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Ὑπερείδης or Ὑπερίδης), a celebrated Attic orator, was the son of Glaucippus, and belonged to the Attic demus of Collytus. He was a friend of Demosthenes, and with him and Lycurgus he was at the head of the anti-Macedonian party. His birth-year is unknown, but he must have been of about the same age as Lycurgus, who was born in B. C. 396. (Plut. Vit. X. Oral. p. 848d.; D. L. 3.46.) Throughout his public career he joined the patriots with the utmost determination and his whole soul, and remained faithful to them to the last, and through all the dangers and catastrophes by which Athens was weighed down successively under Philip, Alexander, and Antipater. This stedfast adherence to the good cause may have been owing in a great measure to the influence which his friend Demosthenes and Lycurgus exercised upon him, for he seems to have naturally been a person of a vacillating character; and Plutarch (l.c. p. 849d.) states that he sometimes gave way to his passions, which were not always of the noblest kind. (Comp. Athen. 8.342, xiii. p. 590.) In philosophy he was a pupil of Plato (D. L. 3.46), and Isocrates trained and developed his oratorical talent. (Athen. 8.342; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 260, p. 487.) He began his career by conducting lawsuits of others in the courts of justice. (Plut. l.c. p. 448e.) Our information respecting his life is very meagre, but it seems that he first displayed his patriotic feelings in B. C. 358, by the sacrifices he made for the public good during the expedition against Euboea, for on that occasion he and his son are said to have equipped two triremes at their own expense. (Plut. l.c. p. 849f.; comp. Dem. de Coron. p. 259, in Mid. p. 566.) In the same spirit he acted on an embassy to Rhodes (Plut. l.c. p. 850a.), in B. C. 346, when he, like Demosthenes, took up the prosecution against the treacherous Philocrates (Dem. de Fals. Leg. p. 276), in the expedition against Byzantium, in B. C. 340 (Plut. p. 848e.), and more especially in B. C. 338, after the fatal battle of Chaeroneia, when Hyperides, with the view of making a desperate resistance against Philip, proposed that all women and children should be taken to Peiraeeus, that the slaves should be emancipated, that the resident aliens should receive the rights of citizens, and that all who were labouring under atimia should be restored to their former rights. (Lycurg. c. Leocrat. § 41; Dem. c. Aristoy. ii. p. 803; Plut. p. 848f.) The plan was not carried into effect, on account of the general despondency which then prevailed at Athens, but the good intentions of Hyperides were rewarded and acknowledged by his fellow-citizens; for when the sycophant Aristogeiton brought an accusation against him for his proposal, the people acquitted him. Philip's death inspired the patriots with new hopes, and Hyperides, though we have no express testimony for it, must be supposed to have joined those who were resolved to shake off the Macedonian yoke, and with this view formed an alliance with Thebes, for he was afterwards one of those whose surrender was demanded by Alexander. (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 1.10.7.) This danger passed over, but Hyperides was not intimidated, and he again ventured to oppose the Macedonians, when their king demanded of the Athenians to furnish him with ships for his expedition against Persia. (Plut. p. 848d; comp. p. 847c.) The unfortunate disturbances caused by the arrival of Harpalus at Athens in B. C. 324 seem to have disturbed the friendly relation which until then had existed between Hyperides and Demosthenes; for we find him in the equivocal position of a public accuser of Demosthenes. (Plut. p. 846, 100.848, f.; Lucian, Encom. Dem. 31.) Plutarch states that Hyperides was found to have been the only man who had not received any money from Harpalus ; and it may therefore be that he was compelled to act the part of an accuser, or he may have hoped to be able to give to the matter a more favourable turn for Demosthenes, by coming forward as accuser. But this whole transaction is involved in great obscurity; all we can safely say is, that about this time there was a sort of rupture between the two orators, but whether it existed previous to the arrival of Harpalus, or whether it was brought about by the disputes respecting Harpalus, is uncertain. Afterwards, however, Hyperides and Demosthenes became reconciled. (Plut. p. 849b.) His political conduct, however, was not affected by the enmity with Demosthenes. When the news of Alexander's death arrived at Athens, Hyperides is said to have proposed that a crown should be given to Iollas, who was believed to have poisoned the king (Plut. p. 849e, Alex. 77; Arrian, Arr. Anab. 7.27); but this account is very doubtful, though it is certain that it was mainly owing to his exertions that the Lamian war was brought about (Plut. Phoc. 23, Vit. X. Orut. pp. 848, e, 849, b; Justin, 13.5), and after the death of Leosthenes, he delivered the funeral oration upon those who had fallen in the war. (Diod. 18.3.) But after the battle of Crannon, in B. C. 322, when all hopes had vanished, Hyperides fled to Aegina, where he was overtaken by the emissaries of Antipater, and put to death in a most cruel manner. (Plut. Phoc. 29, Dem. 28, Vit. X. Orat. p. 849; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 265.)


