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Bust of Demosthenes (Louvre, Paris, France)
Born 384 BC
Died 322 BC
Island of Calauria, modern Poros

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek: Δημοσθένης, Dēmosthénēs) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. He delivered his first judicial speeches at the age of 20, in which he argued effectively to gain from his guardians what was left of his inheritance. For a time, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speech-writer (logographer) and a lawyer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits.

Demosthenes grew interested in politics during his time as a logographer, and in 354 BC he gave his first public political speeches. He went on to devote his most productive years to opposing Macedon's expansion. He idealized his city and strove throughout his life to restore Athens' supremacy and motivate his compatriots against Philip II of Macedon. He sought to preserve his city's freedom and to establish an alliance against Macedon, in an unsuccessful attempt to impede Philip's plans to expand his influence southwards by conquering all the Greek states. After Philip's death, Demosthenes played a leading part in his city's uprising against the new King of Macedon, Alexander the Great. However, his efforts failed and the revolt was met with a harsh Macedonian reaction. To prevent a similar revolt against his own rule, Alexander's successor in this region, Antipater, sent his men to track Demosthenes down. Demosthenes took his own life, in order to avoid being arrested by Archias, Antipater's confidant.

The Alexandrian Canon compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace recognized Demosthenes as one of the ten greatest Attic orators and logographers. According to Longinus, Demosthenes "perfected to the utmost the tone of lofty speech, living passions, copiousness, readiness, speed".[1] Cicero acclaimed him as "the perfect orator" who lacked nothing, and Quintilian extolled him as lex orandi ("the standard of oratory") and that inter omnes unus excellat ("he stands alone among all the orators").[2][3]


Early years (384–355 BC)

Family, education and personal life

Bust of Demosthenes (British Museum, London), Roman copy of a Greek original sculpted by Polyeuktos.

Demosthenes was born in 384 BC, during the last year of the 98th Olympiad or the first year of the 99th Olympiad.[4] His father—also named Demosthenes—who belonged to the local tribe, Pandionis, and lived in the deme of Paeania[5] in the Athenian countryside, was a wealthy sword-maker.[6] Aeschines, Demosthenes' greatest political rival, maintained that his mother Kleoboule was a Scythian by blood[7]—an allegation disputed by some modern scholars.[a] Demosthenes was orphaned at the age of seven. Although his father provided well for him, his legal guardians, Aphobus, Demophon and Therippides, mishandled his inheritance.[8]

As soon as Demosthenes came of age in 366 BC, he demanded they render an account of their management. According to Demosthenes, the account revealed the misappropriation of his property. Although his father left an estate of nearly fourteen talents,[9] (very roughly 11,700 troy ounces in silver or 150,000 current United States dollars)[10] Demosthenes asserted his guardians had left nothing "except the house, and fourteen slaves and thirty silver minae" (30 minae = ½ talent).[11] At the age of 20, Demosthenes sued his trustees in order to recover his patrimony and delivered five orations — three Against Aphobus during 363 BC and 362 BC and two Against Ontenor during 362 and 361 BC. The courts fixed Demosthenes' damages at ten talents.[12] When all the trials came to an end,[b] he only succeeded in retrieving a portion of his inheritance.[10]

Between his coming of age in 366 BC and the trials that took place in 364 BC, Demosthenes and his guardians negotiated acrimoniously but were unable to reach an agreement, for neither side was willing to make concessions.[10] At the same time, Demosthenes prepared himself for the trials and improved his oratory skill. As an adolescent, his curiosity had been noticed by the orator Callistratus, who was then at the height of his reputation, having just won a case of considerable importance.[13] According to Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philologist and philosopher, and Constantine Paparregopoulus, a major Greek historian, Demosthenes was a student of Isocrates;[14][15] according to Cicero, Quintillian and the Roman biographer Hermippus, he was a student of Plato.[13] Lucian, a Roman-Syrian rhetorician and satirist, lists the philosophers Aristotle, Theophrastus and Xenocrates among his teachers.[16] These claims are nowadays disputed.[c] According to Plutarch, Demosthenes employed Isaeus as his master in Rhetoric, even though Isocrates was then teaching this subject, either because he could not pay Isocrates the prescribed fee or because Demosthenes believed Isaeus' style better suited a vigorous and astute orator such as himself .[13] Curtius, a German archaeologist and historian, likened the relation between Isaeus and Demosthenes to "an intellectual armed alliance".[17]

It has also been said that Demosthenes paid Isaeus 10,000 drachmae (somewhat over 1.5 talents) on the condition that Isaeus should withdraw from a school of Rhetoric which he had opened, and should devote himself wholly to Demosthenes, his new pupil.[17] Another version credits Isaeus with having taught Demosthenes without charge.[18] According to Sir Richard C. Jebb, a British classical scholar, "the intercourse between Isaeus and Demosthenes as teacher and learner can scarcely have been either very intimate or of very long duration".[17] Konstantinos Tsatsos, a Greek professor and academician, believes that Isaeus helped Demosthenes edit his initial judicial orations against his guardians.[19] Demosthenes is also said to have admired the historian Thucydides. In the Illiterate Book-Fancier, Lucian mentions eight beautiful copies of Thucydides made by Demosthenes, all in Demosthenes' own handwriting.[20] These references hint at his respect for a historian he must have assiduously studied.[21]

According to Pseudo-Plutarch, Demosthenes was married once. The only information about his wife, whose name is unknown, is that she was the daughter of Heliodorus, a prominent citizen.[22] Demosthenes also had a daughter, "the only one who ever called him father", according to Aeschines' in a trenchant remark.[23] His daughter died young and unmarried a few days before Philip's death.[23]

Accusations concerning personal life

In his speeches, Aeschines often uses the pederastic relations of Demosthenes to attack him. The essence of these attacks was not that Demosthenes had relations with boys, but that he had been an inadequate pederast, one whose attentions did not benefit the boys, as would have been expected, but harmed them instead. In the case of Aristion, a youth from Plataea who lived for a long time in Demosthenes' house, Aeschines mocked him for lack of sexual restraint and possibly effeminate behavior: "Allegations about what [Aristion] was undergoing there, or doing what, vary, and it would be most unseemly for me to talk about it."[24] Another relationship which Aeschines brings up is that with Cnosion. His allegation, in this case, was also of a sexual nature. This time, however, he blamed Demosthenes for involving his wife by putting her in bed with the youth so as to get children by him.[25] Athenaeus, however, presents matters in a different light, claiming that his wife bedded the boy in a fit of jealousy.[26]

Aeschines often asserted that Demosthenes made money out of young rich men. He claimed that he deluded Aristarchus, the son of Moschus, with the pretence that he could make him a great orator.[27] Apparently, while still under Demosthenes' tutelage, Aristarchus killed and mutilated a certain Nicodemus of Aphidna, gouging out his eyes and tongue. Aeschines accused Demosthenes of complicity in the murder, pointing out that Nicodemus had once pressed a lawsuit accusing Demosthenes of desertion. He also accused Demosthenes of having been such a bad erastes to Aristarchus so as not even to deserve the name. His crime, according to Aeschines, was to have betrayed his eromenos by pillaging his estate, allegedly pretending to be in love with the youth so as to get his hands on the boy's inheritance. This he is said to have squandered, having taken three talents upon Aristarchus' fleeing into exile so as to avoid a trial. Thus, in payment for the trust that Aristarchus and his family put in him, "You entered a happy home [...] you ruined it."[28] Nevertheless, the story of Demosthenes' relations with Aristarchus is still regarded as more than doubtful, and no other pupil of Demosthenes is known by name.[27]

Career as logographer

"If you feel bound to act in the spirit of that dignity, whenever you come into court to give judgement on public causes, you must bethink yourselves that with his staff and his badge every one of you receives in trust the ancient pride of Athens."
Demosthenes (On the Crown, 210) - The orator's defense of the honor of the courts was in contrast to the improper actions of which Aeschines accused him.

To make his living, Demosthenes became a professional litigant and logographer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits. He was so successful that he soon acquired wealthy and powerful clients. The Athenian logographer could remain anonymous, allowing him to serve personal interests, even if it prejudiced the client. Aeschines accused Demosthenes of unethically disclosing his clients' arguments to their opponents.[29] He queried of Demosthenes: "And the born traitor—how shall we recognize him? Will he not imitate you, Demosthenes, in his treatment of those whom chance throws in his way and who have trusted him? Will he not take pay for writing speeches for them to deliver in the courts, and then reveal the contents of these speeches to their opponents?"[30]

As an example, Aeschines accused Demosthenes of writing a speech for Phormion, a wealthy banker, and then communicating it to Apollodorus, who was bringing a capital charge against Phormion.[30] Plutarch supported this accusation, stating that Demosthenes "was thought to have acted dishonorably".[31]

Early politics (354 BC–350 BC)

Speech training

Demosthenes Practising Oratory by Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouy (1842–1923). Demosthenes used to study in an underground room he constructed himself. He also used to talk with pebbles in his mouth and recited verses while running. To strengthen his voice, he spoke on the seashore over the roar of the waves.

Even before he turned 21-years-old in 363 BC, Demosthenes had already demonstrated an interest in politics.[10] In 363, 359, and 357 BC, he assumed the office of the trierarch, being responsible for the outfitting and maintenance of a trireme.[32] In 348 BC, he became a choregos, paying the expenses of a theatrical production.[33]

Although Demosthenes said he never pleaded a single private case,[34] it remains unclear when and if Demosthenes abandoned the profitable but not so prestigious profession of logography.[d] According to Plutarch, when Demosthenes first addressed himself to the people, he was derided for his strange and uncouth style, "which was cumbered with long sentences and tortured with formal arguments to a most harsh and disagreeable excess".[35]

Some citizens however discerned his talent. When he first left the ecclesia (the Athenian Assembly) disheartened, an old man named Eunomus encouraged him, saying his diction was very much like that of Pericles.[35] Another time, after the ecclesia had refused to hear him and he was going home dejected, an actor named Satyrus followed him and entered into a friendly conversation with him.[36]

As a boy Demosthenes had a speech impediment — an inarticulate and stammering pronunciation.[37] Aeschines taunted him and referred to him in his speeches by the nickname "Batalus",[e] apparently invented by Demosthenes' pedagogues or by the little boys with whom he was playing.[38][39] According to Plutarch, he had a weakness in his voice of "a perplexed and indistinct utterance and a shortness of breath, which, by breaking and disjointing his sentences much obscured the sense and meaning of what he spoke."[35] Demosthenes soon undertook a disciplined program to overcome these shortcomings and improve his elocution. He worked on his diction, his voice and his gestures.[40] His zeal and perseverance have passed into proverb. It is however unknown whether these vignettes are factual accounts of events in Demosthenes' life or merely anecdotes used to illustrate his perseverance and determination.[10]

Increased political activity

See also: On the Navy, For the Megalopolitans, and On the Liberty of the Rhodians

Between 354 and 350 BC, Demosthenes continued practicing law privately while he was becoming increasingly interested in public affairs. He mostly remained a judicial orator, but started participating in the politics of the Athenian democracy. In 355 BC he wrote Against Androtion and, in 354 BC, Against Leptines — two fierce attacks on individuals who attempted to repeal certain tax exemptions. In Against Timocrates and Against Aristocrates he advocated eliminating corruption. Demosthenes denounced measures regarded as dishonest or unworthy of Athenian traditions.[41] All these speeches offer early glimpses of his general principles on foreign policy, such as the importance of the navy, of alliances and of national honor.[42]

"While the vessel is safe, whether it be a large or a small one, then is the time for sailor and helmsman and everyone in his turn to show his zeal and to take care that it is not capsized by anyone's malice or inadvertence; but when the sea has overwhelmed it, zeal is useless."
Demosthenes (Third Philippic, 69) - The orator warned his countrymen of the disasters Athens would suffer, if they continued to remain idle and indifferent to the challenges of their times.

In 354 BC, Demosthenes delivered his first political oration, On the Navy, in which he espoused moderation and proposed the reform of "symmories"(boards) as a source of funding for the Athenian fleet.[41][43] In 352 BC, he delivered For the Megalopolitans and, in 351 BC, On the Liberty of the Rhodians. In both speeches he opposed Eubulus, the most powerful Athenian statesman of the period 355 to 342 BC, who was against any intervention in the internal affairs of the other Greek cities.[44]

Although none of his early orations were successful, Demosthenes established himself as an important political personality and broke with Eubulus' faction, a prominent member of which was Aeschines. He laid the foundations for his future political successes and for becoming the leader of his own party. His arguments revealed his desire to articulate Athens' needs and interests.[45]

In 351 BC, Demosthenes felt strong enough to express his view concerning the most important foreign policy issue facing Athens at that time: the stance his city should take towards Philip II of Macedon. According to Jacqueline de Romilly, a French philologist and member of the Académie française, the threat of Philip would give Demosthenes' stances a focus and a raison d'être.[42] Henceforth, Demosthenes' career is virtually the history of Athenian foreign policy.[37]

Confrontation with Philip II

First Philippic and the Olynthiacs (351–349 BC)

For more details on this topic, see First Philippic and Olynthiacs
Philip II of Macedon: victory medal (niketerion) struck in Tarsus, c. 2nd BC (Cabinet des Médailles, Paris). Demosthenes saw the King of Macedon as a menace to the autonomy of all Greek cities.

