Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Demos G. Spatharas (ed.), Isokrates. Kata Lochitou. Archaia Grammateia 2. Athena: Smile, 2009. Pp. 137. ISBN 9789607793911.
Reviewed by Maria G. Xanthou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

With his elegant book Demos G. Spatharas (henceforth S.) presents to the Greek-speaking public one of Isocrates' dicanic speeches, Against Lochites. The book includes a foreword, a list of abbreviations, an ample introduction, a translation, a commentary, an extensive bibliography and an index verborum.

His introduction falls into five parts. In the first part, S. traces the rhetorical devices that contribute to the stylistic profile of the speech as a dicanic one, ending with the suggestion that if the name "Lochites" is deliberately chosen, the speech comprises a rhetorical exercise. In the second part, S. discusses the problem of ὕβρις as a trait of the public conduct of the Athenian oligarchic élite. He analyses the difference between δίκην αἰκείας and γραφὴν ὕβρεως and then focuses on the social connection between ὕβρις and oligarchy, influenced by Josiah Ober. In the third part, S. examines three points upon which the argumentation of the persona loquens is built: (a) the law as a guaranty of physical integrity of civilians against manifestations of ὕβρις, (b) ὕβρις as a typical trait of enemies of democracy, and (c) ὕβρις as a corollary of πλοῦτος. In the fourth part, S. pins down the stylistic means Isocrates employs, emphasizing the avoidance of hiatus, the use of long syntactic periods, the symmetry in wording and the use of antithetical style. The symmetry is underlined by the use of γοργίεια σχήματα, such as πάρισον and ὁμοιοτέλευτον. In the final part, S. concludes that 404/3 BCE is the terminus post quem and that the speech is not fragmentary.1 As for the text, he adopts the avoidance of hiatus only where all the mss are unanimous. Of the eight instances where S.'s text diverges from Mandilaras' edition2 on three [section 14 τινα; section 16 Ὧν ἕνεκα; and section 20 τὸ ἴσον], he seems clearly correct.

S.'s translation into Modern Greek preserves the long periods of Isocrates' prose style, a feature not compatible with the style of Modern Greek prose, but he often avoids translating pedantically the Greek particles of the ancient Greek text. In some cases I would prefer a rather different rendering, e.g. in section 3 ὑπὲρ τῶν λόγῳ μόνον ἀκηκοότων, is not "against those who confine themselves only to verbal injuries" ["εναντίον όσων περιορίζονται μόνο στις λεκτικές ύβρεις"], but rather "for the protection of those who have merely suffered verbal injury".3 In section 5, I would add either τάχα or δήθεν after ότι for translating the dependent statement introduced by ὡς, thus marking the statement as untrue. In the same paragraph I would prefer translating the participle ληψόμενος expressing purpose with the phrase με σκοπό να ζητήσω thus suggesting more overtly its circumstantial relation. I have also noticed an Anglicism regarding the normal word-order in relative clauses with genitive του οποίου in Modern Greek. For example, p. 30 n. 30 του οποίου την ορολογία, should read την ορολογία του οποίου.

S.'s commentary is erudite. Its lemmata include both parallel texts of ancient authors and references to recent secondary literature. Their length and content vary. Some lemmata are short, comprising only cross-references to S.'s commentary, while others are longer, e.g. section 6 ὅταν του καταγνῶτε ἱεροσυλίαν ἢ κλοπήν extends over almost four pages. This latter is representative of S.'s mode: he initially construes the two accusatives κλοπήν and ἱεροσυλίαν; then he explores the use of both terms within the broader argumentation of the particular paragraph; finally, he discusses the definition of the term ἱεροσυλίαν as part of the generic term κλοπή and how it was treated in Athenian legislation and courts. S. adduces testimony from primary sources e.g. Xen. Hell. 1.7.22, and corroborates it with ample references to secondary literature.

The concluding parts of the book are the bibliography4 and the index verborum. There are only a few misprints.5

All in all, S. has produced a careful piece of scholarship. The Greek-speaking public will benefit from it.


1.   S.'s reasoning is documented in a long and well-informed footnote (p. 17 n. 6). He also discards the possibility proposed by S. Usher, Greek oratory: tradition and originality (Oxford: OUP, 1999), who considers the speech to be the "concluding fragment of the prosecution" (p. 12).
2.   For a full index of S.'s divergences from B. G. Mandilaras' edition, Isocrates: Opera Omnia, Bibliotheca Teubneriana, (Leipzig/München: Teubner/Saur, 2003), see p. 64, and for a full account of them see S.'s comments ad locc. in comparison to Mandilaras' edition.
3.   So Norlin: Isocrates, with an English translation, in three volumes, by George Norlin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1928).
4.   To which one should add V. Bers' recent book, Genos Dikanikon: Amateur and Professional Speech in the Courtrooms of Classical Athens (Washington, D.C.: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2008), reviewed at BMCR 2010.02.50.
5.   p. 21 Επιλέον should read Επιπλέον; the same misprint is repeated in p. 127; p. 71 Κατέφεραν should read Κατάφεραν; p. 82 Humprays should read Humphreys; p. 85 ιδαίτερα should read ιδιαίτερα; p. 85 συγκαταλέγοναι should read συγκαταλέγονται; p. 88 απαλασσόταν should read απαλλασσόταν.

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