THIS action relates, like that against Phormion, to a loan on bottomry, and the non-fulfilment of a contract. The case is plain, and involves no serious difficulties, either in the legal points or in the argument; but the speech is one of considerable value as illustrating the nature of the corn-trade at Athens, and the regulations by which it was controlled1. Why it is named an action for damage in most of the MSS is not so clear. The action was, in fact, to enforce the payment, with interest, of a loan, which was repudiated on the plea of injury to the ship. But, as the ship was the security for the money, and it had not been produced for the mortgagees, we may suppose that βλάβη means ‘loss’ in respect of this part of the contract2. According to Mr Kennedy3, any action at the suit of the party injured was a δίκη βλάβης. And as the injury in this case was a wrong done ex delicto, and not merely a breach of obligation ex contractu, it is entitled κατὰ Διονυσοδώρου and not πρὸς Διονυσόδωρον4.

Darius and Pamphilus had lent to Dionysodorus 3000 drachms, to enable him to engage in the corn-trade between Athens and Egypt. The loan was to be repaid, with interest, on the return to Athens (ἀμφοτερόπλους, § 6), and clauses were inserted binding the borrowers to trade only between Athens and Egypt (§§ 6, 42) and to give up the ship on their return, as security for the payment, under penalty of twice the whole amount due (§ 45). They were to have the use of the money for one year, and had no right to extend the time (§§ 3, 45).

Dionysodorus had a partner Parmeniscus, who sailed with the ship to purchase corn in Egypt. Both of them appear to have been in collusion with Cleomenes (τοῦ ἐν τῇ Αἰγύπτῳ ἄρξαντος, § 7) and had a joint interest in keeping up the price of corn. The agents at Athens used to send advices to those in Egypt, and when corn became cheaper at home through the arrival of cargoes from Sicily or the Pontus, the buyers in Egypt used to send the corn to some other market where it was dearer. It was with this fraudulent intention, which was illegal (§ 3), that the defendants pretended their ship had sprung a leak, and were compelled to put in to Rhodes and unlade the corn, which they also sold there on finding it would fetch a higher price than at Athens (§ 10).

Dionysodorus, who had remained at Athens, was asked by the money-lenders for an explanation of this affair; they did not like to incur the suspicion of being in collusion with Cleomenes (§ 11) and they required the production of the ship. The defendants upon this make an offer to pay the principal and part of the interest, viz. so much of it as was due for the outer voyage and the return voyage as far as Rhodes, on condition of the bond being cancelled, and with it all further obligation (§ 14). This the plaintiffs decline to do, alleging that if the ship was really wrecked, or in any way seriously disabled, they were bound to submit to the loss; if not, they were entitled to recover the whole sum. And that the ship was not lost is proved by the fact that the defendants afterwards traded with it between Rhodes and Egypt, and that it was even now making voyages (§ 23). If, the plaintiffs argue, the ship had really sprung a leak, the defendants, had they acted honestly, would have brought the ship back to Athens when it had been repaired (§ 40). For all these reasons the conduct of the defendants is denounced as fraudulent and illegal. The offer of partial payment, the plaintiffs say, was made by the defendants with the conviction that it would be refused, διὰ τὰς ὑπούσας αἰτίας (§ 13).

The suit was one of those called ἐμπορικαί, and the plaintiffs press for a verdict in their favour, not only in their own interest, but in that of the whole mercantile community (§ 48). The indignation of the jury is raised by the hint that the defendants are in collusion with Cleomenes. It seems probable that the cause of the scarcity of corn5 was popularly attributed to this man's cupidity, and the date of the speech may be approximately fixed by the allusion (§ 8) to the high prices in the years 330—326 B.C., and probably to the end of that period, as prices are said to be falling (§ 9).

