Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Aggelos Kapellos, Lysias 21: A Commentary. Trends in classics – supplementary volumes 28. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2014. Pp. xviii, 182. ISBN 9783110354331. €79.95.

Reviewed by Ben Cartlidge, St John's College, Oxford (benjamin.cartlidge@sjc.ox.ac.uk)

Version at BMCR home site


This neat volume is a revised doctoral dissertation written at the University of Ioannina. It comprises a long introduction (60 pages) followed by a lemmatised commentary (106 pages) and indices, dedicated to six OCT pages of text. This should give readers an idea of the generous scale of the book. This is matched by the high quality of the scholarship in it, applied to a speech that has been unjustly neglected. Lysias 21 is part of a defence speech against the charge of bribery (δωροδοκία) delivered in 403/02 B.C.; the legal part of the speech has been omitted. The speaker, clearly a wealthy man, gives us a picture of an elite world at the end of the fifth century, investing in liturgies from trierarchies to comic choruses. At the same time, the speaker carefully avoids an explicit account of the political events of the time, making it all the more valuable a document to interrogate. This interrogation is what Kapellos has now offered us.

The introduction covers the historical background, the identity of the speaker, the charge, legal issues, strategy, dating, and style. The historical portions of the introduction reveal the important ways in which the speech interacts with other historical sources, particularly Xenophon and Plutarch. These parallels might account for the neglect of the speech in its own right (and this might be interesting to explore from the point of view of research into the canon and the relationship between scholarship and university syllabuses). I have reservations about other aspects of the introduction: would knowledge of the speaker's name contribute as much to the understanding of the speech as Kapellos suggests (11)? If we knew the name from elsewhere, then perhaps; the speech is more likely to contribute to the understanding of the person than the person to the speech, however. Kapellos' discussion of the speaker's identity places him between oligarchic and democratic extremes, which he sets in the context of Wilson's analysis of choregia; a cynic might point out that a defendant's most sensible option was to position himself between these two camps (Kapellos rightly compares Lysias 25 for this).

I have reservations about Kapellos' approach to the style of the speech. The report of the 1982 statistical study of Usher & Najock is misleading: their article does not argue for a particular relationship between Lysias 7 and 21; rather the similarity between this pair of speeches is confined to a single metric (that of the distribution of 'frequent words', see Usher & Najock (1982) 92). Another test, of vocabulary richness, yields a rather different result (Usher & Najock (1982) 102). Incidentally, the frequency statistics collected by Usher & Najock do not support Kapellos' assertion that καί and δέ are more frequent in this speech than elsewhere in Lysias (57). Finally, Usher & Najock do not articulate any suspicion about the genuineness of Lysias 21, but they do place Lysias 7 under (weak) suspicion; if there were stylistic similarities between the two speeches, this would in turn argue weakly for a suspicious attitude towards 21 rather than for authenticity. Second, I am unsure what Kapellos means by his assertion that the speaker uses καί and δέ more often than any other text of Greek oratory: a TLG search returns 63 tokens of καί in Lys. 21 (1,299 words total), which seems perfectly compatible with the 68 tokens of καί the same search function found in Lys. 18 (1,355 words total) (in fact, as a percentage Lys. 18 has a slight statistical edge). The treatment of particles in the speech is full, but I miss a reference to Sicking in Sicking & van Ophuijsen (1993) and to Trenkner (1960), in particular in light of Kapellos' assertions about καί and δέ. Despite these reservations, the rest of the section assembles an excellent array of stylistic figures; such a comprehensive collection of stylistic data is a valuable feature of the book. The cross- references to the rest of the book would be easier to handle if page numbers as well as section numbers were given (for example, the discussions of hyperbaton referred to in n. 372 are at pages 110, 121 and 160 respectively – though is the example at 110 really hyperbaton?); as a matter of fact, this reservation applies to the book as a whole (especially as section numbers are not marked in the headers of individual pages, while the commentary's coverage means that sections are spread across several pages).

The taut aims of the commentary are matched in the disciplined presentation: each lemma of the commentary is a sentence or clause of the speech, quoted from Carey's OCT; since the whole speech is quoted in this way, the commentary is exceptionally easy to use (no details missed by flicking back and forth). It sometimes means that the overarching structure of individual paragraphs is missed (a different approach to particles might have altered this); for instance, the link between the speaker's two assertions that he is best left in charge of his own resources (μὴ στερηθῆναι τῶν ἐμαυτοῦ (§11)...τῶν ἐμῶν ἐγὼ πολὺ βελτίων κτλ. (§14)) could have been brought out more explicitly (there is a forward, but not a backward reference, and little discussion of the overall direction of the intervening argument). Similarly, Kapellos seems unsure at what point the speaker brings up his 'military ethos' (69, second and fourth paragraphs); a more effective approach might be to say that the speaker foreshadows the fuller discussion in (our!) sections 6–11 by making it clear at an early stage of the speech that such an account will be given: the details are delayed, but the relevant ethos is brought up well in advance (ensuring that the jury's attention is kept). Section 3 has moved back a sentence in comparison to Carey, but this is unlikely ever to cause serious confusion. There are a couple of departures from Carey's text: at 75 we read the spelling ἐρρηφορία; given the lack of contemporary epigraphic evidence for this form (see A. S. Henry, CQ 17 (1967) 258, N. Robertson, HSCP 87 (1983) 242–3, esp. 242 n. 3) it is preferable to retain the MS reading (as found elsewhere in the manuscript tradition). At 112 ἐμοῦ (assigned a rough breathing) should come after ἑκόντος (an instructive homoeoteleuton for textual criticism classes).

