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In truth, Andokides stands by himself. His predecessor Antiphon, and his successor Lysias, were both professional rhetoricians; Andokides came forward in the Assembly with the minimum of rhetorical training' (i. 88), and may thus be regarded practically as an amateur. But he was an amateur of remarkable powers.
With singular good sense he abandoned the austere monotony of Antiphon for a style far more nearly answering to the simple talk of ordinary life; and if he is too fond of phrases which belong strictly to poetry, they are used with a readiness and artlessness which show how really
natural a speaker he was’ (i. 97). His faults and his merits are, indeed, on the surface; and Mr. Jebb has treated both with admirable clearness in the criticism which he sums up by
* His extant works present no passage conceived in the highest strain of eloquence; he never rises to an impassioned earnestness. On the other hand, his naturalness, though not charming, is genuine; he has no mannerisms or affectations; and his speeches have a certain impetus, a certain confident vigour, which assure readers that they must have been still more effective for hearers. The chief value of Andokides is historical. But he has also real literary value of a certain kind: he excels in graphic description. A few of these pictures into which he has put all the force of a quick mind—the picture of Athens panicstricken by the sacrilege—the scene of miserable perplexity in the prison—the patriotic citizen arraigned before the Thirty Tyrantshave a vividness which no artist could easily surpass, combined with a freshness which a better artist might possibly have lost.' (I. 108.)
The fall of Athens after the treacherous betrayal of the fleet at Aigospotamoi was followed by the setting up of a government which would have been very much to the liking of Antiphon. Among the victims of this government was the rhetor Lysias. It would be difficult to find two men of like occupation presenting a stronger contrast than these two orators-ihe one caring for nothing but the exaltation of his party, holding that apart from the dominancy of a clique life was not worth the living for, and exulting in the success which he achieved by means of the assassin's dagger; the other convinced that obedience to established law is the first of duties, and that changes of law can be rightly made only by the people after free debate, and exhibiting throughout his whole career a readiness to obey and to maintain the law, and, if need be, to suffer for it. Nor is this all. No one could demand with fiercer eagerness than Antiphon the death of any man accused of homicide, or insist more vehemently on the indelible sin of bloodshedding; no man ever stuck less at secret murder, or rather no man ever employed it more deliberately and systematically. It was only by an accident that Lysias escaped with his life from the clutches of the Thirty and their myrmidons, who put his brother to death without warning, without trial, and even without an accusation. Still Lysias could speak of their crime with tempered indignation, and treat his own wrongs chiefly as a link in a long series of iniquities carried out in defiance of law. Like Antiphon, Lysias appeared once only in person before the Athenian people, not, however, to plead for his life, but to denounce the system for the establishment of which Antiphon rejoiced to heap murder on murder. If, again, like Antiphon, he was shut out by circumstances from the career of a statesman, his time was spent not in hatching a conspiracy for the destruction of the Athenian constitution, but in patient industry which in some measure retrieved the losses inflicted by thievish tyrants. In Lysias the highest conscientiousness was accompanied by a natural easiness of temper which led him to look readily on the brighter side of things, and to enjoy to the utmost all that was wholesome and beautiful in Athenian life. It was likely, therefore, that he would lack the vehemence, without which the greatest heights of eloquence cannot be reached; and thus he would be but little drawn towards the grand style of Antiphon. His keen sense of honour taught him probably that a man on his feet might be less constrained and, it may be, even more dignified than one on stilts : nor was this the only advantage which the geniality of his disposition secured for him. It opened his eyes to the infinitely varying lights and shades of human character, and led him to see how vast a difference might separate one man's modes of thought, feeling, and expression from those of his neighbour. The practical sagacity thus attained enabled him to effect a revolution in Athenian oratory, and completed the contrast between himself and Antiphon. Whatever might be the cause in hand, the speeches of the latter were all cast in the same mint; and Lysias undoubtedly saw that if this monotony of severely austere language, with its carefully balanced antitheses, its condensed epigrams, and its strained and artificial use of words. and phrases, should become a permanent tradition, Athenian eloquence would soon run out its course. He felt that the readiest way to the reason as well as the hearts of the judges in the law courts, or of the citizens in their assembly, was to speak as men spoke in common life-in other words, to rise to impassioned earnestness only when the nature of the subject or the circumstances of the case required it. A further and necessary inference was that, if this theory were true, each
man must speak in accordance with his own character and condition, and that therefore it must be absurd to make the young and the old, the knave and the simpleton, speak in the same style. When, then, after the ruin of his fortunes by the iniquitous greed of the Thirty, he found himself compelled to earn his bread by composing speeches for suitors and others, he determined to act upon his conviction; and the result was the death-blow of the fashionable style which in its persistent solemnity was often, as Mr. Jebb has well said, not merely ludicrously unsuited to the mouth into which it was put but fatal to all impressiveness (i. 160).
