at the third it droops; in the last it dies.

General qualities resulting from character

The manner in which Lysias handles his subject-matter has now been spoken of so far as concerns its technical aspect. But, besides these characteristics of the artist which may be discovered in particular parts, there are certain general qualities, resulting from the character of the man, which colour the whole; and a word must now be said of these.

The tact of Lysias.

Foremost among such qualities is tact. One of its special manifestations is quick sympathy with the character of the speaker; another is perception of the style in which a certain subject should be treated or a certain class of hearers addressed. Both these have already been noticed. But, above and beyond these, there is a certain sureness in the whole conduct of a case, a certain remoteness from liability to blunder, which is the most general indication of the tact of Lysias. Among his genuine extant speeches there is only one which perhaps in some degree offers an exception to the rule;—the speech against Evandros79. In the case of the speech against Andokides, the conspicuous absence of a fine discretion is one of the most conclusive proofs that Lysias was not the author80. In relation to treatment, this tact is precisely what the ‘charm’ praised by Dionysios is in relation to language; it is that quality, the presence or absence of which is the best general criterion of what Lysias did or did not write.

His humour.

A quality which the last almost implies is humour; and this Lysias certainly had. The description of an incorrigible borrower, in the fragment of the lost speech against the Sokratic Aeschines, shows this humour tending to broad farce81, and illustrates what Demetrius means by the ‘somewhat comic graces’82 of Lysias. But, as a rule, it is seen only in sudden touches, which amuse chiefly because they surprise; as in the speech for Mantitheos, and most of all in that for the Invalid83.


Really powerful sarcasm must come from earnest feeling; and Lysias, though intellectual acuteness gave him command of irony, was weak in sarcasm for the same reason that he was not great in pathos. There is, properly speaking, only one extant speech—that against Nikomachos—in which sarcasm is a principal weapon84. Here he is moderately successful, but not in the best way; for, just as in his attack upon Aeschines, vehemence, tending to coarseness, takes the place of moral indignation.

Defects of Lysias as an orator.

The language, the method, the genius of Lysias have now been considered in reference to their chief positive characteristics. But no attempt to estimate what Lysias was would be true or complete if it failed to point out what he was not. However high the rank which he may claim as a literary artist, he cannot, as an orator, take the highest. The defects which exclude him from it are chiefly two; and these are to a certain extent the defects of his qualities. As he excelled in analysis of character and in elegance, so he was, as a rule, deficient in pathos and in fire.
The limits of pathos in Lysias.

It would be untrue to say that Lysias never appeals to the feelings with effect, and unfair to assume that he lacked the power of appealing to them with force. But the bent of his mind was critical; his artistic instinct shrank from exaggeration of every sort; and, instead of giving fervent expression to his own sense of what was pitiable or terrible in any set of circumstances, it was his manner merely to draw a suggestive picture of the circumstances themselves. This self-restraint will be best understood by comparing a passage of Lysias with a similar passage of Andokides. The speech On the Mysteries describes the scene in the prison when mothers, sisters, wives came to visit the victims of the informer Diokleides85. A like scene is described in the speech Against Agoratos, when the persons whom he had denounced took farewell in prison of their kinswomen86. But the two orators take different means of producing a tragic effect. ‘There were cries and lamentations,’ says Andokides, ‘weeping and wailing for the miseries of the hour.’87 Lysias simply remarks that the wife who came to see her husband had already put on mourning88. For hearers of a certain class the pathos of facts is more eloquent than an express appeal; but the speaker who is content to rely upon it renounces the hope of being found pathetic by the multitude. It was only now and then that, without going beyond the limits which his own taste imposed, Lysias could expect to stir general sympathy. In the defence which he wrote for the nephews of Nikias, the last survivors of a house made desolate by violent deaths and now threatened with spoliation, he found such an opportunity. He used it well, because, though declamation would have been easy, he abstained from everything rhetorical and hollow. The few words in which the defendant speaks of his claim to the protection of the court are plain and dignified:—

‘Judges, I have no one to put up to plead for us; for of our kinsmen some have died in war, after showing themselves brave men, in the effort to make Athens great; some, in the cause of the democracy and of your freedom, have died by the hemlock of the Thirty; and so the merits of our kinsmen, and the misfortunes of the State, have become the causes of our friendlessness. It befits you to think of these things and to help us with good will, considering that under a democracy those deserve to be welltreated at your hands who, under an oligarchy, had their share of the troubles.’89

The eloquence of Lysias rarely passionate.

After inquiring how far Lysias fails in pathos, it remains to speak of the other principal defect noticed above. How far, and in what sense, does he want fire? By ‘fire’ is meant here the passion of a speaker stirred with great ideas. Dionysios says (in effect) that, besides pathos, Lysias wants two other things, grandeur and spirit90. He has not—we are told— the intensity or the force91 of Demosthenes; he touches, but does not pierce, the heart92; he charms, but fails to astonish or to appal93. This is true; but it should be remembered that in a great majority of the causes with which he had to deal the attempt at sublimity would have been ridiculous. It may be granted that, had Lysias been called upon to plead for Olynthos or to denounce Philip, he would not have approached even distantly the lofty vehemence of Demosthenes. The absence of passion cannot properly be regarded as a defect in his extant speeches; but they at least suggest that under no circumstances could he have excelled in passionate eloquence. They indicate a power which sufficed to elaborate them, rather than a power which gave them their special qualities out of an affluence of resource. Two speeches, however, must be named, one of which shows (in what remains of it) the inspiration of a great idea, the other, the inspiration of an ardent feeling. These are the Olympiakos and the speech Against Eratosthenes. If in each of these Lysias has shown himself worthy of his subject, the inference in his favour should be strengthened by the fact that, so far as we know, these are the noblest subjects which he treated.