Most of Demosthenes' major orations were directed against the growing power of King Philip II of Macedon. Since 357 BC, when Philip seized Amphipolis and Pydna, Athens had been formally at war with the Macedonians.[46] In 352 BC, Demosthenes characterized Philip as the very worst enemy of his city; his speech presaged the fierce attacks that Demosthenes would launch against the Macedonian king over the ensuing years.[47] A year later he criticized those dismissing Philip as a person of no account and warned that he was as dangerous as the King of Persia.[48]

In 352 BC, Athenian troops successfully opposed Philip at Thermopylae,[49] but the Macedonian victory over the Phocians at the Battle of Crocus Field shook Demosthenes. The theme of the First Philippic (351–350 BC) was preparedness and the reform of the theoric fund,[f] a mainstay of Eubulus' policy.[42] In his rousing call for resistance, Demosthenes asked his countrymen to take the necessary action and asserted that "for a free people there can be no greater compulsion than shame for their position".[50]

"We need money, for sure, Athenians, and without money nothing can be done that ought to be done."
Demosthenes (First Olynthiac, 20) - The orator took great pains to convince his countrymen that the reform of the theoric fund was necessary to finance the city's military preparations.

From this moment until 341 BC, all of Demosthenes' speeches referred to the same issue, the struggle against Philip. In 349 BC, Philip attacked Olynthus, an ally of Athens. In the three Olynthiacs, Demosthenes criticized his compatriots for being idle and urged Athens to help Olynthus.[51][52] He also insulted Philip by calling him a "barbarian".[g] Despite Demosthenes' warnings, the Athenians engaged in a useless war in Euboea and offered no military support to Olynthus.[53]

Case of Meidias (348 BC)

In 348 BC a peculiar event occurred: Meidias, a wealthy Athenian, publicly slapped Demosthenes, who was at the time a choregos at the Greater Dionysia, a large religious festival in honour of the god Dionysus.[33] Meidias was a friend of Eubulus and supporter of the unsuccessful excursion in Euboea.[53] He also was an old enemy of Demosthenes; in 361 BC he had broken violently into his house, with his brother Thrasylochus, to take possession of it.[54]

"Just think. The instant this court rises, each of you will walk home, one quicker, another more leisurely, not anxious, not glancing behind him, not fearing whether he is going to run up against a friend or an enemy, a big man or a little one, a strong man or a weak one, or anything of that sort. And why? Because in his heart he knows, and is confident, and has learned to trust the State, that no one shall seize or insult or strike him."
Demosthenes (Against Meidias, 221) - The orator asked the Athenians to defend their legal system, by making an example of the defendant for the instruction of others.[55]

Demosthenes decided to prosecute his wealthy opponent and wrote the judicial oration Against Meidias. This speech gives valuable information about Athenian law at the time and especially about the Greek concept of hybris (aggravated assault), which was regarded as a crime not only against the city but against society as a whole.[56] He stated that a democratic state perishes if the rule of law is undermined by wealthy and unscrupulous men, and that the citizens acquire power and authority in all state affairs due "to the strength of the laws".[54] According to philologist Henri Weil, Demosthenes dropped the charges for political reasons and never delivered Against Meidias,[57] although Aeschines maintained that Demosthenes was bribed.[58]

Peace of Philocrates (347–345 BC)

In 348 BC, Philip conquered Olynthus and razed it to the ground; then conquered the entire Chalcidice and all the states of the Chalcidic federation that Olynthus had once led.[59] After these Macedonian victories, Athens sued for peace with Macedon. Demosthenes was among those who favored compromise. In 347 BC, an Athenian delegation, comprising Demosthenes, Aeschines and Philocrates, was officially sent to Pella to negotiate a peace treaty. In his first encounter with Philip, Demosthenes is said to have collapsed from fright.[60]

The ecclesia officially accepted the harsh terms Phillip imposed. However, when an Athenian delegation arrived at Pella to put Phillip under oath, which was required to conclude the treaty, he was campaigning abroad.[61] He expected that he would hold safely any Athenian possessions which he might seize before the ratification.[62] Being very anxious about the delay, Demosthenes insisted that the embassy should travel to the place where they would find Philip and swear him in without delay.[62] Despite his suggestions, the Athenian envoys, including himself and Aeschines, remained in Pella, until Philip successfully concluded his campaign in Thrace.[63]

Finally, peace was sworn at Pherae, but Demosthenes accused the other envoys of venality.[64] Just after the conclusion of the Peace of Philocrates, Philip passed Thermopylae, and subdued Phocis; Athens made no move to support the Phocians.[65][66] Supported by Thebes and Thessaly, Macedon took control of Phocis' votes in the Amphictyonic League, a Greek religious organization formed to support the greater temples of Apollo and Demeter.[67] Despite some reluctance on the part of the Athenian leaders, Athens finally accepted Philip's entry into the Council of the League.[68] Demosthenes was among those who recommended this stance in his oration On the Peace.

Second and Third Philippics (344–341 BC)

Satellite image of the Thracian Chersonese and the surrounding area. The Chersonese became the focus of a bitter territorial dispute between Athens and Macedon. It was eventually ceded to Philip in 338 BC.
For more details on this topic, see Second Philippic, On the Chersonese, Third Philippic

In 344 BC Demosthenes travelled to the Peloponnese, in order to detach as many cities as possible from Macedon's influence, but his efforts were generally unsuccessful.[69] Most of the Peloponnesians saw Philip as the guarantor of their freedom and sent a joint embassy to Athens to express their grievances against Demosthenes' activities.[70] In response, Demosthenes delivered the Second Philippic, a vehement attack against Philip. In 343 BC Demosthenes delivered On the False Embassy against Aeschines, who was facing a charge of high treason. Nonetheless, Aeschines was acquitted by the narrow margin of thirty votes by a jury which may have numbered as many as 1,501.[71]

In 343 BC, Macedonian forces were conducting campaigns in Epirus and, in 342 BC, Philip campaigned in Thrace.[72] He also negotiated with the Athenians an amendment to the Peace of Philocrates.[73] When the Macedonian army approached Chersonese (now known as the Gallipoli Peninsula), an Athenian general named Diopeithes ravaged the maritime district of Thrace, thereby inciting Philip's rage. Because of this turbulence, the Athenian Assembly convened. Demosthenes delivered On the Chersonese and convinced the Athenians not to recall Diopeithes. Also in 342 BC, he delivered the Third Philippic, which is considered to be the best of his political orations.[74] Using all the power of his eloquence, he demanded resolute action against Philip and called for a burst of energy from the Athenian people. He told them that it would be "better to die a thousand times than pay court to Philip".[75] Demosthenes now dominated Athenian politics and was able to considerably weaken the pro-Macedonian faction of Aeschines.

Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC)

The battle of Chaeronea (map designed by Marco Prins and Jona Lendering) took place the autumn of 338 BC and resulted in a significant victory for Philip, who established Macedon's supremacy over the Greek cities.

In 341 BC Demosthenes was sent to Byzantium, where he sought to renew its alliance with Athens. Thanks to Demosthenes' diplomatic manoeuvres Abydos also entered into an alliance with Athens. These developments worried Philip and increased his anger at Demosthenes. The Athenian Assembly, however, laid aside Philip's grievances against Demosthenes' conduct and denounced the peace treaty — so doing, in effect, amounted to an official declaration of war. In 339 BC Philip made his last and most effective bid to conquer southern Greece, assisted by Aeschines' stance in the Amphictyonic Council.[76] During a meeting of the Council, Philip accused the Amfissian Locrians of intruding on consecrated ground.[77] The presiding officer of the Council, a Thessalian named Cottyphus, proposed the convocation of an Amphictyonic Congress to inflict a harsh punishment upon the Locrians.[78] Aeschines agreed with this proposition and maintained that the Athenians should participate in the Congress.[78] Demosthenes however reversed Aeschines' initiatives and Athens finally abstained.[79] After the failure of a first military excursion against the Locrians, the summer session of the Amphictyonic Council gave command of the league's forces to Philip and asked him to lead a second excursion.[80] Philip decided to act at once; in the winter of 339–338 BC, he passed through Thermopylae, entered Amfissa and defeated the Locrians. After this significant victory, Philip swiftly entered Phocis in 338 BC. He then turned south-east down the Cephissus valley, seized Elateia, and restored the fortifications of the city.[80]

At the same time, Athens orchestrated the creation of an alliance with Euboea, Megara, Achaea, Corinth, Acarnania and other states in the Peloponnese. However the most desirable ally for Athens was Thebes. To secure their allegiance, Demosthenes was sent, by Athens, to the Boeotian city; Philip also sent a deputation, but Demosthenes succeeded in securing Thebes' allegiance.[81] Demosthenes' oration before the Theban people is not extant and, therefore, the arguments he used to convince the Thebans remain unknown. In any case, the alliance came at a price: Thebes' control of Boeotia was recognized, Thebes was to command solely on land and jointly at sea, and Athens was to pay two thirds of the campaign's cost.[82]

While the Athenians and the Thebans were preparing themselves for war, Philip made a final attempt to appease his enemies, proposing in vain a new peace treaty.[83] After a few trivial encounters between the two sides, which resulted in minor Athenian victories, Philip drew the phalanx of the Athenian and Theban confederates into a plain near Chaeronea, where he defeated them. Demosthenes fought as a mere hoplite.[h] Such was Philip's hatred for Demosthenes that, according to Diodorus Siculus, the King after his victory sneered at the misfortunes of the Athenian statesman. However, the Athenian orator and statesman Demades is said to have remarked: "O King, when Fortune has cast you in the role of Agamemnon, are you not ashamed to act the part of Thersites? [an obscene soldier of the Greek army during the Trojan War]" Stung by these words, Philip immediately altered his demeanour.[84]

Last political initiatives and death

Confrontation with Alexander

Alexander Mosaic from Pompeii, from a 3rd century BC original Greek painting, now lost. In 336–335 BC, the King of Macedon crippled any attempt of the Greek cities at resistance and shattered Demosthenes' hopes for Athenian independence.

After Chaeronea, Philip inflicted a harsh punishment upon Thebes, but made peace with Athens on very lenient terms. Demosthenes encouraged the fortification of Athens and was chosen by the ecclesia to deliver the Funeral Oration.[85][86] In 337 BC, Philip created the League of Corinth, a confederation of Greek states under his leadership, and returned to Pella.[87] In 336 BC, Philip was assassinated at the wedding of his daughter, Cleopatra of Macedonia, to King Alexander of Epirus. After Philip's death, the army proclaimed Alexander, then aged twenty, as the new King of Macedon. Greek cities like Athens and Thebes saw in this change of leadership an opportunity to regain their full independence. Demosthenes celebrated Philip's assassination and played a leading part in his city's uprising. According to Aeschines, "it was but the seventh day after the death of his daughter, and though the ceremonies of mourning were not yet completed, he put a garland on his head and white raiment on his body, and there he stood making thank-offerings, violating all decency."[23] Demosthenes also sent envoys to Attalus, whom he considered to be an internal opponent of Alexander.[88] Nonetheless, Alexander moved swiftly to Thebes, which submitted shortly after his appearance at its gates. When the Athenians learned that Alexander had moved quickly to Boeotia, they panicked and begged the new King of Macedon for mercy. Alexander admonished them but imposed no punishment.

In 335 BC Alexander felt free to engage the Thracians and the Illyrians. While he was campaigning in the north, the Thebans and the Athenians rebelled once again, believing rumors that Alexander was dead. Darius III of Persia financed the Greek cities that rose up against Macedon, and Demosthenes is said to have received about 300 talents on behalf of Athens and to have faced accusations of embezzlement.[i] Alexander reacted immediately and razed Thebes to the ground. He did not attack Athens, but demanded the exile of all anti-Macedonian politicians, Demosthenes first of all. According to Plutarch, a special Athenian embassy led by Phocion, an opponent of the anti-Macedonian faction, was able to persuade Alexander to relent.[89]

Delivery of On the Crown

"You stand revealed in your life and conduct, in your public performances and also in your public abstinences. A project approved by the people is going forward. Aeschines is speechless. A regrettable incident is reported. Aeschines is in evidence. He reminds one of an old sprain or fracture: the moment you are out of health it begins to be active."
Demosthenes (On the Crown, 198) - In On the Crown Demosthenes fiercely assaulted and finally neutralized Aeschines, his formidable political opponent.

