Saturday, February 25, 2012


Christopher Carey, Trials from Classical Athens. Second edition (first published 1997). Routledge sourcebooks for the ancient world. London; New York: Routledge, 2012. Pp. xii, 288. ISBN 9780415618090. $39.95 (pb).

Reviewed by David Whitehead, Queen's University, Belfast (

Version at BMCR home site

When the first edition of this book (reviewed by Edwin Carawan in BMCR 98.06.02, on which see further below) came out, fifteen years ago, it filled a manifest need: that of a reliable, single-volume "reader" in Athenian courtroom oratory, for use in schools and colleges. Kathleen Freeman's The Murder of Herodes and Other Trials (1946) was still in print and still of value; nevertheless Carey, already an experienced commentator on Demosthenes, Lysias, and Apollodoros ([Demosthenes] 59), was just the man to proffer its replacement. Framed by a general introduction and short appendices (on currency and the calendar), six substantive chapters presented seventeen complete speeches – the alternative approach, that of an anthology of excerpts, having wisely been rejected—grouped together by theme: homicide (Lysias 1, Antiphon 1, Antiphon 5, Antiphon 6); assault and wounding (Lysias 3, Demosthenes 54, Isokrates 20); property (Lysias 32, Isaios 3, Isaios 4, Demosthenes 55); commerce (Hypereides 3, Demosthenes 35, Demosthenes 37); citizenship ([Demosthenes] 59, Demosthenes 57); and slander (Lysias 10). The whole thing was well conceived and well executed. It has been a boon, as I can testify from my own experience, for courses where undergraduate students encounter such material in quantity for the first time.

Why then a second edition? Carey himself, in its preface, cites 'dramatic' bibliographical advances in the field since 1997. That is true enough, though in fact it is a phenomenon reflected here only rather palely. A more significant point, I would suggest, is that his book no longer enjoys the luxury of having the field all to itself. Since 1998, fascicles in the the University of Texas Press's 'Oratory of Classical Greece' series have been appearing, under the general editorship of Michael Gagarin – fourteen so far on individual orators, including Carey's own Aischines (2000), with a fifteenth imminent – and the warm welcome they have been receiving from reviewers and users is entirely well-deserved. Furthermore, Trials now has dangerous rivals in the single-volume stakes too. As its title suggests, David D. Phillips' Athenian Political Oratory (reviewed by Sandra Burgess in BMCR 2005.02.39) selects its 'sixteen key speeches' mainly for the light they shed on Athenian (and wider Greek) history and politics between 404 and 323. On the other hand, Athenian society itself, just as in Carey, is what is illuminated in two unrelated volumes published just last year (and already reviewed here by Edmund Burke: BMCR 2012.02.05). Speeches from Athenian Law, overarchingly edited by Michael Gagarin, in fact brings together twenty-two speeches from existing volumes in his series above-mentioned (Antiphon 1, 2, 5, 6; Lysias 1, 3, 23, 24, 32; Isokrates 17, 20; Isaios 1, 7, 8; Hypereides 3; Demosthenes 27, 35, 54, 55, 57; [Demosthenes] 59; Aischines 1), while in Legal Speeches of Democratic Athens (Hackett: Indianapolis and Cambridge) Andrew Wolpert and Konstantinos Kapparis, colleagues at the University of Florida, choose the following fourteen: Antiphon 6; Lysias 1, 12, 16, 23, 24; Isaios 12; Demosthenes 21, 32, 41, 54; [Demosthenes] 53, 59; Aischines 1.

Carey thus had a challenge, present and future, to rise to—and rise he does. The principal changes in this second edition (which has a slightly larger page-size and more variation of typeface, besides sporting a new cover: a photograph of the Areopagus steps displaces a stylized red-figure vase-painting) are two. The general introduction has a fresh look to it, with several of its sub-sections recast, and updated bibliography provided in the notes. And the translated speeches themselves are now a round twenty. Aischines 1 joins the 'citizenship' topic, while 'slander' becomes the beefed-up (if miscellaneous) 'sacred olives and other cases' cluster: Lysias 7, Lysias 10, Demosthenes 39. (Comparison between the rival selections is instructive: overall coverage reasonable, at thirty-two speeches; fashionable favourites – Lysias 1, [Demosthenes] 59, Aischines 1—clear to see; Andokides, Lykourgos, and Deinarchos get the cold shoulder all round.)

Other changes are sometimes obvious, sometimes less so. This time there are maps, of Balkan Greece (very rudimentary) and of Athenian demes; four black and white photographs (kleroterion, Agora, klepsydra, voting-ballots); and a third appendix offering a useful 'glossary of legal terms'. (This last contains two misprints in its lemmata: for aphairesis eis eluetherian read eleutherian, and the final word in graphe nomon me epitedeion theina should be theinai. Also, the indication of long vowels is patchy.) The provision of 'Selected Further Reading' is suitable for 2012 and for the anticipated readership. Beyond that, Carey states that he has made 'a host of minor adjustments to the text'. I will not itemize them here, if indeed I can claim to have registered them all. One negative point Рa suggested change left unadopted Рcan be noted, however. Despite the extended plea to this end by Carawan in his review, the aorist participle epiorkêsanta which occurs twice in Lysias 10.17 (in a Solonian law and in its explication) is still rendered 'vow', rather than, as Carawan urged, 'forswear'. (Cf. generally on this issue S.C. Todd, A Commentary on Lysias: speeches 1-11 [Oxford 2007] 681.) Carey also adheres to his translation of autolêkythoi in Demosthenes 54.14 as 'down-and-outs', rather than adopting Carawan's suggestion of 'flask-in-handers'; his reasons for rejecting an obscene interpretation of the word were already given in C. Carey & R.A. Reid (eds.), Demosthenes: selected private speeches (Cambridge 1985) 87.

An overarching criticism levelled by Carawan was that 'Carey gives too few explanatory notes; let us hope he will make room for more in the next edition'. He has not, we can now say. If 'explanatory notes' means, as I presume it does, endnoted observations on individual passages, users of this new edition are again furnished with virtually none. (See merely pp. 129 and 271.) Wolpert and Kapparis, not to mention the various contributors to the UTP series, present a clear contrast in this regard. Who has made the better decision? My own experience in using Carey's first edition in class has been that most students do not seem to feel (or at any rate do not admit to feeling) a lack of explanatory material therein – and when they do, they look to their teacher, by and large, to supply it. One might perhaps say that the (relative) absence of it, in Carey, poses an implicit challenge to brighter and/or more advanced students to find and absorb supplementary information for themselves; and they are certainly given no lack of pointers towards doing so.

In sum, then: Carey's edition 1 was well worth its price in 1997; the same is true of edition 2 (which authentically supersedes it) now, even if some users will be grateful for a more visible pedagogic hand, available in rival products.

No comments:

Post a Comment