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Comparison with Philip II and Demosthenes

From this point of view fault might be found
Comparison of the policy of the Achaeans and other Peloponnesians towards Philip V. with that recommended by Demosthenes towards Philip II.
with Demosthenes, admirable as he is in many respects, for having rashly and indiscriminately launched an exceedingly bitter charge at the most illustrious Greeks. For he asserted that in Arcadia, Cercidas, Hieronymus, and Eucampidas were traitors to Greece for making an alliance with Philip; in Messene the sons of Philiades, Neon and Thraylochus; in Argos, Mystis, Teledamus, one Mnaseas; in Thessaly, Daochus and Cineas; in Boeotia, Theogeiton and Timolas: and many more besides he has included in the same category, naming them city by city; and yet all these men have a weighty and obvious plea to urge in defence of their conduct, and above all those of Arcadia and Messene.1 For it was by their bringing Philip into the Peloponnese, and humbling the Lacedaemonians, that these men in the first place enabled all its inhabitants to breathe again, and conceive the idea of liberty; and in the next place, by recovering the territory and cities which the Lacedaemonians in the hour of prosperity had taken from the Messenians, Megalopolitans, Tegeans, and Argives, notoriously raised the fortunes of their own countries.2 In return for this they were bound not to make war on Philip and the Macedonians, but to do all they could to promote his reputation and honour. Now, if they had been doing all this, or if they had admitted a garrison from Philip into their native cities, or had abolished their constitutions and deprived their fellow-citizens of liberty and freedom of speech, for the sake of their own private advantage or power, they would have deserved this name of traitor. But if, while carefully maintaining their duty to their countries, they yet differed in their judgment of politics, and did not consider that their interests were the same as those of the Athenians, it is not, I think, fair that they should have been called traitors on that account by Demosthenes. The man who measures everything by the interests of his own particular state, and imagines that all the Greeks ought to have their eyes fixed upon Athens, on the pain of being styled traitors, seems to me to be ill-informed and to be labouring under a strange delusion, especially as the course which events in Greece took at that time has borne witness to the wisdom, not of Demosthenes, but of Eucampidas, Hieronymus, Cercidas, and the sons of Philiades.
B. C. 338.
For what did the Athenians eventually get by their opposition to Philip? Why, the crowning disaster of 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. Whereas, owing to the men I have mentioned, security and relief from attacks of the Lacedaemonians were obtained for Arcadia and Messenia generally, and many advantages accrued to their states separately.

1 Demosthenes, de Corona, §§ 43, 48, 295.

2 B. C. 338 after the battle of Chaeronea. See Thirlwall, 6, 77; Grote, 11, 315 (ch. 90); Kennedy's translation of the de Corona, Appendix vi. The argument of Polybius is of course an ex post facto one. It is open still to maintain that, had the advice of Demosthenes been followed, these states might have been freed from the tyranny of Sparta without becoming subject to another master in the king of Macedonia.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 295
    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 43
    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 48
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