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from another speech of his own, or borrowed from another orator. The Greeks believed that a thing can be well said only in one way, but not in two ways, and that therefore to change the form of a sentence once best expressed was to lose something of its perfection.
Hence, too, the readiness with which rival orators in addressing assemblies criticize each other's style. No modern statesman or advocate would think of calling attention to the stylistic defects of an opponent. To this scrupulous attention paid to external form is due another peculiarity of Greek oratory. An orator in view of this would naturally shrink from speaking extemporaneously. Demosthenes was most unwilling, as he put it, "to put his faculty at the mercy of fortune." The modern presumption, on the contrary, is always that a speech is extemporary, and its effectiveness is likely to be weakened in so far as it is felt to have been composed beforehand and committed to memory. The modern orator is accordingly often tempted to give the semblance of spontaneous and unpremeditated utterance to a speech carefully prepared, and in doing so is likely to disregard the artistic form and symmetry of the whole. Hence we find in modern speeches sudden bursts of eloquence which are extempore as regards the form, but which from the very nature of its being are impossible to ancient oratory. Where so much attention was paid to qualities of style it would be natural also for the hearer to attach undue importance to trivialities very much in the same frame of mind as he would a rhapsodist and to listen to an oration more for the sake of getting pleasure than of being convinced. The Greek heard an orator as an actor. We may well believe that the style of delivery, the elocution, played no small part in the success of a speech. We know in fact that Demosthenes and Eschines criticized each other's delivery, doubtless very much to the delight of the Athenian audience. To pander to this desire to be entertained and amused must have been a frequent temptation, under the spell of which the orator was sometimes led to indulge in abusive personalities that are more becoming to the writer of the old comedy than to the pleader at the bar or the statesman on the bema.
THE TEN GREAT GREEK ORATORS
So preëminent was Athens in oratory that the ten greatest orators of Greece as enumerated in the Alexandrian Canon, which listed and classified the Greek authors, were all selected from the Athenians. These "Ten Attic Orators," as they were called, are given in what was then considered the chronological order as follows: Antiphon, Andocides, Lysias. Isocrates, Isæus, Demosthenes, Æschines, Hyperides, Lycurgus of Athens, and Dinarchus. To these should be prefixed PERICLES, the substance of a few of whose great speeches is preserved in the works of Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War (see volume five of the present work).
ANTIPHON was born B.C. 480 in Attica. He was the son and pupil of the sophist Sophilus. Taking up his father's profession he achieved great fame as a rhetorician, developing political eloquence into an art, and thereby attracting many to his school who desired to become successful advocates in law cases.
He also wrote out speeches for others to deliver in court, though he afterwards published them under his own name. Entering into politics he became a leading member of the oligarchical party, being the deviser of the establishment of the Council of Four Hundred which sounded the knell of democracy in B.C. 411. He also went as ambassador to Sparta in the interest of the Athenian oligarchy to sue for peace on any terms. On the fall of the Four Hundred he was accused of high treason, and, in spite of a masterly defence—the first speech he ever made in publicwas condemned to death B.C. 411. Of the sixty orations attributed to him, only fifteen are preserved—all on trials for murder; but only three of them are about real cases. The rest (named tetralogies because every four are the first and second speeches of both plaintiff and defendant on the same subject) are mere rhetorical exercises. In both substance and style the speeches of Antiphon are representative of the rudimentary stage of the art of oratory.
ANDOCIDES was born B.C. 439 of a noble family, and upon attaining manhood joined himself to the aristocratic party. VI-2
However, becoming involved with others in B.C. 415, in a charge of mutilating the statues of Hermes, to save his own and his kinsmen's lives he betrayed his aristocratic accomplices. Although promised immunity for thus turning “State's evidence," he suffered partial loss of civic rights. Accordingly he left Athens and embarked in trade in Cyprus. Upon the fall of the Thirty Tyrants in B.C. 403, when a general amnesty was proclaimed, he returned to Athens, where he successfully struggled to live down his evil record, and at last gained the esteem of his fellow citizens, so much so, that, during the Corinthian War in 390 B.C., he was sent to Sparta to negotiate peace. He brought back the draft of a treaty, for the ratification of which he earnestly pleaded in a speech that is still extant. The people repudiated it, however, as too favorable to Sparta, and banished Andocides as an enemy of the State. He died in exile. Besides the above-mentioned oration, we have two delivered on his own behalf, one pleading for his recall from his first exile, B.C. 410; another against the charge of unlawful participation in the mysteries, B.C. 399. His speeches are representative of a decided advance over Antiphon's in the art of oratory. They are less academic, being simple and direct, and expressed in the language of the people.
