4. An Athenian orator, distinguished by his unceasing animosity against Demosthenes. he was self-educated, and, on account of the harshness and inelegance of his style, was not reckoned among the Attic orators by the grammarians. (Suidas, s.v. Syrian. ad hermog.
16; comp. Phil. Phoc.
21.) His private character was bad. and he had no political principles, but changed sides as often as suited his convenience or his interest.
He made no pretensions to honesty. On being reproached on one occasion as a rascal, he frankly admitted the charge, but urged that le had been so for a shorter time than any of his contemporaries who took part in public affairs. (Aelian, Ael. VH 14.28
.) Suidas relates (s. v.
) that having been imprisoned on account of a debt, probably a fine incurred in a law-suit (διὰ ὄφλημα
), he made his escape from prison and tied to Macedonia, and that after remaining there for a time, he returned to Athens.
The statement that he was unable to pay his debts is confirmed by the account of the author of the Letters which go under the name of Demosthenes (Ep.
3. p. 1481, ed. Reiske), where it is related that Pytheas had acquired such a large fortune by dishonest means that he could at that time pay five talents with more ease than five drachmas formerly. We learn from the same authority that he obtained the highest honours at Athens, and was in particular entrusted with the distinguished duty of offering the sacrifices at Delphi for the Athenians.
He was accused by Deinarchus of ξενία
(Dionys. Deinarch. ;
Harpocrat. s. v. δώρων γραφή ;
Steph. Byz. s. v. Αἴγιναι
), probably on account of his long residence at Macedonia. Of the part that he took in political affairs only two or three facts are recorded.
He opposed the honours which the Athenians proposed to confer upon Alexander
(Plut. Praec. gerend. Reip.
p. 804b, An Seni ger. resp.
p. 784c), but he afterwards espoused the interests of the Macedonian party.
He accused Demosthenes of having received bribes from Harpalus. (Dem. Ep. l.c . ;
Plut. Vit. X. Orat.
p. 846c; Phot. Bibl.
Cod. 265; Dionys. Isaeus,
In the Lamian war, B. C. 322, he joined Antipater (Pint. Dem.
27), and had thus the satisfaction of surviving his great enemy Demosthenes. His hostility to Demosthenes is frequently mentioned by the ancient writers, who have preserved many of his jests against the great orator.
He is said to have been the author of the well-known saying, that the orations of Demosthenes smelt of the lamp. (Aelian, Ael. VH 7.7
; Plut. Dem
. 8; comp. Athen. 2.44
The titles of two of the orations of Pytheas are preserved by Harpocration, Πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν ἀπολογία
(s. v. ἀγραφίου
), and Κατ᾽ Ἀδείμαντος
(s. v. ἀξυθυμία
). Two short extracts from his orations are given in Latin by Rutilius Lupus (1.11, 14). (Comp. Ruhnken, ad Rutil. Lup.
1.11 ; Westermann, Geschichte der Griech. Beredtsamkeit,