Despite the unsuccessful ventures against Philip and Alexander, the Athenians still respected Demosthenes. In 336 BC, the orator Ctesiphon proposed that Athens honor Demosthenes for his services to the city by presenting him, according to custom, with a golden crown. This proposal became a political issue and, in 330 BC, Aeschines prosecuted Ctesiphon on charges of legal irregularities. In his most brilliant speech,[90] On the Crown, Demosthenes effectively defended Ctesiphon and vehemently attacked those who would have preferred peace with Macedon. He was unrepentant about his past actions and policies and insisted that, when in power, the constant aim of his policies was the honor and the ascendancy of his country; and on every occasion and in all business he preserved his loyalty to Athens.[91] He finally defeated Aeschines, although his enemy's legal objections to the crowning were probably valid.[92]

Case of Harpalus

In 324 BC Harpalus, to whom Alexander had entrusted huge treasures, absconded and sought refuge in Athens. Demosthenes, at first, advised that he be chased out of the city.[93] Finally, Harpalus was imprisoned despite the dissent of Hypereides, an anti-Macedonian statesman and former ally of Demosthenes.[94] The ecclesia, after a proposal of Demosthenes, decided to take control of Harpalus' money, which was entrusted to a committee presided over by Demosthenes.[94] When the committee counted the treasure, they found they only had half the money Harpalus had declared he had.[94] Nevertheless, they decided not to disclose the deficit. When Harpalus escaped, the Areopagus conducted an inquiry and charged Demosthenes with mishandling twenty talents. During Demosthenes' trial, Hypereides argued that he did not disclose the huge deficit, because he was bribed by Harpalus.[94] Demosthenes was fined and imprisoned, but he soon escaped.[95] It remains unclear whether the accusations against him were just or not.[j] In any case, the Athenians soon repealed the sentence.[96]

"For a house, I take it, or a ship or anything of that sort must have its chief strength in its substructure; and so too in affairs of state the principles and the foundations must be truth and justice."
Demosthenes (Second Olynthiac, 10) - The orator faced serious accusations more than once, but he never admitted to any improper actions and insisted that it is impossible "to gain permanent power by injustice, perjury, and falsehood".

After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Demosthenes again urged the Athenians to seek independence from Macedonia in what became known as the Lamian War. However, Antipater, Alexander's successor, quelled all opposition and demanded that the Athenians turn over Demosthenes and Hypereides, among others. Following his request, the ecclesia adopted a decree condemning the most prominent anti-Macedonian agitators to death. Demosthenes escaped to a sanctuary on the island of Calauria (modern-day Poros), where he was later discovered by Archias, a confidant of Antipater. He committed suicide before his capture by taking poison out of a reed, pretending he wanted to write a letter to his family.[97] When Demosthenes felt that the poison was working on his body, he said to Archias: "Now, as soon as you please you may commence the part of Creon in the tragedy, and cast out this body of mine unburied. But, O gracious Neptune, I, for my part, while I am yet alive, arise up and depart out of this sacred place; though Antipater and the Macedonians have not left so much as the temple unpolluted." After saying these words, he passed by the altar, fell down and died.[97] Years after Demosthenes' suicide, the Athenians erected a statue to honor him and decreed that the state should provide meals to his descendants in the Prytaneum.[98]


Political career

Plutarch lauds Demosthenes for not being of a fickle disposition. Rebutting historian Theopompus, the biographer insists that for "the same party and post in politics which he held from the beginning, to these he kept constant to the end; and was so far from leaving them while he lived, that he chose rather to forsake his life than his purpose".[99] On the other hand, Polybius, a Greek historian of the Mediterranean world, was highly critical of Demosthenes' policies. Polybius accused him of having launched unjustified verbal attacks on great men of other cities, branding them unjustly as traitors to the Greeks. The historian maintains that Demosthenes measured everything by the interests of his own city, imagining that all the Greeks ought to have their eyes fixed upon Athens. According to Polybius, the only thing the Athenians eventually got by their opposition to Philip was the defeat at Chaeronea. "And had it not been for the king's magnanimity and regard for his own reputation, their misfortunes would have gone even further, thanks to the policy of Demosthenes".[100]

"The man who deems himself born only to his parents will wait for his natural and destined end; the son of his country is willing to die rather than see her enslaved, and will look upon those outrages and indignities, which a commonwealth in subjection is compelled to endure, as more dreadful than death itself."
Demosthenes (On the Crown, 205) - During his long political career Demosthenes urged his countrymen to defend their city and to preserve their freedom and their democracy.

Paparregopoulus extols Demosthenes' patriotism, but criticizes him as being short-sighted. According to this critique, Demosthenes should have understood that the ancient Greek states could only survive unified under the leadership of Macedon.[15] Therefore, Demosthenes is accused of misjudging events, opponents and opportunities and of being unable to foresee Philip's inevitable triumph.[79] He is criticized for having overrated Athens' capacity to revive and challenge Macedon.[101] His city had lost most of its Aegean allies, whereas Philip had consolidated his hold over Macedonia and was master of enormous mineral wealth. Chris Carey, a professor of Greek in UCL, concludes that Demosthenes was a better orator and political operator than strategist.[79] Nevertheless, the same scholar underscores that "pragmatists" like Aeschines or Phocion had no inspiring vision to rival that of Demosthenes. The orator asked the Athenians to choose that which is just and honorable, before their own safety and preservation.[99] The people preferred Demosthenes' activism and even the bitter defeat at Chaeronea was regarded as a price worth paying in the attempt to retain freedom and influence.[79] According to Professor of Greek Arthur Wallace Pickard-Cambridge, success may be a poor criterion for judging the actions of people like Demosthenes, who were motivated by the ideal of political liberty.[102] Athens was asked by Philip to sacrifice its freedom and its democracy, while Demosthenes longed for the city's brilliance.[101] He endeavored to revive its imperilled values and, thus, he became an "educator of the people" (in the words of Werner Jaeger).[103]

The fact that Demosthenes fought at the battle of Chaeronea as a hoplite indicates that he lacked any military skills. According to historian Thomas Babington Macaulay, in his time the division between political and military offices was beginning to be strongly marked.[104] Almost no politician, with the exception of Phocion, was at the same time an apt orator and a competent general. Demosthenes dealt in policies and ideas, and war was not his business.[104] This contrast between Demosthenes' intellectual prowess and his deficiencies in terms of vigor, stamina, military skill[15] and strategic vision[79] is illustrated by the inscription his countrymen engraved on the base of his statue:[105]

Had you for Greece been strong, as wise you were,

The Macedonian had not conquered her.

Oratorical skill

Herma of Demosthenes: the head is a copy of the bronze posthumous commemorative statue in the Ancient Agora of Athens by Polyeuctus (ca. 280 BC); this herm was found in the Circus of Maxentius in 1825 (Glyptothek, Munich)

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, Demosthenes represented the final stage in the development of Attic prose. Dionysius asserts that Demosthenes brought together the best features of the basic types of style; he used the middle or normal type style ordinarily and applied the archaic type and the type of plain elegance where they were fitting. In each one of the three types he was better than its special masters.[106] He is, therefore, regarded as a consummate orator, adept in the techniques of oratory, which are brought together in his work.[103] In his initial judicial orations, the influence of both Lysias and Isaeus is obvious, but his marked, original style is already revealed.[17][107]

According to the classical scholar Harry Thurston Peck, Demosthenes "affects no learning; he aims at no elegance; he seeks no glaring ornaments; he rarely touches the heart with a soft or melting appeal, and when he does, it is only with an effect in which a third-rate speaker would have surpassed him. He had no wit, no humour, no vivacity, in our acceptance of these terms. The secret of his power is simple, for it lies essentially in the fact that his political principles were interwoven with his very spirit."[6] In this judgement, Peck agrees with Jaeger, who said that the imminent political decision imbued the Demosthenes' speech with a fascinating artistic power.[108] Demosthenes was apt at combining abruptness with the extended period, brevity with breadth. Hence, his style harmonizes with his fervent commitment.[103] His language is simple and natural, never far-fetched or artificial. According to Jebb, Demosthenes was a true artist who could make his art obey him.[17] For his part, Aeschines stigmatized his intensity, attributing to his rival strings of absurd and incoherent images.[109] Dionysius stated that Demosthenes' only shortcoming is the lack of humor, although Quintilian regards this deficiency as a virtue.[110][111] The main criticism of Demosthenes' art, however, seems to have rested chiefly on his known reluctance to speak extempore;[112] he often declined to comment on subjects he had not studied beforehand.[6] However, he gave the most elaborate preparation to all his speeches and, therefore, his arguments were the products of careful study. He was also famous for his caustic wit.[113]

According to Cicero, Demosthenes regarded "delivery" (gestures, voice etc.) as more important than style.[114] Although he lacked Aeschines' charming voice and Demades's skill at improvisation, he made efficient use of his body to accentuate his words.[14] Thus he managed to project his ideas and arguments much more forcefully. Nonetheless, his delivery was not accepted by everybody in antiquity: Demetrius Phalereus and the comedians ridiculed Demosthenes' "theatricality", whilst Aeschines regarded Leodamas of Acharnae as superior to him.[115][116]

Rhetorical legacy

Phryne Going to the Public Baths as Venus and Demosthenes Taunted by Aeschines by J. M. W. Turner (1838)

Demosthenes' fame continued down the ages. The scholars at the Library of Alexandria carefully edited the manuscripts of his speeches, and Roman schoolboys studied his art as part of their own oratorical training.[37] Juvenal acclaimed him as "largus et exundans ingenii fons" (a large and overflowing fountain of genius),[117] and he inspired Cicero's speeches against Mark Antony, also called the Philippics. Plutarch drew attention in his Life of Demosthenes to the strong similarities between the personalities and careers of Demosthenes and Marcus Tullius Cicero:[118]

The divine power seems originally to have designed Demosthenes and Cicero upon the same plan, giving them many similarities in their natural characters, as their passion for distinction and their love of liberty in civil life, and their want of courage in dangers and war, and at the same time also to have added many accidental resemblances. I think there can hardly be found two other orators, who, from small and obscure beginnings, became so great and mighty; who both contested with kings and tyrants; both lost their daughters, were driven out of their country, and returned with honor; who, flying from thence again, were both seized upon by their enemies, and at last ended their lives with the liberty of their countrymen.

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Demosthenes had a reputation for eloquence.[37] He was read more than any other ancient orator; only Cicero offered any real competition.[119] French author and lawyer Guillaume du Vair praises his speeches for their artful arrangement and elegant style; John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, and Jacques Amyot, a French Renaissance writer and translator, regard Demosthenes as a great or even the "supreme" orator.[120]

In modern history, orators such as Henry Clay would mimic Demosthenes' technique. His ideas and principles survived, influencing prominent politicians and movements of our times. Hence, he constituted a source of inspiration for the authors of the Federalist Papers (series of 85 articles arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution) and for the major orators of the French Revolution.[121] French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau was among those who idealized Demosthenes and wrote a book about him.[122] For his part, Friedrich Nietzsche often composed his sentences according to the paradigms of Demosthenes, whose style he admired.[123][124] During World War II, the fighters of the French Resistance identified themselves with Demosthenes, and Adolf Hitler with Philip.

Advertising executive David Ogilvy frequently cited Demosthenes as a model for creating persuasive advertising, saying, "When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip.’"[125]

The Demosthenian Literary Society at the The University of Georgia is named after Demosthenes, as a tribute to his oratorical ability and the manner in which he improved his speaking ability.


