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Old 04-08-2010, 08:32 AM   #1
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Default Lucian of Samosata and his works

The following is a story that was written in the 2nd century AD by Lucian of Samosata. The story is of Demosthenes and the two characters in the story are Archias and Antipater.


http://books.google.com/books?prints...donian&f=false

32 Ar. How ? was Demosthenes not our enemy of enemies ?

Ant. Not in the eyes of one who cares for an honourable nature, and loves a sincere consistent character. The noble is noble, though it be in an enemy; and virtue has no country. Am I meaner than Xerxes ? he could admire Bulis and Sperchis the Spartans, and release them when they were in his power. No man that ever lived do I admire more than Demosthenes; twice I was in his company at Athens (in hurried times, it is true), and I have heard much from others, and there is his work to judge by. And what moves me is not his skill in speech. You might well suppose so ; Python was nothing, matched with him, and the Attic orators but babes in comparison with his finish and intensity, the music of his words, the clearness of his thoughts, his chains of proof, his cumulative blows. We found our mistake when we listened to Python and his promises; we had gathered the Greeks to Athens to see the Athenians confuted; it was Demosthenes who confuted us. But no words of mine can describe the power of his eloquence.

33 Yet to that I give but a secondary place, as a tool the man used. It was the man himself I marvelled at, his spirit and his wisdom, and the steadiness of soul that steered a straight course through all the tempests of fortune with never a craven impulse. And Philip was of my mind about him; when a speech of his before the Athenian assembly against Philip was reported, Parmenio was angry, and made some bitter jest upon him. But Philip said: Ah, Parmenio, he has a right to say what he pleases ; he is the only popular orator in all Greece whose name is missing in my secret service accounts, though I would jar rather have put myself in his hands than in those of clerks and third-rate actors. All the tribe of them are down for gold, timber, rents, cattle, land, in Boeotia if not in Macedonial; but the walls of Byzantium are not more proof against the battering-ram than Demosthenes against gold.

This is the way I look at it, Parmenio. An Athenian who 34 speaking in Athens prefers me to his country shall have of my money, but not of my friendship ; as for one who hates me for his country's sake, I will assault him as I would a citadel, a wall, a dock, a trench, but I have only admiration for his virtue, and congratulations for the State that possesses him. The other kind I should like to crush as soon as they have served my purpose ; but him I would sooner have here with us than the Illyrian and TribalHan horse and all my mercenaries ; arguments that carry conviction, weight of intellect, I do not put below force of arms.

That was to Parmenio; and he said much the same to me. 35 At the time of the Athenian expedition under Diopithes, I was very anxious, but Philip laughed at me heartily, and said : Are you afraid of these town-bred generals and their men ? Their fleet, their Piraeus, their docks, I snap my fingers at them. What is to be looked for from people whose worship is of Dionysus, whose life is in feasting and dancing ? If Demosthenes, and not a man besides, had been subtracted from Athens, we should have had it with less trouble than Thebes or Thessaly ; deceit and force, energy and corruption, would soon have done the thing. But he is ever awake; he misses no occasion; he makes move for move and counters every stroke. Not a trick of ours, not an attempt begun or only thought of, but he has intelligence of it; in a word he is the obstacle that stands between us and the swift attainment of our ends. It was little fault of his that we took Amphipolis, that we won Olynthus, Phocis, Thermopylae, that we are masters of the Hellespont.

36 He rouses his reluctant countrymen out of their opiate sleep, applies to their indolence the knife and cautery of frank statement, and little he cares whether they like it or not. He transfers the revenues from state theatre to state armament, re-creates with his navy bill a fleet disorganized to the verge of extinction, restores patriotism to the place from which it had long been ousted by the passion for legal fees, uplifts the eyes of a degenerate race to the deeds of their fathers and emulation of Marathon and Salamis, and fits them for Hellenic leagues and combinations. You cannot escape his vigilance, he is not to be wheedled, you can no more buy him than the Persian King could buy the great Aristides.

37 This is the direction your fears should take, Antipater ; never mind all the war-ships and all the fleets. What Themistocles and Pericles were to the Athens of old, that is Demosthenes to Athens today, as shrewd as Themistocles, as high of soul as Pericles. He it was that gained them the control of Euboea and Megara, the Hellespont and Boeotia. It is well indeed that they give the command to such as Chares or Diopithes or Proxenus, and keep Demosthenes to the platform at home. If they had given into his hands their arms and ships and troops, their strategy and their money, I doubt he would have put me on my mettle to keep Macedonia ; even now that he has no weapon but his decrees, he is with us at every turn, his hand is upon us ; the ways and means are of his finding, the force of his gathering ; it is he that sends armadas afar, he that joins power to power, he that meets our every change of plan.


38 This was his tone about Demosthenes on many other occasions too; he put it down as one of his debts to fortune that armies were never led by the man whose mere words were so many battering-rams and catapults worked from Athens to the shattering and confounding of his plans. As to Chaeronea, even the victory made no difference; he continued to impress upon us how precarious a position this one man had contrived for us. Things went unexpectedly well; their generals were cowards and their troops undisciplined, and the caprice of fortune, which has so often served us well, brought us out victorious ; but he had reduced me to hazarding my kingdom and my life on that single throw ; he had brought the most powerful cities into line, he had united Greece, he had forced Athens and Thebes and all Boeotia, Corinth, Euboea, Megara—the might of Greece, in short—to play the game out to its end, and had arrested me before I reached Attic soil.
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Old 04-08-2010, 08:33 AM   #2
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Who is Lucian of Samosata? http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucia ... _intro.htm

LUCIAN was born at Samosata in Commagene and calls himself a Syrian; he may or may not have been of Semitic stock. The exact duration of his life is unknown, but it is probable that he was born not long before 125 A.D. and died not long after 180. Something of his life-history is given us in his own writings, notably in the Dream, the Doubly Indicted, the Fisher, and the Apology. If what he tells us in the Dream is to be taken seriously (and it is usually so taken), he began his career as apprentice to his uncle, a sculptor, but soon became disgusted with his prospects in that calling and gave it up for Rhetoric, the branch of the literary profession then most in favour. Theoretically the vocation of a rhetorician was to plead in court, to compose pleas for others and to teach the art of pleading; but in practice his vocation was far less important in his own eyes and those of the public than his avocation, which consisted in going about from place to place and often from country to country displaying his ability as a speaker before the educated classes. In this way Lucian travelled through Ionia and Greece, to Italy and even to Gaul, and won much wealth and fame. Samples of his repertory are still extant among his works--declamations like the Phalaris, essays on abstract themes like Slander, descriptions, appreciations, and depreciations. But although a field like this afforded ample scope for the ordinary rhetorician, it could not display the full talent of a Lucian. His bent for satire, which crops out even in his writings of this period, had to find expression, and ultimately found it in the satiric dialogue. In a sense, then, what he says is true, that he abandoned Rhetoric: but only in a very limited sense. In reality he changed only his repertory, not his profession, for his productions continued to be presented in the same manner and for the same purpose as of old--from a lecture-platform to entertain an audience.

Rightly to understand and appreciate Lucian, one must recognise that he was not a philosopher nor even a moralist, but a rhetorician, that his mission in life was not to reform society nor to chastise it, but simply to amuse it. He himself admits on every page that he is serious only in his desire to please, and he would answer all charges but that of dullness with an ou) fronti\j 'Ippoklei/dh|. Judged from his own stand-point, he is successful; not only in his own times but in all the ensuing ages his witty, well*phrased comments on life, more akin to comedy than to true satire, have brought him time applause that he craved.
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