Life, etc.Demosthenes the orator was born at Athens in 384 B.C. His father, Demosthenes, of the deme of Paeania, was a rich manufacturer of swords; his mother was a daughter of an Athenian named Gylon, who had left Athens, owing to a charge of treason, at the end of the Peloponnesian war, settled in the neighbourhood of the Cimmerian Bosporus (Crimea),1 and married a rich woman who was a native of that district. We know nothing more of her except that Aeschines describes her as a Scythian. She may have been of Hellenic descent; even Plutarch doubts the assertion of Aeschines that she was a barbarian; the suspicion, however, was enough for Aeschines, who is able to call his enemy a Greek-speaking Scythian. Demosthenes the elder died, leaving his son seven years old and a daughter aged five. By his will two nephews, Aphobos and Demophon, and a friend Therippides, were appointed trustees. The two former, as nearest of kin, were, according to Attic custom, to marry the widow and her daughter, but these provisions were not carried out. During the years of Demosthenes' minority his guardians ruined the sword business by their mismanagement, and squandered the accumulated profits. At the age of eighteen Demosthenes, who had been brought up by his mother, laid claim to his father's estate. The guardians by various devices attempted to frustrate him, and three years were spent in attempts at compromise and examinations before the arbitrators. During this time Demosthenes was studying rhetoric and judicial procedure under Isaeus, to whose methods his early speeches are so deeply indebted that a contemporary remarked ‘he had swallowed Isaeus whole.’2 At last, when he was twenty-one years old, he succeeded in bringing his wrongs before a court; thanks to the training of Isaeus he was able to plead his own case, and he won it. The ingenuity of his adversaries enabled them to involve him in further legal proceedings which lasted perhaps two years more. In the end he was victorious, but by the time he recovered his patrimony there was very little of it left. Being forced to find a means of living he adopted the profession of a speech-writer, which he followed through the greater part of his life.3 he made speeches for others to use, as his father had made swords, and he was as good a craftsman as his father. He succeeded by this new trade in repairing his damaged fortunes. In addition to forging such weapons for the use of others, he instructed pupils in the art of rhetoric. This practice he seems to have abandoned soon after the year 345 B.C., when public affairs began to have the chief claim on his energies.4 From that time forward he wielded with distinction a sword of his own manufacture. It is said that as a youth barely of age he made an attempt to speak in the ecclesia, and failed. His voice was too weak, his delivery imperfect, and his style unsuitable. The failure only inspired him to practise that he might overcome his natural defects. We are familiar with the legends of his declaiming with pebbles in his mouth and reciting speeches when running up hill, of his studies in a cave by the sea-shore, where he tried to make his voice heard above the thunder of the waves. The training to which he subjected himself enabled him to overcome to a great extent whatever disabilities he may have suffered from, but he never had the advantage of a voice and delivery such as those of Aeschines. Legends current in the time of Plutarch represent him as engrossed in the study of the best prose-writers. He copied out the history of Thucydides eight times, according to one tradition. This we need not accept, but it may be taken as certain that he studied the author's style carefully. He may not have been a pupil of Isocrates or Plato, but from the former he must have learnt much in the way of prose-construction and rhythm, and the latter's works, though he dissented from the great principle of Plato that the wise man avoids the agora and the law-courts, may well have inspired him with many of the generous ideas which are the foundation of his policy. From the study of such passages as the Melian controversy and others in which the historian bases justice upon the right of the stronger, he may have turned with relief to the nobler discussion of justice in the Republic, and indeed, in his view of what is right and good, Demosthenes approaches much nearer to the philosopher than to the historian. A professional speech-writer at Athens might make a speciality of some particular kind of cases, and by thus restricting his field become a real expert in one department, as Isaeus, for instance, did in the probate court; or, on the other hand, he might engage in quite general practice. A farmer might have a dispute with his neighbours about his boundaries, or damage caused by the overflow of surface water;5 a quiet citizen might seek redress from the law in a case of assault against which he was unable or unwilling to make retaliation in kind;6 an underwriter who had been defrauded in some shady marine transaction might wish to bring another knave to account.7 but besides these private cases, whether they are purely civil,8 or practically, if not technically, criminal actions, there is other work of more importance for a logographos. The state may wish to prosecute an official who has abused its trust. In times when honesty is rarer than cleverness it may find the necessity of appointing a prosecutor rather for his known integrity than for his ability in the law-courts. Such a prosecutor will need professional assistance; and this need evoked some of the early political speeches of Demosthenes, Against Androtion, Timocrates, and Aristocrates (355-352 B.C.). It is noticeable that we have no trace of his work between the speeches delivered against his guardians and the first of this latter group. Probably he spent these ten years partly in study and partly in the conduct of such cases as fell to the portion of a beginner. In this time he must gradually have built up a reputation, but he may not have wished to keep any record of his first essays which, when he had arrived at his maturity as a pleader, could not, perhaps, have seemed to him worthy of his reputation. