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RICHARD CLAVERHOUSE JEBB

( 1841 - )

ROF. R. C. JEBB, regius professor of Greek in Cambridge University,

is accepted as the leading English authority on Attic oratory. Near He has written a very helpful work of comment and criticism on "the Ten Great Attic Orators » (1876). He was born in Dundee, Scotland, August 27th, 1841, and was graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is one of the most frequent contributors to English reviews on subjects connected with the classics.

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THE ORATORY AND ORATORS OF ATHENS

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He development of Attic prose is seen most clearly in the history of Attic ora

tory. All the Greek poetry and prose of the earlier classical age was meant,

in some measure, to be heard as well as read. The Greek ear was accustomed to look for musical rhythm and finished expression in prose as well as in verse. Public speaking, too, was cultivated as a fine art. It was indispensable to a citizen who wished to make his mark in the public assembly, or who had to defend himself before a law court. Greek audiences criticised the style of a speech much as we criticise the style of a book. Hence oratorical prose had a direct and vital bearing on Attic prose generally.

Two chief influences combined to form the earliest style of Attic prose. (1) One was that of the Sophists, teachers who undertook to prepare young men for the career of active citizens by training them to readiness in speech and argument, and who brought in a superficial logic and grammar. The word “sophist » ( professor of learning or wisdom ) was used almost as vaguely as the phrase “man of letters," and could be applied without any bad sense to such a man as Plato. Isocrates accepted the name, though he distinguished himself from «sophists of the herd.” But the sophists, as a class of teachers, got a bad name partly from plain men of the old school who feared their subtlety, partly from philosopbers who despised their shallowness. Protagoras and Prodicus were two of the chief sophists. (2) The other influence was that of the Sicilian Rhetoric. Corax of Syracuse invented his «Art of Words ) (466 B. C.) to help people in pleading their cases before law courts; it was developed by his disciple Tisias, through whom it came to Athens. The Sicilians were a lively people, in some things like the Athenians and in others like the Irish,- fond of discussion, quick in repartee, and never so wretched that they could not make a joke.”

Gorgias of Leontini in Sicily was neither a “sophist” in the proper sense nor a student of rhetoric as an art, but rather an independent cultivator of natural oratory, with a gift for brilliant expression of a poetical and often turgid kind. When he visited Athens in 427 B. C., his florid eloquence became the rage, and was afterwards the first literary inspiration of the orator Isocrates.

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Antiphon (born 480 B. C.), the first in the list of the Ten Attic Orators drawn up by later Greek critics, has much in common with the style of Thu. cydides, and, with him, represents the early Attic prose. The style is elaborate; it moves with a grave dignity; much weight of meaning is concentrated in single words; and pointed verbal contrasts are frequent. There is a certain rugged grandeur, a stern pathos, a scorn for prettiness or Alorid ornament, but also a lack of ease, grace, and light movement. Antiphon was the ablest debater and pleader of his day, and in his person the new Rhetoric first appears as a political power at Athens. He took a chief part in organizing the Revolution of the Four Hundred, and when they fell, was put to death by the people (411 B. C.), after defending himself in a masterpiece of eloquence. Of his fifteen extant speeches, all relating to trials for homicide, twelve are mere sketches or studies, forming three groups of four each, in which the case for the prosecution is argued alternately with the case for the defense. The chief of the three speeches in real causes is that «On the Murder of Herodes, a defense of a young Mitylenean charged (about 417 B. C.) with the murder of an Athenian citizen.

Andocides, born of a good family about 440 B. C., was banished from Athens in 415, on suspicion of having been concerned in a wholesale sacrilege, – the mutilation, in one night, of the images of the god Hermes, which stood before the doors of houses and public buildings. He made unsuccessful application for a pardon, first in 411 B. C., during the reign of the Four Hundred, then, after their fall, in 410, when he addressed the assembly in the extant speech, «On His Return. » From 410 to 403 he lived a roving merchant's life in Sicily, Italy, Greece, Ionia, and Cyprus. In 403, the general amnesty allowed him to return to Athens. But in 399 the old charges against him were revived. He defended himself in his extant speech, “On the Mysteries, ) --so called because it deals partly with a charge that he had violated the Mysteries of Eleusis, and was acquitted. During the Corinthian War he was one of an embassy sent to treat for peace at Sparta, and on his return made his extant speech, «On the Peace with Lacedæmon » (390 B. C. ), sensibly advising Athens to accept the terms offered by Sparta. The speech, “ Against Alcibiades,” which bears his name is spurious. The chief interest of his work is historical; he is not an artist of style, but he has much natural force and keenness, and excels in vivid description.

