Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality

By Stephen A. Usher | Go to book overview

been available for a long time. Moreover, other contemporary recorded instances of oath-taking for evidential purposes involve its alleged abuse.118 But there may be reason to suppose that the oath first cited here, that of a mother confirming the paternity of her child, commanded exceptional respect.119 In the present speech, Isaeus introduces less convincing oaths on the back of the respected mother's oath, typically amplifying his argument with more questionable material (another feature influencing Dionysius' choice of this fragment to illustrate his methods). In the two concluding sections (11, 12) contrasting types of argument involving the opponents are used: in 11 it is the honesty of the speaker's witnesses compared with the futile machinations of the opponents; and in 12 a hypothetical plea for parallel treatment, using correlative construction.120 They illustrate the unflaggingly fertile inventiveness of Isaeus which Dionysius was trying to exemplify, in a speech which seems to have avoided the padding which afflicts some of his other extant oratory.


ISAEUS: SUMMARY

On comparing Isaeus with his predecessors, formal and technical development is to be found in three main areas: division, argument, and rhetoric. The detached, topos-rich prooemium of earlier oratory, while still identifiable in some speeches (8, 10), has given way to either the shortest of introductions (4) or, more characteristically, an abrupt and direct engagement with the main body of the case (as in 1, 3, 5, 11--the latter beginning with a discussion of the relevant law). Then Isaeus' attitude to narrative is different from that of Lysias: his use of it almost exclusively as a vehicle of factual presentation linked to argument leads him to break it up in a manner more reminiscent of Antiphon, and it is the pressing

____________________
118
Dem. 39 Ag. Boeot. I4, 25-6; 49 Ag. Timoth.65-7; 54 Ag. Conon26, 40.
119
Aristotle ( Rhet. 2. 23. 11) gives this oath as an example of rhetorical induction (ἐπαγωγή) (i.e. based on the probability that women always discern the truth 'about children'), and (importantly) cites examples from the courts in which this premiss has been upheld, including Dem. 39 (last note above), in which Plangon, mistress of Mantias, proclaimed the legitimacy of her sons by him after privately agreeing to refuse the oath, and her volte face destroyed his case, forcing him to acknowledge them and enroll them in his phratry.
120
ὥσπερ οὑ + ̑τοι . . . ἂν έ + ̓φησαν . . . οὑ + ̑τω τὸ νυ + ̑ν ἡμι + ̑ν.

-169-

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Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Abbreviations x
  • I - The Early Rhetorical Tradition 1
  • 2 - Antiphon 27
  • Antiphon: Summary 40
  • 3 - Andocides 42
  • Andocides: Summary 52
  • 4 - Lysias 54
  • Isocrates Logographos 118
  • 5 - Isaeus 127
  • Isaeus: Summary 169
  • 6 - Demosthenes Logographos (part I) 171
  • 7 - Demosthenes Logographos (part Ii) 244
  • Demosthenes: Summary 277
  • 8 - Aeschines 279
  • Aeschines: Summary 294
  • 9 - Isocrates Sophistes 296
  • 10 - Lycurgus 324
  • Hyperides 328
  • II - Ceremonial Oratory 349
  • 12 - Conclusion 353
  • Appendix A the Tetralogies: Date and Authorship 355
  • Appendix B 360
  • Select Bibliography 369
  • Index of Speeches 377
  • General Index 379
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