Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality

By Stephen A. Usher | Go to book overview
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The second of these subjects is of less concern than the first for present purposes. My inclination is to accept Antiphontean authorship, for which I shall argue briefly after dealing with the main question. The three Tetralogies contain a single1 possible reference to their time of composition. That reference is in Tetr. 1. 2. 12, where the defendant represents himself as πολλὰς καὶ μεγάλας εἰσφορὰς εἰσφέροντα. Now Thucydides ( 3. 19. 1) appears to assign the first eisphora ('war-tax') to the year 428 BC. The text reads: . Gomme ad loc. ( HCT ii. 278-9), while noting the natural sense of these words, suggests that the more difficult sense of 'for the first time in this war' accords better with the epigraphical evidence. This is presented and discussed by Meiggs and Lewis GHI 156-8, 161. The inscription describes financial decrees moved by Callias, dated, 'by common consensus' ( GHI156) to 434/3, and specifies a requirement of a special sanction by the Assembly for drawing money above the sum of 10,000 drachmae from Athena's treasury. It goes on (156 11. 15-17) to forbid the use of this money . . .

. The people are to have a power to authorize and control expenditure analogous to their power to raise taxes, and this analogy is pursued further in the next few lines. But its illustrative effectiveness depends on a general understanding of an established tax.2 Returning to Antiphon's imaginary defendant, and to his claim (above) to be a payer of 'many great eisphorai', his multiple claim must be seen as adding a rhetorical flourish to a touch of realism rather than indicating a later date for the speech. Indeed, it could even be argued that its effect would have been the more vividly hyperbolic soon after the first imposition of the tax. Hence the earliest terminus post quem of 434/3 (earlier if the tentative suggestion of Meiggs and

The resemblance of Tetr. 2 to a case discussed by Pericles and Protagoras (Plut. Per. 36. 3) has been used to argue for a date in the late 440s or early 430s (e.g. by G. Kennedy, The Art of Persuasion in Greece ( Princeton and London, 1963), 130-1). But the perennial interest of the question for the application of the laws of homicide could cause it to be raised at any time.
Meiggs and Lewis GHI 161: 'There may be a reference to εἰσϕορά in a decree concerning Hestiaea, c.445-435 ( IG i2 .42. 22f.)'.


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Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality


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