In the Olympiakos he is enforcing the necessity of union among Greeks and calling upon Sparta to take the lead:—

‘It befits us, then, to desist from war among ourselves and to cleave, with a single purpose, to the public weal, ashamed for the past and apprehensive for the future; it befits us to imitate our forefathers, who, when the barbarians coveted the land of others, inflicted upon them the loss of their own; and who, after driving out the tyrants, established liberty for all men alike. But I wonder most of all at the Lacedaemonians, and at the policy which can induce them to view passively the conflagration of Greece. They are the leaders of the Greeks, as they deserve to be, both for their inborn gallantry and for their warlike science; they alone dwell exempt from ravage, though unsheltered by walls; unvexed by faction; strangers to defeat; with usages which never vary; thus warranting the hope that the freedom which they have achieved is immortal, and that, having proved themselves in past perils the deliverers of Greece, they are now thoughtful for her future.’94

In the speech Against Eratosthenes, he concludes the impeachment with an appeal to the two parties who had alike suffered from the Thirty Tyrants;— the Townsmen, or those who had remained at Athens under the oligarchy; and the democratic exiles who had held the Peiraeus:—

‘I wish, before I go down, to recall a few things to the recollection of both parties, the party of the Town and the party of the Peiraeus; in order that, in passing sentence, you may have before you as warnings the calamities which have come upon you through these men.

‘And you, first, of the Town—reflect that under their iron rule you were forced to wage with brothers, with sons, with citizens a war of such a sort that, having been vanquished, you are the equals of the conquerors, whereas, had you conquered, you would have been the slaves of the Tyrants. They would have gained wealth for their own houses from the administration; you have impoverished yours in the war with one another; for they did not deign that you should thrive along with them, though they forced you to become odious in their company; such being their consummate arrogance that, instead of seeking to win your loyalty by giving you partnership in their prizes, they fancied themselves friendly if they allowed you a share of their dishonours. Now, therefore, that you are in security, take vengeance to the utmost of your power both for yourselves and for the men of the Peiraeus; reflecting that these men, villains that they are, were your masters, but that now good men are your fellow-citizens,—your fellow-soldiers against the enemy, your fellow-counsellors in the interest of the State; remembering, too, those allies whom these men posted on the acropolis as sentinels over their despotism and your servitude. To you—though much more might be said—I say thus much only.

‘But you of the Peiraeus—think, in the first place, of your arms—think how, after fighting many a battle on foreign soil, you were stripped of those arms, not by the enemy, but by these men in time of peace; think, next, how you were warned by public criers from the city bequeathed to you by your fathers, and how your surrender was demanded of the cities in which you were exiles. Resent these things as you resented them in banishment; and recollect, at the same time, the other evils that you have suffered at their hands;—how some were snatched out of the marketplace or from temples and put to a violent death; how others were torn from children, parents, or wife, and forced to become their own murderers, nor allowed the common decencies of burial, by men who believed their own empire to be surer than the vengeance from on high.

‘And you, the remnant who escaped death, after perils in many places, after wanderings to many cities and expulsion from all, beggared of the necessaries of life, parted from children, left in a fatherland which was hostile or in the land of strangers, came through many obstacles to the Peiraeus. Dangers many and great confronted you; but you proved yourselves brave men; you freed some, you restored others to their country.

‘Had you been unfortunate and missed those aims, you yourselves would now be exiles, in fear of suffering what you suffered before. Owing to the character of these men, neither temples nor altars, which even in the sight of evil-doers have a protecting virtue, would have availed you against wrong;— while those of your children who are here would have been enduring the outrages of these men, and those who are in a foreign land, in the absence of all succour, would, for the smallest debt, have been enslaved.

‘I do not wish, however, to speak of what might have been, seeing that what these men have done is beyond my power to tell; and indeed it is a task not for one accuser, or for two, but for a host.

‘Yet is my indignation perfect for the temples which these men bartered away or defiled by entering them; for the city which they humbled; for the arsenals which they dismantled; for the dead, whom you, since you could not rescue them alive, must vindicate in their death. And I think that they are listening to us, and will be aware of you when you give your verdict, deeming that such as absolve these men have passed sentence upon them, and that such as exact retribution from these have taken vengeance in their names.

‘I will cease accusing. You have heard—seen— suffered: you have them: judge.’95

Place of Lysias in the history of Rhetoric.

On reviewing the general position of Lysias among the Attic orators, it will be seen to result mainly from his discovery, made at a time when Rhetoric had not yet outlived the crudest taste for finery, that the most complete art is that which hides itself. Aided not only by a delicate mastery of language but by a peculiar gift for reading and expressing character, he created a style of which the chief mark was various naturalness. It was long before the art of speaking reached, in general practice, that sober maturity which his precocious tact had given to it in a limited field; it was long before his successors freed themselves to any great extent— few wholly freed themselves—from the well-worn allurements which he had decisively rejected when they were freshest. But at least no one of those who came after dared to neglect the lesson taught by Lysias; the attempt to be natural, however artificially or rarely, was henceforward a new element in the task which professors of eloquence conceived to be set before them. Lysias remains, for all aftertimes, the master of the plain style.

This supremacy in a definite province is allowed

The ancient critics upon Lysias.
to him by the general voice of antiquity through the centuries in which its culture was finest; the praise becoming, however, less discriminating as the instinct which directed it became less sure.

