Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality

By Stephen A. Usher | Go to book overview

10
LYCURGUS

The most august of the Attic orators, scion of a priestly family which claimed descent from Erechtheus, Lycurgus was Demosthenes' senior by a few years, and shared his hostility to the ambitions of Philip II. He came into individual prominence after the defeat at Chaeronea, as he assumed charge of Athenian finances for the exceptional period of twelve years (338-326); and the unusually full account of his work in the pseudo-Plutarchian Life shows how charge of the treasury, earned through his reputation for probity, gave him wide powers to legislate. It is perhaps to this reputation that he owed his administrative success. Aided by continuity, he was able, among other measures, to provide 400 triremes for the fleet and carry out extensive building projects in the city. Money for this seems to have come, in part, from private subscription: a source on which the state had always drawn, but never to greater effect than under the administration of Lycurgus,1 surely because wealthy citizens believed that he would put it to good use. Another source of revenue, though probably not the greatest,2 was successful prosecution leading to confiscations, and this introduces the side of Lycurgus' career that concerns the present discussion. He equipped himself as an orator by attending the school of Isocrates, and his training will have enabled him to present his policies persuasively to the Assembly. But all his extant oratory is forensic and most of the speeches are prosecutions which, if successful, would have led to confiscation of property. This would have happened in the case of the general Lysicles, prosecuted after Chaeronea (Fr. 10),

____________________
1
His biographer mentions ( Vit. X Or. 841d) one instance of 250 talents 'entrusted to him on deposit by private citizens', which would have helped him to double the annual revenue from 600 to 1,200 talents (842f). The phrase τω + ̑ν χρημάτων εὑ + ̑ρε πόρους (Hyperid. Fr. 23) adds the idea of his ability to find unusual sources of revenue.
2
See C. Mossé (trans. J. Stewart), Athens in Decline 404-86 BC ( London, 1973), 82: 'But it was above all the activity of the port which must have provided Athens with its greatest resources.'

-324-

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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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