XXII. Alcidamas

1. Suda s.v.: Alcidamas, from Elea in Asia, philosopher, son of that Diocles who wrote Mousika, student of Gorgias of Leontinoi.

‘Elaetes the student of Gorgias’ is mentioned also in Athenaeus 592c, as a auditor of Gorgias in Dionysius Hal. On Isaeus p. 121, 24 U. R., cf. Suda s. v. Demosthenes 1 and Gorgias (where Alcidamas is called an heir to his school), and as a follower of the same in the forming of complex sentences in Demetrius On Eloquence 12. He seemingly precedes Isocrates age-wise according to Lucian Demosthenes 12. Quintilian 3.1.8 f. lists him among the authors of treatises. He attacked Isocrates according to Tzetzes Chiliades 11.670. Cf. 746.




2. Ctesibius’ testimony on Alcidamas’ art (Plut. Demosthenes 5): see B 24 5.

The fact that Aeschines (Suda s. v. 1) is called ‘a student of the rhetoric of Alcidamas’ is not evidence of a written treatise.

3. Dionysius of Halicarnassos, To Ammaeus p. 259.2: [Aristotle’s admirers say that] Isocrates, Anaximenes and Alcidamas did not come up with anything worthwhile, nor did all the writers of precepts of the art and competitive rhetorical speakers who lived at the same time as those men…

4. Scholion on Hermogenes: Among the theorists of rhetoric, some called it virtue, defining it from what is greater or smaller, some vice, again defining it from what is greater or smaller. For some – the Stoics – called it science, defining it from what is greater as the science of speaking well; with ‘speaking well’ they meant telling the truth. Others defined it from what is smaller by calling it dialectics, and dialectics is defined as the ability to utter the truthfully persuasive. This definition was put forward by Alcidamas and his school.

5. Aristotle, Rhetoric 1406a4: (Alcidamas) made the persuasion of the words end-fulfilling.

6. John Tzetzes, Chiliad: The orator Isocrates himself and Alcidamas say that there are four virtues of speech […]: clarity, magniloquence, brevity and persuasiveness, together with the beauty of rhetorical figures.

Tzetzes affirms that he has read the writings of Alcidamas in Chiliad. 11.750 f. Cf. Cicero Partit. οr. 19, Quint. 4.2.31, 36, 40, 52, 61. B XXIV 35 (G. Pletho W VI 592). – The narrative is meant. Aristotle attacks an anonymous author who taught similar things in Rhetoric 1414a19 f.

7. John Tzetzes, Rhetorical Epithets […]: … Alcidamas wrote Refutations.

This is not understandable at all, unless perhaps these words refer to the speech On the Writers of Written Discourses. The verse that precedes, however, is to be so reconstructed as to yield the following meaning: ‘The teacher must be, through his technique, an enchanter as well as a concise.’

8. Suda s.v.: Protagoras: ‘Alcidamas says that there are four kinds of utterance: expression, exposition, question and apostrophe.

9. Diogenes Laertius 9.54: Alcidamas names four kinds of speech: claim, denial, interrogation and address.

Cf. what has been said above about Protagoras and about Antisthenes, as well as Philodemus 1 p. 242.5: ‘Those who claim that the rhetoricians dealt skillfully with speech based on question and answer will not be able to show that this technique was unique to them, or that they wrote handbooks on it, but the philosophers did.’ See Aristοt. Rhetoric 1418b40; Rhet. Gr. I 2 p. 1 f. Η.

10. Philodemus, On Rhetoric: Many, forsaking education and all sciences, not only avoided these things but also resided much lower than the rhetorical sophists in the use of metaphors, except, of course, if one belonged to the general group of people such as Alcidamas, Hegesias or Cleitarchus.

Cf. Dionysius Hal. On Isaeus p. 121, 24: ‘Alcidamas, the auditor of Gorgias, was too long-winded in his style and rather vacuous.’ Such judgments are apparently taken from Aristot. Rhetoric 1405b34 f., where Alcidamas is portrayed as dull and incompetent in the use of metaphors, with many examples (see Sauppe, Or. Att. II 156), on which see F. Solmsen, Hermae 67, 133 f.; E. Fränkel, Plautinisches im Plautus 388.