We may now consider how this focussed commentary plays out in discussion of the text. To begin with a reservation: while there is much to be said for a disciplined work like Kapellos', and while comprehensiveness is difficult to achieve and questionable as a goal, sometimes this reviewer would have liked more contextualising details. To judge from Kapellos, for example, the name Cephisodorus is an unicum (74). We miss a reference to the comic fragments of the poet, available now in Storey (2011) beside PCG IV (see now also Orth (2014) 299–362). Comedy as a whole might have been exploited more: the analysis of the speaker's relation to Theramenes (17–18) would be enriched by the comic evidence, for example. Similarly at 124 the historical import of the topos of envy and pity is discussed fully (the tension between 'haves' and 'have-nots'); I would however have welcomed some parallels for the thought in other literature (Hdt. 3.52 and Pi. Pyth. 1.85 being perhaps the best known examples), since these are often easier to track down than a reference to a secondary work. To the interesting discussion of luck at 101 one might now add Eidinow (2011). 1 At 102 more detail on the phrase χρήμασι πείσας would have been welcomed: it seems extraordinary to put such a phrase in the mouth of a man on a charge for bribery. Is Lysias the innovator, or Aeschines (2.148)?

Where the commentary does very well is in explaining the contribution of stylistic strategies to the argument (pace some dubious assertions – I am not persuaded by Kapellos' claim of /r/-alliteration at 166 on the last sentence of the speech, for example). The discussion on section 9 (94–100) is a particularly good example of this: the contribution (and reality) of the parenthesis, the successful implication of the audience's knowledge of the 'disaster' (συμφορά) while avoiding the jury's anger, down to the use of ἐγώ in the context of resuming the main sentence. This will be a boon to teachers of Greek prose style, since students often struggle to express themselves when discussing stylistic aspects of texts. Kapellos has a knack for bringing out nuances hiding in individual words (ὑμεῖς 8, οἵου 63, ὅσοι 106); at 110, there is an excellent study of two topoi in the rhetorical tradition ('risks run' and 'benefits conferred'), almost a mini-study of Greek rhetoric by itself.

The book is nicely produced and sturdy, though there are a large number of typos and stylistic infelicities;2 accentuation and breathings in Greek are poorly placed several times, but in a book of this nature that rarely impedes understanding (οἴου for οἵου, 62–3, is unfortunate). Grammatical terminology is sometimes awry (τήν τε ἐμαυτοῦ ναῦν is a noun phrase rather than a sentence, εὖ βούλεσθαι a syntagm or collocation rather than a verb, 120). Kapellos occasionally uses 'the speaker' to refer to speakers in oratory in general rather than in Lysias 21 specifically (e.g. at 129).

Kapellos deserves our thanks for dedicating his doctoral thesis to a commentary on this speech. It fills a genuine gap in the literature, and fills it well; this review has concentrated on omissions in order to demonstrate the continuing need for more commentaries on this scale. The price is perhaps too steep to make this a realistic introduction to oratory for students; but the format of the lemmas and the balance between linguistic and historical analysis would make it ideal for the purpose.3


1.   The bibliography is generally full, especially on the historical side; even so, the book might with profit have drawn more on the German commentary tradition on Lysias.
2.   v: is the relative clause 'which focus on Attic oratory' in the wrong place?; xvi: for 'Rubistein' read 'Rubinstein'; 4: for 'Alciades' read 'Alcibiades'; 7: for 'since' (in text after n. 42) read 'although'; 9: for 'Aegosopotami', read 'Aegospotami'; 9, n. 55: for 'identify' read 'are to be identified with'; 15: for 'abandonded' read 'abandoned'; 20: for 'allow him to confess' read 'allow to confess'; 79: for '§9' read '§8' (i.e. pp. 90–1); 83: for 'used has a connective sense here' read 'used here has a connective sense'; 93: four lines from the bottom, read 'so that the speaker can avoid'; 108: for 'Cartlege' read 'Cartledge'
3.   References:

E. Eidinow (2011) Luck, Fate and Fortune: Antiquity and its Legacy. London.
C. Orth (2014) Fragmenta Comica 9.2: Aristomenes–Metagenes. Heidelberg.
C. M. J. Sicking & J. M. van Ophuijsen (1993) Two Studies in Attic Particle Usage. Lysias and Plato. Leiden.
I. C. Storey (2011) Fragments of Old Comedy, I. Cambridge, Mass. (Loeb Classical Library 513)
S. Trenkner (1960) Le style KAI dans le récit attique oral. Assen.
S. Usher & D. Najock (1982) 'A statistical study of authorship in the Corpus Lysiacum', Computers and the Humanities 16 (1982) 85–105.

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