So far as regards its form, the plain style adopted by Lysias had already been used by writers of speeches for the law courts; and the term may mislead us, unless we remember that its plainness consisted not in the absence of all ornament but in the avoidance of decidedly poetical language and the employment of sober prose. But no one who employed this style had used it so as to make it suit in each case the character of the person who was to be the speaker. Lysias did this, and thus deserves to be regarded as a discoverer. As Mr. Jebb justly remarks, ' 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 rivalled' (i. 163). He is even more important as a writer than as a speaker ; and the Greek language was still more indebted to him than was the theory or the practice of Greek eloquence. • He brought,' to cite again Mr. Jebb's words, the every-day 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 por• traiture he is the Sophocles, in delicate control of thoroughly • idiomatic speech he is the Euripides, of Attic prose (i. 198). Working on these principles, Lysias has acquired a lasting literary reputation of the highest kind for purity of diction, for fresh and natural expression, for an art and skill which are all the greater for being hidden, and for a candour and sobriety which touch the heart, if they do not stir the passions, of his hearers. He is, in short, always natural, and therefore always unaffected ; nor can it be said that the enthusiastic criticism of Dionysios in speaking of these characteristics is in any way overcharged. The passage in which Mr. Jebb cites his remarks cannot fail to delight even those who may distrust the minute analysis of style which meets them in many parts of this work,
It is noticeable that while his Roman critics merely praise his elegance and polish, regarding it as a simple result of his art, the finer sense of his Greek critic apprehends a certain nameless grace and charm, 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 instinct. 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.” (Vol. i. p. 177.)
Even in this criticism of the Augustan writer there is nothing which implies the presence of the characteristics needed to produce oratory of the highest kind. There may be in Lysias the most skilful clearness in the arrangement of matter, the most unaffected and yet the most carefully artistic treatment of topics; but we shall look in vain for that glowing fervour which in its increasing intensity may be compared with the glory which becomes most dazzling at the moment of sunset. In Mr. Jebb's words, the nature of his progress through ' a speech is well described by an image which his Greek critic employs. 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' (i. 183). It may be hard to determine how far this failure is due to a deficiency of genius, because it is hard to say how far mere deficiency of genius may impair the force of moral conviction. It is absurd to compare Lysias with Demosthenes. The circumstances of the two men were wholly different. The life of Demosthenes was not merely a public one: it was a duel with the craftiest politician and the greatest general of his age. The life of Lysias was for the most part passed in contented obscurity and in the handling of subjects in which ' the attempt at sublimity would have been ridiculous' (i. 188). There were, indeed, one or two occasions which roused in him more profound emotions. Lysias would not have been himself had he not felt that disunion, distrust, and faction were evil things, and that they had wrought untold mischief in Hellenic society. But if he was aware of the disease, he could propound no better remedy than the turning of Greek arms against a foreign enemy. All evils would, he believed, be cured in a moment, if the Greeks could only be persuaded to combine in attacking the Persian king. Hellas, he declared, was burning at both ends: and yet he seemed to fancy that the firebrand on the one side would go out, if the cities of Continental Greece would join together in quenching the firebrand on the other.
"" It befits us,” says Lysias, as Mr. Jebb translates his words, “ 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, w 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 Lacedæmonians, 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 achieved is immortal, and that, having proved themselves in past perils the deliverers of Greece, they are now thoughtful for her future." (Vol. i. p. 189.)
The feelings of disappointment and pain which such language must awaken in many minds are caused not so much by the nature of the enterprise recommended as by the speaker's utter ignorance of the real cause of the misery which he deplores. That Lysias should express amazement at the action or inaction of Sparta is itself beyond measure amazing. The immobility of Spartan civilisation is taken as evidence of the permanence of their freedom by a man who, if he thought about it, must have confessed that freedom had never been known in Sparta, and that the absence of faction, so far as it was absent, was owing to the use of precisely the same system and the same means which had been employed at Athens by Antiphon. But it is most of all astonishing that he could fail to trace to Sparta and her confederacy all the evils which were eating as a cankerworm at the very heart of Hellenic society and insuring the domination of a foreign conqueror. To wonder that the Spartans should act as they had acted from the beginning is much like wondering that the panther retains its spots and the Ethiopian the blackness of his skin; and we might be tempted to set down a man who expressed such wonder as either very shortsighted or