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equal that of the past. Oratory is not dead, nor is it sleeping; it is merely awaiting the sound of the voice it knows to cause it to come forth. It is no use calling to it in a foreign tongue - it must be spoken to in the voice of truth. Right, liberty, justice, the rights of men to enjoy the blessings of life — these are themes that will cause eloquence to become once more the art of arts.
EXAMPLES OF GRECIAN ORATORY * For the benefit of the student of oratory, specimen orations are here given of ten of the most famous Grecian orators. Short biographical and other notes accompany each selection, as guides to the student regarding the careers of the orators and the circumstances under which the orations were delivered.
Antiphon, the oldest of the ten Attic orators, and founder of Grecian political oratory, was the first to systematize the rules and principles for the guidance of public speakers. He was born at Rhamnus, Attica, about 480 B. C., and, because of his activity in establishing the oligarchy of the Four Hundred, was executed at Athens in 411 B. C., after a change had taken place in the government. He was noted for his readiness in debate, and gained great renown by composing orations by which many accused of capital offenses defended themselves.
*It may be doubted whether any compositions which have ever been produced in the world are equally perfect in their kind with the great Athenian orations.
MACAULAY'S ESSAY, Athenian Orators
The following oration was composed by Antiphon for a man by the name of Helus, who was accused of having murdered Herodes, who, while on a journey with Helus, mysteriously disappeared.
On The Murder of Herodes. (Helus, a Mitylenean, having been accused of the murder of Herodes, who had mysteriously disappeared from the boat in which the two had embarked in company, defended himself in the following speech, composed for him by Antiphon):
I could have wished, gentlemen, that I possessed the gift of eloquence and legal experience proportionate to my adversity. Adversity I have experienced in an unusual degree, but in eloquence and legal experience I am sadly deficient? The result is that, in circumstances where I was compelled to suffer personal ill-usage on a false charge, legal experience did not come to my rescue; and here, when my salvation depends on a true statement of the facts, I feel embarrassed by my incapacity for speaking. Many an innocent man has been condemned because of his inability to present clearly the truth and justice of his cause. Many a guilty man, on the other hand, has escaped punishment through skilful pleading. It follows, then, that if the accused lacks experience on these matters, his fate depends rather on the representation of his prosecutors than on the actual facts and true version of the case.
I shall not ask you, gentlemen, to give me an impartial hearing. And yet I am aware that such is the practice of most men on trial, who have no faith in their own cause or confidence in your justice. No, I make no such request, because I know full well that, like all good men and true, you will grant me the same hearing that you grant the prosecution. I do ask you, however, to be indulgent if I commit any indiscretion of speech, and to attribute it rather
to my inexperience than to the injustice of my cause. But if my argument has any weight I pray you will ascribe it rather to the force of truth than rhetorical art.
I have always felt that it is not just either that one who has done wrong should be saved through eloquence, or that one who has done no wrong should be condemned through lack of eloquence. Unskilful speaking is but a sin of the tongue; but wrongful acts are sins of the soul. Now it is only natural that a man whose life is in danger should commit some indiscretion of speech; for he must be intent not only on what he says but on the outcome of the trial, since all that is still uncertain is controlled rather by chance than by providence. This fact inspires great fear in a man whose life is at stake. In fact, I have often observed that the most experienced orators speak with embarrassment when their lives are in danger. But whenever they seek to accomplish some purpose without danger they are more successful. My request for indulgence, then gentlemen, is both natural and lawful; and it is no less your duty to grant it than my right to make it.
I shall now consider the case for the prosecution in detail. And first I shall show you that I have been brought to trial here in violation of law and justice, not on the chance of eluding your judgment — for I would commit my life to your decision, even if you were bound by no oath to pronounce judgment according to law, since I am conscious that I have done no wrong and feel assured that you will do me justice: no, my purpose in showing you this is rather that the lawlessness and violence of my accusers may bear witness to you of their bitter feeling towards me.
First, then, though they imprisoned me as a malefactor, they have indicated me for homicide - an outrage that no one has ever suffered in this land. For I am not a malefactor, or amenable to the law of malefactors, which has
to do only with thieves and highwaymen. So far, then, as they have dealt with me by summary process, they have made it possible for you to make my acquittal lawful and righteous.
But they argue that homicide is a species of malefaction. I admit that it is a great crime, as great as sacrilege or treason. But these crimes are dealt with each according to its own peculiar laws. Moreover, they compel me to undergo trial in this place of public assemblage, where all men charged with murder are usually forbidden to appear; and furthermore they would commute to a fine in my case the sentence of death imposed by law on all murderers, not for my benefit, but for their own private gain, thereby defrauding the dead of lawful satisfaction. Their reason for so doing you will perceive as my argument advances.
In the second place, you all know that the courts decide murder cases in the open air, for no other reason than that the judges may not assemble in the same place with those whose hands have been defiled with blood, and that the prosecutor may not be sheltered beneath the same roof with the murderer. This custom my accusers have utterly disregarded. Nay, they have even failed to take the customary solemn oath that, whatever other crimes I may have committed, they will prosecute me for murder alone, and will allow no meritorious act of mine to stand in the way of my condemnation. Thus do they prosecute me unsworn; and even their witnesses testify against me without having taken the oath. And then they expect you, gentlemen, to believe these unsworn witnesses and condemn me to death, when they have made it impossible for you to accept such testimony by their violation and contempt of the law.
But they contend if I had been set free I would have fled. What motive could I have had ? For, if I did not mind exile, I might have refused to come home when summoned,
and have incurred judgment by default, or, having come, might have left voluntarily after my first trial. For such a course is open to all. And yet my accusers in their lawlessness seek to deprive me alone of the common right of all Greeks.
This leads me, gentlemen, to say a word about the laws that govern my case. And I think you will admit that they are good and righteous, since, though very ancient, they still remain unchanged - an unmistakable proof of excellence in laws. For time and experience teach men what is good and what is not good. You ought not, therefore, judge by the arguments of my accusers whether the laws are good or bad, but rather judge by the laws whether their claims are just or unjust. So perfect, indeed, are the laws that relate to homicide, that no one has ever dared to disturb them. But these men have dared to constitute themselves lawmakers in order to effect their wicked purposes, and disregarding these ordinances they seek unjustly to compass
Their lawlessness, however, will not help them, for they well know that they have no sworn witness to testify against me. Moreover, they did not make a single decisive trial of the matter, as they would have done if they had confidence in their cause. No, they left room for controversy and argument, as if, in fact, they meant to dispute the previous verdict. The result is that I gain nothing by an acquittal, since it will be open to them to say that I was acquitted as a malefactor, not as a murderer, and catching me again they will ask to have me sentenced to death on a charge of homicide. Wicked schemers! Would ye have the judges set aside a verdict obtained by fair means, and put me a second time in jeopardy of my life for the same offense? But this is not all. They would not even allow me to offer bail according to law, and thus escape imprisonment, though they