Structure of speeches
The structure of the speeches will give us a last example of the versatility of the composer and his freedom from conventional form.
We find, indeed, that he regularly has some kind of exordium and epilogue, but in the arrangement of other divisions of the speech he allows himself perfect freedom; we cannot reckon on finding a statement of the
case in one place, followed regularly by evidence, by refutation of the opponent's arguments, and so forth. All elements may be interspersed, since he marshals his arguments not in chronological nor even, necessarily, in logical order, but in such an arrangement as seems to him most decisive. He is bound by no conventional rules of warfare, and may leave his flanks unprotected while he delivers a crushing attack on the centre. In some cases it is almost impossible to make regular divisions by technical rule; thus, in the de Corona
there is matter for dispute as to where the epilogue really begins.1
The majority of the speeches actually end, according to the Attic convention which governed both Tragedy and Oratory, in a few sentences of moderate tone contrasting with the previous excitement; a calm succeeds to the storm of passions. In the forensic speeches there is usually at the very end some appeal for a just verdict, or a statement of the speaker's conviction that the case may now be safely left to the court's decision; thus the Leptines
ends with a simplicity worthy of Lysias:
‘I cannot see that I need say any more; for I conceive there is no point on which you are not sufficiently instructed’; the Midias
more solemnly, ‘On account of all that I have laid before you, and particularly to show respect to the god whose festival Midias is proved to have profaned,
punish him by rendering a verdict in accordance with piety and justice.’
In the de Falsa Legatione
there is more personal feeling: ‘You must not let him go, but make his punishment an example to all Athens and all Greece.’ The Timocrates
is rather similar: ‘Mercy under these circumstances is out of place; to pass a light sentence means to habituate and educate in wrong-doing as many of you as possible.’ The Androtion
ends with a personal opinion on the aspect of the offence, and the Aristocrates
is in a similar tone. The (first) speech against Aristogiton appeals directly to the personal interests of all the jurors: ‘His offence touches every one, every one of you: and all of you desire to be quit of his wickedness and see him punished.’
The de Corona
is remarkable in every way; this great speech, which, arising from causes almost trivial, abandons the slighter issues, and is transformed into a magnificent defence of the patriotic policy, begins with a solemn invocation: ‘I begin, men of Athens, with a prayer to all the gods and goddesses that you may show me in this case as much good-will as I have shown and still show to Athens and to all of you.’ It ends in an unique way with an appeal, not to the court but to a higher tribunal, an appeal which is all the more impressive as its language recalls the sacred formulas of religious utterance. ‘Never, ye gods of heaven, never may you give their conduct your sanction; but, if it be possible, may you impart even to my enemies a sounder mind and heart. But if they are beyond remedy, hurl them to utter and absolute destruction by land and sea; and to the rest of us
grant, as quickly as may be, release from the terrors which hang over us, and salvation unshakable.’
The speeches before the assembly are naturally different in their endings from the judicial speeches; there is no criminal to attack, and no crime to stigmatize; the hearers themselves are, as it were, on their defence, and Demosthenes freely points out their faults, but, as has been noticed, individual opponents escape; if there have been evil counsellors, the responsibility for following bad advice rests with the public, and they can only be exhorted to follow a better course. The speeches on the Symmories
and on Megalopolis
end with a summary of the speaker's advice. So, too, does that On the Freedom of Rhodes,
the last words containing a fine appeal to the lesson of antiquity. ‘Consider that your forefathers dedicated these trophies not in order that you might gaze in admiration upon them, but in the hope that you might imitate the virtues of those who dedicated them.’
Several of the speeches dealing with the Macedonian question end with a short prayer for guidance: thus, the First Philippic,
‘May that counsel prevail which is likely to be to the advantage of all’; the First Olynthiac,
‘May your decision be a sound one, for all your sakes’; the Third Philippic,
‘Whatever you decide, I pray to heaven it may be to your advantage’; the Third Olynthiac,
‘I have told you what I think is to your advantage, and I pray that you may choose what is likely to be of advantage to the State and all yourselves.’
Sometimes there is a greater show of confidence, as in the Second Olynthiac
: ‘If you act thus, you will not only commend your present counsellor, but you will
have cause to commend your own conduct later on, when you find a general improvement in your prospects.’
The Second Philippic
ends with a prayer rather similar to that in the de Corona,
though less emphatic; the speech On the Chersonese
with a reproof and a warning.2 The Peace
contains no epilogue at all, but breaks off with a sarcasm.
An indication of the nature of the subjects of the genuine speeches may be useful for reference. They may be taken in their three groups: A. Private, B. Public, C. Deliberative speeches.
Speeches in private causes
i. and ii., 363 B.C., delivered in the action which Demosthenes brought against his guardian for the recovery of his property.