Plato's satire96 upon Lysias—for not having seen that the writing of love-letters is a branch of Dialectic—is joined to a notice of the clearness, compactness, finished polish of his language97; and it would perhaps be unfair to Plato to assume that in the one place where he seems at all just to Lysias he meant to be altogether ironical. Isaeos was a careful student of Lysias98. If Aristotle99 seldom quoted him, if Theophrastos100 appears to have missed and Demetrics101 to have underrated his peculiar merits, one of the first orators of their generation, Deinarchos102, often took him for a model. When the taste for Attic simplicity, lost during two centuries in the schools of Asia, revived at Rome, Lysias was recognised as its truest representative. Though most of his Roman imitators appear to have become feeble in seeking to be plain, one of them, Licinius Calvus, is allowed at least the praise of elegance103. Cicero's criticism of Lysias is not close; it does not analyse with any exactness the special qualities of his style; but the general appreciation which it shows is just. For Cicero, Lysias is the model, not of a plain style merely, but of Attic refinement104; he has also the highest degree of vigour105; and though grandeur was seldom possible in the treatment of such subjects as he chose, some passages of his speeches have elevation106. Yet, while Demosthenes could use the simplicity of Lysias, it is doubtful (Cicero thinks) whether Lysias could ever have risen to the height of Demosthenes107; Lysias is ‘almost’ a second Demosthenes108, or, what is the same thing, ‘almost’ a perfect orator109; but his mastery is limited to a province. The Augustan age produced by far the best and fullest of known ancient criticisms upon Lysias, that of Dionysios110. The verdict of Caecilius has perished with his work on the Ten Orators; but the remark preserved from it, that Lysias was abler in the invention than in the arrangement of arguments111, shows discernment. This quality marks in a less degree the judgments of subsequent writers. Quintilian112 only commends Lysias in general terms for plain elegance of language and mastery of clear exposition; Hermogenes113 especially praises, not his winningness, but his hidden force, classing him, with Isaeos and Hypereides, next to Demosthenes in political eloquence. Photios114 goes wide of the mark; he praises Lysias for those things in which he was relatively weak, pathos and sublime intensity; and disputes the just observation of Caecilius that Lysias excelled in invention rather than in arrangement.

Lysias and his Successors.

A few words will be enough to mark the broad differences between Lysias and those three of his successors who may best be compared with him,— Isaeos, Isokrates and Demosthenes. Isokrates, like Lysias, has purity of diction and accuracy of idiom; command of plain language (though he is seldom content with it); power of describing, though not of dramatizing, character; propriety and persuasiveness. But while Lysias hides his art in order to be more winning, Isokrates aims openly at the highest artificial ornament, and escapes being frivolous or frigid only by the greatness of most of his subjects and the earnestness with which he treats them. Isaeos, a direct student of Lysias, resembles him most in his diction, which is not only, like that of Isokrates, clear and pure, but concise also; further, he strives, like his master, to conceal his art, but never quite succeeds in this. The excellence of Demosthenes comprises that of Lysias, since, while the latter is natural by art, the former is so by the necessary sincerity of genius; but Demosthenes is not, like Lysias, plain; nor has he the same delicate charm; grandeur and irresistible power take its place.
Services of Lysias to the prose idiom.

Lastly—it should be remembered that it is not only as an orator but also, and even more, as a writer that Lysias is important; that, great as were his services to the theory and practice of eloquence, he did greater service still to the Greek language. He brought the everyday idiom into a closer relation than it had ever before had with the literary idiom, and set the first example of perfect elegance joined to plainness; deserving the praise that, as in fineness of ethical portraiture he is the Sophokles, in delicate control of thoroughly idiomatic speech he is the Euripides of Attic prose.

1 Dionysios, speaking of the third or middle style, declares himself unable to decide whether it was first used by Thrasymachos of Chalkêdon, ‘as Theophrastos thinks,’ or by some one else: De Demosth. c. 3. From this, Francken infers with great probability that the distinction between the three styles was first made by Theophrastos in his lost work περὶ λέξεως (Commentationes Lysiacae, p. 9).

2 Thus Demetrios (περὶ ἑρμην. c. 36, Walz, Rh. Graec. vol. IX. p. 21) distinguishes four types or χαρακτῆρες—the plain (ἰσχνός), the grand (μεγαλοπρεπής), the polished (γλαφυρός), and the forcible (δεινός)—meaning by the last a terse, vigorous style, suited to controversy in court or council.

3 Syrianos, in his commentary on the περὶ ἰδεῶν of Hermogenes (Walz, Rh. Graec. vol. VII. p. 93), says that Hipparchos (a rhetorician who wrote a treatise περὶ τρόπων, ib. VI. p. 337) recognised five styles—the plain (ἰσχνός), the copious (ἁδρός—another name for the μεγαλοπρεπής), the middle (μέσος), the graphic (γραφικός), and the florid (ἀνθηρός).

4 Demetrios says that his γλαφυρὸς χαρακτήρ was considered by some as a branch of the ἰσχνός, and his δεινὸς χαρακτήρ as the branch of the μεγαλοπρεπής: περὶ ἑρμ. c. 36, Walz, IX. 21.

5 Cic. Orator c. 6 § 20,grandiloquitenues, acutimedius et quasi temperatus.

6 Dionysios describes the grand style as ἐξηλλαγμένη, περιττή, ἐγκατάσκευος (De Demosth. 1), or ὑψηλὴ λέξις (ib. 34): the plain, as λιτή, ἀφελής (ib. 2), or ἰσχνή, ἀπέριττος (ib. 34): the middle as μέση (ib. 34) or μικτή (ib. 3).

7 Quint. XII. c. 10 § 58. “Unum subtile (genus), quod ἰσχνόν vocant, alterum grande atque robustum, quod ἁδρόν dicunt, constituunt; tertium alii medium ex duobus, alii floridum (namque id ἀνθηρόν appellant) addiderunt.

8 Dionys. De Demosth. c. 2, ἑτέρα λέξις, λιτὴ καὶ ἀφελής, καὶ δοκοῦσα κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην ἔχειν λόγον καὶ ὁμοιότητα—a vague description, which tells us only that this style is based upon ἰδιώτης λόγος—the language of ordinary life.

9 Cic. Orator § 77,Primum igitur eum tanquam e vinculis numerorum eximamus......Solutum quiddam sit, nec vagum tamen.”. 2. In regard to diction—(a) purity9, (b) clearness10, (c) propriety11. 3. Abstemious use of rhetorical figures12.

10 ib. § 79sermo erit purus et Latinus.

11 ib.dilucide planeque dicetur.

12 ib.quid deceat circumspiciatur.

13 ib § 80verecundus erit usus oratoriae quasi supellectilis. supellex est enim quodammodo nostra quae est in ornamentis, alia rerum, alia verborum.

14 Dionys. De Demosth. c. 2, ἐτελείωσε δ᾽ αὐτὴν καὶ εἰς ἀκρὸν ἤγαγε τῆς ἰδίας ἀρετῆς Λυσίας Κεφάλου.

15 The question, ‘How far is Lysias the true repres entative of the genus tenue?’ has been exhaustively discussed by Dr F. Berbig, in an essay ‘Ueber das genus dicendi tenue des Redners Lysias’ (Gymnasium-program, Cüstrin, 1871: reviewed in the Philologischer Anzeiger III. 5. p. 252). The essay will be referred to below. Its general conclusion is that ‘In all his writings Lysias must be pronounced, by any judgment not absolutely rigorous, an excellent model of the plain style;’ though both his composition and his language depart from it in certain points.

16 Vol. II. p. 143 (transl. Donaldson).

17 See below.

18 Dionys. De Lys. c. 8.

19 ib. c. 6.

20 In this class, Berbig (in the essay mentioned above ‘Ueber das genus dicendi tenue des Redners Lysias,’ p. 8) places these speeches: 1. Or. XXVII. (κατὰ Ἐπικράτους): 2. Or. XXVIII. (κατὰ Ἐργοκλέους): 3. Or. XXIX. (κατὰ Φιλοκράτους): 4. Or. XXXIII. (Ὀλυμπιακός): 5. Or. XXXIV. (περὶ τοῦ μὴ καταλῦσαι τὴν πολιτείαν.)

21 e.g. 1. Or. XII. (κατὰ Ἐρατοσθένους): 2. Or. XIII. (κατὰ Ἀγοράτου): 3. Or. XVI. (κατὰ Φίλωνος): 4. Or. XIX. (περὶ τῶν Ἀριστοφάνους χρημάτων.)

22 In this third class two grades may be distinguished, according to the importance of the subject and the use, greater or less accordingly, of a periodic style. I. 1. Or. I. (περὶ τοῦ Ἐρατοσθένους φόνου): 2. Or. III. (κατὰ Σίμωνος): 3. Or. IV. (περὶ τραύματος ἐκ προνοίας): 4. Or. VII. (περὶ τοῦ σηκοῦ). II. 1. Or. XVII. (περὶ δημοσίων χρημάτων): 2. Or. XXIII. (κατὰ Παγκλέωνος): 3. Or. XXXII. (κατὰ Διογείτονος).

23 Cf. Dionys. De Lys. c. 6 (speaking of the terse periodic style)— συστρέφουσα τὰ νοήματα καὶ στρογγύλως ἐκφέρουσα λέξις, Dionysios says, ταύτην ὀλίγοι μὲν ἐμιμήσαντο, Δημοσθένης δὲ καὶ ὑπερεβάλετο: πλὴν οὐχ οὕτως εὐτολῶς οὐδὲ ἀφελῶς ὥσπερ Λυσίας, χρησάμενος αὐτῇ, ἀλλὰ περιέργως καὶ πικρῶς.

24 Dionys. De Lys. c. 2.

25 ib. c. 13, where the ‘purity’ spoken of in c, 2 is defined as consisting of two elements—τὸ καθαρὸν τῶν ὁνομάτων and ἀκρίβεια τῆς διαλέκτου.

26 This use occurs seven times in all: Or. I. § 17: XIII. §§ 1, 82: XXXI. §§ 1, 5: XXXII. §§ 1, 22. Berbig, p. 13.

27 e.g. Or. XXXIII. § 3 μικρολογησόμενος: § 7 οἰκοῦντες ἀπόρθητοι καὶ ἀτείχιστοι καὶ ἀστασίαστοι καὶ ἀήττητοι: Or. IV. § 8 παρωξυμμένος ὀξύχειρ λίαν καὶ πάροινός ἐστιν: § 9 ἐς του_το βαρυδαιμονίας ἥκει: § 20 ἀνήκεστος συμφορά: Or. XVIII. § 49, ἀρχαιόπλουτος: Or. XIII § 45 ἀκλεήςγηροτροφεῖν: Or. XXVI. § 4 ἀείμνηστος: Or. XXX. § 35 μισοπονηρεῖν: Or. XXIV. § 3 δυστυχήματα ἰᾶσθαι: Or. XXXIII. § 7 ἀθάνατος ἐλευθερία.

28 Dionys. De Lys. c. 2 Ἰσοκράτηςκαθαρώτατος δὴ τῶν ἄλλων μετά γε Λυσίαν.

29 Dionys. De Isaeo. c. 3.

30 As an instance of a common prosopopoiïa see e.g. Or. XXI. § 8 οὔτω παρεσκευασμένην τριήρη πόσα οἴεσθε...τοὺς πολεμίους εἴργασθαι κακά; Other common figures which occur in Lysias are synekdoche, e.g. Or. XXXIII. § 9 τὰς ἐλπίδας τῆς σωτηρίας: antonomasia, Or. § 15 σεμνὸς Στειριεύς: metonymia, Or. XII. § 60 τὰς πόλεις ἐπάγοντες: epanaphora, Or. XXX. § 3 πολλὰ μέν... πολλὰ δέ: synathroismos, Or. XXXIII. § 3 καί...καί...καί...καί: periphrasis, Or. XVIII. § 3 τρόπαιον ἱστάναι, &c.

