As for the poison, Ariston says he took it from the pen, as I have said; but a certain Pappus, from whom Hermippus took his story, says that when he had fallen by the side of the altar, there was found written in the scroll the beginning of a letter,
‘Demosthenes to Antipater,’ and nothing more;
and that when men were amazed at the suddenness of his death the Thracians who had stood at the door told the story that he took the poison into his hand from a cloth and put it to his mouth and swallowed it; and that they themselves, strange to say, had supposed that what he swallowed was gold; and that the little maid who served him, when inquiries were made by Archias, said that Demosthenes had long worn that cloth girdle as a safeguard against his enemies.
And even Eratosthenes himself says that Demosthenes kept the poison in a hollow bracelet, and that he wore this bracelet as an ornament upon his arm. But the divergent stories of all the others who have written about the matter, and they are very many, need not be recounted;
except that Demochares the relative of Demosthenes says that in his opinion it was not due to poison, but to the honour and kindly favour shown him by the gods, that he was rescued from the cruelty of the Macedonians by a speedy and painless death. And he died on the sixteenth of the month Pyanepsion, the most gloomy day of the Thesmophoria,1
which the women observe by fasting in the temple of the goddess.
It was to this man, a little while after his death, that the Athenian people paid worthy honour by erecting his statue2
in bronze, and by decreeing that the eldest of his house should have public maintenance in the prytaneium. And this celebrated inscription was inscribed upon the pedestal of his statue:—
If thy strength had only been equal to thy purposes,
Never would the Greeks have been ruled by a
Of course those who say that Demosthenes himself composed these lines in Calauria, as he was about to put the poison to his lips, talk utter nonsense.