For Phanos against Aphobus,
363 B.C. Aphobus, convicted in the former case, accused a witness, Phanos, of perjury: Demosthenes defends the latter.
i. and ii., 362 B.C. Another case arising out of the guardianship. When Aphobus was convicted it was found that he had made over some of the property to his father-in-law Onetor, against whom Demosthenes was forced to bring a δίκη ἐξούλης
On the Trierarchic Crown,
between 361-357 B.C. Apollodorus, having been awarded the crown given each year to the trierarch who first had his ship in commission, claims a second crown for having given the best equipped ship.
(date unknown). One Polyeuctus died, leaving his property equally to his two daughters. The husband of the elder claims that the dowry promised with her was never paid in full, and that Spudias,
the husband of the younger daughter, has consequently no right to half of the gross
estate. The debt to the complainant should be discharged first.
(date unknown). Callicles, a farmer, alleges that the defendant's father built a wall stopping a water-course; consequently the plaintiff's land was flooded in rainy weather. The defendant denies the charge, and ridicules it on the ground that the highroad was the natural water-course.3
(possibly 341 B.C., see Paley and Sandys' edition). Ariston prosecutes Conon for assault. The quarrel dated from a time when the two parties were on garrison duty, and Conon and his sons deliberately annoyed Ariston and his friends. Subsequently the defendant, aided by his sons and others, members of a disreputable ‘Mohock’ club called the ‘Triballi,’ violently assaulted the speaker (above, p. 237
350 B.C. Phormio, chief clerk to Pasion, the famous Athenian banker, succeeded him in the business. Some years later Apollodorus, Pasion's elder son, claimed a sum of money, said to be due to him under his father's will; Phormio, however, proved that a compromise had been made which rendered the present action invalid.
i., 349 or 348 B.C. Apollodorus accuses Stephanus, a witness for Phormio in the previous case, of perjury. It is noticeable that Demosthenes, the professional speech-writer, has now changed sides, an action of rather dubious morality if judged by strict standards.
i., 348 B.C. Mantias, an Athenian politician, had three sons, Mantitheus (legitimate), and Boeotus and another illegitimate. Boeotus laid claim to the name Mantitheus, and the true Mantitheus brought an action to restrain him from using the name.
346 B.C. A plea (παραγραφή
) by one Nicobulus against Pantaenetus, who had charged the former with damaging his mining property. The case is hard to follow, since the mine in question was held in succession by no less than six different parties, whether as owners, mortgagees, or lessees.
(about 346 B.C.). Nausimachus and Xenopeithes, orphans, brought an action against their guardian Aristaechmus with regard to their estate, but agreed to compromise for three talents, which was duly paid. After his death they brought an action against his four sons, renewing their original claim. The sons put in a παραγραφή
to stop the action on the ground of the compromise.
345 B.C. Euxitheus, who has been ‘objected to’ at the revision of the list of citizens, claims that he is a citizen by rights, but has been removed from the roll maliciously by Eubulides. The present case is his appeal (ἔφεσις
) to the court against the decision.
The remaining private speeches were quite possibly not composed by Demosthenes, though proof is generally impossible. They seem, however, to be genuine speeches, composed for delivery by some author or authors of the Demosthenic period, and are of extreme interest and importance to all students of private life at Athens.
369 B.C. An ἔφεσις
to a court from an arbitration which, according to the plaintiff Apollodorus, Pasion's son, was informal, as the arbitrator had not taken the oath. The case arises from a claim made by Callippus for money deposited with the banker Pasion, and by him paid out to one Cephisiades.
368-365 B.C. Apollodorus had declared that Arethusius, a debtor to the State, possessed two slaves, who were liable to be confiscated in payment of the debt. Nicostratus, brother of Arethusius, declared that the slaves were his. Apollodorus in this speech has to prove that the claim is false.
362 B.C. Apollodorus claims from Timotheus money which, he affirms, the latter borrowed from Pasion.
358 B.C. Apollodorus was forced to act at trierarch beyond the appointed time, as Polycles, his successor, was not ready to take over the duty. The former claims damages.
ii. See Against Stephanus,
i., to which this is a supplement.
Against Euergus and Mnesibulus,
356-353 B.C. A prosecution for perjury of witnesses in a case of extrierarchs who are state-debtors.
date unknown. An intricate story of fraud and collusion in connexion with money borrowed on the security of a ship and an attempt to scuttle the ship.
ii., 348-346 B.C. (see the first speech Against Boeotus
). Mantitheus claims from his brothers the payment of his mother's dowry in addition to his share of his father's inheritance.
Against Macartatus, c.
341 B.C. A case dealing with a forged will and conflicting claims to an inheritance.
Against Olympiodorus, c.
