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LYSANIAS—LYSIAS

nearest Phocian city. An able commander and an adroit diplomatist, Lysander was fired by the ambition to make Sparta supreme in Greece and himself in Sparta. To this end he shrank from no treachery or cruelty; yet, like Agesilaus, he was totally free from the characteristic Spartan vice of avarice, and died, as he had lived, a poor man.

See the biographies by Plutarch and Nepos; Xen. Hellenica, i. 5-iii. 5; Diod. Sic. xiii. 70 sqq., 104 sqq., xiv. 3, 10, 13, 81; Lysias xii. 60 sqq.; Justin v. 5-7; Polyaenus i. 45, vii. 19; Pausanias iii., ix. 32, 5-10, x. 9, 7-11; C. A. Gehlert, Vita Lysandri (Bautzen, 1874); W. Vischer, Alkibiades und Lysandros (Basel, 1845); O. H. J. Nitzsch, De Lysandro (Bonn, 1847); and the Greek histories in general.  (M. N. T.) 


LYSANIAS, tetrarch of Abilene (see Abila), according to Luke iii. 1, in the time of John the Baptist. The only Lysanias mentioned in profane history as exercising authority in this district was executed in 36 B.C. by M. Antonius (Mark Antony). This Lysanias was the son of Ptolemy Mennaeus, the ruler of an independent state, of which Abilene formed only a small portion. According to Josephus (Ant. xix. 5, 1) the emperor Claudius in A.D. 42 confirmed Agrippa I. in the possession of “Abila of Lysanias” already bestowed upon him by Caligula, elsewhere described as “Abila, which had formed the tetrarchy of Lysanias.” It is argued that this cannot refer to the Lysanias executed by M. Antonius, since his paternal inheritance, even allowing for some curtailment by Pompey, must have been of far greater extent. It is therefore assumed by some authorities that the Lysanias in Luke (A.D. 28–29) is a younger Lysanias, tetrarch of Abilene only, one of the districts into which the original kingdom was split up after the death of Lysanias I. This younger Lysanias may have been a son of the latter, and identical with, or the father of, the Claudian Lysanias. On the other hand, Josephus knows nothing of a younger Lysanias, and it is suggested by others that he really does refer to Lysanias I. The explanation given by M. Krenkel (Josephus und Lucas, Leipzig, 1894, p. 97) is that Josephus does not mean to imply that Abila was the only possession of Lysanias, and that he calls it the tetrarchy or kingdom of Lysanias because it was the last remnant of the domain of Lysanias which remained under direct Roman administration until the time of Agrippa. The expression was borrowed from Josephus by Luke, who wrongly imagined that Lysanias I. had ruled almost up to the time of the bestowal of his tetrarchy upon Agrippa, and therefore to the days of John the Baptist. Two inscriptions are adduced as evidence for the existence of a younger Lysanias—Böckh, C.I.G. 4521 and 4523. The former is inconclusive, and in the latter the reading Ανσ[ανιου] is entirely conjectural; the name might equally well be Lysimachus or Lysias.

See E. Schürer, Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (3rd ed., 1901), i. p. 712; and (especially on the inscriptional evidence) E. Renan, “Mémoire sur la dynastie des Lysanias d’Abilène” in Mémoires de l’institut impérial de France (xxvi., 1870); also P. W. Schmiedel in the Encyclopaedia Biblica, s.v.


LYSIAS, Attic orator, was born, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus and the author of the life ascribed to Plutarch, in 459 B.C. This date was evidently obtained by reckoning back from the foundation of Thurii (444 B.C.), since there was a tradition that Lysias had gone thither at the age of fifteen. Modern critics would place his birth later,—between 444 and 436 B.C.,—because, in Plato’s Republic, of which the scene is laid about 430 B.C., Cephalus, the father of Lysias, is among the dramatis personae, and the emigration of Lysias to Thurii was said to have followed his father’s death. The latter statement, however, rests only on the Plutarchic life; nor can Plato’s dialogue be safely urged as a minutely accurate authority. The higher date assigned by the ancient writers agrees better with the tradition that Lysias reached, or passed, the age of eighty.[1] Cephalus, his father, was a native of Syracuse, and on the invitation of Pericles had settled at Athens. The opening scene of Plato’s Republic is laid at the house of his eldest son, Polemarchus, in Peiraeus. The tone of the picture warrants the inference that the Sicilian family were well known to Plato, and that their houses must often have been hospitable to such gatherings.

