« PreviousContinue »
The preparation of the present volume of selections from the Private Orations of Demosthenes has, amidst many interruptions, extended over several years, and occupied much of the little leisure available after the discharge of other duties. It may be regarded as only a partial and imperfect result of a series of special studies on Greek and Roman Rhetoric, undertaken in several courses of College lectures on selections from Lysias, Isocrates and Demosthenes, and also on the Rhetoric of Aristotle and the Orator of Cicero. My earliest interest in the Private Orations may be said to date from the time when it was my privilege as an undergraduate to attend, about ten years ago, a course of lectures by my friend Mr Moss, then Fellow and Lecturer of St John's College, and now Head-Master of Shrewsbury School. His selections included two of the six speeches edited in the present volume, the Nicostratus and the Conon ; but, as the notes taken down from his lectures were too scanty to form even the basis of any attempt at constructing a complete edition, my commentary on those speeches has been mainly the result of independent reading and research, though I gladly acknowledge the help that is due to his soundness of judgment on several points on which I have consulted him while revising my notes on the Conon. In the case of the Nicostratus, when my own commentary was nearly ready for the press, I had the further advantage of attending in the spring of 1874 some of Dr Kennedy's professorial lectures on the Private Orations. From the excellent translation of his brother Mr Charles Rann Kennedy I have here and there quoted a few extracts; and if I have now and then drawn attention to an apparently erroneous interpretation, I have done so with the conscious. ness that in each case it is only a trifling blemish in what is nearly perfect of its kind. Similarly, several questionable explanations, retained even in the latest edition of Liddell and Scott's Lexicon, have been duly pointed out in the course of my commentary, as it is only thus that a labourer in a limited field can offer any acknowledgement of his large indebtedness to their labours. The lexicography of Demosthenes cannot indeed be said to be at present in a completely satisfactory condition, as general lexicons have still to rely in a great measure on Reiske's Index Graecitatis, which, with the portion of his Opus magnum including his notes on the speeches in this volume, was posthumously published exactly a century ago.
The volume opens with a speech on behalf of Phormio, in bar of a claim on the part of Apollodorus for the recovery of capital alleged to have been transferred to Phormio by Pasion, the father of Apollodorus. This is followed by two on behalf of Phormio's opponent Apollodorus, charging with false witness one of the deponents called on Phormio's side in the previous trial. These three speeches, though not actually delivered in the same lawsuit, virtually represent the arguments of the two opposite sides, and a comparison of their conflicting statements has an interest similar in kind, though different in degree, to that derived from reading the longer and more important orations of Demosthenes, On the Embassy and On the Crown, in contrast with those of his great rival Aeschines. The orations of Antiphon, the earliest of the Attic Orators, include indeed four tetralogies, or quartettes, of ingenious speeches written for the prosecution and the defence in cases of homicide, but his cases are merely imaginary, and the orations are intended rhetorical exercises alone. The first three selections in this volume supply us with the only instance in all the remains of Attic oratory, where the legal issues raised on both sides in a suit of purely private interest, lie before us as they were actually presented to an Athenian tri
bunal. Whether Demosthenes actually wrote for both sides is a vexed question, briefly discussed in the course of the Introductions; it is a question that has provoked a large number of dissertations, the titles of which I have recorded on a page devoted to a conspectus of the literature of the subject up to the present date. But the volume now published, while it happens to be the first English commentary on any of the selections included in it, is also the first attempt either in England or elsewhere to put together an edition of all the three speeches in question in their connexion with one another. As compared with the work demanded by the second half of this volume, where I have been conscious of moving more freely over ground familiarised by more frequent reading of that portion with private pupils more than five years ago, and for public lectures at a later date, the task of writing the first half has proved a somewhat tedious one, owing partly to the necessity of constantly keeping in view all the nine speeches in which Phormio's opponent, Apollodorus, is more or less directly concerned, and of forming an opinion on the numerous points of
1 Mr Penrose's handy volume (now out of print) contained the Speeches against Aphobus, Onetor, Zenothemis, Apaturius, Phormio (Or. 34, apòs populwva), and Lacritus. The Eubulides, Theocrines and in Neaeram are the only private orations included in the learned edition of Demosthenes by Dr John Taylor (fellow of St John's Coll. from 1726 to 1752), printed at the Cambridge University Press in 1748 and 1757.