It seems that Demosthenes published many or all of his orations.[126] After his death, texts of his speeches survived in Athens and the Library of Alexandria. In Alexandria these texts were incorporated into the body of classical Greek literature that was preserved, catalogued and studied by scholars of the Hellenistic period. From then until the 4th century AD, copies of his orations multiplied and they were in a relatively good position to survive the tense period from the 6th until the 9th century AD.[127] In the end, sixty-one of Demosthenes' orations survived till the present day. Friedrich Blass, a German classical scholar, believes that nine more speeches were recorded by the orator, but they are not extant.[128] Modern editions of these speeches are based on four manuscripts of the 10th and 11th centuries AD.[129][130] The authorship of at least nine of the sixty-one orations is disputed.[k]

Fifty-six prologues and six letters are also extant. The prologues were openings of Demosthenes's speeches. They were collected for the Library of Alexandria by Callimachus, who believed that Demosthenes composed them.[131] Modern scholars are divided: some of them reject them,[10] while others, such as Blass, believe they are genuine.[132] The letters are written under Demosthenes's name, but their authorship has been fiercely debated.[l]


a. ^  According to Edward Cohen, professor of classics at the University of Pennsylvania, Cleoboule was the daughter of a Scythian woman and of an Athenian father, Gylon, although other scholars insist on the genealogical purity of Demosthenes.[133] There is an agreement among scholars that Cleoboule was a Crimean and not an Athenian citizen.[10][133] Gylon had suffered banishment at the end of the Peloponnesian War for allegedly betraying Nymphaeum in Crimaea.[134] According to Aeschines, Gylon received as a gift from the Bosporan rulers a place called "the Gardens" in the colony of Kepoi in present-day Russia (located within two miles (3 km) from Phanagoria).[5] Nevertheless, the accuracy of these allegations is disputed, since more that seventy years had elapsed between Gylon's possible treachery and Aeshines speech, and, therefore, the orator could be confident that his audience would have no direct knowledge of events at Nymphaeum.[135]

b. ^  According to Tsatsos, the trials against the guardians lasted until Demosthenes was twenty four.[107] Nietzsche reduces the time of the judicial disputes to five years.[136]

c. ^  According to the 10th century encyclopedia Suda, Demosthenes studied with Eubulides and Plato.[137] Cicero and Quintilian argue that Demosthenes was Plato's disciple.[138][139] Tsatsos and Weil believe that there is no indication that Demosthenes was a pupil of Plato or Isocrates.[21][140] As far as Isaeus is concerned, according to Jebb "the school of Isaeus is nowhere else mentioned, nor is the name of any other pupil recorded".[17] Peck believes that Demosthenes continued to study under Isaeus for the space of four years after he had reached his majority.[6]

d. ^  Both Tsatsos and Weil maintain that Demosthenes never abandoned the profession of the logographer, but, after delivering his first political orations, he wanted to be regarded as a statesman.[141][142] According to James J. Murphy, Professor emeritus of Rhetoric and Communication at the University of California, Davis, his lifelong career as a logographer continued even during his most intense involvement in the political struggle against Philip.[37]

e. ^ "Batalus" or "Batalos" meant "stammerer" in ancient Greek, but it was also the name of a flute-player (in ridicule of whom Antiphanes wrote a play) and of a song-writer.[143][144] The word "batalus" was also used by the Athenians to describe the anus.[143][145] Another nickname of Demosthenes was "Argas." According to Plutarch, this name was given him either for his savage and spiteful behavior or for his disagreeable way of speaking. "Argas" was a poetical word for a snake, but also the name of a poet.[143]

f. ^  "Theorika" were allowances paid by the state to poor Athenians to enable them to watch dramatic festivals. Eubulus passed a law making it difficult to divert public funds, including "theorika," for minor military operations.[42]

g. ^  Demosthenes characterized Philip as a "barbarian" in the Third Olynthiac and in the Third Philippic.[146][147] According to Tsatsos, Demosthenes regarded as Greeks only those who had reached the cultural standards of south Greece and he did not take into consideration ethnological criteria.[148]

h. ^  According to Plutarch, Demosthenes deserted his colors and "did nothing honorable, nor was his performance answerable to his speeches".[149][150]

i. ^  Aeschines reproached Demosthenes for being silent as to the seventy talents of the king's gold which he allegedly seized and embezzled.[151] Aeschines and Dinarchus also maintained that when the Arcadians offered their services for ten talents, Demosthenes refused to furnish the money to the Thebans, who were conducting the negotiations, and so the Arcadians sold out to the Macedonians.[151][152]

j. ^  According to Pausanias, Demosthenes himself and others had declared that the orator had taken no part of the money that Harpalus brought from Asia.[153] He also narrates the following story: Shortly after Harpalus ran away from Athens Harpalus was put to death by the servants who were attending him, though some assert that he was assassinated. The steward of his money fled to Rhodes, and was arrested by a Macedonian, Philoxenus. Philoxenus proceeded to examine the slave, "until he learned everything about such as had allowed themselves to accept a bribe from Harpalus." He then sent a dispatch to Athens, in which he gave a list of the persons who had taken a bribe from Harpalus. "Demosthenes, however, he never mentioned at all, although Alexander held him in bitter hatred, and he himself had a private quarrel with him."[153] On the other hand, Plutarch believes that Harpalus sent Demosthenes a cup with twenty talents and that "Demosthenes could not resist the temptation, but admitting the present, ... he surrendered himself up to the interest of Harpalus."[93]

k. ^  Blass disputes the authorship of the following speeches: Fourth Philippic, Funeral Oration, Erotic Essay, Against Stephanus 2 and Against Evergus and Mnesibulus,[154] while Arnold Schaefer, a German classical scholar, recognizes as genuine only twenty-nine orations.[126][155]

l. ^  In this discussion the work of Jonathan A. Goldstein, Professor of History and Classics at the University of Iowa, is regarded as paramount.[156][157] Goldstein regards Demosthenes's letters as authentic apologetic letters that were addressed to the Athenian assembly.[158]


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  2. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 35
  3. ^ Quintillian, Institutiones, X, 1, 6 and 76
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  9. ^ Demosthenes, Against Aphobus 1, 4
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  12. ^ Demosthenes, Against Aphobus 3, 59
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  14. ^ a b F. Nietzsche, Lessons of Rhetoric, 233–235
  15. ^ a b c K. Paparregopoulus, Ab, 396–398
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  20. ^ Lucian, The Illiterate Book-Fancier, 4
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  23. ^ a b c Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, 77
  24. ^ Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, 162
  25. ^ Aeschines, On the Embassy, 149
  26. ^ Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, XIII, 63
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  33. ^ a b S. Usher, Greek Oratory, 226
  34. ^ Demosthenes, Against Zenothemis, 32
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  36. ^ Plutarch, Demosthenes, 7
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  45. ^ T. N. Habinek, Ancient Rhetoric and Oratory, 21
  46. ^ D. Phillips, Athenian Political Oratory, 69
  47. ^ Demosthenes, Against Aristocrates, 121
  48. ^ Demosthenes, For the Liberty of the Rhodians, 24
  49. ^ Demosthenes, On the False Embassy, 319
  50. ^ Demosthenes, First Philippic, 10
  51. ^ Demosthenes, Second Olynthiac, 3
  52. ^ Demosthenes, First Olynthiac, 3
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  54. ^ a b Demosthenes, Against Meidias, 78–80
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  59. ^ Demosthenes, Third Philippic, 56
  60. ^ Aeschines, The Speech on the Embassy, 34
  61. ^ Demosthenes, Third Philippic, 15
  62. ^ a b Demosthenes, On the Crown, 25–27
  63. ^ Demosthenes, On the Crown, 30
  64. ^ Demosthenes, On the Crown, 31
  65. ^ Demosthenes, On the Crown, 36
  66. ^ Demosthenes, On the Peace, 10
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  87. ^ L.A. Tritle, The Greek World in the Fourth Century, 123
  88. ^ P. Green, Alexander of Macedon, 119
  89. ^ Plutarch, Phocion, 17
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  98. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch, Demosthenes, 847d
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  100. ^ Polybius, Histories, 13
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  114. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 38, 142
  115. ^ Plutarch, Demosthenes, 9–11
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  117. ^ Juvenal, Satura, X, 119
  118. ^ Plutarch, Demosthenes, 3
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  120. ^ W. A. Rebhorn, Renaissance Debates on Rhetoric, 139, 167, 258
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  139. ^ Quintilian, Institutiones, XII, 2 XXII
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  141. ^ K. Tsatsos, Demosthenes, 90
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  143. ^ a b c Plutarch, Demosthenes, 4
  144. ^ D. Hawhee, Bodily Arts, 156
  145. ^ M.L. Rose, The Staff of Oedipus,,] 57
  146. ^ Demosthenes, Third Olynthiac, 16 and 24
  147. ^ Demosthenes, Third Philippic, 31
  148. ^ K. Tsatsos, Demosthenes, 258
  149. ^ Plutarch, Demosthenes, 20
  150. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch, Demosthenes, 845f
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  152. ^ Dinarcus, Against Demosthenes, 18–21
  153. ^ a b Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2, 33
  154. ^ F. Blass, Die attische Beredsamkeit, III, 1, 404–406 and 542–546
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  157. ^ M. Trap, Greek and Latin Letters, 12
  158. ^ J.A. Goldstein, The Letters of Demosthenes, 93

See also


Primary sources (Greeks and Romans)

Secondary sources

  • Blass, Friedrich (1887–1898). Die Attische Beredsamkeit (in German). Third Volume. B. G. Teubner.  
  • Bolansie, J. (1999). Herrmippos of Smyrna. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-11303-7.  
  • Brown, David (2004). The Bosporan Kings and Classical Athens: Imagined Breaches in a Cordial Relationship
  • Burke, E.M. (1998). "The Looting of the Estate of the Elder Pericles". Classica Et Mediaevalia V. 49 edited by Ole Thomsen. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 87-7289-535-7.  
  • Carey, Chris (2000). Aeschines. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-71223-5.  
  • Cohen, Edward (2002). "The Local Residents of Attica". The Athenian Nation. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09490-X.  
  • Cox, Cheryl Anne (1998). "The Nonkinsman, the Oikos, and the Household". Household Interests: Property, Marriage Strategies, and Family Dynamics in Ancient Athens. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01572-4.  
  • Dunkan, Anne (2006). Performance and Identity in the Classical World. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-85282-X.  
  • "Demosthenes". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2002.  
  • "Demosthenes". Encyclopaedic Dictionary The Helios Volume V (in Greek). (1952)
  • Gibson, Graig A. (2002). Interpreting a Classic. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22956-8.  
  • Goldstein, Jonathan A. (1968). The Letters of Demosthenes. Columbia University Press.  
  • Green, Peter (1992). Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07166-2.  
  • Habinek, Thomas N. (2004). Ancient Rhetoric and Oratory. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-23515-9.  
  • Hawhee, Debra (2005). Bodily Arts: Rhetoric and Athletics in Ancient Greece. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70584-0.  
  • Jaeger, Werner (1938). Demosthenes. Walter de Gruyter Company. ISBN 3-11-002527-2.  
  • Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse (1876). The Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isaeos. Macmillan and Co..  
  • Kapparis, Konstantinos A. (1999). Apollodoros Against Neaira. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-016390-X.  
  • Long, Fredrick J. (2004). Ancient Rhetoric and Paul's Apology. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-84233-6.  
  • Macaulay, Thomas Babington (2004). "On Mitford's History of Greece". The Miscellaneous Writings and Speeches of Lord Macaulay Volume I. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4191-7417-7.  
  • Marcu, Valeru (2005). Men and Forces of Our Time. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4179-9529-7.  
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich (1909–1913). Beyond Good and Evil. The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche.  
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich (1975). Lessons of Rhetoric. Plethron (from the Greek translation).  
  • Paparregopoulus, Constantine (-Karolidis, Pavlos) (1925), History of the Hellenic Nation (Volume Ab). Eleftheroudakis (in Greek).
  • Peck, Harry Thurston (1898). Harper's Dictionary Of Classical Literature And Antiquities.  
  • Phillips, David (2004). "Philip and Athens". Athenian Political Oratory: 16 Key Speeches. Routledge (UK). ISBN 0-415-96609-4.  
  • Pickard, A. W. (2003). Demosthenes and the Last Days of Greek Freedom 384 - 322 B.C. Gorgias Press LLC. ISBN 1-59333-030-8.  
  • Phillips, David (2004). Athenian Political Oratory. Routledge (UK). ISBN 0-415-96609-4.  
  • Romilly de, Jacqueline (1996). A Short History of Greek Literature. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-8014-8206-2.  
  • Romilly de, Jacqueline (2001). Ancient Greece against Violence (translated in Greek). To Asty. ISBN 960-86331-5-X.  
  • Rebhorn, Wayne A. (1999). Renaissance Debates on Rhetoric. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-226-14312-0.  
  • Rhodes, P.J. (2005). "Philip II of Macedon". A History of the Classical Greek World. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-22564-1.  
  • Rose, M.L. (2003). The Staff of Oedipus. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11339-9.  
  • Schaefer, Arnold (1885). Demosthenes und seine Zeit (in German). Third Volume. B. G. Teubner.  
  • Slusser, G. (1999). "Ender's Game". Nursery Realms edited by G. Westfahl. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-2144-3.  
  • Thomsen, Ole (1998). "The Looting of the Estate of the Elder Demosthenes". "Classica et Mediaevalia - Revue Danoise De Philologie et D'Histoire" (Museum Tusculanum Press) 49: 45–66. ISBN 87-7289-535-7.,+Thomsen&sig=IS53TVmjHzo5e-qs_qsLkJA9zh8. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  • Trapp, Michael (2003). Greek and Latin Letters. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-49943-7.  
  • Tritle, Lawrence A. (1997). The Greek World in the Fourth Century. Routledge (UK). ISBN 0-415-10583-8.  
  • Tsatsos, Konstantinos (1975). Demosthenes. Estia (in Greek).  
  • Usher, Stephen (1999). "Demosthenes Symboulos". Greek Oratory: Tradition and Originality. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-815074-1.  
  • Van Tongeren, Paul J. M. (1999). Reinterpreting Modern Culture: An Introduction to Friedrich Nietzsche's Philosophy. Purdue University Press. ISBN 1-55753-156-0.  
  • Weil, Henri (1975). Biography of Demosthenes in "Demosthenes' Orations". Papyros (from the Greek translation).  
  • Worthington, Ian (2001). Demosthenes. Routledge (UK). ISBN 0-415-20457-7.  
  • Worthington, Ian (2004). "Oral Performance in the Athenian Assembly and the Demosthenic Prooemia". Oral Performance and its Context edited by C.J. MacKie. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-13680-0.  
  • Yunis, Harvey (2001). "Introduction". Demosthenes: On the Crown. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-62930-6.  
  • Yunis, Harvey (2005). "The Rhetoric of Law in Fourth-Century Athens". The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Law edited by Michael Gagarin, David Cohen. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81840-0.  