Lysias did a great work for Attic prose, and is, in his own style, one of its most perfect writers. He broke away from the stiff monotony of the old school, and dared to be natural and simple, using the language of daily life, but with perfect purity and grace. His father was a Syracusan, and Lysias, though born at Athens, had not the rights of a citizen. After passing his youth and early manhood at Thurii in south Italy, he settled at Athens, a wealthy man, in 412 B. C. In 404 he fled from the Thirty Tyrants, who had put his brother Polemarchus to death; and, after the restoration of the Democracy, impeached Eratosthenes, one of the Thirty, in the most splendid of his extant speeches (403 B. C.), the only one which we know that he himself spoke at Athens. But in 388 B.C., he addressed the assembled Greeks at Olympia, in a fine speech of which we have a fragment, urging them to unite against the two great foes of Greece, – Dionysius, Tyrant of Syracuse in the west, and Persia in the east. The speech, «Against Agoratus » (399 B. C.?), was written for the impeachment of an informer who had slandered away the lives of citizens under the Thirty Tyrants. The great majority of our thirty-four speeches were composed by Lysias for his clients to speak in public or private causes. They show the dramatic skill with which he could adapt his style to the condition and character of the speaker. The old critics regard Lysias as the model of the plain style of oratory, which conceals its art,

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and studies the language of ordinary life, as opposed to the grand style represented by Antiphon, and the middle style of Isocrates.

Isocrates differs from the other Greek orators in this, that his discourses were meant to be read rather than spoken. He represents the genius of Attic Greek with less purity of taste than Lysias. But he founded a style of Greek literary prose, which, from about 350 B. C., became the standard one for general

Its chief characteristics are the avoidance of poetical language and of declamation, the use of an ample flowing period, and great smoothness, obtained chiefly by systematic care against allowing a word ending with a vowel to be followed by a word which begins with one. This style, transmitted through the schools of rhetoric, became the basis of Cicero's; modern literary prose has been modeled largely on the Roman; and thus the influence of Isocrates has gone through all literature. He was born in 436 B. C., five years before the Peloponnesian War began, and died, aged ninety-eight, in 338, just after the battle of Chæronea. Milton speaks of him as “the old man eloquent» whose heart was broken by the news, but the story of his suicide is doubtful.

We have twenty-one of his discourses. Five are for law suits, and belong to his earlier life. The rest are either scholastic, — letters, panegyrics, show pieces, essays on education, or political. There are also nine letters to friends, including Philip and Alexander the Great. The ruling idea of his life was that of a war by the united Greeks against Persia. The most brilliant of his writings, — the Panegyricus » (380 B. C.), on which he is said to have spent ten years,— is a plea for such a war, to be led by Athens; and in his « Philippus » he urges Philip to lead it. His «Areopagiticus » (355 B. C.) is a plea for restoring the old moral censorship of the Areopagus; and his discourse (355 B. C.) “On the Exchange of Properties » (so called from the fiction of a law suit on which it is based), is a defense of his philosophy," or political culture founded on literary rhetoric. The « Encomium on Helen ” has much beauty. The Letter to Demonicus ) is full of precepts wbich often recall the Socrates of Xenophon.

Isæus, born about 420 B. C., has left eleven speeches in will cases, ranging in date from about 390 (Oration V.) to 353 B. C. (Oration VII.). An Athenian could not disinherit his son, nor could he separate his estate from his daughter, though he could choose the person whom she was to marry. If childless, he could divert his estate from the next of kin by adopting, either during his life or by testament, an Athenian citizen as his son and heir. The speeches of Isæus throw a most interesting light on the relations of Attic family life. Their style (best seen in the eighth speech) marks a stage in the development of oratorical prose, — the transition from the plain » style of Lysias to that full technical mastery which reaches its summit in Demosthenes. Isæus is the first great artist in forensic controversy.

Demosthenes, born in 384 B. C. and left an orphan in childhood, studied with Isæus before, in 363-2, he prosecuted Aphobus and Onêtor, the guardians who had wasted his property; and his speeches against them show that he had caught the master's secret of close, vigorous argument. He worked hard to make himself a good speaker; we are told how he put pebbles in his mouth and declaimed by the loud sea waves or while he ran up hill; how he wrote out Thucydides eight times; how he was laughed down by the assembly and comforted by an actor who found him moping about the harbor town. Not industry, however, or genius alone, but a great idea inspiring his whole life, lifted him to heights reached by no other orator of the old world. Athens, he believed, was the natural head of Greece. Athens must win the confidence of all the Greeks, in order to guard Greece against internal or external violence. But before Athens can do this, the public spirit of Athenians must be revived.

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(2) The

Four speeches in public prosecutions,—«Against Androtion » (355); «Leptines » (354); «Timocrates » and « Aristocrates » (352),- opened his career with protest against corrupt administration at home. Addressing the assembly in his speeches: “On the Navy Boards » (354); «For Megalopolis » (352); and “For the Rhodians » (351), he warns Athens that she must organize her resources, that she must discountenance the tyranny of Greeks over Greeks, and must everywhere support the cause of Greek freedom against barbarian despotism. The speech (neither finished nor spoken), «Against Meidias » (349), — who had assaulted Demosthenes in public, - shows what bitter enmity the young reformer had provoked.

