Ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδήπερ ἀκούειν βούλει τοῦ λόγου, δείξω σοι καὶ ἀναγνώσομαι. δεῖ δέ σε τὴν προαίρεσιν αὐτοῦ πρῶτον εἰδέναι. βούλεται μὲν γὰρ ὁ τὸν λόγον ποιῶν ἐπαινεῖν Ἐπικράτην, ὃν ᾤετο πολλῶν καὶ καλῶν κἀγαθῶν ὄντων νέων ἐν τῇ πόλει χαριέστατον εἶναι, καὶ πλέον τῇ συνέσει προέχειν ἢ τῷ κάλλει τῶν ἡλικιωτῶν. ὁρῶν δ᾿ ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν τὰ πλεῖστα τῶν ἐρωτικῶν συνταγμάτων αἰσχύνην μᾶλλον ἢ τιμὴν περιάπτοντα τούτοις περὶ ὧν ἐστι γεγραμμένα, τοῦθ᾿ ὅπως μὴ πείσεται πεφύλακται, καὶ ὅπερ καὶ πεπεῖσθαί φησι τῇ γνώμῃ, τοῦτο καὶ γέγραφεν, ὡς δίκαιος ἐραστὴς οὔτ᾿ ἂν ποιήσειεν 2οὐδὲν αἰσχρὸν οὔτ᾿ ἀξιώσειεν. ὃ μὲν οὖν ὥσπερ εἰ μάλιστ᾿ ἂν ἐρωτικὸν λάβοις τοῦ λόγου, περὶ τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν· ὁ δ᾿ ἄλλος λόγος τὰ μὲν αὐτὸν ἐπαινεῖ τὸν νεανίσκον, τὰ δ᾿ αὐτῷ συμβουλεύει περὶ παιδείας τε καὶ προαιρέσεως τοῦ βίου. πάντα δὲ ταῦτα γέγραπται τὸν τρόπον ὅν τις ἂν εἰς βιβλίον καταθεῖτο. τοῖς μὲν γὰρ λεκτικοῖς τῶν λόγων
The Erotic Essay
Well, since you wish to hear the essay, I shall bring it out and read it aloud; but first you must understand its purpose. The writer’s desire is to praise Epicrates,a whom he thought to be the most charming young man in the city, although there were many fine gentlemen among those of his own age, and to surpass them even more in understanding than in beauty of person. Observing also that, generally speaking, most erotic compositions attach shame rather than honour to those about whom they are written, he has taken precautions that this should not happen in his case, and has written only what he says he is convinced of by his judgement, believing that an honest lover would neither do anything shameful nor request it.b Now,2 that part of my essay which you may find to be the most erotic, so to speak, is on this topic, but the rest of it in part praises the lad himself and in part counsels him about his education and his design for livingc The whole essay is written as one would put it into a book, because discourses intended to be delivered
- aIt was at the house of a certain Epicrates that Lysias was supposed to have delivered his love-speech: Plato, Phaedrus 227 b.
- bThis topic is treated by Cicero, De Amic. xii.
- cThe author plainly hints at a threefold partition of his theme: the erotic part, §§ 3–9, eulogy, §§ 10–32, and the protrepticus, §§ 36–55. Blass sees a twofold division only, eulogy and protrepticus. In either case the remaining sections serve as introduction, transition and epilogue. Exhortations to the study of philosophy were called “protreptics.”