11. Athenaeus: Alcidamas of Elea, student of Gorgias, himself wrote an encomium of Nais the courtesan.

12. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 1.48.116: Alcidamas, one of the noblest ancient rhetor, wrote a praise of Death too, which consists in a list of human evils.

13. Menander, [?]: There are also paradoxical encomia, such as Alcidamas’ encomium of death.

Cf. Tzetzes Chil. 11.745. Alcidamas’ Museum, which seems to have been called, with full title, Museum of nature (Aristot. Rhetoric 1406 a 24), is considered by Sauppe (Or. Att. II 155 b. 354 b) to have been some kind of rhetorical repository containing declamations on various subjects, and to have contained a praise of death. There is, in fact, a passage handed down in Stobaeus (Flοr. 120, 3 M. = V 1079, 22 H.) and repaired with certainty: ‘From Alcidamas’ Museum: Not to be born to begin with is to mortals the best; (the second best is,) if one has been born, to go through Ades’ door as soon as possible.’ However, there is no reason to ascribe this verse to the praise of death, for these words are still present in the Contest of Homer and Hesiod (p. 37.7 Wi.) and it is quite sure that the Contest was excerpted in Alcidamas’ Museum. Many have weighed in on the issue, in particular Fr. Nietzsche (Werke XVII, Philologica I 215 f. = RhM XXV 528 f., XXVIII 211 f.) and Ioh. Vahlen (Ges. philol. Schriften I 126 f.). If I am not wrong, this work was not aimed at training orators but at showing off the author’s doctrine (see for instance Aristot. Rhetoric 1398 b 9) and contained various subject matter that was worth knowing about; truly a repository, but, as the title suggests, one containing any and all kinds of things, not just rhetorical precepts. You may aptly compare Hippias’ Collection. On the new fragments on papyri see Solmsen, Hermae 67, 141 f.

14. Aristotle, Rhetoric 2.23.11 1398b10: Similarly, in order to prove that talented people are honored everywhere, Alcidamas said: “The Parians honored Archilochus, in spite of his evil-speaking; the Chians Homer, although he was not a citizen; the Mytilenaeans Sappho, although she was a woman; the Lacedaemonians, by no means a people fond of learning, elected Chilon one of their senators; the Italiotes honored Pythagoras, and the Lampsacenes buried Anaxagoras, although he was a foreigner, and still hold him in honor.”

Aristotle cites these words as an example of proof by induction.

15. On the Writers of Written Discourses, or On the Sophists:

(1) Since certain so-called Sophists are vainglorious and puffed up with pride because they have practised the writing of speeches and through books have revealed their own wisdom, although they have neglected learning and discipline and are as inexpert as laymen in the faculty of speaking, and since they claim to be masters of the whole of the art of rhetoric, although they possess only the smallest share of ability in it – since this is the case, I shall attempt to bring formal accusation against written discourses. (2) This I shall do, not because I think they possess an ability which I myself do not have, but because I pride myself more on other matters; I believe that writing should be practised as a subordinate pursuit. I am, therefore, of the opinion that those who devote their lives to writing are woefully deficient in rhetoric and philosophy; these men, with far more justice, may be called poets rather than Sophists.

(3) In the first place, one may condemn the written word because it may be readily assailed, and because it may be easily and readily practised by any one of ordinary ability. To speak extemporaneously, and appropriately to the occasion, to be quick with arguments, and not to be at a loss for a word, to meet the situation successfully, and to fulfil the eager anticipation of the audience and to say what is fitting to be said, such ability is rare, and is the result of no ordinary training. (4) On the contrary, to write after long premeditation, and to revise at leisure, comparing the writings of previous Sophists, and from many sources to assemble thoughts on the same subject, and to imitate felicities cleverly spoken, to revise privately some matters on the advice of laymen and to alter and expunge other parts as a result of repeated and careful excogitation, truly, this is an easy matter even for the untutored. (5) Whatever things are good and fair are forever rare and difficult to acquire, the fruits of painful endeavours; but the attainment of the cheap and trivial is easy. Thus it is that, since writing is easier than speaking, we should rightly consider the ability to compose a meaner accomplishment.