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of these varied activities to the career of Demosthenes. In the course of these early years he must have made himself familiar with many branches of the law; he was brought into intimate relations with individuals of all classes, and all shades of political opinion. In order to be of use vicariously in political cases he must have made a careful study of politics. Such studies were of great value in the education of a statesman, and by means of the semi-public cases in which he was engaged, though not on his own account, and perhaps not always in accordance with his convictions, his own political opinions must gradually have been formed. In 354 B.C., the year after the trial of Androtion, Demosthenes appeared in person before the dicastery on behalf of Ctesippus in an action against Leptines. This was a case of some political importance. A few months later he came forward in the assembly to deliver his speech On the Symmories, which was shortly followed by another public harangue On Behalf of the People of Megapolis (353 B.C.). Two years later he came to the front not as a mere pleader, but a real counsellor of the people, and began the great series of Philippics. His career from this point onward is divided naturally into three periods. In the first, 351-340 B.C., he was in opposition to the party in power at Athens. The beginning of it is marked by some famous speeches, the First Philippic and the first three Olynthiac orations (351-349 B.C.). Till this time the Athenians had not realized the significance of the growth of the Macedonian power. It was only eight years since Philip, on his accession to the throne, had undertaken the great task of uniting the constituent parts of his kingdom which had long been torn by civil war, of fostering a national feeling, and creating an army. He had won incredible successes in a few years. By a combination of force and deceit he had made himself master of Amphipolis and Pydna in 357 B.C. In the following year he obtained possession of the gold mines of Mt. Pangaeus, which gave him a source of inexhaustible wealth, and enabled him to prepare more ambitious enterprises. This was an important crisis in his career: the bribery for which he was famous and in which he greatly trusted could now be practised on a large scale. In the early speeches of Demosthenes there is little reference to Philip; he is certainly not regarded as a dangerous rival of Athens. There is a passing mention of him in the Leptines (384 B.C.);9 in the Aristocrates he plays a larger part, but is treated almost contemptuously: ‘You know, of course, whom I mean by this Philip of Macedon’ (ἴστε δήρου Φίλιρρον τουτονὶ τὸν Μακέδονα) is the form in which his name is introduced (§ 111). He is considered as an enemy, but only classed with other barbarian princes, such as Cersobleptes of Thrace. But Philip was not content with annexing towns and districts in his own neighbourhood in whose integrity Athens was interested—Amphipolis, Pydna, Potidaea, Methone, and part of Thrace. He interfered in the affairs of Thessaly, which brought the trouble nearer home to Athens (353 B.C.). In 352 B.C. he proposed to pass through Thermopylae, and take part in the Sacred War against Phocis, but here Athens intervened for the first time and checked his progress. After this one vigorous stroke the Athenians, in spite of Philip's renewed activities in Thrace and on the Propontis, relapsed into an apathetic indifference, from which Demosthenes in vain tried to rouse them. The language of the First Philippic shows that Demosthenes fully recognized the seriousness of the situation, and the imminent danger to which the complacency of his countryment was exposing them; he wishes to make them feel that the case, though not yet desperate, is likely to become so if they persist in doing nothing, while a whole-hearted effort will bring them into safety again: § 2. ‘Now, first of all, Gentlemen, we must not despair about the present state of affairs, serious as it is; for our greatest weakness in the past will be our greatest strength in the future. What do I mean? I mean that you are in difficulties simply because you have never exerted yourselves to do your duty. If things were as they are in spite of serious effort on your part to act always as you should, there would be no hope of improvement. Secondly, I would have you reflect on what some of you can remember and others have been told, of the great power possessed not long ago by Sparta; yet, in face of that power you acted honourably and nobly, you in no wise detracted from your country's dignity; you faced the war unflinchingly in a just cause. . . .’ § 4. ‘If any of you thinks that Philip is invincible, considering how great is the force at his disposal, and how our city has lost all these places, he has grounds for his belief; but let him consider that we once possessed Pydna, Potidaea, and Methone, and the whole of that district; and many of the tribes, now subject to him, were free and independent and better disposed to us than to Macedon. If Philip had felt as you do now, that it was a serious matter to fight against Athens because she possessed so many strongholds commanding his own country, while he was destitute of allies, he would never have won any of his present successes, or acquired the mighty power which now alarms you. But he saw clearly that these places were the prizes of war offered in open competition; that the property of an absentee goes naturally to those who are on the spot to claim it, and those who are willing to work hard and take risks may supplant those who neglect their chances.’ § 8. ‘Do not imagine that he is as a God, secure in eternal possession. There are men who hate and fear and envy him, even among those who seem his closest associates. These feelings are for the present kept under, because through your slowness and your negligence they can find no opening. These habits, I say, you must break with.’ § 10. ‘When, I ask, when will you be roused to do your duty?—When the time of need comes, you say. What do you think of the present crisis? I hold that a free nation can never be in greater need than when their conduct is of a kind to shame them. Tell me, do you want to parade the streets asking each other, “Is there any news to-day?” What graver news can there be than that a Macedonian is crushing Athens and dictating the policy of Greece? “Philip is dead,” says one. “Oh no, but he is ill,” says another. What difference does it make to you? Even if anything happens to him you will very soon call into existence a second Philip if you attend to your interests as carefully as you are doing now. For it is not so much his own strength as your negligence that has raised him to power.’ The orator proceeds to give detailed advice for the conduct of the war; he asks for no ‘paper forces,’10 such as the assembly is in the habit of voting, irrespective of whether they can be obtained or not—ten or twenty thousand of mercenaries or the like. He requires a small but efficient expeditionary force, of which the backbone is to be a contingent of citizenhoplites, one quarter of the whole; a small but efficient fleet, and money to pay both army and navy—this was a matter often overlooked by the assembly—and an Athenian general in whom the host will have confidence. The advice was moderate and sound in the extreme. Demosthenes probably knew what he was talking about when he said that two thousand hoplites, two hundred cavalry, and fifty triremes were enough for the present. A resolute attack on Philip by such a force would probably have put fresh heart into the many enemies whom he had not yet completely subdued. There is a further point which marks the difference between the present advice and that of previous counsellors. The army is not to be enlisted for a particular expedition only; it is to be maintained at its original strength as long as may be necessary.11 Soldiers will serve for a certain limited time, and at the end of their term will be replaced by fresh troops.12 The army which he suggests will not be enough to defeat Philip unaided, but enough to produce a strong impression. They might send a large force, but it would be unwieldy, and they could not maintain it.13 The First Philippic failed to produce the effect desired. The Olynthiac speeches which closely followed it were also ineffectual. In 349 B.C. Philip seized a pretext for making war on Olynthus, which appealed for help to Athens. The alliance, which had been sought in vain in 357 and 352 B.C., was now, apparently, granted with little opposition, and Chares with two thousand mercenaries sent to the help of the Olynthian league. Demosthenes tries to emphasize the importance of the situation; the aid which has been voted is not enough; they ought to act at once, sending two forces of citizens, not mercenaries; the one to protect Olynthus, the other to harass Philip elsewhere. Large supplies of money are necessary, and he hints that the Athenians have such supplies ready at hand. He refers to the Festival Fund (θεωρικόν), but concerning this he is in a delicate position. The ministry of Eubulus was in power, and a law of Eubulus had pronounced any attempt to tamper with the θεωρικόν a criminal offence. Demosthenes, being one of a weak minority, could only move cautiously, suggesting that a change of administration was desirable, but not proposing a definite motion. There is a marked difference in tone between the first two speeches and the third. In the former Demosthenes insists that everything is still to be done, but he points out that there are many weak points in Philip's armour, and a vigorous and united policy may still defeat him. In the third he makes it clear that the opportunity is past, and the lost ground can only be recovered by desperate measures. He openly advocates the conversion of the Festival Fund into a military chest, and this is the main theme of the oration, to which every argument in turn leads up.14 The efforts of Athens were dilatory and insufficient; Olynthus and the other cities of the Chalcidian League fell in the following year (349 B.C.); they were destroyed, and all the inhabitants made slaves. Attempts to unite the Peloponnesian States against the common enemy were futile, and negotiations were begun between Philip and Athens. They were conducted at first informally by private persons, but in 347 B.C., on the proposal of Philocrates, an embassy was sent to Philip. Philip's answer, received in 346 B.C., demanded that Phocis and Halus should be excluded from the proposed