Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1999.10.01

Michael Gagarin, Douglas MacDowell, Antiphon and Andocides.   Austin:  University of Texas Press, 1998.  Pp. xxvii, 174.  ISBN 0-292-72808-5.  $35.00 (hb).  ISBN 0-292-72809-3.  $16.95 (pb).  

Reviewed by Geoff Bakewell, Creighton University (
Word count: 591 words

This book is the first volume of The Oratory of Classical Greece, a series of new translations of the Attic orators planned by the University of Texas Press under the editorial supervision of Michael Gagarin. The general aim of the series is to provide "up-to-date, accurate, and readable" (vii) versions for a non-classicist, largely Greekless audience, and to equip these readers with the background they need to make sense of the texts. This particular volume represents a collaboration between Gagarin and Douglas MacDowell. Gagarin is responsible for the Series Introduction and the material on Antiphon, MacDowell for Andocides. Each orator and each individual oration receives its own introduction; all the extant speeches are covered, as is Fragment 1 of Antiphon. A brief index concludes the volume.

In its primary aim of making Antiphon and Andocides accessible to a broader audience, the volume is eminently successful. Both translators show steady hands, accurately conveying the substance (and nuances) of the speeches in a clear, modern idiom. (At one point, for instance, MacDowell has Andocides refer to the Athenian desire to "let bygones be bygones" following the amnesty of 403/2.) The book also succeeds in its aim of making the orators intelligible to novices; the introductions and notes provide a brief survey of some of the historical and legal complexities of Attic oratory. Indeed, Gagarin and MacDowell touch on an impressive range of topics within short compass. Readers are introduced to the oligarchic upheavals of 411 and 404, the differences between γραφαί and δίκαι, arguments from probability, the torture of slaves, λόγος-ἔργον antitheses, rhetorical topoi, textual cruces, and debates about authenticity, inter alia. Gagarin and MacDowell prove sure-footed guides here, and often provide bibliography to help the interested reader strike out on his own. This of course comes as no surprise, given the authors' expertise in the field of Greek law. Gagarin's Antiphon is particularly indebted to his recent Antiphon: The Speeches (Cambridge 1997), while MacDowell's Andocides draws heavily on his Andocides: On the Mysteries (Oxford, 1962).

The volume's main limitation is predictable, given its compact nature: the breadth of its coverage entails a certain sacrifice of depth. Under these circumstances the accompanying bibliography and notes assume added importance. To the extent that this volume has a shortcoming, this is where it lies. It must be said that it is almost impossible to please everyone with selective bibliography and notes. Some readers lament the absence of Smith, others question the presence of Jones. Even so, the principles guiding the selection here are not immediately apparent. Although Gagarin and MacDowell are scrupulous in their transliteration (rather than translation) of important Greek terms, they seem to assume that their readers will be primarily monolingual: only secondary sources in English are cited. Yet if the series is to truly to serve as a reliable guide for "Greekless scholars in other disciplines" (back cover), some mention of monumental German scholarship in particular (Blass, Lipsius, etc.) may be called for. Moreover, even if their method is to cite only those sources in English which are indispensable, there are a few conspicuous omissions. M.H. Hansen's The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes (Oxford, 1991) is cited in preference to his more technical legal works; Harrison's The Law of Athens (Oxford, 1968-71) receives no mention. Students wishing to proceed farther will thus need to use this book in conjunction with other volumes. As an introduction to Greek law and oratory, it is a measured step into the shallow end of the pool, rather than a plunge into the deep end.

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