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I've writen two books about Greece and Rome, introducing each civilization with their most famous authors woven into the narrative. Check them out on their own website!

Demosthenes

 


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ῥᾷστον ἁπάντων ἐστὶν αὑτὸν ἐξαπατῆσαι: ὃ γὰρ βούλεται, τοῦθ᾽ ἕκαστος καὶ οἴεται

Nothing is easier than self-deceit, for what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.

—Demosthenes “Third Olynthiac” 19

statue of demosthenes
Statue of Demosthenes from Harvard

Parallel – Cicero

OUTLINE

  • Introduces both Cicero and Demosthenes
  • Learned Latin Late
  • A good city for research
  • Why stay in a small town?
  • Rise to Political Power
  • Philip
  • Alexander and Exile
  • Antipater and the End

Important People

  • Philip
    • Demosthenes strongly resists Philip’s incursion into Greek politics until Chaeronea (338 BC)
    • He flees the battle of Chaeronea but is still chosen by the Athenians to give the funeral oration.
  • Alexander
    • As Alexander comes to power, Demosthenes’ life is spared because of the eloquence of an enemy, Demades.
  • Aeschines –  Political and personal opponent of Demosthenes of whom three speeches still survive
    • all of Aeschines’s speeches are targeted at Demosthenes
    • Aeschines finally loses and goes into exile to avoid a fine.
  • Demades –
    • Orator none of whose works survive.
    • Considered, during his lifetime, to be better than Demosthenes. Because he doesn’t survive, we can’t compare the two. The power of preparedness.
    • Famously quoted in the Life of Solon as saying “Draco wrote his laws not in ink, but in blood”
  • Antipater – Regent in Macedon while Alexander campaigned against Persia, he fights a war against the Greeks who revolt at the news of Alexander’s death.

Important Places

  • Athens
  • Chaeronea (338 BC) – The battle in which Philip cements his control over all of mainland Greece, except for Sparta.
  • Troezen/Aegina– The city and island where Demosthenes spends his time while in exile. He flees here again at the end of his life and likely dies right outside a temple to Poseidon outside of his beloved Athens.
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