earlier work) he delights in elaborate antitheses. Isocrates is an "orator" in the larger sense of the Greek word but his real distinction consists in the fact that he was the first Greek who gave an artistic finish to literary rhetoric. The practical oratory of the day had already two clearly separated branches - the forensic, represented by lsaeus, and the deliberative, in which Callistratus was the forerunner of Demosthenes. Meanwhile Isocrates was giving form and rhythm to a standard literary prose. Through the influence of his school, this normal prose style was transmitted - with the addition of some florid embellishments - to the first generation of Romans who studied rhetoric in the Greek schools. The distinctive feature in the composition of Isocrates is his structure of the periodic sentence. This, with him, is no longer rigid or monotonous, as with Antiphon - no longer terse and compact, as with Lysias - but ample, luxuriant, unfolding itself (to use a Greek critic's image) like the soft beauties of a winding river. Isocrates was the first Greek who worked out the idea of a prose rhythm. He saw clearly both its powers and its limits; poetry has its strict rhythms and precise metres; prose has its metres and rhythms, not bound by a rigid framework, yet capable of being brought under certain general laws which a good ear can recognize, and which a speaker or writer may apply in the most various combinations. This fundamental idea of prose rhythm, or number, is that which the style of Isocrates has imparted to the style of Cicero. When Quintilian (x. I. 108) says, somewhat hyperbolically, that Cicero has artistically reproduced ( the force of Demosthenes, the wealth of Plato, the of Isocrates," he means principally this smooth and harmonious rhythm. Cicero himself expressly recognizes this original and distinctive merit of Isocrates.' Thus, through Rome, and especially through Cicero, the influence of Isocrates, as the founder of a literary prose, has passed into the literatures of modern Europe. It is to the eloquence of the preacher that we may perhaps look for the nearest modern analogue of that kind in which Isocrates excelled - especially, perhaps, to that of the great French preachers. Isocrates was one of the three Greek authors, Demosthenes and Plato being the others, who contributed most to form the style of Bossuet.


Satisfied customers are saying