People - Ancient Greece: Antiphon
One of the ten great Ancient Attic orators.
Antĭphon in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
（Ἀντιφῶν). The earliest of the ten great Attic orators, born B.C. 480 in Attica, son of the sophist Sophilus, to whom he owed his training. He was the founder of political eloquence as an art, which he taught with great applause in his own school of rhetoric; and he was the first who wrote out speeches for others to deliver in court, though he afterwards published them under his own name. He also played an active part in the politics of his time as a leading member of the oligarchical party, and the real author of the death-blow which was dealt to democracy in B.C. 411 by the establishment of the Council of Four Hundred. He then went as ambassador to Sparta, to purchase peace at any price in the interest of the oligarchy. On the fall of the Four Hundred he was accused of high treason, and, in spite of a masterly defence —the first speech he had ever made in public— was condemned to death B.C. 411. Of the sixty orations attributed to him, only fifteen are preserved—all on trials for murder; but only three of them are about real cases. The rest (named tetralogies because every four are the first and second speeches of both plaintiff and defendant on the same subject) are mere exercises. Antiphon's speeches exhibit the art of oratory in its rudimentary stage as regards both substance and form. The best edition is that of Blass (Leipzig, 1881).
Antiphon (person) in Wikipedia
Antiphon the Sophist lived in Athens probably in the last two decades of the 5th century BC. There is an ongoing controversy over whether he is one and the same with Antiphon (Ἀντιφῶν) of the Athenian deme Rhamnus in Attica (480–411 BC), the earliest of the ten Attic orators. For the purposes of this article, they will be treated as distinct persons.
Antiphon of Rhamnus
Antiphon of Rhamnus was a statesman who took up rhetoric as a profession. He was active in political affairs in Athens, and, as a zealous supporter of the oligarchical party, was largely responsible for the establishment of the Four Hundred in 411 (see Theramenes); upon restoration of the democracy shortly afterwards, he was accused of treason and condemned to death. Thucydides (viii. 68) famously characterized Antiphon's skills, influence, and reputation:
“ ...He who concerted the whole affair [of the 411 coup], and prepared the way for the catastrophe, and who had given the greatest thought to the matter, was Antiphon, one of the best men of his day in Athens; who, with a head to contrive measures and a tongue to recommend them, did not willingly come forward in the assembly or upon any public scene, being ill-looked upon by the multitude owing to his reputation for cleverness; and who yet was the one man best able to aid in the courts, or before the assembly, the suitors who required his opinion. Indeed, when he was afterwards himself tried for his life on the charge of having been concerned in setting up this very government, when the Four Hundred were overthrown and hardly dealt with by the commons, he made what would seem to be the best defence of any known up to my time. ”
Antiphon may be regarded as the founder of political oratory, but he never addressed the people himself except on the occasion of his trial. Fragments of his speech then, delivered in defense of his policy (called Περι μεταστασεως) have been edited by J. Nicole (1907) from an Egyptian papyrus.
His chief business was that of a logographer (λογογραφος), that is a professional speech-writer. He wrote for those who felt incompetent to conduct their own cases — all disputants were obliged to do so — without expert assistance. Fifteen of Antiphon's speeches are extant: twelve are mere school exercises on fictitious cases, divided into tetralogies, each comprising two speeches for prosecution and defence—accusation, fence, reply, counter-reply; three refer to actual legal processes. All deal with cases of homicide (φονικαι δικαι). Antiphon is also said to have composed a Τεχνη or art of Rhetoric.
Antiphon the Sophist
A treatise known as On Truth, of which only fragments survive, is attributed to Antiphon the Sophist. It is of great value to political theory, as it appears to be a precursor to natural rights theory. It used to be argued that the views expressed in it suggest its author could not be the same person as Antiphon of Rhamnus, since it was interpreted as affirming strong egalitarian and libertarian principles appropriate to a democracy but antithetical to the oligarchical views of one who was instrumental in the anti-democratic coup of 411 (W. K C. Guthrie, The Sophists, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971). However, that interpretation has become obsolete in light of a new fragment of text from On Truth discovered in 1984. The new evidence rules out an egalitarian interpretation of the text.
"Nature" requires liberty
On Truth juxtaposes the repressive nature of convention and law (nomos) with "nature" (physis), especially human nature. Nature is envisaged as requiring spontaneity and freedom, in contrast to the often gratuitous restrictions imposed by institutions:
Most of the things which are legally just are [none the less] ... inimical to nature. By law it has been laid down for the eyes what they should see and what they should not see; for the ears what they should hear and they should not hear; for the tongue what it should speak, and what it should not speak; for the hands what they should do and what they should not do ... and for the mind what it should desire, and what it should not desire. (Antiphon, "On Truth," Oxyrhynchus Papyri, xi, no. 1364, fragment 1, quoted in Donald Kagan (ed.) Sources in Greek Political Thought from Homer to Polybius ("Sources in Western Political Thought, A. Hacker, gen. ed.; New York: Free Press, 2965)
Repression means pain, whereas it is nature (human nature) to shun pain.
Elsewhere, Antiphon wrote: "Life is like a brief vigil, and the duration of life like a single day, as it were, in which having lifted our eyes to the light we give place to other who succeed us." Mario Untersteiner comments: "If death follows according to nature, why torment its opposite, life, which is equally according to nature? By appealing to this tragic law of existence, Antiphon, speaking with the voice of humanity, wishes to shake off everything that can do violence to the individuality of the person." (Mario Untersteiner, The Sophists, tr. Kathleen Freeman (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1954) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971, p. 247)
Antiphon was also a capable mathematician. Antiphon, alongside his companion Bryson of Heraclea, was the first to give an upper and lower bound for the value of pi by inscribing and then circumscribing a polygon around a circle and finally proceeding to calculate the polygons' areas. This method was applied to the problem of squaring the circle.
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