Further reading

  • Brodribb, William Jackson (1877). Demosthenes. J.B. Lippincott & co..  
  • Butcher, Samuel Henry (1888). Demosthenes. Macmillan & co..  
  • Clemenceau, Georges (1926). Demosthène. Plon.  
  • Easterling P. E., Knox Bernard M. W. (1985). The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-21042-9.  
  • Jennings, Bryan William (1906). The world's famous orations (Volume 1). New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.

Demosthenes (Δημοσθένης) (384 BC - 322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens, generally considered the greatest of the Greek orators.


  • Delivery, delivery, delivery.
    • Response when asked to name the three most important components of rhetoric, as quoted in Institutio Oratoria (c. 95) by Quintilian; also in Unspoken : A Rhetoric of Silence (2004) by Cheryl Glenn, p. 150
  • The readiest and surest way to get rid of censure, is to correct ourselves.
    • As quoted in The World's Laconics: Or, The Best Thoughts of the Best Authors (1853) by Everard Berkeley, p. 34
  • No man can tell what the future may bring forth, and small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.
    • Ad Leptinum 162, as quoted in Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897) by Thomas Benfield Harbottle, p. 511
  • The man who has received a benefit ought always to remember it, but he who has granted it ought to forget the fact at once.
    • As quoted in Dictionary of foreign phrases and classical quotations (1908) by Hugh Percy Jones, p. 140
  • Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.
    • Olynthiacs; Philippics (1930) as translated by James Herbert Vince, p. 11
  • Whatever shall be to the advantage of all, may that prevail!
    • Speech against Philip II of Macedon (351 BC), in Olynthiacs; Philippics (1930) as translated by James Herbert Vince, p. 99
  • You cannot have a proud and chivalrous spirit if your conduct is mean and paltry; for whatever a man's actions are, such must be his spirit.
    • As quoted in Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 1‎ (1940), p. 472
  • A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true.
    • As quoted in The Routledge Dictionary of Quotations (1987) by Robert Andrews, p. 255
    • Variant: There is nothing easier than self-delusion. Since what man desires, is the first thing he believes.

Quotes about Demosthenes

  • Do you remember that in classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, "How well he spoke" but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, "Let us march."
    • Adlai Stevenson, introducing John F. Kennedy in 1960, as quoted in Adlai Stevenson and The World: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson‎ (1977) by John Bartlow Martin, p. 549

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DEMOSTHENES, the great Attic orator and statesman, was born in 384 (or 383) B.C. His father, who bore the same name, was an Athenian citizen belonging to the deme of Paeania. His mother, Cleobule, was the daughter of Gylon, a citizen who had been active in procuring the protection of the kings of Bosporus for the Athenian colony of Nymphaeon in the Crimea, and whose wife was a native of that region. On these grounds the adversaries of Demosthenes, in after-days, used absurdly to taunt him with a traitorous or barbarian ancestry. The boy had a bitter foretaste of life. He was seven years old when his father died, leaving property (in a manufactory of swords, and another of upholstery) worth about £3500, which, invested as it seems to have been (20% was not thought exorbitant), would have yielded rather more than £600 a year. £300 a year was a very comfortable income at Athens, and it was possible to live decently on a tenth of it. Nicias, a very rich man, had property equivalent, probably, to not more than £4000 a year. Demosthenes was born then, to a handsome, though not a great fortune. But his guardians - two nephews of his father, Aphobus and Demophon, and one Therippides - abused their trust, and handed over to Demosthenes, when he came of age, rather less than one-seventh of his patrimony, perhaps between £50 and £60 a year. Demosthenes, after studying with Isaeus - then the great master of forensic eloquence and of Attic law, especially in will cases 1 - brought an action against Aphobus, and gained a verdict for about £2400. But it does not appear that he got the money; and, after some more fruitless proceedings against Onetor, the brother-in-law of Aphobus, the matter was dropped, - not, however, before his relatives had managed to throw a public burden (the equipment of a ship of war) on their late ward, whereby his resources were yet further straitened. He now became a professional writer of speeches or pleas (Xoyoypb40s) for the law courts, sometimes speaking himself. Biographers have delighted to relate how painfully Demosthenes made himself a tolerable speaker, - how, with pebbles in his mouth, he tried his lungs against the waves, how he declaimed as he ran up hill, how he shut himself up in a cell, having first guarded himself against a longing for the haunts of men by shaving one side of his head, how he wrote out Thucydides eight times, how he was derided by the Assembly and encouraged by a judicious actor who met him moping about the Peiraeus. He certainly seems to have been the reverse of athletic (the stalwart Aeschines upbraids him with never having been a sportsman), and he probably had some sort of defect or impediment in his speech as a boy. Perhaps the most interesting fact about his work for the law courts is that he seems to have continued it, in some measure, through the most exciting parts of his great political career. The speech for Phormio belongs to the same year as the plea for Megalopolis. The speech against Boeotus "Concerning the Name" comes between the First Philippic and the First Olynthiac. The speech against Pantaenetus comes between the speech "On the Peace" and the Second Philippic.

1 See Jebb's Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isaeos, vol. ii. p. 267 f.

The political career of Demosthenes, from his first direct contact with public affairs in 355 B.C. to his death in 322, has an essential unity. It is the assertion, in successive forms adapted to successive moments, of unchanging principles. Externally, it is divided into the chapter which precedes and the chapter which follows Chaeronea. But its inner meaning, the secret of its indomitable vigour, the law which harmonizes its apparent contrasts, cannot be understood unless it is regarded as a whole. Still less can it be appreciated in all its large wisdom and sustained self-mastery if it is viewed merely as a duel between the ablest champion and the craftiest enemy of Greek freedom. The time indeed came when Demosthenes and Philip stood face to face as representative antagonists in a mortal conflict. But, for Demosthenes, the special peril represented by Philip, the peril of subjugation to Macedon, was merely a disastrous accident. Philip happened to become the most prominent and most formidable type of a danger which was already threatening Greece before his baleful star arose. As Demosthenes said to the Athenians, if the Macedonian had not existed, they would have made another Philip for themselves. Until Athens recovered something of its old spirit, there must ever be a great standing danger, not for Athens only, but for Greece, - the danger that sooner or later, in some shape, from some quarter - no man could foretell the hour, the manner or the source - barbarian violence would break up the gracious and undefiled tradition of separate Hellenic life. What was the true relation of Athens to Greece ? The answer which he gave to this question is the key to the life of Demosthenes. Athens, so Demosthenes held, was the natural head of Greece. Not, however, as an empress holding subject or subordinate cities in a dependence more or less compulsory. Rather as that city which most nobly expressed the noblest attributes of Greek political existence, and which, by her preeminent gifts both of intellect and of moral insight, was primarily responsible, everywhere and always, for the maintenance of those attributes in their integrity. Wherever the cry of the oppressed goes up from Greek against Greek, it was the voice of Athens which should first remind the oppressor that Heliene differed from barbarian in postponing the use of force to the persuasions of equal law. Wherever a barbarian hand offered wrong to any city of the Hellenic sisterhood, it was the arm of Athens which should first be stretched forth in the holy strength of Apollo the Averter. Wherever among her own children the ancient loyalty was yielding to love of pleasure or of base gain, there, above all, it was the duty of Athens to see that the central hearth of Hellas was kept pure. Athens must never again seek "empire" in the sense which became odious under the influence of Cleon and Hyperbolus, - when, to use the image of Aristophanes, the allies were as Babylonian slaves grinding in the Athenian mill. Athens must never permit, if she could help it, the re-establishment of such a domination as Sparta exercised in Greece from the battle of Aegospotami to the battle of Leuctra. Athens must aim at leading a free confederacy, of which the members should be bound to her by their own truest interests. Athens must seek to deserve the confidence of all Greeks alike.

Such, in the belief of Demosthenes, was the part which Athens must perform if Greece was to be safe. But reforms must be effected before Athens could be capable of such a part. The evils to be cured were different phases of one malady. Athens had long been suffering from the profound decay of public spirit. Since the early years of the Peloponnesian War, the separation of Athenian society from the state had been growing more and more marked. The old type of the eminent citizen, who was at once statesman and general, had become almost extinct. Politics were now managed by a small circle of politicians. Wars were conducted by professional soldiers whose troops were chiefly mercenaries, and who were usually regarded by the politicians either as instruments or as enemies. The mass of the citizens took no active interest in public affairs. But, though indifferent to principles, they had quickly sensi? tive partialities for men, and it was necessary to keep them in good humour. Pericles had introduced the practice of giving a small bounty from the treasury to the poorer citizens, for the purpose of enabling them to attend the theatre at the great festivals, - in other words, for the purpose of bringing them under the concentrated influence of the best Attic culture. A provision eminently wise for the age of Pericles easily became a mischief when the once honourable name of "demagogue" began to mean a flatterer of the mob. Before the end of the Peloponnesian War the festival-money (theoricon) was abolished. A few years after the restoration of the democracy it was again introduced. But until 354 B.C. it had never been more than a gratuity, of which the payment depended on the treasury having a surplus. In 354 B.C. Eubulus became steward of the treasury. He was an able man, with a special talent for finance, free from all taint of personal corruption, and sincerely solicitous for the honour of Athens, but enslaved to popularity, and without principles of policy. His first measure was to make the festival-money a permanent item in the budget. Thenceforth this bounty was in reality very much what Demades afterwards called it, - the cement (KOXXa) of the democracy.

Years before the danger from Macedon was urgent, Demosthenes had begun the work of his life, - the effort to lift the spirit of Athens, to revive the old civic loyalty, to rouse the city into taking that place and performing that part which her own welfare as well as the safety of Greece ca uses. prescribed. His formally political speeches must never be considered apart from his forensic speeches in public causes. The Athenian procedure against the proposer of an unconstitutional law - i.e. of a law incompatible with existing laws - had a direct tendency to make the law court, in such cases, a political arena. The same tendency was indirectly exerted by the tolerance of Athenian juries (in the absence of a presiding expert like a judge) for irrelevant matter, since it was usually easy for a speaker to make capital out of the adversary's political antecedents. But the forensic speeches of Demosthenes for public causes are not only political in this general sense. They are documents, as indispensable as the Olynthiacs or Philippics, for his own political career. Only by taking them along with the formally political speeches, and regarding the whole as one unbroken series, can we see clearly the full scope of the task which he set before him, - a task in which his long resistance to Philip was only the most dramatic incident, and in which his real achievement is not to be measured by the event of Chaeronea.

A forensic speech, composed for a public cause, opens the political career of Demosthenes with a protest against a signal abuse. In 355 B.C., at the age of twenty-nine, he wrote the speech "Against Androtion." This combats on legal grounds a proposal that the out-going senate should receive the honour of a golden crown. In its larger aspect, it is a denunciation of the corrupt system which that senate represented, and especially of the manner in which the treasury had been administered by Aristophon. In 354 B.C. Demosthenes composed and spoke the oration "Against Leptines," who had effected a slender saving for the state by the expedient of revoking those hereditary exemptions from taxation which had at various times been conferred in recognition of distinguished merit. The descendants of Harmodius and Aristogeiton alone had been excepted from the operation of the law. This was the first time that the voice of Demosthenes himself had been heard on the public concerns of Athens, and the utterance was a worthy prelude to the career of a statesman. He answers the advocates of the retrenchment by pointing out that the public interest will not ultimately be served by a wholesale violation of the public faith. In the same year he delivered his first strictly political speech, "On the Navy Boards" (Symmories). The Athenians, irritated by the support which Artaxerxes had lately given to the revolt of their allies, and excited by rumours of his hostile preparations, were feverishly eager for a war with Persia. Demosthenes urges that such an enterprise would at present be useless; that it would fail to unite Greece; that the energies of the city should be reserved for a real emergency; but that, before the city can successfully cope with any war, there must be a better organization of resources, and, first of all, a reform of the navy, which he outlines with characteristic lucidity and precision.

