Demosthenes: Statesman and Orator by Ian Worthington

By Ian Worthington

Demosthenes is usually adjudged the statesman par excellence, and his oratory as the various most interesting to outlive from classical instances. modern politicians nonetheless quote him of their speeches and for a few he's the very best instance of a patriot. This landmark learn of this extraordinary guy and his lengthy occupation, the 1st to target him for greater than eighty years, seems to be on the heritage at the back of this recognition and asks if it is really deserved.

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116), once (no less absurdly, in the circumstances of recent events) to tell the Athenians that Philip had put himself in danger by incurring their enmity and occupying Thessaly (111–13), taking the risk of losing what he had in his desire for more! It is odd that this speech was delivered in the same year as the first Philippic, although presumably in an earlier month. However, even Philip’s exposing the helplessness of the Athenian navy, probably after this speech and stressed in the later one, had no permanent effect on Demosthenes’ thinking.

The new confederacy had to be very different from the old empire. The ‘autonomy’ of the allies was fully guaranteed; a council of the allies, sitting in Athens, had nominally equal powers with the Athenian Boule and, to some extent, the Athenian People and, among other rights, apparently decided on the ‘contributions’ (which replaced the hated ‘tribute’ (phoros) of the fifth-century empire) to which allies were to be liable. We cannot follow the ups and downs of the confederacy over the next twenty years.

That, as we have seen, was a startling loss when compared with what it was claimed to have been when the father died. Plutarch found the statement that as a boy Demosthenes was so delicate that his mother would not let him attend the gymnasium, as a boy of his class should have (Dem. 4–5). Expense must have played a part. But it is clear from what Demosthenes himself said, in the famous passage quoted above, that he must have attended the proper school at least at some time in his boyhood, even if his mother could not keep him there as the estate diminished.

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