(6) Further, every sensible person will admit that the clever speaker, by changing somewhat his natural point of view, will be able to write well, but no one would believe that it follows that this same power will make the clever writer a clever speaker; for it is reasonable to suppose that, when those who can accomplish difficult tasks devote their attention to the easy, they will readily perform them. On the other hand, the pursuit of the difficult is an arduous and repellent undertaking for those who have been subjected to a gentle training. This may be seen from the following examples.

(7) He who can lift a heavy burden has no difficulty in raising a light one, but the man of feeble powers cannot carry a heavy load. Again, the speedy runner easily distances his slower competitor, while the sluggish runner cannot keep pace with his speedier antagonist. Furthermore, the javelin-thrower or the archer who can accurately hit the distant target easily strikes the one near at hand, while the athlete of feeble powers falls short of the remote target. (8) The analogy holds true in speeches, namely, that the master of extempore speaking, if given time and leisure for the written word, will excel at it, but it is evident that the practised writer when he turns to extemporaneous speaking will suffer mental embarrassment, distraction, and confusion.

(9) I think, too, that in human life the ability to speak is always a most useful accomplishment, but the writing of speeches is seldom opportune. Who does not know that the ability to speak on the spur of the moment is necessary in deliberations, in the courtroom, and in private conversation? It often happens that crises occur unexpectedly, when those who can say nothing seem contemptible, while the speakers are seen to be honored by the listeners as possessors of god-like minds. (10) Whenever the need arises to admonish the erring, to console the unfortunate, to mollify the exasperated, or to refute sudden accusations, then it is that the ability to speak can be man’s helpful ally. Written composition, however, demands leisure and consequently gives aid too late to save the day. Immediate help is demanded in trials, but the written word is perfected at leisure and slowly. What sensible man, therefore, is envious of this ability to compose speeches-an ability which fails so completely at the critical moment? (11) Would it not be ludicrous if, when the herald announces, “Who of the citizens wishes to speak?,” or, when the water-clock in the courtroom is already flowing, the orator should proceed to his writing tablets to compose and memorize his speech? Truly, if we were tyrants of cities, we should have the power to convene the courts and give counsel related to public affairs so as to call the citizens to the hearing after we had had time to write our speeches. But, since others have this power, is it not silly for us to practise anything other than extemporaneous speech? (12) The truth is that speeches which have been laboriously worked out with elaborate diction (compositions more akin to poetry than prose) are deficient in spontaneity and truth, and, since they give the impression of a mechanical artificiality and labored insincerity, they inspire an audience with distrust and ill-will. (13) And the greatest proof is this, that those who write for the lawcourts seek to avoid this pedantic precision, and imitate the style of extempore speakers; and they make the most favorable impression when their speeches least resemble written discourses. Now, since speech-writers seem most convincing when they imitate extemporaneous speakers, should we not especially esteem that kind of training by which we will readily speak this kind of speeches?

(14) I think that for this reason also we must hold written speeches in disfavour, that they involve their composers in inconsistency; for it is inherently impossible to employ written speeches on all occasions. And so, when a speaker in part speaks extemporaneously, and in part uses a set form, he inevitably involves himself in culpable inconsistency, and his speech appears partly histrionic and rhapsodic, and partly mean and trivial in comparison with the artistic finish of the others.

(15) It is strange that the man who lays claim to culture, and professes to teach others, if he possess a writing-tablet or manuscript, is then able to reveal his wisdom, but lacking these is no better than the untutored; strange, too, that, if time is given to him, he is able to produce a discourse, but, when a proposal is submitted for immediate discussion, he has less voice than the layman, and, although he professes skill in eloquence, he appears to have no ability whatsoever in speaking. So true it is that devotion to writing leads to utter inability in speaking. (16) When one becomes accustomed to slow and meticulous composition, rhythmically connecting phrases with extreme care, perfecting style with slow excogitation, it inevitably follows that, when he attempts extemporaneous speech to which he is unaccustomed, he is mentally embarrassed and confused; in every respect he makes an unfavorable impression, and differs not a whit from the voiceless, and through lack of ready presence of mind is quite unable to handle his material fluently and winningly. (17) Similarly, just as those who are freed after long confinement in bonds are unable to walk normally, but still must proceed in the same fashion and manner as when previously inhibited, so, the practice of writing, by making sluggish the mental processes, and by giving the opposite sort of training in speaking, produces an unready and fettered speaker, deficient in all extemporaneous fluency.