31 Dionys. De Lys. c. 3 (ἀρετὴ) διὰ τῶν κυρίων τε καὶ κοινῶν καὶ ἐν μέσῳ κειμένων ὀνομάτων ἐκφέρουσα τὰ νοούμενα.

32 ib. ὁμοίως δὲ τοῖς ἰδιώταις διαλέγεσθαι δοκῶν πλεῖστον ὅσον ἰδιώτου διαφέρει.

33 ib. κράτιστος ποιητὴς λόγων λελυμένης ἐκ μέτρου λέξεως, ἰδίαν τινὰ λόγων εὑρηκὼς ἁρμονίαν, τὰ ὀνόματα κοσμεῖ τε καὶ ἡδύνει, μηδὲν ἔχοντα ὀγκῶδες μηδὲ φορτικόν.

34 Dionys. De Isocr. c. 3 σχηματίζει φορτικῶς.

35 Isokôla and homoioteleuta constantly occur together. see esp. Or. XII. (§§ 1, 4, 6, 19, 26, 32, 39, &c.) and Or. XXXIII. passim. A speeial form of the paromoion, viz. paronomasia, is frequent in Lysias: e.g. Or. XXXI. § 11 γνώμῃσυγγνώμης: § 24 τιμωρηθήσεταιτετιμήσεται: Or. XXX. § 29 τὰ πάτριακατὰ πατέρα.

36 De Lys. c. 4 καὶ εἰ μὲν δἰ ἀσθένειαν δυνάμεως ἐγίγνετο τὸ σαφὲς οὐκ ἄξιον ἦν αὐτὸ ἀγαπᾶν: νῦν δὲ πλοῦτος τῶν κυρίων ὀνομάτων ἐκ πολλῆς αὐτῷ περιουσίας ἀποδείκνυται ταύτην τὴν ἀρετήν.

37 ib. c. 4 οὐ τοῖς ὀνόμασι δουλεύει τὰ πράγματα παρ᾽ αὐτῷ, τοῖς δὲ πράγμασιν ἀκολουθεῖ τὰ ὀνόματα.

38 It is remarkable that Dionysios expressly denies to Demosthenes the invariable clearness of Lysias, De Lys. c. 4 τῆς μὲν Θουκυδίδου λέξεως καὶ Δημοσθένους, οἳ δεινότατοι τὰ πράγματα ἐξειπεῖν ἐγένοντο, πολλὰ δυσείκαστά ἐστιν ἡμῖν καὶ ἀσαφῆ.

39 For emphasis (e.g.) in Or. XIII. § 63 οἱ δ᾽ αὐτῶν περιγενόμενοι καὶ σωθέντες, οὓς οὗτος μὲν ἀπέκτεινεν ὠμῶς καὶ θάνατος αὐτῶν κατεγνώσθη, δὲ τύχη καὶ δαίμων περιεποίησε . . . τιμῶνται ὑφ᾽ ὑμῶν. For symmetry (e.g.) in Or. XXVIII. § 3 καὶ γὰρ δὴ δεινὸν ἂν εἴη εἰ νῦν μὲν οὕτως αὐτοὶ πιεζόμενοι ταῖς εἰσφοραῖς συγγνώμην τοῖς κλέπτουσι καὶ τοῖς δωροδοκοῦσιν ἔχοιτε, ἐν δὲ τῷ τέως χρόνῳ καὶ τῶν οἴκων τῶν ὑμετέρων μεγάλων ὄντων καὶ τῶν δημοσίων προσόδων μεγάλων οὐσῶν, θανάτῳ ἐκολάζετε τοὺς τῶν ὑμετέρων ἐπιθυμοῦντας: where, as Blass observes, the words μεγάλων οὐσῶν are superfluous, and the phrase τοὺς τῶν ὑμετέρων ἐπιθυμοῦντας where τοὺς τοιούτους would have sufficed, is meant to balance τοῖς κλέπτουσι καὶ τοῖς δωροδοκοῦσιν.Another strong instance of redundancy of the former kind—the emphatic—is Or. XXI. § 24 οὐδεπώποτ᾽ ἠλέησα οὐδ᾽ ἐδάκρυσα οὐδ᾽ ἐμνήσθην γυναικὸς οὐδὲ παίδων τῶν ἐμαυτοῦ, οὐδ᾽ ἡγούμην δεινὸν εἶναι εἰ τελευτήσας ὑπὲρ τῆς πατρίδος ὀρφανοὺς καὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ἀπεστερημένους αὐτοὺς καταλείψω. Favorinus, according to Gellius (II. V.), used to say:—‘If you remove a single word from a passage of Plato, or alter it, however suitably to the sense, you will still have taken away something from the elegance; if you do so in Lysias, you will have taken away something from the sense.’ This praise, as we have seen, needs modification.

40 Dionys. De Lys. c. 7 δύναμίς τις ὑπὸ τὰς αἰσθήσεις ἄγουσα τὰ λεγόμενα.

41 In Eratosth. §§ 8—17.

42 De Isocr. c. 2.

43 The passage in the Aeginêtikos in which the speaker describes his care of Thrasylochos: §§ 24—27.

44 De Lys. c. 8 τριῶν τε ὄντων ἐν οἷς καὶ περὶ τὴν ἀρετὴν ταύτην συμβέβηκεν εἶναι, διανοίας τε καὶ λέξεως καὶ τρίτης τῆς συνθέσεως, ἐν ἅπασι τούτοις αὐτὸν ἀποφαίνομαι κατορθοῦν.