341 B.C. Olympiodorus and Callistratus, brothers-in-law, obtained the inheritance of Conon. Their title being questioned, judgment went against them by default. They brought a fresh action, Olympiodorus claiming the whole and Callistratus half, but they had secretly agreed to divide the booty equally. Olympiodorus was awarded the whole, and kept it, so Callistratus brought an action on the ground of their agreement.
date unknown. Lacritus disclaims responsibility for the debts of his brother Artemon, whose property he has inherited.
330 B.C. (?). The petitioner, chosen for the trierarchy, claimed that Phaenippus was better able to afford it, and should submit to antidosis, or exchange of property. He accuses Phaenippus of making a false declaration.
date unknown; another case of disputed inheritance.
341 B.C. (?). Apaturius claims that the speaker has certain liabilities towards him in accordance with an agreement which he has lost. The speaker affirms in a παραγραφή
that the contract was fulfilled some time ago and the document torn up.
Against Phormio, c.
326 B.C. Phormio having borrowed money on the security of a ship's cargo in a voyage to the Bosporus and back, shipped no cargo on the return journey, but as the ship was lost, evaded his liabilities. When Chrysippus, the debtor,
claimed repayment, Phormio put in a παραγραφή
stating that he had fulfilled his contract.
323-322 B.C. Another action for breach of contract in a similar case.
Speeches in public causes
355 B.C., written for Diodorus. Androtion had proposed the bestowal of a golden crown on the Boulé for their services during the year. Euctemon and Diodorus attacked the proposal as illegal because the navy had not been increased during the year. Demosthenes in this speech attacks the retrograde naval policy, pointing out by historical argument the importance of the navy, and inveighs generally against the corruptness of the party which Androtion represents, as well as his personal character.
354 B.C. This is the first appearance of Demosthenes in a public court. Leptines had proposed the abolition of hereditary immunities from taxation (ἀτέλειαι
) granted to public benefactors. It was a salutary measure in view of the existing financial embarrassment, but Demosthenes opposed it as being a breach of faith. ‘You must take care not to be found guilty of doing, as a State, the sort of thing that you would shrink from as individuals.’ (§ 136
). This debasement of the State is compared to a debasement of the coinage (§ 167
), which is a capital offence.
353 B.C. Another speech written for Diodorus, contains several passages repeated from the Androtion.
This man and others, having failed to repay certain moneys which they had embezzled, were liable to imprisonment. Timocrates proposed
an extension of the time within which they might pay. Demosthenes maintains that the law was informally passed and was unconstitutional. Many of the arguments are sophistical or trivial, but some are weighty, and on general grounds, that retrospective legislation in the interests of individuals is bad, this speech is very sound. The peroration contains an eulogy on the laws of Athens.4
352 B.C., is an important authority for the Athenian law of homicide. Aristocrates had carried a resolution making the person of Charidemus inviolable. This man, an Euboean by birth, was a mercenary leader, who having helped to lose Amphipolis, was now proposing to recover it. He was at present commanding the forces of the Thracian chief Cersobleptes. Demosthenes wrote this speech for Euthycles, who impeached the proposal. It contains an unusually careful arrangement in three divisions: (1) The proposal is illegal, (2) it is against our interest, (3) Charidemus is an unworthy person. Demosthenes is seen at his best in his appeal to legislative principle, his use of historical argument, and his description of the conditions of mercenary service and the politics of the barbarian fringe. The case against Charidemus is strong; he has been in the service of Athens, Olynthus, Asia, and Thrace, and has played fast and loose with all.
347 B.C. A fine speech on a trivial subject, which all the eloquence of Demosthenes cannot dignify. Strong emotion is evident all through, the tone is exalted, there are pathetic and humorous passages, and all about a box on the ear!
Midias, who had a long-standing personal grudge against Demosthenes, was also his political opponent. When Demosthenes undertook to furnish the chorus for his tribe at the greater Dionysia in 348 B.C., Midias did all that he could to ruin the performance. On the day itself he slapped Demosthenes in the face in the presence of the whole people in the theatre (above, p. 190
). Demosthenes laid a complaint, and Midias was declared guilty of ‘contempt’ in a religious sense (ἀδικεῖν περὶ τὴν ἑορτήν
). This preliminary vote involved no penalty, and Demosthenes was determined to push the case to extremes. Midias, having assaulted an official in discharge of his duty, and, further, committed sacrilege in so doing, might be condemned to death or confiscation of property. In the end, however, as we learn from Aeschines (Ctes., § 52
), a compromise was made, and Demosthenes accepted half a talent as compensation for his injuries. This sum was quite inadequate, but there is good reason to believe that Demosthenes gave way for political reasons, since at the end of this year we find there is an understanding between him and the party of Eubulus, to which Midias belonged.