Hyperides must have appeared before the public on many occasions, both in the courts of justice and in the assembly of the people. The number of orations attributed to him was seventy-seven, but even the ancient critics rejected twenty-five of them as spurious. (Plut. p. 849d.) The titles of sixty-one (for more are not known) are enumerated by Westermann (Gesch. d. Griech. Beredtsamk. p. 307, &c.). The most important among them appear to have been the Δηλιακός (Dem. de Cooron. p. 271; Plut. pp. 840, c, 850, a), the ἐπιτάφιος (of which a considerable fragment is preserved in Stobaeus, Floril. 124.36), the orations against Aristogeiton, Demades, Demosthenes, and for Phryne. But of all these orations none has come down to us, and all we have is a considerable number of fragments, few of which are of any Some critics have supposed that the oration περὶ τῶν πρὸς Ἀλέξανδπον συνθηκῶν, which is printed among those of Demosthenes, is the work of Hyperides, as is suggested by Libanius in his argument to it; and the same was believed by Reiske in regard to the first oration against Aristogeiton, but there is nothing to prove that either of these speeches is the work of Hyperides. Hopes have been raised from time to time of the possibility of recovering some or all the orations of Hyperides. J. A. Brassicanus (Praef. ad Salvianum), who lived at the beginning of the seventeenth century, states that he himself saw at Ofen, in the library of king Mathias Corvinus, a complete copy of Hyperides, with numerous scholia. Taylor (Praef. ad Demosth. vol. iii.) likewise states that he saw a MS. containing some orations of Hyperides, but nothing has yet been published, and it seems that Brassicanus as well as Taylor was mistaken.


As therefore we have nothing to form an independent opinion on the merits of Hyperides as an orator, we must acquiesce in the judgment which some of the ancients have pronounced upon him. That he was regarded as a great orator is attested by the fact of his speeches being incorporated in the canon of the ten Attic orators, and of several distinguished grammarians, such as Didymus of Alexandria and Aelius Harpocration, having written commentaries upon them. (Harpocrat. s. v. ἐλευθέριος Ζεύς; Suid. s. v. Ἁροκρατίων.) Hyperides did not bind himself to any particular model; his oratory was graceful and powerful, thus holding the middle between the gracefulness of Lysias and the overwhelming power of Demosthenes. (Dionys. Dinarch. 1; Longin. de Sublim. 34.1, &c.) His delivery is said to have been wanting in liveliness. (Plut. p. 850a.) His style and diction were pure Attic, though not quite free from a certain mannerism, especially in certain words; in the selection and arrangement of his words he is said to have been less careful. (Cic. Brut. 82, 84; Quint. Inst. 12.10.22; Hermog. de Form. Orat. 2.11 ; Dionys. Dinarch. 7; Longin. l.c.) He treated the subjects under discussion with great skill and a ready wit, and, although he sometimes had the appearance of carelessness, the exposition of his subuject and the argumentation are spoken of as deserving of imitation. (Cic. Orat. 31, de Orat. 3.7; Hermog. l.c.; Dionys. Din. 5, 6.) But his orations were distinguished above all by their exquisite elegance and gracefulness, which were calculated to produce a momentary rather than a lasting and moral impression. In his private life, Hyperides seems to have been less above censure than in his political life, for his loose conduct was attacked by Timocles and Philetaerus, two comic poets of the time. (Athen. viii. pp. 341, 342, xiii. p. 590.) He seems also to have been particularly partial to the fair sex, and that at the expense of his own son Glaucippus.

Further Informaiton

Alciphr. Epist. 30-32; comp. Westermann, Ibid. §§ 60, 61; G. Kiessling, de Hyperide Orat. Att. Commentat. II., Hildburghausen, 1837, 4to.; Droysen, Gesch. des Heilenism. vol. i. pp. 70, 705, &c.


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hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 12, 10.22
    • Plutarch, Phocion, 23
    • Plutarch, Phocion, 29
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 7.27
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 18.3
    • Cicero, Brutus, 82
    • Cicero, Brutus, 84
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