(18) To learn written speeches is, in my opinion, difficult, and the memorizing likewise is laborious, and to forget the set speech in the trial of a case is disgraceful. Everyone would agree that it is harder to learn and commit to memory details than main heads, and similarly many points than few. In extemporaneous speech the mind must be concerned only with reference to the main topics, which are elaborated as the speaker proceeds. But, where the speech is previously written, there is need to learn and carefully to commit to memory, not merely the main topics, but words and syllables. (19) Now the main topics in a speech are only a few, and they are important, but words and phrases are numerous and unimportant, and differ little one from another. Then, too, each topic is brought forward once only, but words, often the same ones, are used again and again. Thus it is that to memorize topics is easy, but to learn by heart an entire speech, word by word, is difficult and onerous. (20) Furthermore, in extemporaneous speaking forgetting involves no disgrace, since the flow of speech runs smoothly on, as the fixed and precise order of the words is not essential; if the speaker forgets a topic he can easily pass it by, and proceed to the next in order, and so avoid embarrassment; later on, if the omitted topic is recalled, it can then be easily elucidated.

(21) But it is different with the speakers of prepared discourse, since, if the slightest detail is omitted or spoken out of place, anxiety, confusion, and a search for the lost word inevitably follow, and there ensues loss of time-sometimes, indeed, abrupt silence and infelicitous, ludicrous, and irremediable embarrassment.

(22) I believe, too, that extemporaneous speakers exercise greater sway over their hearers than those who deliver set speeches; for the latter, who have laboriously composed their discourses long before the occasion, often miss their opportunity. It happens that they either weary their listeners by speaking at too great length, or stop speaking while their audience is pleased to hear more.

(23) Indeed, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, for human foresight accurately to estimate the disposition of an audience as to the length of a speech. But the extemporaneous speaker has the advantage of being able to adapt his discourse to his audience; he can abbreviate or extend at will.

(24) Aside from these considerations, extemporaneous speakers and those who deliver set speeches cannot, in the same way, handle arguments that arise in the course of lawsuits. The former, if they get a point from their opponents, or themselves think of one while intently considering the situation, may easily introduce it; since extemporaneous language is used exclusively, elaboration does not involve them in inconsistency or confusion. (25) It is different for those who contend with prepared discourses in suits, for, if any argument not previously thought of occurs to them, it is a difficult matter to fit it in and make appropriate use of it; for the finished nature of their precise diction does not permit improvised interpolations, so that either the new arguments which luck gives them cannot be used at all, or, if they are used, the elaborate edifice of their speech falls to pieces and crashes to the ground. And, since part of the speech is delivered after careful preparation, and part is spoken at random, a confused and discordant style results. (26) What sensible person, then, would approve of a practice which militates against the use of the help which fortune gives, and is at times a meaner ally to contestants than luck itself? Other arts are wont to be helpful coadjutors to man; this one stands in the way of advantages that come of themselves.

(27) Written discourses, in my opinion, certainly should not be called real speeches, but they are like wraiths, semblances, and imitations. It would be reasonable for us to think of them as we do of bronze statues, and images of stone, and pictures of living beings; just as these last mentioned are only semblances of corporeal bodies, giving pleasure to the eye alone, and are of no practical value, (28) so, in the same way, the written speech, which employs one hard and fast form and arrangement, if privately read, makes an impression, but in crises, because of its rigidity, confers no aid on its possessor. And, just as the living human body has far less pleasantness than a beautiful statue, yet manifold practical service, so also the speech which comes directly from the mind, on the spur of the moment, is full of life and action, and keeps pace with events like a real person, while the written dis- course, a mere semblance of the living speech, is devoid of all efficacy.

(29) It may perhaps be alleged that it is illogical for one to condemn written discourse who himself employs it in the present written essay, and to disparage a pursuit through the employment of which he is preparing to win fame among the Greeks. Furthermore, it may be thought inconsistent for a philosopher to commend extemporaneous discourses, thereby deeming chance to be more worthwhile than forethought, and careless speakers to possess greater wisdom than careful writers. (30) In reply let me first say that I have expressed my views as I have, not because I altogether condemn the ability to write, but because I believe it less worthwhile than extemporaneous speaking, and I believe that one should bestow the greatest efforts upon the practice of speaking. Secondly, I am myself employing the written word, not because I especially pride myself in it, but so that I may reveal to those who plume themselves on their ability to write that with a trivial expenditure of effort I myself shall be able to eclipse and destroy their discourses. (31) Furthermore, I am now attempting the written word because of the display orations which are delivered to the crowd. My customary listeners I bid test me by that usual standard whenever I am able to speak opportunely and felicitously on any subject proposed. To those, however, who only now at last have come to hear me (never once having heard me previously) I am attempting to give an example of my written discourse. The latter are accustomed to hear the set speeches of the rhetors and, if I spoke extemporaneously, they might fail to estimate my ability at its real worth. (32) Apart from these considerations, it is possible, from written discourses, to see the clearest evidence of the progress which it is fitting that there should be in thinking; for it is not easily discernible whether my extemporaneous speeches are now superior to those I formerly delivered, as it is difficult to remember speeches spoken in times gone by. Looking into the written word, however, just as in a mirror, one can easily behold the advance of intelligence. Finally, since I am desirous of leaving behind a memorial of myself, and am humoring my ambition, I am committing this speech to writing.

(33) It must be distinctly understood that I am not encouraging careless speaking when I say that I esteem the ability to speak extemporaneously more highly than the written word. My contention is that the orator must prepare himself in advance in ideas and their arrangement, but that the verbal elaboration should be extemporaneous; this extemporaneous verbal exposition, in its timeliness, is of greater value to the orator than the exact technical finish of the written discourse. (34) In conclusion, then, whoever wishes to become a masterly speaker rather than a mediocre writer, whoever is desirous of being a master of occasions rather than of accurate diction, whoever is zealous to gain the goodwill of his listener as an ally rather than his ill-will as an enemy; once more, whoever desires his mind to be untrammeled, his memory ready, and his lapses of memory unobserved, whoever has his heart set upon the acquisition of a power of speaking which will be of adequate service in the needs of daily life, this man, I say, with good reason, would make the practice, at every time and on every occasion, of extemporaneous speaking his constant concern. On the other hand, should he study written composition for amusement and as a pastime, he would be deemed by the wise to be the possessor of wisdom.

16. Odysseus

(1) Often in the past, men of Greece, I have pondered and been astonished at the intentions of those who address us, wondering what on earth their purpose is in readily coming forward here and giving advice to you when they offer no help to the common cause, and very many mutual insults are produced, and they waste untimely words at random on whatever subject they happen to choose. (2) They speak, each of them wanting to get some advantage in selfish glory, and some even charge a fee for consulting with those from whom they think they can get a greater return. And, if anyone in the camp sows discord or harms the common good by arranging things for himself, we see that none of these people cares. But if one of us in taking a prisoner from the enemy has obtained a prize which is bigger than that of someone else, this becomes the reason for us having great arguments amongst ourselves, thanks to their efforts. (3) But I think that the good, just man does not concern himself with personal enmity, nor does he set more store by favouritism, gratifying ambition for the sake of one man, nor by money, rather than by what is going to be to the advantage of the majority <...>. But, leaving aside old troubles and arguments, I will try to put this man Palamedes on trial before you fairly. (4) The fact of the matter, as you may be aware, is treachery; for this, punishments are prescribed which are ten times greater than for other crimes, and yet, as you all know, there has never been any hostility or quarrel between me and him on any matter up to now, and moreover this has been so both in the palaistra and in the drinking party where very many quarrels and insults begin. The man I am going to accuse is both educated and clever, so it is right that you must give me your attention and not be careless over what is now being said.

