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1 (*Dhma/dhs), all Athenian statesman and orator, a contemporary of Philip, Alexander the Great, and Antipater. He is said to have been a person of very low origin, and to have at one time even served as a rower. (Quint. Inst. 2.17.12; Sext. Empir. ad v. Math. 2.16; Suidas, s. v. Δημάδης.) But by his extraordinary talents, his demagogic artifices, and treachery, he rose to a very prominent position at Athens; he used his influence, however, in such a manner, that Plutarch (Plut. Phoc. 1) justly terms him the ναυαγιον, that is, the shipwreck or ruin of his country. He belonged to the Macedonian party, and entertained a deadly hatred of Demosthenes, against whom he came forward as early as the time of the war against Olynthus, B. C. 349 (Suidas, l.c.), and to whom he continued hostile to the last; for when, on the approach of Antipater and Craterus, Demosthenes and his friends quitted the city, Demades induced the people to pronounce sentence of death upon them. (Plut. Dem. 28; Phot. Bibl. p. 69, ed. Bekker.) In the battle of Chaeroneia he fell into the hands of the Macedonians; and when Philip, during the revelries with which he celebrated his victory, reviewed the prisoners, Demades frankly but politely blamed him for his conduct, and Philip was so well pleased with the flattery implied in the censure, that he not only restored Demades to his liberty, but set free all the Athenian prisoners without ransom, and concluded a treaty of friendship with Athens. (Diod. 16.87; Gel. 11.10; Sext. Empir. ad v. Math. 1.13.) The manner in which he was treated by the king on that occasion, and the rich presents he received from him--it is said that he once received the large sum of ten talents--made him an active champion in the cause of Macedonia, to whose interests he literally sold himself. He pursued the same course towards Alexander, the son and successor of Philip; and his flattery towards the young king went so far, that the Athenians, unable to bear it, inflicted a heavy fine upon him. (Aelian, Ael. VH 5.12; Athen. 6.251.) But when Harpalus came to Athens, Demades did not scruple to accept his bribes also. (Deinarch. c. Demosth. § 89, c. Aristoq. § 15.) When Alexander subsequently demanded the surrender of the Athenian orators who had instigated the people against him, Demades was bribed by the friends of Demosthenes with five talents to use his influence to save him and the other patriots. He accordingly framed a cunning decree, in which the people excused the orators, but promised to surrender them, if they should be found guilty. The decree was passed, and Demades with a few others was sent as ambassador to Alexander, and prevailed upon the king to pardon the Athenians and their orators. (Diod. 17.15; Plut. Dem. 23.) In B. C. 331 Demades had the administration of a part of the public money at Athens, which Böckh (Publ. Econ. of Athen. p. 169, &c., 2nd edit.) has shewn to have been the theoricon; and when the people demanded of him a sum of money to support those who had revolted against Alexander, Demades persuaded them to give up that plan by appealing to their love of pleasure. (Plut. Praecept. Rei Publ. Ger. 25.) By thus supporting the Macedonian cause, and yet receiving large bribes from the opposite party when opportunities offered, lie acquired considerable property, which however was squandered by his extravagant and dissolute mode of living. His conduct was so bad, and he so recklessly violated the laws of his country, that he was frequently punished with heavy fines, and once even with atimia. But in B. C. 322, when Antipater marched with his army against Athens, the people, who were alarmed in the highest degree, and had no one to mediate between them and Antipater, recalled their sentence of atimia, and sent Demades, with Phocion and some others, as ambassadors to Antipater, who however refused, perhaps on the instigation of Demades, to grant peace on any other terms than complete submission. (Diod. 18.18; Paus. 7.10.1.) In B. C. 318, when Antipater was ill in Macedonia, the Athenians, unable to bear the pressure of the Macedonian garrison in Munychia, sent Demades as ambassador to him with a petition to remove the garrison. Antipater was at first inclined to listen to the request; but while Demades was staving with him, Antipater discovered among the papers left by Perdiccas some letters addressed to him by Demades, in which he urged Perdiccas to come to Europe and attack Antipater. The latter at first kept his discovery secret; but when Demades pressed him for an answer respecting the removal of the garrison from Munychia, Antipater, without giving any answer, gave up Demades and his son, Demeas, who had accompanied his father on this embassy, to the executioners, who forthwith put them to death. (Diod. 18.48; Arrian, apud Phot. Bibl. p. 70; Athen. 13.591.) Plutarch (Plut. Phoc. 30) attributes the execution of Demades to Cassander.

Demades was a man without character or principle, and was accessible to bribes from whatever quarter they came, ever ready to betray his country and his own party. Even the good he did sprang from the basest motives. The ancients have preserved many features which illustrate his profligate and dissolute mode of life. (Plut. Phoc. 1, 20, 30, Praec. Rei Publ. Ger. 25; Athen. 2.44; Aelian, Ael. VH 13.12.) He owed his influence in the public affairs of Athens to his natural skill and his brilliant oratorical powers, which were the pure gift of nature, and which he never cultivated according to the rules of art. He always spoke extempore, and with such irresistible force and abundance of wit, that he was a perfect match for Demosthenes himself, and Quintilian does not hesitate to place him by the side of Pericles. (Cic. Orat. 26, Brut. 9; Plut. Dem. 8, 10, 11, Apophth. p. 181; Quint. Inst. 2.17.12, 12.10.49.)


Both Cicero and Quintilian expressly state, that Demades left no written orations behind him. But from a passage in Tzetzes (Chil. 6.36), it is clear that the rhetorician, from whom he copied, possessed orations which were attributed to Demades.

περὶ δωδεκαετίας

There is extant a large fragment of an oration bearing the name of Demades (περὶ δωδεκαετίας), which must have been delivered in B. C. 326, and in which he defends his conduct during the period of Alexander's reign.


It was found by I. Bekker in no less than six MSS., and is printed in the collections of the Attic orators, but its genuineness is still doubtful. Suidas attributes to Demades also a history of Delos and of the birth of Leto's children, but this work can scarcely have been the production of our Demades, and we know of no other person of this name to whom it can be ascribed.

Further Information

Ruhnken, Hist. Crit. Orat. Gr. p. 71, &c; J. G. Hauptmann, Diputatio qua Demad. et illi tributum. fragm. orut. consideratur, Gera, 1768, 4to., reprinted in Reiske's Oratores, iv. p. 243, &c.; H. Hardy, Dissertatio de Demnade Oratore Atheniensi, Berlin, 1834, 8vo.; Westermann, Gesch. d. griech. Beredtsamk. § 54, notes 11-16.


1 * The name is a contraction of Δημεάδης. (Etymol. M. p. 210.13, 265.12, ed. Sylburg; Priscian, 2.7.)

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hide References (19 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (19):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 17.15
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 16.87
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.10.1
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 2, 17.12
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 12, 10.49
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 11.10
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 10
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 23
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 11
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 28
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 8
    • Plutarch, Phocion, 1
    • Plutarch, Phocion, 20
    • Plutarch, Phocion, 30
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 2.44
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 18.18
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 18.48
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 13.12
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 5.12
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