Opera Omnia, Graece et Latine

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by Lysias

Opera Omnia, Graece et Latine

Title page from Opera Omnia, Graece et Latine, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Lysias
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Paris: Franc. Ambr. Didot L'ainé
Date 1783
Edition 7th impression; 5th ed. rev.
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. {{{desc}}}
Location [[Shelf {{{shelf}}}]]
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Lysias was an Attic (Greek) orator born between 458 and 473BCE and who died c.380BCE.[1] He was born to Cephalus, a wealthy Syracusan who had known Pericles. Pericles had convinced him to move to Athens as a metic (resident alien), so Lysias and his family grew up Greek with a very successful shield-making family business. The home of Lysias’ eldest brother Polemarchus features as the setting for Plato’s Republic, in which Polemarchus and Cephalus speak in the opening discussion.[2]

Lysias and Polemarchus went to the panhellenic colony of Thurii in south Italy after their father’s death, where Lysias studied rhetoric.[3] They were expelled in 413BCE as Athenian sympathizers, and returned to Athens.[4] The brothers were arrested in 403 by the Thirty Tyrants who alleged disaffection, but according to Lysias in his 12th speech, really wanted to confiscate their substantial property.[5] The Thirty Tyrants killed Polemarchus, but Lysias escaped and then supported the democratic counter-revolutionaries however he could.[6] Upon his return to Athens in 403, it looked as if he may attain citizenship for this assistance,[7] but the decree granting such citizenship was annulled as unconstitutional.[8]

Unfortunately, Lysias was quite poor at this point, so he turned to professional speech-writing and became very successful. As a metic, he could not appear in court – therefore someone else had to deliver his speeches. However, he was able to deliver his first career speech Against Eratosthenes (speech 12) to a court of inquiry during the trial of the alleged murder of his brother Polemarchus.[9] Lysias composed over two-hundred poems, but unfortunately only thirty-five survive with only twenty-three complete. He was admired for the simplicity and precise, ordered nature of his language.[10]

This particular work is a first edition of “All the Works of Lysias, Greek and Latin” in two volumes. In the first volume, after a prologue and a comment on the work of critics, there is a table of contents including both the first and second volumes. There are analyses of many of the speeches right before the speech, starting with Against Eratosthenes. It, as well as all the following speeches have the original Greek on the left and translated Latin on the right of each opened spread of pages. Following his speech against his brother’s killer is Lysias’s Defense Against Simon, Wounds from Industry, For the Defense of Callia, and others.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Has marbled boards and full leather spine with 4 raised bands and gilt lettering. Includes the bookplate of "O.J." with the motto "Inter Folia Fructus." Front fly-leaf signed "Hoffiman" and "A. Michaelis, Bonn 1863."

William & Mary's online catalog


  1. "Ly'sias” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  2. Ibid.
  3. "Lysias" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  4. "Ly'sias”
  5. "Lysias"
  6. Ibid.
  7. "Ly'sias”
  8. "Lysias"
  9. "Ly'sias”
  10. Ibid.