"Demosthenes sets about proving this by point out that in the course of his speech Aiskhines quoted from Euripides' Phoinix, which he had never performed onstage himself. Yet Aiskhines never quoted from Sophocles' Antigone which he had acted many times. So, 'Oh Aiskhines, are you not a sophist...are you not a logographer...since you hunted up [zētēsas] a verse which you never spoke onstage to use to trick the citizens' (19.250)
The argument that underlies Demosthenes' comment says a good deal about Athenian attitudes toward elite useof literary culture. According to Demosthenes, Aiskhines is a sophist because he "hunts up" quotes for a play with which he had no reason to be familiar in order to strengthen his argument. Clearly the average Athenain would not be in a position to search out quotes when he wanted them; if the ordintary citizen ever wanted toquote poetry, he would rely on verses that he had memorized, and his opportunity to memorize tragic poetry was limited" (Ober & Strauss 251).Although this seems obvious, it had never occurred to me that access to tragic texts might have been limited for much of the Athenian populace. In Book III of the Republic, Plato discusses a number of different passages of poetry. All of them come from the Iliad or the Odyssey and not a single one from tragedy, although the critique here extends explicitly to tragic drama. The choice of those specific passages from the Iliad and the Odyssey is an interesting topic, and one I explore thoroughly in my thesis. However, it had always baffled me that not a single line of the tragic poets appeared in the text. The quotation above illuminates this question.
It also makes the character of Socrates more believable. Although it seems likely that Plato would have had the ability to seek out (ζητεῖν) quotation from tragedy, Socrates  was engaging in conversation and would have to rely on his memory in order to quote. Furthermore, Plato's Socrates is not particularly wealthy (although he has countless wealthy friends and associates) and spends most of his time walking or in conversation, not reading, writing, or researching. As such, he might not even have access to texts of plays and would have to rely on quotations from common knowledge. Thus, the omission of tragic quotation makes the character more believable, even as it renders the critique of tragedy a bit lopsided.
- Ober, Josiah and Barry Strauss. "Drama, Political Rhetoric, and the Discourse of Athenian Democracy," Nothing to do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in Its Social Context ed. John J. Winkler & Froma I. Zeitlin. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. pp. 237-270.
- Whenever I say Socrates, I mean Plato's character and not the historical Socrates.