Two years later (352 B.C.) he is found dealing with a more definite question of foreign policy. Sparta, favoured by the depression of Thebes in the Phocian War, was threatening Megalopolis. Both Sparta and Megalopolis sent embassies to Athens. Demosthenes supported Megalopolis. The ruin of Megalopolis would mean, he argued, the return of Spartan domination in the Peloponnesus. Athenians must not favour the tyranny of any one city. They must respect the rights of all the cities, and thus promote unity based on mutual confidence. In the same year Demosthenes wrote the speech "Against Timocrates," to be spoken by the same Diodorus who had before prosecuted Androtion, and who now combated an attempt to screen Androtion and others from the penalties of embezzlement. The speech "Against Aristocrates," also of 352 B.C., reproves that foreign policy of feeble makeshifts which was now popular at Athens. The Athenian tenure of the Thracian Chersonese partly depended for its security on the good-will of the Thracian prince Cersobleptes. Charidemus, a soldier of fortune who had already played Athens false, was now the brother-in-law and the favourite of Cersobleptes. Aristocrates proposed that the person of Charidemus should be invested with a special sanctity, by the enactment that whoever attempted his life should be an outlaw from all dominions of Athens. Demosthenes points out that such adulation is as futile as it is fulsome. Athens can secure the permanence of her foreign possessions only in one way - by being strong enough to hold them.

Thus, between 355 and 352, Demosthenes had laid down the main lines of his policy. Domestic administration must be purified. Statesmen must be made to feel that they are responsible to the state. They must not be allowed Principles to anticipate judgment on their deserts by voting each of policy. other golden crowns. They must not think to screen misappropriation of public money by getting partisans to pass new laws about state-debtors. Foreign policy must be guided by a larger and more provident conception of Athenian interests. When public excitement demands a foreign war, Athens must not rush into it without asking whether it is necessary, whether it will have Greek support, and whether she herself is ready for it. When a strong Greek city threatens a weak one, and seeks to purchase Athenian connivance with the bribe of a border-town, Athens must remember that duty and prudence alike command her to respect the independence of all Greeks. When it is proposed, by way of insurance on Athenian possessions abroad, to flatter the favourite of a doubtful ally, Athens must remember that such devices will not avail a power which has no army except on paper, and no ships fit to leave their moorings. But the time had gone by when Athenians could have tranquil leisure for domestic reform. A danger, calling for prompt action, had at last come very near. For six years Athens had been at war with Philip on account of his seizure of Amphipolis. Meanwhile he had destroyed Potidaea Philip. and founded Philippi. On the Thracian coasts he had become master of Abdera and Maronea. On the Thessalian coast he had acquired Methone. In a second invasion of Thessaly, he had overthrown the Phocians under Onomarchus, and had advanced to Thermopylae, to find the gates of Greece closed against him by an Athenian force. He had then marched to Heraeon on the Propontis, and had dictated a peace to Cersobleptes. He had formed an alliance with Cardia, Perinthus and Byzantium. Lastly, he had begun to show designs on the great Confederacy of Olynthus, the more warlike Miletus of the North. The First Philippic of Demosthenes was spoken in 35 1 B.C. The Third Philippic - the latest of the extant political speeches - was spoken in 341 B.C. Between these he delivered eight political orations, of which seven are directly concerned with Philip. The whole series falls into two great divisions. The first division comprises those speeches which were spoken against Philip while he was still a foreign power threatening Greece from without. Such are the First Philippic and the three orations for Olynthus. The second division comprises the speeches spoken against Philip when, by admission to the Amphictyonic Council, he had now won his way within the circle of the Greek states, and when the issue was no longer between Greece and Macedonia, but between the Greek and Macedonian parties in Greece. Such are the speech "On the Peace," the speech "On the Embassy," the speech "On the Chersonese," the Second and Third Philippics.

The First Philippic, spoken early in 351 B.C., was no sudden note of alarm drawing attention to an unnoticed peril. On the contrary, the Assembly was weary of the subject. For First six years the war with Philip had been a theme of barren Philippic. talk. Demosthenes urges that it is time to do something, and to do it with a plan. Athens fighting Philip has fared, he says, like an amateur boxer opposed to a skilled pugilist. The helpless hands have only followed blows which a trained eye should have taught them to parry. An Athenian force must be stationed in the north, at Lemnos or Thasos. Of 2000 infantry and 200 cavalry at least one quarter must be Athenian citizens capable of directing the mercenaries.

Later in the same year Demosthenes did another service to the cause of national freedom. Rhodes, severed by its own act from the Athenian Confederacy, had since 355 been virtually subject to Mausolus, prince (Svveurrrls) of Caria, himself a tributary of Persia. Mausolus died in 351, and was succeeded by his widow Artemisia. The democratic party in Rhodes now appealed to Athens for help in throwing off the Carian yoke. Demosthenes supported their application in his speech "For the Rhodians." No act of his life was a truer proof of statesmanship. He failed. But at least he had once more warned Athens that the cause of political freedom was everywhere her own, and that, wherever that cause was forsaken, there a new danger was created both for Athens and for Greece.

Next year (350) an Athenian force under Phocion was sent to Euboea, in support of Plutarchus, tyrant of Eretria, against the faction of Cleitarchus. Demosthenes protested against spending strength, needed for greater objects, on the local quarrels of a despot. Phocion won a victory at Tamynae. But the "inglorious and costly war" entailed an outlay of more than £12,000 on the ransom of captives alone, and ended in the total destruction of Athenian influence throughout Euboea. That island was now left an open field for the intrigues of Philip. Worst of all, the party of Eubulus not only defeated a proposal, arising from this campaign, for applying the festival-money to the war-fund, but actually carried a law making it high treason to renew the proposal. The degree to which political enmity was exasperated by the Euboean War may be judged from the incident of Midias, an adherent of Eubulus, and a type of opulent rowdyism. Demosthenes was choragus of his tribe, and was wearing the robe of that sacred office at the great festival in the theatre of Dionysus, when Midias struck him on the face. The affair was eventually compromised. The speech "Against Midias" written by Demosthenes for the trial (in 349) was neither spoken nor completed, and remains, as few will regret, a sketch.

It was now three years since, in 352, the Olynthians had sent an embassy to Athens, and had made peace with their only sure ally. In 350 a second Olynthian embassy had sought and obtained Athenian help. The hour of Olynthus had indeed come. In 349 Philip opened war against the Chalcidic towns of the Olynthian League. The First and Second Olynthiacs of Demosthenes were spoken in that year in support of sending one force to defend Olynthus and another to attack Philip. "Better now than later," is the thought of the First Olynthiac. The Second argues that Philip's strength is overrated. The Third - spoken in 348 - carries us into the midst of action.' It deals with practical details. The festival-fund must be used for the war. The citizens must serve in person.

It is generally agreed that the Third Olynthiac is the latest; but the question of the order of the First and Second has been much discussed. See Grote (History of Greece, chap. 88, appendix), who prefers the arrangement ii. i. iii., and Blass, Die attische Beredsamkeit, iii. p. 319.

A few months later, Olynthus and the thirty-two towns of the confederacy were swept from the earth. Men could walk over their sites, Demosthenes said seven years afterwards, without knowing that such cities had existed. It was now certain that Philip could not be stopped outside of Greece. The question was, What point within Greece shall he be allowed to reach?

Eubulus and his party, with that versatility which is the privilege of political vagueness, now began to call for a congress of the allies to consider the common danger. They found a brilliant interpreter in Aeschines, who, after having been a tragic actor and a clerk to the assembly, had entered political life with the advantages of a splendid gift for eloquence, a fine presence, a happy address, a ready wit and a facile conscience. While his opponents had thus suddenly become warlike, Demosthenes had become pacific. He saw that Athens must have time to collect strength. Nothing could be gained, meanwhile, by going on with the war. Macedonian sympathizers at Athens, of whom Philocrates was the chief, also favoured peace. Eleven envoys, including Philocrates, Aeschines, and Demosthenes, were sent to Philip in February 346 B.C. After a debate at Athens, peace was concluded with Philip in April. Philip on the one hand, Athens and her allies on the other, were to keep what they respectively held at the time when the peace was ratified. But here the Athenians made a fatal error. Philip was bent on keeping the door of Greece open. Demosthenes was bent on shutting it against him. Philip was now at war with the people of Halus in Thessaly. Thebes had for ten years been at war with Phocis. Here were two distinct chances for Philip's armed intervention in Greece. But if the Halians and the Phocians were included in the peace, Philip could not bear arms against them without violating the peace. Accordingly Philip insisted that they should not be included. Demosthenes insisted they should be included. They were not included. The result followed speedily. The same envoys were sent a second time to Philip at the end of April 346 for the purpose of receiving his oaths in ratification of the peace. It was late in June before he returned from Thrace to Pella - thus gaining, under the terms, all the towns that he had taken meanwhile. He next took the envoys with him through Thessaly to Thermopylae. There - at the invitation of Thessalians and Thebans - he intervened in the Phocian War. Phalaecus surrendered. Phocis was crushed. Philip took its place in the Amphictyonic Council, and was thus established as a Greek power in the very centre, at the wa, sacred hearth, of Greece. The right of precedence in consultation of the oracle (7rpoyavrEia) was transferred from Athens to Philip. While indignant Athenians were clamouring for the revocation of the peace, Demosthenes upheld it in his speech "On the Peace" in September. It ought never to have been made on such terms, he said. But, having been made, it had better be kept. "If we went to war now, where should we find allies? And after losing Oropus, Amphipolis, Cardia, Chios, Cos, Rhodes, Byzantium, shall we fight about the shadow of Delphi?" During the eight years between the peace of Philocrates and the battle of Chaeronea, the authority of Demosthenes steadily grew, until it became first predominant and then paramount. He had, indeed, a melancholy advantage. Each year his argument was more and more cogently enforced by the logic of facts. In 344 he visited the Peloponnesus for the purpose of counteracting Macedonian intrigue. Mistrust, he told the Peloponnesian cities, is the safeguard of free communities against tyrants. Philip lodged a formal complaint at Athens. Here, as elsewhere, the future master of Greece reminds us of Napoleon on the eve of the first empire. He has the same imperturbable and persuasive effrontery in protesting that he is doing one thing at the moment when his energies are concentrated on doing the opposite. Demosthenes replied in the Second Philippic. "If," he said, "Philip is the friend of Greece, we are doing /ipdic wrong. If he is the enemy of Greece, we are doing right. Which is he? I hold him to be our enemy, because everything that he has hitherto done has benefited himself and hurt us." The prosecution of Aeschines for malversation on the Olyn= thiacs. embassy (commonly known as De falsa legatione), which was brought to an issue in the following year, marks the moral strength of the position now held by Demosthenes. When the gravity of the charge and the complexity of the evidence are considered, the acquittal of Aeschines by a narrow majority must be deemed his condemnation. The speech "On the Affairs of the Chersonese" and the Third Philippic were the crowning efforts of Demosthenes. Spoken in the same year, 341 B.C., and within a short space of each other, they must be taken together. The speech "On the Affairs of the Chersonese" regards the situation chiefly from an Athenian point of view. "If the peace means," argues Demosthenes, "that Philip can seize with impunity one Athenian possession after another, but that Athenians shall not on their peril touch aught that belongs to Philip, where is the line to be drawn? We shall go to war, I am told, when it is necessary. If the necessity has not come yet, when will it come?" The Third Philippic surveys a wider horizon. It ascends from the Athenian to the Hellenic view. Philip has annihilated Olynthus and the Chalcidic towns. He has ruined Phocis. He has frightened Thebes. He has divided Thessaly. Euboea and the Peloponnesus are his. His power stretches from the Adriatic to the Hellespont. Where shall be the end? Athens is the last hope of Greece. And, in this final crisis, Demosthenes was the embodied energy of Athens. It was Demosthenes who went to Byzantium, brought the estranged city back to the Athenian alliance, and snatched it from the hands of Philip. It was Demosthenes who, when Philip had already seized Elatea, hurried to Thebes, who by his passionate appeal gained one last chance, the only possible chance, for Greek freedom, who broke down the barrier of an inveterate jealousy, who brought Thebans to fight beside Athenians, and who thus won at the eleventh hour a victory for the spirit of loyal union which took away at least one bitterness from the unspeakable calamity of Chaeronea.

