Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.08.21

Jeffrey A. Rydberg-Cox, Lysias: Selected Speeches 1, 2, 3, 4, and 24.   Newburyport:  Focus, 2003.  Pp. xiii, 96.  ISBN 1-58510-029-3.  $16.95.  

Reviewed by D. Thomas Benediktson, The University of Tulsa (
Word count: 758 words

Rydberg-Cox (R-C) offers a textbook for use in undergraduate Greek courses. Included are the complete, or surviving portions of, speeches 1 (title translated by R-C as "On the Murder of Eratosthenes"), 2 ("Funeral Oration"), 3 ("Defense against Simon"), 4 ("On a Wound by Premeditation") and 24 ("On the Refusal of a Pension") with English commentary following each Greek text and vocabulary at the end of the book. There is a very brief "Introduction" with discussions of oratory in Athens, of Lysias' biography, of the content of the four speeches, and of the use of Perseus.

R-C states that the Greek texts are "based on" Hude's OCT (page viii, note 7). A check of pages 1 and 68, randomly selected, showed R-C and Hude's texts to be very similar. The only departure from Hude on page 1 was the movement of the word Ἑλλάδι in 1.2 back ten words (away from its article--surely a typographical error in R-C). On page 68 the only change I noticed was R-C's reading οἴμαι instead of οἴομαι in 24.5.

The commentary generally treats unusual vocabulary usages and irregular verb forms, with some discussion of syntax, especially on modal, absolute and eliptical constructions. Matters of style and historical content are not treated (with a few exceptions, as e.g. the parallel constructions at 3.5 and the verbal juxtapositions at 24.22).

The lack of a table of abbreviations is distressing. Some of the references in the "Introduction" and notes will be obvious to an instructor ("Freeman," for example, is Kathleen Freeman, The Murder of Herodes and Other Trials from the Athenian Law Courts (New York 1963, at least in the edition on my shelf). But most will be troubled by comments such as this one in note 4 on p. viii: "See Carey 1, Usher and Edwards 126, and Dover 42-43 for discussions of when Lysias might have returned to Athens." "Carey" is most likely C. Carey, Lysias: Selected Speeches (Cambridge, New York, Port Chester, Melbourne and Sydney 1989), and "Dover" is apparently K. J. Dover, Lysias and the Corpus Lysiacum (Berkeley 1968), but the latter work seems to be cited as "Dover 1968" lower on the same page. I would guess that "Usher and Edwards" refers to Mark Edwards and Stephen Usher, Antiphon & Lysias (Chicago 1985), but I do not have access to the book to make sure. The commentary is full of abbreviated references to several unidentified works. "LSJ" will be obvious, and I was able to ascertain that "S" is H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar (Cambridge 1973, again as on my shelf). "Sc." is probably Ruth Scodel, Lysias: Orations 1 and 3 in the Bryn Mawr Commentaries series, although I do not have a copy to compare to the citations. "C." seems to be Carey's Lysias again, although "Carey 111" appears in the note on 3.45 quoting from that text. I am not sure of the identity of "Cam." Most users of the book will probably not employ the detective work necessary to figure out these references.

I have done nothing like a thorough search of the vocabulary list, but did notice a few omissions as I read through the text (other than very common words like ἄν and ἤδη, probably intentionally omitted by R-C). βασανίζω is not there (1.16, 3.33 and 4.10); perhaps on page 80 for βάσανος, defined as "to question under torture," βασανίζω should be read. ἐπικουρέω (2.14, 3.33), ὑπηρετέω (2.19), περιοράω (2.44, 3.17, 4.20), and τηλικοῦτος (4.18) are also missing. R-C expects Perseus to be used by the student; I note these only because on p. ix the author promises "a complete vocabulary list."

The Greek text is remarkably clean, but there are a few typographical errors in the book. The word "discourse" in the last line of page 11 should not be in Greek font. There is an unwanted paragraphing space five lines from the bottom of page 19, and the rough breathing for the first word in the penultimate line of the same page is on the line above. In 2.20 the word κειμένων is missing from the Greek text (but is glossed in the commentary to the passage). At 2.79 either ἀγήρῳ might be read in the text and commentary or ἀγήρατος in the vocabulary, and similarly ἐλεινός might be printed in the vocabulary or ἐλεεινοὺς in the text at 24.7).

These are texts of interest to undergraduates, and the book is a self-sufficient text with or without Perseus. It will be of less interest to the reader wanting information about historical context or style.

Read Latest
Index for 2004
Change Greek Display
Books Available for Review

HTML generated at 13:29:32, Friday, 03 April 2009