The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



public oratory, or state that lie raised it to a higher position. (Philostr. Vit. Soph, i. 15. §2; Hermog. de Form. Orat. ii. p. 498 ; comp. Quintil. iii. 1. § 1; Diod. ap. Clem. Aleoc. Strom. i. p. 365.) Antiphon was thus the first who regulated practical eloquence by certain theoretical laws, and he opened a school in which he taught rhetoric. Thucydides, the historian, a pupil of Antiphon, speaks of his master with the highest esteem, and many of the excellencies of his style are ascribed by the ancients to the influence of Antiphon. (Schol. ad Time. iv. p. 312, ed. Bekker; comp. Dionys. Hal. de Comp. Verb. 10.) At the same time, Antiphon occupied himself with writing speeches for others, who delivered them in the courts of justice; and as he was the first who received money for such orations—a practice which subsequently became quite general—he was severely attacked and ridi­culed, especially by the comic writers, Plato and Peisander. (Philostr. I. c.; Plut. Vit. X. Orat. p. 833, c.) These attacks, however, may also have been owing to his political opinions, for he belonged to the oligarchical party. This unpopularity, to­gether with his own reserved character, prevented his ever appearing as a speaker either in the courts or the assembly ; and the only time he spoke in public was in b. c. 411, when he defended himself against the charge of treachery. (Thuc. viii. 68; Lys. c.Eratosth. p. 427 ; Cic. Brut. 12.)

The history of Antiphon's career as a politician is for the most part involved in great obscurity,

which is in a great measure owing to the fact, that Antiphon the orator is frequently confounded by ancient writers with Antiphon the interpreter of signs, and Antiphon the tragic poet. Plutarch (I. c.) and Philostratus (Vit. Soph. i. 15. § 1) men­tion some events in which he was engaged, but Thucydides seems to have known nothing about them. The only part of his public life of which the detail is known, is that connected with the revolution of b.c. 411, and the establishment of the oligarchical government of the Four Hundred. The person chiefly instrumental in bringing it about was Peisander; but, according to the express testimony of Thucydides, Antiphon was the man who had done everything to prepare the change, and had drawn up the plan of it. (Comp. Philostr. I.e.; Plut. Vit. X. Orat. p. 832, f.) On the over­throw of the oligarchical government six months after its establishment, Antiphon was brought to trial for having attempted to negotiate peace with Sparta, and was condemned to death. His speech in defence of himself is stated by Thuc}Tdides (viii. 68 ; comp. Cic. Brut. 12) to have' been the ablest that was ever made by any man in similar circum­stances. It is now lost, but was known to the ancients, and is referred to by Harpocration (s. v. tfTacricoTTfs), who calls it \6~yos irepl /xeTafrraVews. His property was confiscated, his house razed to the ground, and on the site of it a tablet was erected with the inscription "Antiphon the traitor." His remains were not allowed to be buried in Attic ground, his children, as well as any one who should adopt them, were punished with atimia. (Plut. I.e.) As an orator, Antiphon was highly esteemed by the ancients. Hermogenes (de Form. Orat. p. 497) says of his orations, that they were clear, true in the expression of feeling, and faithful to nature, and consequently convincing. Others say, that his orations were beautiful but not graceful, or that they had something austere or antique about


them. (Dionys. de Verb. Comp. 10, de Isaeo, 20.) The want of freshness and gracefulness is very obvious in the orations still extant, but more espe­cially in those actually spoken by Antiphon's clients. (No. 1, 14, and 15.) His language is pure and correct, and in the three orations mentioned above, of remarkable clearness. The treatment and solu­tion of the point at issue are always striking and interesting. (Dionys. Jud. de Tlmcyd. 51,, Demosth. 8 ; Phot. p. 485.)

The ancients possessed sixty orations of different kinds which went by the name of Antiphon, but Caecilius, a rhetorician of the Augustan age, de­clared twenty-five to be spurious, (Pint. Vit. X. Orat. p. 833, b.; Phot. I. c.) We now possess only fifteen orations of Antiphon, three of which were written by him for others, viz. No. 1. Kar^-yopia (j)apjj.aiceias Kara ttjs ^Tpvids ; No. 14. Tlepl rov 'HptiSov <f)6voV) and No. 15. Tlepl tov -^opevrov. The remaining twelve were written as specimens for his school or exercises on fictitious cases. They are a peculiar phenomenon in the history of ancient oratory, for they are divided into three tetralogies, each of which consists of four orations, two accusa­tions and two defences on the same subject. The subject of the first tetralogy is a murder, the per­petrator of which is yet unknown ; that of the second an unpremeditated murder; and that of the third a murder committed in self-defence. The clear­ness which distinguishes his other three orations is not perceptible in these tetralogies, which arises in part from the corrupt and mutilated state in which they have come down to us. A great number of the orations of Antiphon, and in fact all those which are extant, have for their subject the com­mission of a murder, whence they are sometimes referred to under the name of Aoyot tpovutoi. (Hei-mog. de Form. Orat. p. 496, &c.; Ammon. s. v. ev6vlu.'r}{j.a.) The genuineness of the extant orations has been the subject of much discussion, but the best critics are at present pretty nearly agreed that all are really the works of Antiphon. As to the historical or antiquarian value of the three real speeches—the tetralogies must be left out of the question here—it must be remarked, that they contain more information than any other ancient work respecting the mode of proceeding in the criminal courts of Athens. All the orations of Antiphon are printed in the collections of the Attic orators edited by Aldus, H. Stephens, Reiske, Bekker, Dobson, and others. The best separate editions are those of Baiter and Sauppe, Zurich. 1838, 16mo., and of E. Matzner, Berlin, 1838, 8vo,

Besides these orations, the ancients ascribe tc Antiphon, 1. A Rhetoric (rex^n pyropiKij) in three books. (Plut. Vit. X. Orat. p. 832, d.; Phot. I.e.. Quintil. iii. 1. § 10.) When it is said, that h( was the first who wrote a work on rhetoric, this statement must be limited to the theory of oratorj in the courts of justice and in the assembly ; fo: treatises on the art of composing show-speeche; had been written by several sophists before him The work is occasionally referred to by ancien rhetoricians and grammarians, but it is now lost

TlpooifAia Kal eTriAoyoi, seem to have been mode speeches or exercises for the use of himself or hi cholars, and it is not improbable that his tetralo gies may have belonged to them. (Suid. s. vv. auc

Orjcrdai., /u-oxdypos ; Phot. Lex. s. v. /uiox,6rip6s.)

The best modern works on Antiphon are: P. va Spaan (Ruhnken), Dissertatio historica de Ani\

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of