As Philip of Macedon gradually stretched his power along the coasts of Thrace and Thessaly, Demosthenes saw more and more clearly that this crafty king in the north was the great danger which threatened the disunited Greek cities. His nine speeches against Philip form two groups. (1) The «First Philippic » (351 B. C.) urges that a force should be sent to the coasts of Thrace, and that citizens should serve in person. The three orations for «Olynthus » (349-8) plead the cause of the great city, which, with its confederacy of thirty-two towns, Philip destroyed in 348. So far Philip had been a foreign foe. But in 346 he became a Greek power by admission to the Amphictyonic Council. speeches of the second group - which have to reckon with a more definite Macedonian party within Greece itself- are, the speech «On the Peace(346); the «Second Philippic) (344); “On the Embassy » (343); «On the Chersonese, and the “Third Philippic» (341). Move by move the Macedonian game was explained by Demosthenes. At the last moment he won Byzantium back to the Athenian alliance and prevailed on Thebes to join Athens in making a last, but vain, stand at Chæronea (338).

In 336 B. C. Ctesiphon proposed that Demosthenes should receive a golden wreath of honor from the State. The orator Æschines raised legal objections, but was defeated when the case was tried, and left Athens. At the trial (330 B. C.) Demosthenes made a splendid defense of his past policy in the greatest oration of the old world, the speech "On the Crown. » « If the event had been manifest to the whole world beforehand,” he said, “not even then ought Athens to have forsaken this course, if Athens had any regard for her glory, or for her past, or for the ages to come.» In 322,- when the rising of the Greeks in the Lamian War, after Alexander's death, had been crushed, — Demosthenes took poison to avoid falling into the hands of the Macedonians.

Demosthenes is the greatest master of Greek prose. He combines all the best elements in earlier styles, and blends them in new harmonies. Some of his speeches for private law suits, written in the midst of his public career, show how this unapproached artist of political eloquence could at the same time equal or surpass Lysias and Isæus in their own field. Of our thirty-two private speeches only eleven are probably genuine, viz., the four against «Aphobus » and «Onêtor); those against «Spudias,» «Callicles, «Pantænetus,» «Nausimachus,» «Boeotus >> (on the Name), and “Conon, with that «For Phormio.) Firm grasp of facts, sparing use of ornament, sincerity and sustained intensity are the characteristics which first strikes a modern reader in the orations of Demosthenes. We can no longer feel all the delicate touches of that exquisite skill which made them, to the Ancients, such marvelous works of art, and which led detractors to reproach them with excess of elaboration. But we can feel, at least, the orator's splendid mastery of every tone which the Greek language could yield, the intellectual greatness of the statesman, the moral greatness of the patriot who warned his people of the impending blow, and comforted them when it had fallen.

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Æschines, born in 389, or five years

before Demosthenes, was tragic actor and a clerk to the assembly before he came forward, about 348, as a public speaker. His natural eloquence, fluent, vehement, and often splendid, was set off by a fine person and voice, which the stage had taught him to make effective. In 346 he was twice an envoy to Philip. His speech «Against Timarchus » (345), arraigns this man — who was about to prosecute him for breach of trust on the embassy as disqualified to speak in the assembly on account of a vicious life; his speech «On the Embassy » (343), in reply to his former colleague Demosthenes, gained him a narrow acquittal. After the failure of his speech «Against Ctesiphon” (330), - an elaborate attack on the whole life of Demosthenes,- he withdrew to Rhodes. The genius shown in his eloquence is marred by the want of earnestness and moral nobleness.

Lycurgus, of a noble priestly family, steward of the treasury from 338 to 326, is represented only by his oration « Against Leocrates » (332 B. C.), who had Aed from Athens just after the battle of Chæronea, and who is here indicted for treason in a speech full of lofty indignation, a solemn protest on behalf of public spirit, in which a strain of the old style of Antiphon is blended with the luxu riance of Isocrates.

From Hypereides we have a speech, nearly complete, «For Euxenippus » (about 330 B. C.), interesting as showing the public belief in the dreams sent by a god to those who slept in his temple; fragments of a Funeral Oration ”on Leosthenes and the comrades who fell with him in the Lamian War (322 B. C.); of a speech spoken by Hypereides «Against Demosthenes » in 324, when the latter was accused of having taken bribes from Alexander's treasurer, Harpalus; and of a speech «For Lycophron » (earlier than 349 B. C.), when Lycurgus was All these were recovered, between 1847 and 1856, from papyri found in Egypt.' Hypereides joined fire and pathos to exquisite wit and grace, and was preferred by some to Demosthenes himself.

Deinarchus, a Corinthian by birth, the last in the canon of the Ten Attic Orators, has left three speeches: «Against Demosthenes,” « Aristogeiton, and « Philocles," written when they were accused of taking bribes from Harpalus in 324 B.C. He was mainly a coarse imitator of Demosthenes, and far inferior, probably, to Demades, an orator on the Macedonian side at Athens, from whom there remain a few scanty fragments. Demetrius of Phalerum, a pupil of Aristotle, then prepared the decline of Attic oratory in his elegantly luxuriant style, “preferring his own sweetness to the weight and dignity of his predecessors,”

From Greek Literature.) Part III., Chap. III.

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