But the work of Demosthenes was not closed by the ruin of his cause. During the last sixteen years of his life (338-322) he rendered services to Athens not less important, and Municipal more difficult, than those which he had activity. perhaps rendered before. He was now, as a matter of course, foremost in the public affairs of Athens. In January 337, at the annual winter Festival of the Dead in the Outer Ceramicus, he spoke the funeral oration over those who had fallen at Chaeronea. He was member of a commission for strengthening the fortifications of the city (-raxarouis). He administered the festival-fund. During a dearth which visited Athens between 330 and 326 he was charged with the organization of public relief. In 324 he was chief (ecpxcO [Jos) of the sacred embassy to Olympia. Already, in 336, Ctesiphon had proposed that Demosthenes should receive a golden crown from the state, and that his extraordinary merits should be proclaimed in the theatre at the Great Dionysia. The proposal was adopted by the senate as a bill (1rpoO01 X evµa); but it must be passed by the Assembly before it could become an act (417' 7 0capa). To prevent this, Aeschines gave notice, in 336, that he intended to proceed against Ctesiphon for having proposed an unconstitutional measure. For six years Aeschines avoided action on this notice. At last, in 330, the patriotic party felt strong enough to force him to an issue. Aeschines spoke the speech "Against Ctesiphon," an attack on the whole public life of Demosthenes. Demosthenes gained an overwhelming victory for himself and for the honour of Athens in the most finished, the most splendid and the most pathetic work of ancient eloquence - the immortal oration "On the Crown." In the winter of 325-324 Harpalus, the receiver-general of Alexander in Asia, fled to Greece, taking with him 8000 mercenaries, and treasure equivalent to about a million and a quarter sterling. On the motion of Demosthenes he was warned from the harbours of Attica. Having left his troops and part of his treasure at Taenarum, he again presented himself at the Peiraeus, and was now admitted. He spoke fervently of the opportunity which offered itself to those who loved the freedom of Greece. All Asia would rise with Athens to throw off the hated yoke. Fiery patriots like Hypereides were in raptures. For zeal which could be bought Harpalus had other persuasions. But Demosthenes stood firm. War with Alexander would, he saw, be madness. It could have but one result, - some indefinitely worse doom for Athens. Antipater and Olympias presently demanded the surrender of Harpalus. Demosthenes opposed this. But he reconciled the dignity with the loyalty of Athens by carrying a decree that Harpalus should be arrested, and that his treasure should be deposited in the Parthenon, to be held in trust for Alexander. Harpalus escaped from prison. The amount of the treasure, which Harpalus had stated as 700 talents, proved to be no more than 350. Demosthenes proposed that the Areopagus should inquire what had become of the other 350. Six months, spent in party intrigues, passed before the Areopagus gave in their report (a 641aacs). The report inculpated nine persons. Demosthenes headed the list of the accused. Hypereides was among the ten public prosecutors. Demosthenes was condemned, fined fifty talents, and, in default of payment, imprisoned. After a few days he escaped from prison to Aegina, and thence to Troezen. Two things in this obscure affair are beyond reasonable doubt. First, that Demosthenes was not bribed by Harpalus. The hatred of the Macedonian party towards Demosthenes, and the fury of those vehement patriots who cried out that he had betrayed their best opportunity, combined to procure his condemnation, with the help, probably, of some appearances which were against him. Secondly, it can hardly be questioned that, by withstanding the hot-headed patriots at this juncture, Demosthenes did heroic service to Athens.

Next year (323 B.C.) Alexander died. Then the voice of Demosthenes, calling Greece to arms, rang out like a trumpet. Early in August 322 the battle of Crannon decided the Lamian War against Greece. Antipater demanded, as the condition on which_he would refrain from besieging War. Athens, the surrender of the leading patriots. De mades moved the decree of the Assembly by which Demosthenes, Hypereides, and some others were condemned to death as traitors. On the 10th of Boedromion (September 16) 322, a Macedonian garrison occupied Munychia. It thenes was a day of solemn and happy memories, a day devoted, in the celebration of the Great Mysteries, to sacred joy, - the day on which the glad procession of the Initiated returned from Eleusis to Athens. It happened, however, to have another association, more significant than any ironical contrast for the present purpose of Antipater. It was the day on which, thirteen years before, Alexander had punished the rebellion of Thebes with annihilation.

The condemned men had fled to Aegina. Parting there from Hypereides and the rest, Demosthenes went on to Calauria, a small island off the coast of Argolis. In Calauria there was an ancient temple of Poseidon once a centre of Flight to P, Calauria. Minyan and Ionian worship, and surrounded with a peculiar sanctity as having been, from time immemorial, an inviolable refuge for the pursued. Here Demosthenes sought asylum. Archias of Thurii, a man who, like Aeschines, had begun life as a tragic actor, and who was now in the pay of Antipater, soon traced the fugitive, landed in Calauria, and appeared before the temple of Poseidon with a body of Thracian spearmen. Plutarch's picturesque narrative bears the marks of artistic elaboration. Demosthenes had dreamed the night before that he and Archias were competing for a prize as tragic actors; the house applauded Demosthenes; but his chorus was shabbily equipped, and Archias gained the prize. Archias was not the man to stick at sacrilege. In Aegina, Hypereides and the others had been taken from the shrine of Aeacus. But he hesitated to violate an asylum so peculiarly sacred as the Calaurian temple. Standing before its open door, with his Thracian soldiers around him, he endeavoured to prevail on Demosthenes to quit the holy precinct. Antipater would be certain to pardon him. Demosthenes sat silent, with his eyes fixed on the ground. At last, as the emissary persisted in his bland persuasions, he looked up and said, - "Archias, you never moved me by your acting, and you Affair of Harpalus. will not move me now by your promises." Archias lost his temper, and began to threaten. "Now," rejoined Demosthenes, "you speak like a real Macedonian oracle; before you were acting. Wait a moment, then, till I write to my friends." With these words, Demosthenes withdrew into the inner part of the temple, - still visible, however, from the entrance. He took out a roll of paper, as if he were going to write, put the pen to his mouth, and bit it, as was his habit in composing. Then he threw his head back, and drew his cloak over it. The Thracian spearmen, who were watching him from the door, began to gibe at his cowardice.

. Archias went in to him, encouraged him to rise, repeated his old arguments, talked to him of reconciliation with Antipater. By this time Demosthenes felt that the poison which he had sucked from the pen was beginning to work. He drew the cloak from his face, and looked steadily at Archias. "Now you can play the part of Creon in the tragedy as soon as you like," he said, "and cast forth my body unburied. But I, O gracious Poseidon, quit thy temple while I yet live; Antipater and his Macedonians have done what they could to pollute it." He moved towards tl e door, calling to them to support his tottering steps. He had just passed the altar of the god, when he fell, and with a groan gave up the ghost (October 322 B.C.). As a statesman, Demosthenes needs no epitaph but his own words in the speech "On the Crown," - I say that, if the event had been manifest to the whole world beforehand, not even then ought Athens to have forsaken this course, if Athens had g f ? any regard for her glory, or for her past, or for the ages to come. The Persian soldier in Herodotus, following Xerxes to foreseen ruin, confides to his fellow-guest at the banquet that the bitterest pain which man can know is 7roXXa Opo 40v-ra ,unSEvOs Kpariaav, - complete, but helpless, prescience. In the grasp of a more inexorable necessity, the champion of Greek freedom was borne onward to a more tremendous catastrophe than that which strewed the waters of Salamis with Persian wrecks and the field of Plataea with Persian dead; but to him, at least, it was given to proclaim aloud the clear and sure foreboding that filled his soul, to do all that true heart and free hand could do for his cause, and, though not to save, yet to encourage, to console and to ennoble. As the inspiration of his life was larger and higher than the mere courage of resistance, so his merit must be regarded as standing altogether outside and above the struggle with Macedon. The great purpose which he set before him was to revive the public spirit, to restore the political vigour, and to re-establish the Panhellenic influence of Athens, - never for her own advantage merely, but always in the interest of Greece. His glory is, that while he lived he helped Athens to live a higher life. Wherever the noblest expressions of her mind are honoured, wherever the large conceptions of Pericles command the admiration of statesmen, wherever the architect and the sculptor love to dwell on the masterpieces of Ictinus and Pheidias, wherever the spell of ideal beauty or of lofty contemplation is exercised by the creations of Sophocles or of Plato, there it will be remembered that the spirit which wrought in all these would have passed sooner from among men, if it had not been recalled from a trance, which others were content to mistake for the last sleep, by the passionate breath of Demosthenes.

The orator in whom artistic genius was united, more perfectly than in any other man, with moral enthusiasm and with intel-. lectual grasp, has held in the modern world the same rank which was accorded to him in the old; but he cannot enjoy the same appreciation. Macaulay's ridicule has rescued from oblivion the criticism which pronounced the eloquence of Chatham to be more ornate than that of Demosthenes, and less diffuse than that of Cicero. Did the critic, asks Macaulay, ever hear any speaking that was less ornamented than that of Demosthenes, or more diffuse than that of Cicero? Yet the critic's remark was not so pointless as Macaulay thought it. Sincerity and intensity are, indeed, to the modern reader, the most obvious characteristics of Demosthenes. His style is, on the, whole, singularly free from what we are accustomed to regard as rhetorical embellishment. Where the modern orator would employ a wealth of imagery, or elaborate a picture in exquisite detail, Demosthenes is content with a phrase or a word. Burke uses, in reference to Hyder Ali, the same image which Demosthenes uses in reference to Philip. "Compounding all the materials of fury, havoc, desolation, into one black cloud, he hung for a while on the declivity of the mountains. Whilst the authors of all these evils were idly and stupidly gazing on this menacing meteor, which darkened all their horizon, it suddenly burst, and poured down the whole of its contents upon the plains of the Carnatic." Demosthenes forbears to amplify. "The people gave their voice, and the danger which hung upon our borders went by like a cloud." To our modern feeling, the eloquence of Demosthenes exhibits everywhere a general stamp of earnest and simple strength. But it is well to remember the charge made against the style of Demosthenes by a contemporary Greek orator, and the defence offered by the best Greek critic of oratory. Aeschines reproached the diction of Demosthenes with excess of, elaboration and adornment (7reptcpryia). Dionysius, in reply, admits that Demosthenes does at times depart from simplicity, - that his style is sometimes elaborately ornate and remote from the ordinary usage. But, he adds, Demosthenes adopts this manner where it is justified by the elevation of his theme. The remark may serve to remind us of our modern disadvantage for a full appreciation of Demosthenes. The old world felt, as we do, his moral and mental greatness, his fire, his self-devotion, his insight. But it felt also, as we can never feel, the versatile perfection of his skill. This it was that made Demosthenes unique to the ancients. The ardent patriot, the far-seeing statesman, were united in his person with the consummate and unapproachable artist. Dionysius devoted two special treatises to Demosthenes, - one on his language and style (Xektckos To ros), the other on his treatment of subject-matter (7rpa^y,uaruKinTolros). The latter is lost. The former is one of the best essays in literary criticism which antiquity has bequeathed to us. The idea which it works out is that Demosthenes has perfected Greek prose by fusing in a glorious harmony the elements which had hitherto belonged to separate types. The austere dignity of Antiphon, the plain elegance of Lysias, the smooth and balanced finish of that middle or normal character which is represented by Isocrates, have come together in Demosthenes. Nor is this all. In each species he excels the specialists. He surpasses the school of Antiphon in perspicuity, the school of Lysias in verve, the school of Isocrates in variety, in felicity, in symmetry, in pathos, in power. Demosthenes has at command all the discursive brilliancy which fascinates a festal audience. He has that power of concise and lucid narration, of terse reasoning, of persuasive appeal, which is required by the forensic speaker. His political eloquence can worthily image the majesty of the state, and enforce weighty counsels with lofty and impassioned fervour. A true artist, he grudged no labour which could make the least part of his work more perfect. Isocrates spent ten years on the Panegyricus. After Plato's death, a manuscript was found among his papers with the first eight words of the Republic arranged in several different orders. What wonder, then, asks the Greek critic, if the diligence of Demosthenes was no less incessant and minute? "To me," he says, "it seems far more natural that a man engaged in composing political discourses, imperishable memorials of his power, should neglect not even the smallest details, than that the veneration of painters and sculptors, who are darkly showing forth their manual tact and toil in a corruptible material, should exhaust the refinements of their art on the veins, on the feathers, on the down of the lip, and the like niceties." More than half of the sixty-one speeches extant under the name of Demosthenes are certainly or probably spurious. The results to which the preponderance of opinion leans are given in the following table. Those marked a were already rejected or doubted in antiquity; those marked m, first in modern times: 1 1 The dates agree in the main with those given by A. D. Schafer in`Demosthenes and seine Zeit (2nd ed., 1885-1887), and by F. Blass in Die attische Beredsamkeit (1887-1898), who regards thirty-three (or possibly thirty-five) of the speeches as genuine.