treaty. Demosthenes contested this point, but Aeschines carried it. A second embassy was sent, and the discreditable Peace of Philocrates was signed. The result was the ruin of Phocis. Although Demosthenes disapproved of the peace, later in the year, in his speech On the Peace, he urged Athens to keep its conditions, arguing that to break it would bring upon them even greater disaster. In consequence of the peace, Philip had been able to convoke the Amphictyonic Council, and pass a vote for the condemnation of Phocis. Twenty-two towns were destroyed, and the Phocian votes in the Council transferred to Philip, who was also made president of the Pythian Games. Thus the barbarian of a few years ago had received the highest religious sanction for his claim to be the leader of Greece. Athens alone, whose precedence he had usurped, refused to recognize him, and Demosthenes saw that to persist in a hostile attitude might involve all the States in a new Amphictyonic war. It was better to surrender their scruples, and to regard the convention not, indeed, as a permanent peace, but a truce during which fresh preparations might be made. Six years of nominal peace ensued, during which Philip extended his influence diplomatically. Whether from principle or policy he treated Athens with marked courtesy, and, through his agents, made vague offers of the great services which he was prepared to render. Many of the citizens believed in his sincerity, notably Isocrates, who in 346 B.C. spoke of the baseless suspicions caused by the assertions of malicious persons, that Philip wished to destroy Greek freedom (Isocr., Philippus, § 73-74). Demosthenes was never duped by these professions. He was now a recognized leader, and was gathering to his side a powerful body of patriotic orators such as Lycurgus and Hyperides. Philip, after organizing the government of Thessaly and allying himself with Thebes, interfered in the Peloponnese by supporting Messene, Arcadia, and Argos against Sparta. An Athenian embassy, led by Demosthenes, was sent to these states to advise them of the danger which they incurred by their new alliance. Some impression was produced, and apparently an embassy was sent by some of the states to Athens. In reply to their representations, of which no trace is preserved, Demosthenes delivered the Second Philippic. In it he exposes the king's duplicity. ‘The means used by Athens to counteract his manœuvres are quite inadequate; we talk, but he acts. We speak to the point, but do nothing to the point. Each side is superior in the line which it follows, but his is the more effective line (§§ 1-5). Philip's assurances of goodwill are accepted too readily. He realized that Thebes, in consideration of favours received, would further his designs. He is now showing favour to Messene and Argos from the same motive. He has paid Athens the high compliment of not offering her a disgraceful bargain (§§ 6-12). His past actions betray him; as he made the Boeotian cities subject to Thebes, he is not likely to free the Peloponnesian States from Sparta. He knows that he is really aiming at you, and that you are aware of it; that is why he is ever on the alert, and supports against you Thebans and Peloponnesians, who, he thinks, are greedy enough to swallow his present offers, and too stupid to foresee the consequences' (§§ 12-19). The epilogue contains an indictment of those whose policy is to blame for the present troubles. In accordance with Demosthenes' general practice Aeschines and Philocrates, at whom he aims the charge, are not mentioned by name. The anti-Macedonian party grew in strength in 343 B.C. Hyperides impeached Philocrates, who retired into exile and was condemned to death. About the same time Demosthenes himself brought into court an action against Aeschines, which had been pending for three years, for traitorous conduct in connexion with the embassy to Philip. The position was a difficult one for two reasons: his own policy in that matter could not be sharply distinguished from that of Aeschines; the accusation depended largely on discrimination of motives, and he had practically no proof of the guilt of Aeschines. Considering the technical weakness of the prosecutor's case it is not surprising that Aeschines escaped; it is more remarkable that he was acquitted only by a small majority. In 342 B.C. Philip, whose influence in the Peloponnese had slightly waned, began a fresh campaign in Thrace, and in 341 B.C. had reached the Chersonese. The possession of this district meant the control of the Dardanelles, and, as Athens still depended largely on the Black Sea trade for her corn supply, his progress was a menace to her existence. Diopeithes, an Athenian mercenary captain, had in 343 B.C. taken settlers to Cardia, a town in the Chersonese in nominal alliance with Macedon. Cardia was unwilling to receive them, and Philip sent help to the town. Diopeithes, who, in accordance with the habit of the times, in order to support his fleet, exacted ‘benevolences’ from friends and foes impartially, happened to plunder some districts in Thrace which were subject to Macedon. Philip addressed a letter of remonstrance to Athens, and his adherents in the city demanded the recall of Diopeithes. Demosthenes in his speech On the Chersonese urged that the Chersonese should not be abandoned at such a crisis: a permanent force must be maintained there. He defends the actions of Diopeithes by an appeal to necessity. The Athenians were in the habit of voting armaments for foreign service without voting them supplies; consequently the generals had to supply themselves.