[In Fynes-Clinton's Fasti Hellenici, the speech is approximately assigned to B.C. 329: not before B.C. 331, because the facts occurred Κλεομένους ἐν τῇ Αἰγύπτῳ ἄρξαντος (§ 7). Cleomenes was appointed praefect of Egypt by Alexander, B.C. 331 (Arrian III 5, Dexippus apud Phot. Cod. 82 = p. 200). He was charged with the building of Alexandria (Aristot. Oeconom. II 33); vectigalibus Africae Aegyptique praepositus (Curtius IV 8, 5). He remained in office till he was put to death by Ptolemy, B.C. 323 (Pausan. I 6, 3).

Arnold Schaefer holds that the aorist participle in § 7 (ἦσαν ὑπηρέται...Κλεομένους τοῦ ἐν τῇ Αἰγύπτῳ ἄρ- ξαντος) shows that the ἀρχὴ of Cleomenes was at an end when the speech was delivered, and he proposes to assign it to the winter of B.C. 322—321, i.e. some few months after the death of Demosthenes; who therefore, he concludes, could not have written the oration. The argument from ἄρξαντος does not appear conclusive, as the aorist need only imply that Cleomenes was in power at the time of the transaction described, without showing whether he was still in office or not when the speech was delivered. But, of course, if he were still in office, the most natural tense would have been the present.

Blass, Att, Ber. III i 584{2}, places the speech in the winter of B.C. 323—322{1}, not because the death of Demosthenes falls in October 322, but because that date marks the downfall of the Athenian democracy; a change which would have found some recognition in the speech itself. On the contrary we have a direct reference to the Demos in the words οὔτε γὰρ τῷ πλήθει τῷ ὑμετέρῳ συμφέρει τοῦτο (§ 50).

The Zürich editors, while refraining from deciding against the genuineness of the speech, admit that they have doubts on the subject, though they assign no specific reasons6.

It closes with an appeal to Demosthenes (ἀξιῶ δὲ καὶ τῶν φίλων μοί τινα συνειπεῖν. δεῦρο, Δημόσθενες). A. Schaefer suggests that some early transcriber may have added the name to enhance the value of a spurious oration; but it may be remarked that a transcriber with such an object in view is little likely to have added a clause, which might lead an ordinary reader to suppose at first sight that, as the speaker appeals to Demosthenes, the speech was not written by that orator. If the last clause is genuine, it proves at any rate that the speech was delivered before the death of Demosthenes, and (as Schaefer candidly confesses) it is not per se inconsistent with his having himself composed the speech. He is inclined to ascribe it to the same writer as the speeches against Apaturius (33) and Phormion (34). Blass agrees in regarding the speech as spurious; and there is an elaborate dissertation by P. Uhle, arguing that the writer was the same as that of the speech against Phormion, but different from that of the speech against Apaturius. It is accepted as genuine by Weil, les Harangues de Dém. p. xiii, ed. 1881. S.]

Mr Mayor (Journal of Philology, VI, p. 251), remarking on the awkward sentence in § 10, says, ‘This seems to be more unlike Demosthenes than anything in the Lacritus. There are many minor points beside which make me doubt the genuineness of this speech.’ [Mr Kirk considers that it ‘perhaps comes nearer to the Demosthenic type’ than any of the suspected private orations.

