Literary Comparison of Lysias and Socrates.docx - Tate Austin 1 Tate Austin CLAS 3312 Jasper Neel Comparison of the Forensic Speeches of Lysias and

Literary Comparison of Lysias and Socrates.docx - Tate...

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Tate Austin Tate Austin CLAS 3312 Jasper Neel October 11, 2019 Comparison of the Forensic Speeches of Lysias and Socrates Both Socrates’ Defense (17a-35d) and On the Murder of Eratosthenes are seminal texts in the field of forensic rhetoric. Comparing which of the two is a superior legal defense speech may seem very easy superficially, as Euphiletus was acquitted and Socrates was convicted. However, a deeper look into the two texts generates the questions of what the primary purpose of a defense speech was. The main purpose of a defense speech might first be to convince the jury or judges of the speaker’s argument, but the purpose could also be to defend one’s actions as just or ethical. In addition to these two conceptions, a defense speech could also have the primary purpose of pursuing the truth in the criminal case. By utilizing these three questions to analyze the texts, Socrates’ Defense is the more effective speech due to his sincerity and authentic ethicality compared to Lysias’ rhetorical strategies based on illogicality and deception. If the main goal of a defendant’s speech in a trial is to convince the jury that they are innocent of their alleged crime, then Against the Murder of Eratosthenes seems better because Euphiletus is acquitted. However, Euphiletus only had fifty-one jurors in his trial, meaning he only had to convince twenty-six jurors to vote his way. In stark contrast, Socrates had 501 jurors at his trial, meaning he had to convince 226 of them. Lysias’ use of rhetoric in On the Murder of Eratosthenes is best described as a plain, simple or clear. However, this obfuscates the craftsmanship of his writing, as Lysias had to write the speech as if Euphiletus would be speaking it, not as if he himself was. On the Murder of 1
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Tate Austin Eratosthenes cleverly utilizes an indirect narrative that is convincing to jury. With the insertion of seemingly off-topic facts that become important factors in disproving the prosecution’s argument later. First this is accomplished by having Euphiletus slyly compare himself to jurors and later by his description of his house (4-5, 9-10). The text also succeeds in humanizing Euphiletus and makes the audience feel bad for him. He implores the jurors to put themselves in his shoes and imagine that they had seen their own wives corrupted by a seducer and had then witnessed the transgression occur in front of them (1). Lysias again uses this tactic to demonstrate that he had been a good and trusting husband and only Erastothenes had corrupted his wife against him (6-8). Another tactic used by Lysias to convince the jury is his use of victomology to turn the conventional style of a defense speech on its head. He reforms Euphiletus into committing Eratosthenes’ murder not as the aggressor, but instead Erastothenes’ actions resulted in Euphiletus being forced to kill him (35-36). The jurors in Athenian courts did not yet have an understanding of logical fallacies While Socrates was convicted as guilty of blasphemy and corrupting the young, his speech does succeed in convicting a large number of the jury to vote for his acquittal.
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