In addition to including a plan of campaign, the speech contains, as many of the orations do, a frank statement of the position of affairs, and the usual invectives against Athenian apathy. The concluding section, however, contains a more solemn warning than is usual, showing that Demosthenes almost despairs of success.
“All the generals who have ever sailed from Athens take money from Chios, Erythrae, or from any other Asiatic city they can. Those who have one or two ships take less; those with a larger force take more. Those who give, whether in large or small amounts, are not so mad as to give them for nothing; they are purchasing protection for merchants sailing from their ports, immunity from ravages, safe convoy for their own ships and other such advantages. They will tell you that they give “Benevolences,” which is the term applied to these extortions.Now in the present case, since Diopeithes has an army, it is obvious that all these people will give him money. Since he got nothing from you, and has no private means to pay his soldiers with, where else do you imagine he can get money to keep them? Will it fall from the skies? Unfortunately, no. He has to live from day to day on what he can collect and beg and borrow.”
The Third Philippic was delivered in the same year (341 B.C.). The situation is in all essentials the same. Demosthenes again demands that help should be sent to the Chersonese and the safety of Byzantium assured; but he does not enlarge on these points, which have been treated by previous speakers (§ 19). ‘We must help them, it is true, and take care that no harm befalls them; but our deliberations must be about the great danger which now threatens the whole of Greece.’ (§ 20). It is this breadth of view which distinguishes the Third Philippic, and makes it the greatest of all the public harangues. In the Chersonese Demosthenes had suggested the dispatch of numerous embassies; he now enlarges on this topic; the interests of Athens must be identified with those of all Greece, and all States must be made to realize this. Philip's designs are against Greek liberty as a whole; Athens must arm and put herself at the head of a great league in the struggle for freedom.
“If you grasp the situation as I have indicated, and cease to make light of everything, it may be, it may be that even now our affairs may take a favourable turn; but if you continue to sit still and confine your enthusiasm to expressions of applause and votes of approval, but shirk the issue when any action is required of you, I cannot conceive of any eloquence which, without performance of your duty, can guide our State to safety.”
This short extract is a fair example of Demosthenes' vigorous use of historical argument, but it can give little idea of the speech as a whole. It abounds, indeed, in enumerations of recent events bearing on the case, and in contrasts between the present and the past. This running appeal to example to a great extent takes the place of reasoned argument, but the effect of the whole, with its combined appeals to feeling and reason, is convincingly strong. The orator himself must have attached great importance to this speech as an exposition of his policy, for he appears to have published two recensions of it. Both are preserved in different families of MSS. The shorter text contained in S (Parisinus) and L (Laurentianus) omits many phrases and even whole passages which occur in the other group. It is believed that the shorter is the final form in which Demosthenes wished to preserve the speech.15 The Fourth Philippic contains the suggestion that Athens should make overtures to the Persian king for help against Philip. The speech is probably a forgery, but one of a peculiar kind. About a third of the text consists of passages taken directly from the speech On the Chersonese, and one division (§§ 35-45) is in favour of a distribution of the Theoric Fund, which is quite opposed to the policy of the Olynthiacs and the Chersonese speech. On the other hand, some passages are in a style and tone quite worthy of Demosthenes, and consistent with his views. There can be little doubt that we have here a compilation from actual speeches of Demosthenes, expanded by a certain amount of rhetorical invention. The ‘answer to Philip's letter’ and the speech περὶ συντάξεως are, on the other hand, simple forgeries. This concludes the list of the Philippic speeches. Our record of Demosthenes' public speeches ceases with the Third Philippic, at the moment when his eloquence had reached its greatest height. The great speeches belong to the years of opposition; now, after eleven years of combat, he had established himself as chief leader of the assembly. He spoke, no doubt, frequently and impressively, but, engaged in important administrative work, he had no leisure or need for writing. The years 340-338 B.C. were a time of vigorous revival for Athens. For a short but brilliant period it seemed that the city-state might emerge triumphant from the struggle against monarchy. Enthusiasm inspired the patriotic party to noble efforts. Euboea was removed from Philip's influence, and Athens inaugurated a new league, including Acarnania, Achaea, Corcyra, Corinth, Euboea, and Megara. Philip himself suffered a check before Byzantium, which had appealed to Athens for help, and had not called in vain. In internal affairs, a new trierarchic law not only increased the efficiency of the fleet, but abolished a great social grievance by making the burden of trierarchy fall on all classes in just proportion to their means, whereas hitherto the poorer citizens had suffered unduly. A still greater reform was the execution of the project, so long cherished, for applying the Theoric Fund to the expenses of war (339 B.C.). In 338 B.C. Lycurgus was appointed to the Ministry of Finance, an office which he was to fill with exceptional efficiency for twelve years to come. But Philip held many strings, and was most dangerous when he seemed to turn his back on his enemies. Unsuccessful on the Hellespont, he withdrew his fleet and undertook an expedition by land against a Scythian prince who had offended him. This journey had no direct relation to his greater designs, and Athens was pleased to think that he might be defeated or even killed. He was, indeed, wounded, but he returned to Macedonia in 339 B.C., having accomplished what was probably his chief object, to restore the confidence of his soldiers after their reverses in recent encounters with the Greeks. Meanwhile events in Greece, which perhaps were partly directed by his influence, pursued a course favourable to his plans. In 340 B.C. two enemies of Demosthenes, Midias and Aeschines, represented Athens as pylagorae at the Amphictyonic Council. Aeschines describes how, apparently from no political motive but for the satisfaction of a personal grudge, he himself inflamed the passions of the Amphictyons to the point of declaring a sacred war against the Locrians of Amphissa. Any war between Greeks was to Philip's advantage. The Amphictyonic War was carried on in a dilatory way, and in the autumn of 339 B.C. the Council, still under the influence of Aeschines, nominated Philip to carry the affair to a conclusion. The king had recovered quickly from his wound, and eagerly embraced the sacred mission which allowed him to pass through Thessaly and Thermopylae unmolested. On reaching Elatea, once the principal town of Phocis, but now desolate, he halted and began to put the place in a state of defence. The news was received at Athens with great consternation, as Demosthenes vividly describes (de Cor., §§ 169-170). An assembly was hastily summoned, and Demosthenes explained the full import of this action. It was a threat to Athens and Thebes alike. All the masterly eloquence of the great statesman was exerted to the utmost of his powers to induce Athens to forget long-standing enmities and offer to Thebes the help of her entire fighting force freely and unconditionally. It was probably the greatest triumph of eloquence ever known that Demosthenes was successful in his plea. War was inevitable sooner or later, and it is greatly to his credit that he brought about the Theban alliance, though it ended disastrously for all the Greeks concerned in the battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.). Henceforward the influence of Athens on external affairs was strictly limited, though she retained her independence, for Philip was a generous foe.16 Demosthenes busied himself with internal matters; to him was committed the repair of the fortifications, to the expense of which he gave a contribution of 100 minae. For this act Ctesiphon proposed in 337 B.C. that he should be rewarded with a gold crown. Aeschines indicted Ctesiphon for an illegal motion, and the famous case of The Crown, which produced great speeches from both the rivals, was the result. The case, however, was not heard till six years later. In 336 B.C. Philip was murdered. Demosthenes set the example of rejoicing by appearing in public crowned with flowers, though he was in mourning for his daughter at the time. The great hopes which the city-states had entertained were dashed to the ground by the energy of Alexander, who, though only twenty years old, proved himself an even greater general and statesman than his father. Thebes was induced to revolt by Demosthenes, who was supported by Persian gold, but Alexander crushed and destroyed Thebes before help could reach it, and sent an ultimatum to Athens. He demanded the surrender of Demosthenes, Lycurgus, and eight other orators of their party. They were saved, it appears, by the intervention of Demades (Plut., Dem., ch. xxiii). Alexander departed for Asia, and Athenian statesmen were left