Lysias was born at Athens, B.C. 458 or 459. His father, Cephalus, was a wealthy native of Syracuse, who had settled at Athens during the time of Pericles, with whom he became on intimate terms; he was also a friend of Socrates, so much so that Plato laid the scene of his Socratic dialogue, the Republic, in his house. Lysias, at the age of fifteen, went with his brother Polemarchus, to Thurii in Italy at the founding of the colony, where he remained for thirty-two years. He was a staunch supporter of Athenian interests, and so was obliged to leave Italy after the failure of the Athenian expedition to Sicily. He returned to Athens B.C. 411, and carried on, in partnership with his brother Polemarchus, an extensive manufactory of shields, in which they employed as many as 120 slaves. Their wealth excited the cupidity of the Thirty Tyrants, who sent an armed force into their house one evening while Lysias was entertaining a few friends at
supper; their property was seized, and Polemarchus was taken to prison, where he was shortly after executed (B.C. 404). Lysias, by bribing some of the soldiers, escaped to Megara. He has given a graphic account of his escape in his oration against Eratosthenes, who had been one of the Thirty Tyrants. He died about B.C. 378.
A life of Lysias, attributed to Plutarch, mentions 425 of his orations, 230 of which were considered to be genuine. There remain only thirty-four, which are remarkable for purity, clearness, grace and simplicity, which caused him to be regarded as the chief master of the “plain" style. In the art of narration, Dionysius of Halicarnassus considers him superior to all orators in being distinct, probable and persuasive, but, at the same time he admits that Lysias's composition is better adapted to private litigation than to important causes. The masterpiece of Lysias is the funeral oration in the honor of those Athenians who died in battle in the expedition sent under the command of Iphicrates to the aid of Corinth.
ISOCRATES (B.C. 436-338), was the fourth of the ten Attic orators. His life, as well as a translation of his masterpiece, the Panegyric, are given in the following pages; both the biography and the translation are by J. H. Freese, M.A.
Sixty compositions ascribed to Isocrates were known to the ancients, but a number of them are undoubtedly spurious. Eleven letters and ten orations are extant. Six of the orations are on forensic subjects, and written to be delivered by others; the other four are political declamations. Isocrates paid special attention to the rhythm, or cadence, of his oratorical periods, and the choice of beautiful phrases and figures of speech. In this he influenced not only the style of Greek oratory, but also Greek prose in general. Cicero based his rhetoric on the periods of Isocrates, and so carried his influence not only into Roman literature, but into modern literary prose, which is largely modelled upon Cicero's style.
Isæus (B.C. 420-328) was born at Chalcis, and came to Athens at an early age. He wrote judicial orations for others and established a rhetorical school at Athens, in which Demosthenes is said to have been his pupil. Eleven of his orations are extant, all relating to questions of inheritance. They afford considerable information respecting this branch of the Attic law, of which he was a master, and are marked by intellectual acumen, clearness of statement, and vigor of style.
DEMOSTHENES (B.C. 383-322), was the sixth in time order, and the first in eminence of the ten Attic orators. His life, translated by Sir Thomas North, from the French version by Amyot of Plutarch's Lives, appears in the following pages, with a translation by Thomas Leland, D.D., of his oration in the famous debate with Æschines upon the motion of Ctesiphon that a crown of honor be given Demosthenes in recognition of his services to Athens.
Sixty-one orations ascribed to Demosthenes are extant, about half of which are spurious. Seventeen of the genuine orations are political, and twelve of these deal with the machinations of Philip of Macedon to subvert the Athenian power. Others are pleadings in private cases.
The style of Demosthenes was founded upon the best elements of his predecessors, together with those of the historian Thucydides, who composed speeches which he put in the mouths of Pericles and others. To these elements he added a force and vigor which were peculiarly his own, and thereby placed himself far in advance of all the Greek orators, and, in the estimation of many, at the head of all the orators of the world in modern times as well as in ancient. Certainly the only orator of antiquity that could be considered in his class was Cicero, who had the advantage of studying the Greek orator's speeches. Plutarch's Life of Cicero, and his comparison of Cicero and Demosthenes are presented in the pages following his Life of Demosthenes in order that the reader may have before him an estimate of the relative merits of these orators given by the ablest of ancient biographers.
ÆSCHINES, the opponent of Demosthenes, was born B.C. 389. He was the son of a schoolmaster. After service as a soldier he became a public clerk, which employment, however, he soon left to go upon the stage. Meeting here with little success he embarked upon a public career as a political speaker. After the fall of Olynthus (B.C. 348), he caught the favor of the public by advocating a general council of the