On the Embassy
(de Falsa Legatione
), 344 B.C.
We come now to the two great speeches arising out of the political hostility of Demosthenes and Aeschines, the speeches On the Embassy,
344 B.C., and On the Crown,
330 B.C. The history of the quarrel has been given in earlier chapters, and the speeches themselves to some extent described, since an account of the lives of the two orators must have been very incomplete without a full reference to their antagonism. A few supplementary remarks may, however, be in place here.
In the Embassy
Demosthenes has to fight an uphill fight; he accuses Aeschines of having, from corrupt motives, concluded a dishonourable and fatal peace. He can bring no direct evidence of the guilt of his rival, but his presumptive evidence is strong. He has one undisputed fact to work upon: Aeschines, on his return from the second embassy, made certain statements and promises which misled the people, and resulted in the occupation of Thermopylae and the ruin of Phocis. Aeschines himself must either have been duped or bribed by Philip, and as he has never admitted that he was a fool, it becomes certain that he was a knave. A long section of the speech (§§ 29-97
) is devoted to a description of the effects of Aeschines' policy, and another (§§ 98-149
) infers his guilt on the lines indicated and from other incidents in his career. A presumption of guilt had already been reached in the opening sections (§§ 9-28
) where the sudden change of front of Aeschines is described. The impression is strengthened by a review of the events of the second embassy (§§ 150-178
). The charge has now been established as far as circumstances permit; the remainder of the speech, almost as long as this first part, is really a supplement. It is more discursive, and in some places, by its enunciation of general principles, recalls the tone of deliberative oratory.
The speech On the Crown,
(cf. above, p. 223
), 330 B.C., surpasses even the preceding speech in the appearance of disorder, which is probably due to deep design. The unity and consistency of the whole is preserved by the thought, which pervades every section, that the speaker must identify himself with the city; his policy has been
hers; personal interests are merged in those of the community, and the case is to be won not on technical points of law but by a justification of the broader principles which have underlain all actions of the State.
The speeches Against Aristogiton,
are generally considered spurious; Weil, however, defends the authenticity of the first, while abandoning the second. The process is an attempt to crush a malicious and dangerous sycophant.
Two more public speeches by contemporary writers are included wrongly in editions of Demosthenes: Against Neaera,
written for Apollodorus between 343 and 339 B.C., on a question of the legal status of a hetaira, and Against Theocrines,
about 340 B.C. Theocrines was another sycophant, whom Demosthenes branded for ever by using his name as a term of abuse, referring to Aeschines as ‘a Theocrines with the bearing of a tragic actor.’6
On the Symmories,
354 B.C., deals with a rumour that Persia intended to invade Greece. Demosthenes points out that this apprehension is unfounded, and discourages any rash steps; but admits that trouble is to be anticipated in the future, and so finds an opportunity for introducing a scheme of naval reform. The money could be obtained when the danger was imminent (see pp. 244-245
above); it was necessary now to perfect the machinery. The style is Thucydidean.
For the people of Megalopolis,
353 B.C. Megalopolis, the city of the Arcadian league, instituted by Epaminondas, was threatened with disruption by Sparta, and appealed to Athens. Sparta sent an embassy at the same time. Demosthenes, professing neutrality, really supported the Arcadians, wishing to preserve their integrity for the sake of the balance of power. He failed in his object.
351 B.C., see pp. 206-210
For the Liberty of the Rhodians,
351 B.C., supports the claim of the islanders against oppression by Artemisia, widow of Mausolus of Caria. Demosthenes failed again, chiefly through the prejudice against Rhodes, which had revolted against Athens in 357 B.C.
and Third Olynthiacs,
all in 349 B.C., see p. 210
On the Peace,
346 B.C., see p. 212
344 B.C., see pp. 213-214
On the Chersonese,
341 B.C., see pp. 215-216
341 B.C., see pp. 216-218
The spurious Fourth Philippic
(341-340 B.C.) has been discussed (above, p. 218
). The speech on Halonnesus
(342 B.C.) is attributed to Hegesippus. It is a reply to an offer on the part of Philip to present to Athens the island of Halonnesus which he had seized, after clearing out the pirates who occupied it.7
On the Treaty with Alexander,
date uncertain, probably 335 B.C., is also by a contemporary of Demosthenes. The theme is,—Treaties should be observed by all, but Macedon has broken promises, so this is an opportunity for Athens to recover her freedom
The Answer to Philip's Letter
and the speech περὶ συντάξεως
(on financial organization) are generally regarded as rhetorical forgeries.
Two epideictic speeches, the Epitaphius
are almost certainly not by Demosthenes, and the six Letters
are doubtful. The fifty-six prooemia, or introductions to speeches, are probably genuine exercises of the orator's early days.