(5) For you yourselves are pretty well aware of what danger we were in when some of us had fled to the ships and others to the trenches and the enemy was falling on the tents and there was complete helplessness over what the outcome of the coming trouble could possibly be. <....> there you have the situation. Diomedes and I happened to be near the gates, stationed together in the ranks in the same place, and Palamedes was close by with Polypoites. (6) And when we came to close quarters, an archer running out from the enemy took aim at this man and missing him hit the ground near me. Palamedes let fly his spear towards him and he, picking it up, went off to the camp. I picked up the arrow and gave it to Eurybates to give to Teukros so that he could use it. And, when there was a short pause in the battle, he showed me the arrow which had some writing under the feathers. (7) I, astounded at this business, summoned Stheneios and Diomedes and showed them what was on it. The writing said this: “Alexandros to Palamedes. All that you agreed with Telephos will be yours and her father gives Cassandra to you as wife just as you ordered in your message. But let your side of things be done speedily.” That is what had been written on it; let those who received the arrow come forward and bear witness on my behalf.


(8) And I would have shown you the very arrow to show that this was true; but, as it was, in the confusion Teukros shot it back without realizing it. And I must give an account of how the remaining matters stand too, and not judge a fellow-soldier thus lightly on a capital charge, putting forward a most shameful accusation and that against someone who has previously enjoyed a good reputation among you. (9) For, before we made our invasion here, we were in the same place for a long time and none of us saw him with a sign on his shield. But, when we sailed here, he had a trident embossed on it. For what purpose ? So that he might be identifiable because of the design, and so that his opposite number might fire an arrow towards him according to the agreement and he might throw his javelin at him. (10) We must also make a probable inference from these things about the hurling of the javelin too. For I say that on that also there was writing to say at what hour and when he would commit his treachery. For it was thus that what was sent by both parties was authenticated, this man sending to them and they to him in such a manner and not by messengers. (11) Yet let us also look at this. We had a decree that whoever captured any weapon from the enemy should take it to the generals since we had a shortage; and, whereas the others abided by the terms of the decree, this man, having picked up five weapons, clearly brought not even one of them to you, so that, for this reason too, it seems to me that he should justly be punished with death. (12) Do you consider, men of Greece, that these things < .... > the intent and thinking of this expert who happens to be using his ingenuity in those matters in which he should least of all have acted? And I shall demonstrate that his father and he himself are responsible for our present circumstances and for the whole expedition. It is necessary that what has happened should be explained at greater length.

He has a father who is a poor man, called Nauplios, a fisherman by trade. (13) This man has eliminated large numbers of Greeks, stolen many goods from their ships, done very great violence to the sailors and left no kind of crime untouched. And, as my speech goes on, you will realize this as you hear the truth of what happened. (14) When Aleos, king of Tegea, came to Delphi, he received a prophecy from the god that, if his daughter had offspring, it was inevitable that his sons would die at the hands of this person. On hearing this Aleos quickly came home and appointed his daughter as a priestess of Athena, telling her that, if she ever had intercourse with a man, she would be put to death. And, as chance would have it, Herakles arrived on his expedition against Augeas going towards Elis, and (15) Aleos gave him hospitality in the temple of Athena. Herakles, seeing the young girl, had intercourse with her in the temple, drink being to blame. When her father Aleos realized that she was pregnant, he sent for Palamedes’ father since he had discovered that he was a boatman and a good one too. When Nauplios arrived, he gave him the girl to drown in the sea. (16) But he, on receiving her, took her away and, when they were on Mount Parthenion, she gave birth to Telephos. Neglecting the orders which Aleos had given him, he brought the girl and the baby to Mysia and sold them to King Teuthras. And, since Teuthras was childless, he made Auge his wife and, having given the child the name Telephos, he made him his son and gave him to Priam to educate, sending him to Troy. (17) As time went on, Alexandros had a desire to visit Greece, both wanting to see the temple at Delphi (at the same time, of course, having word of Helen’s beauty too) and having heard of the birth of Telephos – where he had come from and how and by whom he was sold. So it was on such pretexts that Alexandros made his excursion to Greece. And at this critical moment the children of Molos arrived from Crete asking Menelaus to reconcile them and divide their property for them because their father had died and they themselves were quarrelling about their father’s goods. (18) Well, so what happens? Menelaus decided to sail and, having ordered his wife and her brothers to look after the guests, seeing that they should not want for anything until he himself should return from Crete, he departed. But Alexandros, having deceived Menelaus’ wife and having taken as much as he could from her home, went off and sailed away, respecting neither Zeus, the god of guests, nor any of the gods, having committed lawless and barbarous deeds incredible to everyone, including those in subsequent ages. (19) And, when he was leaving to return to Asia with the goods and the lady, did you on any occasion get hold of anyone or shout to give an alarm to the neighbours or assemble help ? You could have nothing to say, but you stood by and watched Greeks being insulted by barbarians. (20) When the Greeks and Menelaus discovered the theft, Menelaus got together an expedition and sent many of us in different directions to the cities to ask for troops. Indeed he sent this man to Oinopion in Chios and to Kinyras in Cyprus. But he <....> and persuaded Kinyras not to join us on the expedition and left there on his ship taking many presents from Kinyras. (21) And he gave a bronze breastplate to Agamemnon which was worth nothing and he himself held on to the other goods. And he reported that Kinyras would send one hundred ships – you yourselves see that not one has come from him. So, on this account too, it seems to me that death would be a just punishment for him, if indeed it is just to punish this expert who has been shown to be devising the most disgraceful things against his friends.