‘Denunciation is very slight, being in fact confined to the one word ἀναίσχυντος (§ 41); but this is uttered with much sharpness of emphasis. Anaphora occurs once (§ 10), epanadiplosis once (§ 38). Interrogation is abundant, with three instances of the suggestion (§§ 2, 27, 38) and three of the challenge (§ 39 bis, § 40); and there is an example of the rhetorical answer, § 28. Asyndeton is quite frequent, and apostrophe is freely and effectively used; compare the rapid turning from the adversary to the judge and again to the adversary in § 25, the argument rising into emphatic assertion, §§ 26—8, and into denunciation, §§ 40—2, the tone of challenge imparted to the argument in § 32 and § 39, and the vigorous insistence of § 38. There are, however, other phenomena which, if the genuineness of the speech had to be decided on stylistic grounds, would tend to cast doubt upon it. The proportion of deictic expressions (2.0) is no higher than in Or. 55 (Callicles), and the preponderance of μὲν οὖν over τοίνυν (6 : 2) is not Demosthenic. The lengthy prooemium contains much general reflection in §§ 1—2, and a long anticipation of the narrative in §§ 3—4; in this, as in the whole speech, we miss the compact structure and pointed conciseness of the genuine orations. Despite the employment of vivid figures, there is rarely any vivid sharpness and curtness; the livelier forms of question are dulled by length of phrase; and the asyndeton in § 45, which might fairly be called cumulative, lacks, by reason of the same lengthiness, all the rapidity and weight that should belong to this figure. On the whole, asyndeton is employed (§§ 7, 21, 22, 23, 27, 36, 37, 40, 46) rather for deliberate emphasis than in any warm or quick tone, though there is force in the rhetorical answer and in θεάσασθε, § 40. Irony is found in § 40 ( βέλτιστε) and § 41 (οὕτως ἀνδρεῖος), in the latter case passing immediately into denunciation; but these are slight instances, and the scornful familiarity of the vocative has less propriety here than in 36 § 52, where it is justified by the intimacy of the two enemies and by the tone of lofty rebuke which pervades that passage. In short, the excellences of Or. 56 are not superlative; the writer is master of his art so far as it was to be learned, while lacking the power and subtlety of expression which only high artistic endowment could give.’ Demosthenic Style in the Private Orations, p. 42.]

[Modern Literature. A. Schaefer, Dem. u. seine Zeit, III B 307—314, 1858. Blass, die Attische Beredsamkeit, III i 520—5{1}, 582—8{2}. G. A. C. Schwarze, de oratione κατὰ Δ. (Göttingen) 1870. P. Uhle, Quaestiones de orationum Demostheni falso addictarum scriptoribus, ii, de orat. xxxiii, xxxiv, lvi scriptoribus (Leipzig) 1886.]

Argument. Δαρεῖος His name is nowhere mentioned in the speech, and it seems to have been preserved by the author of the argument (Libanius) from some sonrce now unknown. [The name is also given by the MSS S and B in the following words added at the close of the speech: δαρειω και παμφιλω κατα διονυσοδωρου. Darius is identified by Boeckh (Staats haushaltung, addenda to 2nd Germ. ed. p. x) with a μέτοικος mentioned in an inscription referring to B.C. 323 —2: Δαρείῳ [ἐν Σκα]μβωνιδῶ[ν οἰκ]οῦντι H H H, but Kohler reads Ἀρείῳ (C. I. A. ii 811). His partner Pamphilus is probably the Egyptian mentioned in Mid. § 163 τὸν μέτοικον ἐξέπεμψε τὸν Αἰγύπτιον Πάμφιλον. Possibly Pamphilus is, like other μέτοικοι, imperfectly acquainted with Greek, and therefore allows Darius to address the court. Boeckh l.c. and A. Schaefer, Dem. u. s. Zeit III B 307 n. S.]

ἐπὶ τῷ πλεῦσαι ‘With a view to,’ or ‘on condition of his sailing,’ &c.

διομολογοῦνται ‘They come to an agreement between themselves and the lender, what interest they were to get when Dionysodorus should have sailed back to Athens.’ Cf. § 5.

ἐξέθετο The same as ἐξείλετο, Or. 34 § 8, inf. §§ 10, 20.

σῴαν ὑπάρχειν i.e. ἔτι σῴαν εἶναι.

καὶ κατηγοροῦσι They both charge him with having kept back the security illegally (see Or. 34 § 7), and also demand payment of the interest without deduction. The defendants are willing to pay a part, but only in proportion (πρὸς λόγον) to the length of the actual voyage, viz. they wish to deduct that due from Rhodes to Athens.

1 See Introd. to Or. 34, p. 1.

2 [βλάβης is omitted in MSS S and A, and by Harpocration s. v. ἀμφοτερόπλουν. S.]

3 Dem. Append. IX p. 389.

4 ib. p. 373.

5 See Introduction to Or. 34, ad fin.

6 So also Schwarze, De orat. κατὰ Δ. (Göttingen, 1870) p. 18 f.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Demosthenes, Against Phormio, 7
    • Demosthenes, Against Phormio, 8
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: