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After this he sent men to Athens to demand the surrender of ten1 political leaders who had opposed his interest, the most prominent of whom were Demosthenes and Lycurgus. So an assembly was convened and the ambassadors were introduced, and after they had spoken, the people were plunged into deep distress and perplexity. They were anxious to uphold the honour of their city but at the same time they were stunned with horror at the destruction of Thebes and, warned by the calamities of their neighbours, were alarmed in face of their own danger. [2]

After many had spoken in the assembly, Phocion, the "Good," who was opposed to the party of Demosthenes, said that the men demanded should remember the daughters of Leos and Hyacinthus2 and gladly endure death so that their country would suffer no irremediable disaster, and he inveighed against the faint-heartedness and cowardice of those who would not lay down their lives for their city. The people nevertheless rejected his advice and riotously drove him from the stand, [3] and when Demosthenes delivered a carefully prepared discourse, they were carried away with sympathy for their leaders and clearly wished to save them.

In the end, Demades, influenced, it is reported, by a bribe of five silver talents from Demosthenes's supporters, counselled them to save those whose lives were threatened, and read a decree that had been subtly worded. It contained a plea for the men and a promise to impose the penalty prescribed by the law, if they deserved punishment. [4] The people approved the suggestion of Demades, passed the decree and dispatched a delegation including Demades as envoys to the king, instructing them to make a plea to Alexander in favour of the Theban fugitives as well, that he would allow the Athenians to provide a refuge for them. [5] On this mission, Demades achieved all his objectives by the eloquence of his words and prevailed upon Alexander to absolve the men from the charges against them and to grant all the other requests of the Athenians.3

1 This number is given by Plut. Demosthenes, 23.3 as from Idomeneus and Duris, but he thinks eight rather, whom he names.

2 The Attic hero Leos sacrificed his daughters to avert danger to the city; so also Erechtheus, whose name may lie behind the unknown Hyacinthus. Cp. Lyc. 98-99; Demad. 37; Aeschin. 3.161; Plut. Phocion 17.

3 Justin (11.4.9-12) adds that the exiled Athenian leaders went off to Persia, and Arrian. 1.10.6 speaks particularly of Charidemus, while failing to mention the part played in this embassy by Demades. Plut. Alexander 13 states that Alexander was moved by his own clemency. The mission of Demades is described by Plut. Demosthenes 23.5.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (7):
    • Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, 161
    • Lycurgus, Against Leocrates, 98
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 13
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 23.3
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 23.5
    • Plutarch, Phocion, 17
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 1.10.6
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