45 Francken (Commentationes Lysiacae, pp. 5—7) thinks it doubtful whether by the ἠθοποιΐα of Lysias Dionysios meant the appropriate delineation of each several character, or the attribution to all characters alike of a certain attractive simplicity. Francken inclines to the latter view. He refers to cases in which, as he thinks, Lysias has failed, or has not tried, to mark individual character, or in which the general stamp of simplicity is exaggerated. The appreciation of êthos depends much upon taste; it scarcely admits of argument. But it is clear to me what Dionysios, at least, meant by the ἠθοποιϊα of Lysias. He meant the appropriate delineation of each several character. Surely he says so very plainly: De Lys. c. 8 οὐ γὰρ διανοουμένους μόνον ὑποτίθεται χρηστὰ καὶ ἐπιεικῆ καὶ μέτρια τοὺς λέγοντας, ὥστε εἰκόνας εἶναι δοκεῖν τῶν ἠθῶν τοὺς λόγους ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν λέξιν ἀποδίδωσι τοῖς ἤθεσιν οἰκείαν. Cf. K. O. Müller, Hist. Gr. Lit. II. p. 143 (tr. Donaldson):—‘Lysias distinguished, with the accuracy of a dramatist, between the different characters into whose mouths he put his speeches, and made everyone, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, speak according to his quality and condition: this is what the ancient critics praise under the name of his Êthopoiia. The prevalent tone, however, was that of the average man.’

46 De sacra Olea §§ 1—3, 30.

47 De Aristoph. bonis §§ 18— 23, 55—64.

48 In Diogeit. §§ 1—3, 12—17.

49 De Lys. c. 8 ἁπλῶς γὰρ οὐδὲ εὑρεῖν δύναμαι παρὰ τῷ ῥήτορι τούτῳ πρόσωπον οὔτε ἀνηθοποίητον οὔτε ἄψυχον.

50 Pro Mantith. §§ 20, 21.

51 The distinction between Êthopoiia and the Propriety praised in Lysias will appear from a careful reading of Dionys. De Lys. cc. 8, 9. Êthopoiïa is the adaptation of the speech to the intrinsic character of the speaker. Propriety is the adaptation of the speech to the circumstances;—on the one hand, to the age, quality, occupation, &c. of the speaker; on the other hand, to the cause and to the audience.

52 Cic. Brut. § 35egregie subtilis scriptor atque elegans”: ib. § 285,ieiunitas polita, urbana, elegans”. Quint. X. 1. 78 “subtilis atque elegans”: IX. 4. 17 “gratia quae in eo maxima est simplicis atque inaffectati coloris”. It must be allowed to Cicero that he felt the plainness of Lysias to have a charm of its own. But he did not, like Dionysios, feel this charm to be something independent of the plainness, which could be used as a distinct test of genuine work. See Orator § 78,nam ut mulieres esse dicuntur nonnullae inornatae, quas id ipsum deceat, sic haec subtilis oratio atque incompta delectat. fit enim quiddam in utroque, quo sit venustius, sed non ut appareat.

53 Dionys. De Lys. c. 11. Note the words—τίς παρ᾽ αὐτῷ χάρις ἐστι, βουλομένοις μαθεῖν ὑποθείμην ἂν ἐπιτηδεύειν χρόνῳ μακρῷ καὶ μακρᾷ τριβῇ, καὶ ἀλόγῳ πάθει τὴν ἄλογον συνασκει_ν αἴσθησιν—‘and to train their critical sense by a feeling as instinctive as itself.’

54 Ib.

55 εὕρεσιςτάξις: Dionys. De Lys. c. 15.

56 Plat. Phaedr. pp. 234 E—236 A.

57 Dionys. Lys. c. 13.

58 In Agorat. §§ 49—90.

59 ib. §§ 70—90, in which it is argued that the amnesty of 403 does not hold good as between two members of the same political party.

60 ἔστι δὲ τὰ τῆς ὑποθέσεως στοιχεῖα τέσσαρα, προοίμιον, διήγησις, πίστεις, ἐπίλογος: Dionys. Art. Rhet. X. c. 12. Aristotle's enumeration is προοίμιον, πρόθεσις, πίστις, ἐπίλογος: Rhet. III. 13.

61 Phaedr. pp. 266 E, 267 E. Cf. Arist. Rhet. IV. 13.

62 Dionys. Lys. 16: Sauppe, O.A. II. 224: Cope, Introd. to Arist. Rhetoric, p. 332.

63 Westermann (Griesch. Bereds. p. 75) seems to recognise Lysias as the inventor of the fourfold partition.

64 Dionys. De Lys. c. 15.

65 Id. De Isocr. c. 4, τὸ διαλαμβάνεσθαι τὴν ὁμοειδίαν ἰδίαις μεταβολαῖς καὶ ξένοις ἐπεισοδίοις.

66 Id. De Isae. c. 14.

67 τοὺς δὲ δικαστὰς καταστρατηγεῖ, De Isae 3.

68 His reputation in this respect was of a somewhat sinister kind:— ἦν δὲ περὶ αὐτοῦ δόξα παρὰ τοῖς τότε γοητείας καὶ ἀπάτης, ὡς δεινὸς ἀνὴρ τεχνιτεῦσαι λόγους ἐπὶ τὰ πονηρότερα. Dionys. De Isae. 4.

69 ἔστιν ἀπέριττός τις καὶ ἐλεύθερος καὶ ἀπόνηρος οἰκονομῆσαι τὰ εὑρεθέντα: Dionys. De Lys. c. 15.

70 πρὸς τὸν ἀντίδικον διαπονηρεύεται, De Isae. c. 3.

71 οὔτε γὰρ προκατασκευαῖς .τ.λ.], ...οὔτε ταῖς ἄλλαις τοιαύταις πανουργίαις εὑρίσκεται χρώμενος. De Lys. c. 15.

