Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality

By Stephen A. Usher | Go to book overview

DEMOSTHENES: SUMMARY

While all Demosthenes' virtuosity is on display in the De Corona, it remains to identify his distinctive contribution to Greek oratory. Certainly his style has features which, by their frequent and well- judged deployment mark a definite stage of development. In particular may be noted the peculiar concentration obtained through the use of abstract noun phrases, especially the articular infinitive, which he uses more frequently than any other classical author.113 To this may be added attention to emphatic word-order, as exemplified in the use of hyperbaton,114 and his effective use of asyndeton.115 These are all existing features which Demosthenes uses more often and to greater purpose than his predecessors. In the matter of vocabulary, however, he enters new territory, using with far greater freedom than his predecessors both imagery and neologism. On the level of purely rhetorical technique, on the other hand, the foregoing examination of most of his forensic oratory shows him using existing resources with a comparatively small number of innovations. Standard topoi may be run together in prooemia, where also may be found unorthodox openings like the furious outburst in Against Aphobus II, the racial invective beginning Against Lacritus, stark initial focusing of the issue, as in Against Conon. Elsewhere his clients are furnished with all the rhetorical aids, and a range of emotional expression, from violent attacks upon his opponent, as in Against Stephanus I and Against Pantaenetus, to the calm remonstration in Against Boeotus L Expatiation after the conventional divisions have been observed, pioneered by Lysias in Against Eratosthenes and adopted routinely by Isaeus, is also a feature of many of Demosthenes' forensic speeches.

It is in his longer speeches and his deliberative oratory that we must look for the most novelty, and that novelty is a matter of literary intention realized through form and scale rather than identifiable technical or rhetorical innovation. The De Corona contains a few passages which reveal that intention:

____________________
113
For some statistics, see Usher GO v. 24. Their use is related to the whole question of abstract expression, on which see Denniston GPS28-9) (with statistics drawn from R. S. Radford , Diss. Baltimore, 1896) showing Demosthenic usage close to Thucydidean.
114
See e.g. 18 Cor. 18, 262.
115
See 18 Cor. 43, 117, 198, 215, 265; 24 Ag. Timocr. 11-13.

-277-

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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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