to quarrel about the politics of their city. It was now that the great case in which Demosthenes and Aeschines were concerned came up for trial. The matter nominally in dispute was only a pretext; it was really a question of reviewing and passing judgment on the political life of the two great antagonists for the last twenty years. The charges of illegality brought against Ctesiphon were three: (1) That the decree, falsely asserting that Demosthenes had done good service to the State, involved the insertion of a lie into the public records. (2) That it was illegal to crown an official who, like Demosthenes, was still subject to audit. (3) That proclamation of the crowning in the theatre was illegal. On (2) and (3), the technical points, the prosecutor had a strong case, but the first section was the only one of real importance, since the process was really aimed at Demosthenes. The main part of the speech of Aeschines against Ctesiphon is accordingly devoted to an indictment of the public life of Demosthenes. Four periods are taken: (1) From the war about Amphipolis to the peace of Philocrates (357-346 B.C.). (2) The years of peace (346-340 B.C.). (3) The ministry of Demosthenes (340-338 B.C.). (4) The years after Chaeronea (338-330 B.C.). The reply of Demosthenes (de Corona) is mainly concerned with a defence of his own policy, the technical points on which the issue nominally depended being kept very much in the background. It is remarkable that in dealing with the early years he makes no attempt to take credit for the great speeches by which in that time he attempted to influence his country— the First Philippic and the three Olynthiacs. He discusses chiefly the peace negotiations. He speaks more fully of the second period, and lays the greatest stress on the third—the years during which he was the acknowledged leader of the people, so that an eulogy of the national policy must involve a tribute to his own patriotism. Only short allusions are made to the last period, the years since the battle of Chaeronea. The order is not chronological, and the structure is not apparently systematic; nevertheless the de Corona is the greatest of all Athenian speeches. The speech cannot be represented by extracts; it must be read as a whole to be appreciated. All that a summary can do is to draw attention to the peculiarities of structure, which are possibly due in some measure to the length of the speech and the variety of the subjects which have to be treated:17 1. §§ 1-8. The conventional exordium, in this case both introduced and finished by a solemn prayer. 2. §§ 9-52. Refutation of the calumnies uttered by Aeschines. This section consists chiefly of Demosthenes' own version of the negotiations for the peace of 346 B.C., showing that Aeschines and his associates were really guilty of treason in their dealings with Philip. 3. §§ 53-125. Defence of Ctesiphon—Demosthenes undertakes to prove (a) that he deserved to receive a crown, (b) that on the legal point Ctesiphon is not to blame. (a) He summarizes the condition of Greece during the years of peace, and immediately after it records his own public services and justifies his policy. (b) He examines the question of legality, and proves that Ctesiphon is on the right side of the law. 4. §§ 126-159. Invective against Aeschines. This might be called a pseudo-epilogue, but is really only an interlude. It deals with (a) the birth and life of his rival, and (b) in particular, his action which kindled an Amphictyonic war. 5. §§ 160-251. Demosthenes continues the discussion of his past policy, in regard to the Theban alliance and the last war with Philip. 6. §§ 252-324. An epilogue of exceptional length, mainly devoted to a comparison between Demosthenes and Aeschines. The speaker closely identifies himself with the city, whose policy he has shaped; so that in attacking him, Aeschines attacks Athens. The speech ends, as it began, with a prayer.
“‘I pass over Olynthus, Methone, and Apollonia, and thirty-two cities in the Thracian district, all of which he has so brutally destroyed that it is hard for a visitor to say whether they were ever inhabited. I am silent about the destruction of a great nation, the Phocians. But how fares Thessaly? Has he not deprived the cities of their governments, and established tetrarchies, in order that they may be enslaved, not only city by city, but tribe by tribe? Are not the cities of Euboea now ruled by tyrants, though that island is close on the borders of Thebes and Athens? Does he not expressly state in his letters “I am at peace with those who will obey me”? And his actions corroborate his words. He has started for the Hellespont; before that he visited Ambracia; he holds in the Peloponnese the important city of Elis; only the other day he made plots against Megara. Neither Greece nor the countries beyond it can contain his ambition.”