(22) And it is worth carefully considering in what matters he tried to be clever, deceiving the young and inveigling them into believing his assertions that he had invented formations for war, letters, numbers, measures, weights, shame when he is straightway found out to be openly lying in your company. (23) For Nestor here, the oldest of us all, himself fought alongside the Lapiths against the Centaurs at the marriage of Peirithoos in a phalanx­ formation; and Menestheus is said to have been the first to dispose formations and companies and to have formed phalanxes when Eumolpos, son of Poseidon, made an expedition against the Athenians, taking Thracians with him. So it is not Palamedes’ invention but that of others before him. (24) Orpheus was the first to introduce writing, having learnt it from the Muses, as the inscription on his tomb shows:

The Thracians buried Orpheus here, the minister of the Muses/Whom lofty-ruling Zeus slew with the smoking thunderbolt/The dear son of Oiagros, who taught Herakles/Having discovered writing and wisdom for mankind.

(25) And Linos, son of Kalliope, whom Herakles killed, discovered music, and furthermore Mousaios, son of the Eumolpidai, an Athenian, discovered numbers as his poems too show:

A straight hexameter of four and twenty measures/So that a hundred men live as a tenth generation.

(26) Did not the Phoenicians, being the most logical and clever of the barbarians, discover coinage? They divided a beaten ingot into equal parts and first struck the die <....> greater or lesser value according to weight. And following these this man comes and makes himself clever after the same pattern. So all these things of which he claims to be the inventor are older than him. (27) He discovered measures and weights for traders and men of the market-place to be sources of deceit and perjury, and draughts for the lazy ones, which produce quarrels and insults. And again he invented dice, a very great evil giving pain and penalty to the losers and mockery and reproach to the winners. For the proceeds of dice bring no benefits and most of them are spent straightaway. (28) Fire-beacons again he devised, but he intended to make them for our detriment and as something useful to the enemy. It is the virtue of man to give heed to leaders and to do what is commanded and to please  the whole host and to present oneself everywhere as a good man, doing well by friends and ill by enemies. This man knows about the opposite of all this, helping enemies and doing ill to friends.

(29) I believe that you, looking at this together with me, should consider his case and not let him go when you have him in your hands. And if, having felt sorry for him, you let him off because of the cleverness of his arguments, an astonishing lack of discipline in the army will ensue. For each of the troops, knowing that Palamedes too has paid no penalty when he has openly done wrong in so many ways, will try to do wrong themselves. So, if you are sensible, you will vote for what is best for you, and, for the sake of others, make an example of this man by punishing him.

17. Alcidamas’ “Messenian” (see Aristotle, Rhetoric 1373 b18 and 1397 a11 with the Scholia) is thought to have been not a delivered speech but a book, like Isocrates’ Archidamus.