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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Lycurgus (Orator)

LYCURGUS ( c. 396 -325 B.C.), one of the "ten" Attic orators. Through his father, Lycophron, he belonged to the old Attic priestly family of the Eteobutadae. He is said to have been a pupil both of Plato and of Isocrates. His early career is unknown, but after the real character of the struggle with Philip of Macedon became manifest he was recognized, with Demosthenes and Hypereides, as one of the chiefs of the national party. He left the care of external relations to his colleagues, and devoted himself to internal organization and finance. He managed the finances of Athens for twelve successive years (338-326), at first directly as treasurer of the revenues ( 6 Eiri T &ou0 cTEc ) for four years, and in two succeeding terms, when the actual office was forbidden him by law, through his son and a nominal official chosen from his party. Part of one of the deeds in which he rendered account of his term of office is still preserved in an inscription. During this time he raised the public income from 600 to 1200 talents yearly. He increased the navy, repaired the dockyards, and completed an arsenal, the 6KEV001p o designed by the architect Philo. He was also appointed to various other offices connected with the preservation and improvement of the city. He was very strict in his superintendence of the public morals, and passed a sumptuary law to restrain extravagance. He did much to beautify the city; he reconstructed the great Dionysiac theatre and the gymnasium in the Lyceum, and erected the Panathenaic stadium on the Ilissus. He is mentioned as the proposer of five laws, of which the most famous was that statues of the three great tragedians should be erected in the theatre, and that their works should be carefully edited and preserved among the state archives. For his services he was honoured with crowns, statues and a seat in the town hall; and after his death his friend Stratocles drew up a decree (still extant in pseudo-Plutarch, Vit. dec. or at. p. 851; see also E. L. Hicks, Greek Historical Inscriptions, 1st ed., No. 145), ordering the erection of a statue of bronze to Lycurgus, and granting the honours of the Prytaneum to his eldest son. He was one of the orators whose surrender was demanded by Alexander the Great, but the people refused to give him up. He died while president of the theatre of Dionysus, and was buried on the road leading to the Academy at the expense of the state.

Lycurgus was a man of action; his orations, of which fifteen were published, are criticized by the ancients for their awkward arrangement, harshness of style, and the tendency to digressions about mythology and history, although their noble spirit and lofty morality are highly praised. The one extant example, Against Leocrates, fully bears out this criticism. After the battle of Chaeroneia (338), in spite of the decree which forbade emigration under pain of death, Leocrates had fled from Athens. On his return (probably about 332) he was impeached by Lycurgus, but acquitted, the votes of the judges being equally divided.

The speech has been frequently edited. Editio princeps (Aldine, 1513); F. G. Kiessling (1847) with M. H. E. Meier's commentary on pseudo-Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus and the fragments of his speeches; C. Rehdantz (1876); T. Thalheim (1880); C. Scheibe (1885); F. Blass (ed. major, 1889), with bibliography of editions and articles (ed. minor, 1902); E. Sofer (Leipzig, 1905), with notes and introd. There is an index to Andocides, Lycurgus and Dinarchus by L. L. Forman (Oxford, 1897). The exhaustive treatise of F. Diirrbach, L'Orateur Lycurgue (1890), contains a list of the most important review articles on the financial and naval administration of Lycurgus and on his public works; see also C. Droege, De Lycurgo publicarum pecuniarum administratore (Minden, 1880). Several fragments of his various laws have been preserved in inscriptions ( Corpus inscriptionum atticarum, ii. 162, 163, 173, 176, 180). On the history of the period see authorities under Demosthenes.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Lycurgus (Orator)'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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