The cities of Greece, under the initiations of Demosthenes, now formed themselves into a league again. The Thebans, whom Demosthenes had helped to provide with arms, fell upon their Macedonian garrison and slew many of them; while the Athenians made preparations to go to war along with them.
Demosthenes reigned supreme in the assembly, and wrote letters to the King's generals in Asia stirring them up to make war upon Alexander, whom he called a boy and a Margites.1
When, however, Alexander had settled the affairs of his own country and came in person with his forces into Boeotia, prone lay the courage of the Athenians, and Demosthenes was extinguished, while the Thebans, betrayed by their allies, fought by themselves and lost their city.2
Then, in the midst of the great confusion which reigned at Athens, Demosthenes was chosen and sent with others as an ambassador to Alexander, but fearing the wrath of the king he turned back at Cithaeron and abandoned the embassy.3
Then straightway Alexander sent to Athens a demand for the surrender to him of ten of their popular leaders, according to Idomeneus and Duris, but according to the most and most reputable writers, only eight, namely, Demosthenes, Polyeuctus, Ephialtes, Lycurgus, Moerocles, Demon, Callisthenes, and Charidemus.
It was on this occasion that Demosthenes told the Athenians the story of how the sheep surrendered their dogs to the wolves, comparing himself and his fellow-orators to dogs fighting in defence of the people, and calling Alexander
‘the Macedonian arch-wolf.’ Moreover, he said further:
‘Just as grain-merchants sell their whole stock by means of a few kernels of wheat which they carry about with them in a bowl as a sample, so in surrendering us you unwittingly surrender also yourselves, all of you.’
Such, then, is the account which Aristobulus of Cassandreia has given.
The Athenians were deliberating on this demand and were at a loss how to treat it, when Demades, for five talents which he had received from the men demanded, agreed to go on an embassy to the king and entreat him in their behalf; either because he relied on the friendship of Alexander, or because he expected to find him sated, like a lion glutted with slaughter. At any rate, Demades persuaded the king to let the men off, and reconciled him with the city.