On the Mysteries

On the Mysteries

On the Mysteries

On the Mysteries


More than any other work, the speech of Andokides, On the Mysteries, provides an intimate and vivid glimpse of Athenian political life during and directly after the Peloponnesian War. This new paperback version of MacDowell's standard edition (first published in hardcover in 1962) is intended for both undergraduates and scholars. It includes a full introduction surveying Andokides's life, trial, and literary style; a note on the basis of the text; and a detailed commentary and appendices that discuss Andokides' innocence or guilt, the chronology and political significance of events in 415 B.C., the legal revision ordered by the decree of Teisamenos, the date of the trial and speech, and aspects of the historical and stylistic background relevant to the work.


The speech On the Mysteries has had no new commentary in English for over seventy years, and none in any language for thirty. Meanwhile great advances have been made in the understanding of Athenian history and literature, and so it seemed time to make a fresh attempt to interpret the speech, and to examine the evidence and arguments contained in it more rigorously than earlier editors did.

This edition is intended, in the first place, for readers (mainly undergraduates, and perhaps some sixth-formers too) who have no previous knowledge of Andokides. But I have tried to make it useful also to more advanced scholars; even for the most difficult or technical problems I have provided either a discussion or at least a survey of the relevant evidence. Consequently advanced and elementary notes will sometimes be found side by side in the commentary, but most readers of commentaries on Greek texts are accomplished skippers and are unlikely to have difficulty in ignoring individual notes which do not interest them.

Professor K. J. Dover and Mr. A. R. W. Harrison read the book in typescript, some parts were read also by Dr. J. F. Healy, and finally Dr. R. S. Bluck read the whole in proof. I am very grateful to them for their comments and criticisms.

D. M. M.

Manchester May 1962 . . .

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