72 Ib.

73 Dionys. De Lys. c. 17.

74 His narratives τὴν πίστιν ἅμα λεληθότως συνεπιφέρουσιν, id. De Lys. c. 18.

75 After comparing an extract from the lost speech of Lysias Against Tisis with an extract from the speech of Demosthenes Against Konon, Dionysios asks—ταῦτα οὐ καθαρὰ καὶ ἀκριβῆ καὶ σαφῆ καὶ διὰ τῶν κυρίων καὶ κοινῶν ὀνομάτων κατεσκενασμένα, ὥσπερ τὰ Αυσίου; and goes on to notice other excellences which both have alike. De Demosth. c. 13.

76 ορον τε καὶ κανόνα τῆς ἰδέας ταύτης αὐτὸν ἀποφαίνομαι: De Lys. c. 18.

77 In the technical language of Dionysios, Lysias understands οὔτε αὐξήσεις οὔτε δεινώσεις οὔτε οἴκτους: De Lys. c. 19.

78 αὕτη μέντοι ( χάρις), καθάπερ νότιός τις αὖρα, μέχρι προοιμίου καὶ διηγήσεως αὐτὸν ἄγει: ὅταν δὲ εἰς τοὺς ἀποδεικτικοὺς ἔλθῃ λόγους, ἀμυδρά τις γίγνεται καὶ ἀσθενής: ἐν δὲ δὴ τοῖς παθητικοῖς εἰς τέλος ἀποσβέννυται: Dionys. De Demosth. c. 13.

79 See the remarks below upon this speech.

80 The internal evidence against the authenticity of the speech Against Andokides is discussed below.

81 Fragment 1 in Sauppe, O. A. II. p. 172. The passage especially meant here begins at ἀλλὰ γάρ, ἄνδρες δικασταί, οὐκ εἰς ἐμὲ μόνον τοιοῦτός ἐστιν, and goes down to τούτῳ συμβάλλειν:—‘But indeed, judges, I am not the only person to whom he behaves in this way; he is the same to every one else who has had to do with him. Have not the neighbouring shopkeepers, from whom he gets on credit goods for which he never pays, shut up their shops and gone to law with him? Are not his neighbours so cruelly used by him that they have left their houses and are trying to take others at a distance? Whenever he has collected club-subscriptions, he fails to hand over the payments of the other members, and they are wrecked on this little tradesman like chariots at the turning-post of the course. Such a crowd goes at daybreak to his house to demand the sums due to them, that passers-by fancy the people have come to attend a funeral. As for the inhabitants of the Peiraeus they are in such a mind that they think it much safer to sail to the Adriatic than to encounter this man.’

82 Demetr. περὶ ἑρμηνείας § 128 (Walz, Rhet. Gr. IX. 58): τῶν δὲ χαρίτων αἱ μέν εἰσι μείζονες καὶ σεμνότεραι, αἱ δὲ εὐτελεῖς μᾶλλον καὶ κωμικώτεραι, οἷον αἱ Ἀριστοτέλους χάριτες καὶ Σώφρονος καὶ Αυσίου.

83 e. g. In Mantith. (Or. XVI.) § 15: Pro Inval. (Or. XXIV.) § 9. Cf. De sacra Olea (Or. VII.) § 1, 14.

84 See esp. In Nikom. (Or. XXX.) §§ 11, 27.

85 Andok. De Myst. §§ 48—51.

86 Lys. In Agorat. §§ 39—42.

87 De Myst. § 48.

88 In Agorat. § 40.

89 De bonis Niciae fratris (Or. XVIII.) §§ 24, 25.

90 Dionysios says that the style of Lysias is not ὑψηλή and μεγαλοπρεπής: nor θυμοῦ καὶ πνεύματος μεστή: De Lys. c. 13.

91 τόνοςἰσχύς: Dionys. Demosth. 13.

92 He wants τὸ πικρόν: id. Lys. 13.

93 His style being neither θαυμαστή nor καταπληκτική: ib.

94 Olympiakos (Or. XXXIII.) §§ 6, 7.

95 In Eratosth. §§ 92—100.

96 Plat. Phaedr. p. 264 B: οὐ χύδην δοκεῖ βεβλῆσθαι τὰ τοῦ λόγου; φαίνεται τὸ δεύτερον εἰρημένον ἔκ τινος ἀνάγκης δεῖν δεύτερον τεθῆναι; It is on this ground—the unphilosophic character of Lysias—that Plato gives such a decided preference to Isokrates. Compare the remark of Dionysios that Isaeos differs from Lysias in this among other things—τῷ μὴ κατ᾽ ἐνθύμημά τι λέγειν ἀλλὰ καὶ κατ᾽ ἐπιχείρημα (De Is. 16). That is, Isaeos frequently makes an attempt (ἐπιχείρημα) at strict logical proof; whereas Lysias rarely goes beyond the rhetorical syllogism (ἐνθύμημα).

97 Phaedr. p. 234 E: τί δέ; καὶ ταύτῃ δεῖ τὸν λόγον ἐπαινεθῆναι, ὡς τὰ δέοντα εἰρηκότος τοῦ ποιητοῦ, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐκείνῃ μόνον, ὅτι σαφῆ καὶ στρογγύλα, καὶ ἀκριβῶς ἕκαστα τῶν ὀνομάτων ἀποτετόρνευται;

98 Dionys. De Is. 2: [Plut.] vit. Isae.

99 In the extant works of Aristotle there occur but two quotations from authentic speeches of Lysias: (1) In Rhet. III. ad fin. εἴρηκα, ἀκηκόατε, ἔχετε, κρίνατε. cited as an example of effective asyndeton. This is probably an inaccurate citation of the ἀκηκόατε, ἑωράκατε, πεπόνθατε, ἔχετε, δικάζετε with which the speech Against Eratosthenes closes. (2) In Rhet. II. c. 23 § 18 there is a quotation from § 11 of the speech of Lysias περὶ τῆς πολιτείας (Or. XXXIV.): εἰ φεύγοντες μὲν ἐμαχόμεθα ὅπως κατέλθωμεν, κατελθόντες δὲ φευξόμεθα ὅπως μὴ μαχώμεθα.The citation in Rhet. III. c. 10 § 7 (διότι ἄξιον ἦν ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳσυγκαταθαπτομένης τῇ ἀρετῇ αὐτῶν τῆς ἐλευθερίας) from § 60 of the ἐπιτάφιος ascribed to Lysias (Or. II.) cannot be reckoned, since that speech is unquestionably spurious. Blass remarks that the words quoted by Demetrios (περὶ ἑρμ. § 28) from a lost work of Aristotle περὶ δικαιοσύνης resemble what we read in § 39 of the speech Against Eratosthenes. (Att. Bereds. p. 377, note 3.)