At Thurii, the colony newly planted on the Tarentine Gulf (see Pericles), the boy may have seen Herodotus, now a man in middle life, and a friendship may have grown up between them. There, too, Lysias is said to have commenced his studies in rhetoric—doubtless under a master of the Sicilian school—possibly, as tradition said, under Tisias, the pupil of Corax, whose name is associated with the first attempt to formulate rhetoric as an art. In 413 B.C. the Athenian armament in Sicily was annihilated. The desire to link famous names is illustrated by the ancient ascription to Lysias of a rhetorical exercise purporting to be a speech in which the captive general Nicias appealed for mercy to the Sicilians. The terrible blow to Athens quickened the energies of an anti-Athenian faction at Thurii. Lysias and his elder brother Polemarchus, with three hundred other persons, were “accused of Atticizing.” They were driven from Thurii and settled at Athens (412 B.C.).

Lysias and Polemarchus were rich men, having inherited property from their father; and Lysias claims that, though merely resident aliens, they discharged public services with a liberality which shamed many of those who enjoyed the franchise (In Eratosth. 20). The fact that they owned house property shows that they were classed as ἰσοτελεῖς, i.e. foreigners who paid only the same tax as citizens, being exempt from the special tax (μετοίκιον) on resident aliens. Polemarchus occupied a house in Athens itself, Lysias another in the Peiraeus, near which was their shield manufactory, employing a hundred and twenty skilled slaves. In 404 the Thirty Tyrants were established at Athens under the protection of a Spartan garrison. One of their earliest measures was an attack upon the resident aliens, who were represented as disaffected to the new government. Lysias and Polemarchus were on a list of ten singled out to be the first victims. Polemarchus was arrested, and compelled to drink hemlock. Lysias had a narrow escape, with the help of a large bribe. He slipped by a back-door out of the house in which he was a prisoner, and took boat to Megara. It appears that he had rendered valuable services to the exiles during the reign of the tyrants, and in 403 Thrasybulus proposed that these services should be recognized by the bestowal of the citizenship. The Boulē, however, had not yet been reconstituted, and hence the measure could not be introduced to the ecclesia by the requisite “preliminary resolution” (προβούλευμα). On this ground it was successfully opposed.

During his later years Lysias—now probably a comparatively poor man owing to the rapacity of the tyrants and his own generosity to the Athenian exiles—appears as a hardworking member of a new profession—that of writing speeches to be delivered in the law-courts. The thirty-four extant are but a small fraction. From 403 to about 380 B.C. his industry must have been incessant. The notices of his personal life in these years are scanty. In 403 he came forward as the accuser of Eratosthenes, one of the Thirty Tyrants. This was his only direct contact with Athenian politics. The story that he wrote a defence for Socrates, which the latter declined to use, probably arose from a confusion. Several years after the death of Socrates the sophist Polycrates composed a declamation against him, to which Lysias replied. A more authentic tradition represents Lysias as having spoken his own Olympiacus at the Olympic festival of 388 B.C., to which Dionysius I. of Syracuse had sent a magnificent embassy. Tents embroidered with gold were pitched within the sacred enclosure; and the wealth of Dionysius was vividly shown by the number of chariots which he had entered. Lysias lifted up his voice to denounce Dionysius as, next to Artaxerxes, the worst enemy of Hellas, and to impress upon the assembled Greeks that one of their foremost duties was to deliver Sicily from a hateful oppression. The latest work of Lysias which we can date (a fragment of a speech For Pherenicus) belongs to 381 or 380 B.C. He probably died in or soon after 380 B.C.

Lysias was a man of kindly and genial nature, warm in friendship, loyal to country, with a keen perception of character.

  1. [W. Christ, Gesch. der griech. Litt., gives the date of birth as about 450.]