Demosthenes united and elevated whatever had been best in earlier masters of the Greek idiom. Hermogenes, in his works 354 on rhetoric, refers to Demosthenes as b pirTwp, the 35 2 orator. The writer of the treatise On Sublimity knows 35 1 no heights loftier than those to which Demosthenes 351 has risen. From his own younger contemporaries, Aristotle and Theophrastus, who founded their theory of rhetoric in large part on his practice, down to the latest Byzantines, the consent of theorists, orators, antiquarians, anthologists, lexicographers, offered the same unvarying homage to Demosthenes. His work busied commentators such as Xenon, Minucian, Basilicus, Aelius, Theon, Zosimus of Gaza. Arguments to his speeches were drawn up by rhetoricians so distinguished as Numenius and Libanius. Accomplished men of letters, such as Julius Vestinus and Aelius Dionysius, selected from his writings choice passages for declamation or perusal, of which fragments are incorporated in the miscellany of Photius and the lexicons of Harpocration, Pollux and Suidas. It might have been anticipated that the purity of a text so widely read and so renowned would, from the earliest times, have been guarded with jealous care. The works of the three great dramatists had been thus protected, about 340 B.C., by a standard Attic recension. But no such good fortune befell the works of Demosthenes. Alexandrian criticism was chiefly occupied with poetry. The titular works of Demosthenes were, indeed, registered, with 349 those of the other orators, in the catalogues (pnroptKol irivaees) 343 of Alexandria and Pergamum. But no thorough attempt was 33 0 made to separate the authentic works from those spurious works which had even then become mingled with them. Philosophical schools which, like the Stoic, felt the ethical interest of Demosthenes, cared little for his language. The rhetoricians who imitated or analysed his style cared little for the criticism of his text. Their treatment of it had, indeed, a direct tendency to falsify it. It was customary to indicate by marks those passages which were especially useful for study or imitation. It then became a rhetorical exercise to recast, adapt or interweave such passages. Sopater, the commentator on Hermogenes, wrote on M€Ta130Xai Kai merairocicr as Twv z j,uoaOivovs Xwpiwv, " adaptations or transcripts of passages in Demosthenes." Such manipulation could not but lead to interpolations or confusions in the original text. Great, too, as was the attention bestowed on the thought, sentiment and style of Demosthenes, comparatively little care was bestowed on his subject-matter. He was studied more on the moral and the formal side than on the real side. An incorrect substitution of one name for another, a reading which gave an impossible date, insertions of spurious laws or decrees, were points which few readers would stop to notice. Hence it resulted that, while Plato, Thucydides and Demosthenes were the most universally popular of the classical prosewriters, the text of Demosthenes, the most widely used perhaps of all, was also the least pure. His more careful students at length made an effort to arrest the process of corruption. Editions of Demosthenes based on a critical recension, and called 'ATTLKCava (avriypac/a), came to be distinguished from the vulgates, or. bas idOcets.

Among the extant manuscripts of Demosthenes-upwards of 170 in number-one is far superior, as a whole, to the rest. This is Parisinus 2934, of the 10th century. A comparison of this MS. with the extracts of Aelius, Aristeides and Harpocration from the Third Philippic favours the view that it is derived from an 'ATTCKCavov, whereas the S7/µc'05ECS iKSoo€is, used by Hermogenes and by the rhetoricians generally, have been the chief sources of our other manuscripts. The collation of this manuscript by Immanuel Bekker first placed the textual criticism of Demosthenes on a sound footing. Not only is this manuscript nearly free from interpolations, but it is the sole voucher for many excellent readings. Among the other MSS., some of the most important are-Marcianus 416 F, of the 10th (or 11th) century, the basis of the Aldine edition; Augustanus I. (N 85), derived from the last, and containing scholia to the speeches on the Crown and the Embassy, by Ulpian, with some by a younger writer, who was I. Deliberative Speeches.


Or. 14. On the Navy Boards Or. 16. For the People of Megalopolis .

Or. 4. First Philippic. Or. 15. For the Rhodians. Or. 1. First Olynthiac. Or. 2. Second Olynthiac. Or. 3. Third Olynthiac .

Or. 5. On the Peace. Or. 6. Second Philippic Or. 8. On the Affairs of the Chersonese Or. 9. Third Philippic .

(a) (a) (a) (m) (m) (m) B.C.

Literary history of Demosthenes. Spurious.

Or. 7. On Halonnesus (by Hegesippus). 342 Rhetorical Forgeries. Or. 17. On the Treaty with Alexander. Or. to. Fourth Philippic.

Or. 11. Answer to Philip's Letter.' Or. 12. Philip's Letter.

Or. 13. On the Assessment (ovvrEcs). II. Forensic Speeches.

A. IN Public Causes.


Or. 22. In (Karec) Androtionem. Or. 20. Contra (irpos) Leptinem Or. 24. In Timocratem. Or. 23. In Aristocratem. Or. 21. In Midiam .

Or. 19. On the Embassy. Or. 18. On the Crown. Spurious.

Or. 58. In Theocrinem. 339 B.C. Or. 25, 26. In Aristogitona I. and II. (Rhetorical forgeries).

B. IN Private Causes. Genuine.

Or. 27, 28. In Aphobum I. et II. Or. 30, 31. Contra Onetora I. et II. Or. 41. Contra Spudiam .

Or. 55. Contra Calliclem .

Or. 54. In Cononem.

Or. 36. Pro Phormione Or. 39. Contra Boeotum de Nomine Or. 37. Contra Pantaenetum .

Or. 38. Contra Nausimachum et Diopithem 355 354 352 352 364 B.C. 3 6 2 „ 356 35 2 „ 35 0 „ 34 65 „ 349 349 348 346 344 341 341 B.C.


Spurious. (The first eight of the following are given by Schafer to Apollodorus.) . 369-8 B.C.. after 368 „ 347 „ 34 6 -5 „. ?

.. not before 322 -I „ Or. 60 (bartr64eos) and Or. 61 (pwruc6c) are works of rhetoricians. The six epistles are also forgeries; they were used by the composer of the twelve epistles which bear the name of Aeschines. The 56 irpooi.µca, exordia or sketches for political speeches, are by various hands and of various dates.' They are valuable as being compiled from Demosthenes himself, or from other classical models.

The ancient fame of Demosthenes as an orator can be compared only with the fame of Homer as a poet. Cicero, with generous appreciation, recognizes Demosthenes as the standard of perfection. Dionysius, the closest and most penetrating of his ancient critics, exhausts the language of admiration in showing how ' Or. 11 and 12 are probably both by Anaximenes of Lampsacus. According to Blass, the second and third epistles and the exordia are genuine.

(m) (a) (a) (m) (a) (m) (a) (m) (m) (m) (m) (a) (a) (m) (m)  ?)) (m) (m) (a) Or. 43. Contra Macartatum Or. 48. In Olympiodorum.. after Or. 44. Contra Leocharem.

Or. 35. Contra Lacritum. .

Or. 42. Contra Phaenippum. ?

Or. 32. Contra Zenothemin. ?

Or. 34. Contra Phormionem. ?

Or. 29. Contra Aphobum pro Phano .

Or. 40. Contra Boeotum de Dote Or. 57. Contra Eubulidem Or. 33. Contra Apaturium Or. 56. In Dionysodorum Or. 52. Contra Callippum. Or. 53. Contra Nicostratum Or. 49. Contra Timotheum.. 362 Or. 50. Contra Polyclem.. 357 Or. 47. In Evergum et Mnesibulum.. 356 Or. 45, 46. In Stephanum I. et II. 351 Or. 59. In Neaeram 349[34 3 -0, Blass] Or. 51. On the Trierarchic Crown (by Cephiso ?) C 3 359 343 341 Manuscripts. perhaps Moschopulus; Parisinus 'r; Antverpiensis u - the last two comparatively free from additions. The fullest authority on the MSS. is J. T. Vumel, Notitia codicum Demosth., and Prolegomena Critica to his edition published at Halle (1856-1857), pp. 175-178.1 The extant scholia on Demosthenes are for the most part poor. Their staple consists of Byzantine erudition; and their value depends chiefly on what they have preserved of older criticism. They are better than usual for the IfEpi aTeOlcvou, KaTa Tcµo?cpaTous; best for the IIEpi 7rapa7rpEa- (3EEas. The Greek commentaries ascribed to Ulpian are especially defective on the historical side, and give little essential aid. Editions: - C. W. Muller, in Orat. Att. ii. (1847-1858); Scholia Graeca in Demosth. ex cod. aucta et emendata (Oxon., 1851; in W. Dindorf's ed.).

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Editio princeps (Aldus, Venice, 1504); J. J. Reiske (with notes of J. Wolf, J. Taylor, J. Markland, &c., 17701 775); revised edition of Reiske by G. H. Schafer (1823-1826); I. Bekker, in Oratores Attici (1823-1824), the first edition based on codex E (see above); W. S. Dobson (1828); J. G. Baiter and H. Sauppe (1850); W. Dindorf (in Teubner series, 1867, 4th ed. by F. Blass, 1885-1889); H. Omont, facsimile edition of codex E (1892-1893); S. H. Butcher in Oxford Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca (1903 foil.); W. Dindorf (9 vols., Oxford, 1846-1851), with notes of previous commentators and Greek scholia; R. Whiston (political speeches) with introductions and notes (1859-1868). For a select list of the numerous English and foreign editions and translations of separate speeches see J. B. Mayor, Guide to the Choice of Classical Books (1885, suppt. 1896). Mention may here be made of De corona by W. W. Goodwin (1901, ed. min., 1904); W. H. Simcox (1873, with Aeschines In Ctesiphontem); and P. E. Matheson (1899); Leptines by J. E. Sandys (1890); De falsa legatione by R. Shilleto (4th ed., 1874); Select Private Orations by J. E. Sandys and F. A. Paley (3rd ed., 1898, 1896); Midias by W. W. Goodwin (1906). C. R. Kennedy's complete translation is a model of scholarly finish, and the appendices on Attic law, &c., are of great value. There are indices to Demosthenes by J. Reiske (ed. G. H. Schafer, 1823); S. Preuss (1892). Among recent papyrus finds are fragments of a special lexicon to the Aristocratea and a commentary by Didymus (ed. H. Diels and W. Schubart, 1904). Illustrative literature: A. D. Schafer, Demosthenes and seine Zeit (and ed., 1885-1887), a masterly and exhaustive historical work; F. Blass, Die altische Beredsamkeit (1887-1898); W. J. Brodribb, "Demosthenes" in Ancient Classics for English Readers (1877); S. H. Butcher, Introduction to the Study of Demosthenes (1881); C. G. Bohnecke, Demosthenes, Lykurgos, Hvperides, and ihr Zeitalter (1864); A. Bouille, Histoire de Demosthene (2nd ed., 1868); J. Girard, Etudes sur l'efoquence attique (1874); M. Croiset, Des idees morales dans ?Eloquence politique de Demosthene (1874); A. Hug, Demosthenes als iolitischer Denker (1880; L. Bredit, L'Eloquence politique en Grece (2nd ed., 1886); A. Bougot, Rivalite d'Eschine et Demosthene (1891). For fuller bibliographical information consult R. Nicolai, Griechische Literaturgeschichte (1881); W. Engelmann, Scriptores Graeci (1881); G. Hattner in C. Bursian's Jahresbericht, li. (1889). (R. C. J.)

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  1. An an ancient Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens.

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File:Demosthenes orator
Bust of Demosthenes (Louvre, Paris, France)
Born 384 BC
Died 322 BC
Island of Calauria, modern Poros

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek: Δημοσθένης, Dēmosthénēs) was a well-known Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His speeches show well, how agile Athenians were, when speaking. They also give an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. He delivered his first judicial speeches when he was twenty. He argued effectively to gain from his guardians what was left of his inheritance. For a time, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speech-writer and a lawyer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits.

At the age of 21, Demosthenes took the job of the commander of warships in the classical Greek world.

Demosthenes grew interested in politics during the time he wrotes speeches for others.In 354 BC he gave his first public political speeches. He went on to devote his most productive years to opposing Macedon's expansion. He idealized his city and tried throughout his life to restore Athens' supremacy and motivate his compatriots against Philip II of Macedon. He sought to preserve his city's freedom and to establish an alliance against Macedon, in an unsuccessful attempt to impede Philip's plans to expand his influence southwards by conquering all the Greek states. After Philip's death, Demosthenes played a leading part in his city's uprising against the new King of Macedon, Alexander the Great. However, his efforts failed and the revolt was met with a harsh Macedonian reaction. To prevent a similar revolt against his own rule, Alexander's successor, Antipater, sent his men to track Demosthenes down. Demosthenes took his own life, in order to avoid being arrested by Archias, Antipater's confidant.

The Alexandrian Canon compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace recognized Demosthenes as one of the ten greatest Attic orators and logographers. According to Longinus, Demosthenes "perfected to the utmost the tone of lofty speech, living passions, copiousness, readiness, speed".[1] Cicero acclaimed him as "the perfect orator" who lacked nothing, and Quintilian extolled him as "lex orandi" ("the standard of oratory") and that "inter omnes unus excellat" ("he stands alone among all the orators").[2][3]


  1. Longinus, On the Sublime, 34.4
  2. Cicero, Brutus, 35
  3. Quintillian, Institutiones, X, 1, 6 and 76

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