100 Dionysios expresses indignant astonishment at the assertion of Theophrastos (ἐν τοῖς περὶ λέξεως) that Lysias had a taste for vulgar redundancy of ornament (φορτικῶν καὶ περιέργων αὐτὸν οἴεται ζηλωτὴν γενέσθαι λόγων). Moderns may share this surprise, when they find that Theophrastos referred in support of his opinion to a speech said to have been composed by Lysias for the captive general Nikias. The few words quoted by Theophrastos suffice to indicate the work of a third-rate rhetorician: see above, p.147. Cf. Sauppe's remarks on the fragment, O.A. II. p. 199.

101 In a passage of the περὶ ἑρμηνείας (§ 128) already noticed, the epithets which Demetrios gives to the ‘graces’ of Lysias are εὐτελεῖςκωμικώτεραι. It is significant that Demetrios should have mistaken ἀφέλεια for εὐτέλεια, plainness for paltriness. He lived at the time when Greek eloquence, in the first stage of its decline, was beginning to affect the tawdry ornament of the Rhodian school. (See Westerm. Griesch. Bereds. p. 165.)

102 Dionysios names certain speeches of Deinarchos as bearing especially the Αυσιακὸς χαρακτήρ. Hypereides and (of course) Demosthenes were the two other masters by whom Deinarchos was chiefly influenced. (Dionys. De Dein. c. 5.)Among the less eminent imitators of Lysias who belonged nearly to the age of Deinarchos, Cicero names Charisios and Hegesias of Magnesia (Brut. § 286: Orator § 226).

103 Cic. Brutus § 283Accuratius quoddam dicendi et exquisitius afferebat genus.” He treated this style scienter eleganterque, though with a certain self-conscious and overwrought care which deprived it of freshness and force.

104 De Oratore III. 7 § 28Suavitatem Isocrates, subtilitatem Lysias, acumen Hyperides, sonitum Aeschines, vim Demosthenes habuit.” Compare Orator § 29intelligamus hoc esse Atticum in Lysia, non quod tenuis sit atque inornatus, sed quod nihil habeat insolens aut ineptum.

105 Brutus § 64Quanquam in Lysia saepe sunt etiam lacerti, ita sic ut fieri nihil possit valentius.

106 De opt. gen Oratorum § 9Est enim (Lysias) multis locis grandior; sed quia et privatas ille plerasque et eas ipsas aliis et parvarum rerum caussulas scripsit, videtur esse ieiunior, quom se ipse consulto ad minutarum genera caussarum limaverit.

107 ib. § 10Ita fit ut Demosthenes certe possit summisse dicere, elate Lysias fortasse non possit.

108 Orator § 226, “Lysiamalterum paene Demosthenem.

109 Brutus § 35 “Quem iam prope audeas oratorem perfectum dicere; nam plane quidem perfectum, et cui nihil admodum desit, Demosthenem facile dixeris.

110 Besides the special essay on Lysias, and the short notice in the κρίσις ἀρχαίων v. 1, there is much criticism upon him in the essays upon Isokrates, Isaeos, Demosthenes and Deinarchos. It is necessary to study these in connexion with the essay on Lysias; they explain, or limit, many statements found there.

111 The criticism is cited, and contested, by Photios, p. 489 B, quoted below.

112 Quint. IX. 4. 16: X. 1. 78 (Lysias)...“quo nihil, si oratori satis est docere, quaeras perfectius.

113 In the περὶ ἰδεῶν II. c. 41 Hermogenes ranks Lysias, with Isaeos and Hypereides, next to Demosthenes in mastery of the πολιτικὸς λόγος. In his chapter περὶ δεινότητος (περὶ ἰδ. II. 9) he says that there are three kinds of δεινότης, —that which is and seems, that which seems and is not, and that which is but does not seem. The last, or hidden, δεινότης is, he thinks, most perfectly exemplified in Lysias.

114 Photios cod. 262: ἔστι δὲ Αυσίας δεινὸς μὲν παθήνασθαι, ἐπιτήδειος δὲ τοὺς πρὸς αὔξησιν διαθεῖναι λόγους.—Id. p. 489 B. 13: Καικίλιος δὲ ἁμαρτάνει εὑρετικὸν μὲν τὸν ἄνδρα εἴπερ ἄλλον τινὰ συνομολογῶν, οἰκονομῆσαι δὲ τὰ εὑρεθέντα οὐχ οὕτως ἱκανόν: καὶ γὰρ κἀν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει τῆς ἀρετῆς τοῦ λόγου οὐδενὸς ὁρᾶται καταδεέστερος—injudicious praise indeed.

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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Lysias, On the Murder of Eratosthenes, 47
    • Lysias, On the Murder of Eratosthenes, 5
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (9):
    • Lysias, On the Murder of Eratosthenes, 17
    • Lysias, Against Diogeiton, 1
    • Lysias, Against Agoratus, 1
    • Lysias, Against Agoratus, 82
    • Lysias, Against Philon, 1
    • Lysias, Against Philon, 22
    • Lysias, Against Philon, 5
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 3.7
    • Cicero, Orator, 29
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