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Demosthenes, Speeches 50-59

Demosthenes, Speeches 50-59

Translated by Victor Bers
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    Demosthenes, Speeches 50-59
    Book Description:

    This is the sixth volume in the Oratory of Classical Greece. This series presents all of the surviving speeches from the late fifth and fourth centuries BC in new translations prepared by classical scholars who are at the forefront of the discipline. These translations are especially designed for the needs and interests of today's undergraduates, Greekless scholars in other disciplines, and the general public.

    Classical oratory is an invaluable resource for the study of ancient Greek life and culture. The speeches offer evidence on Greek moral views, social and economic conditions, political and social ideology, law and legal procedure, and other aspects of Athenian culture that have been largely ignored: women and family life, slavery, and religion, to name just a few.

    Demosthenes is regarded as the greatest orator of classical antiquity; indeed, his very eminence may be responsible for the inclusion under his name of a number of speeches he almost certainly didnotwrite. This volume contains four speeches that are most probably the work of Apollodorus, who is often known as "the Eleventh Attic Orator." Regardless of their authorship, however, this set of ten law court speeches gives a vivid sense of public and private life in fourth-century BC Athens. They tell of the friendships and quarrels of rural neighbors, of young men joined in raucous, intentionally shocking behavior, of families enduring great poverty, and of the intricate involvement of prostitutes in the lives of citizens. They also deal with the outfitting of warships, the grain trade, challenges to citizenship, and restrictions on the civic role of men in debt to the state.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79771-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Michael Gagarin
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Victor Bers
    (pp. xiii-2)
    Michael Gagarin

    From as early as Homer (and undoubtedly much earlier) the Greeks placed a high value on effective speaking. Even Achilles, whose greatness was primarily established on the battlefield, was brought up to be “a speaker of words and a doer of deeds” (Iliad9.443); and Athenian leaders of the sixth and fifth centuries,¹ such as Solon, Themistocles, and Pericles, were all accomplished orators. Most Greek literary genres—notably epic, tragedy, and history—underscore the importance of oratory by their inclusion of set speeches. The formal pleadings of the envoys to Achilles in theIliad, the messenger speeches in tragedy reporting...

    (pp. 3-8)
    Michael Gagarin

    Since antiquity Demosthenes (384 –322 bc) has usually been judged the greatest of the Attic orators. Although the patriotic and nationalistic tenor of his message has been more highly regarded in some periods of history than in others, he is unique in his mastery of so many different rhetorical styles and his ability to blend them into a powerful ensemble.

    Demosthenes was born into an old wealthy Athenian family. His father Demosthenes owned workshops that made swords and furniture. His maternal grandfather, Gylon, had been exiled from Athens and lived in the Crimea, where his mother Cleobule was born (perhaps...

    (pp. 9-16)
    Victor Bers

    Although this volume ofThe Oratory of Classical Greecebears the titleDemosthenes, Speeches 50–59, only one speech in the group,Against Conon(54), has been unanimously regarded by antiquity and modern scholars as the work of Demosthenes. Some scholars have doubted whether Demosthenes wroteOn the Trierarchic Crown(51). Most acceptAgainst Callicles(55) andAgainst Eubulides(57) as authentic Demosthenic compositions, though conceding that the former has technical characteristics different from Demosthenes’ mature prose and that the latter is unpolished.Against Dionysodorus(56) remains controversial: the authors of one book (Carey and Reid 1985) express doubt that...

  8. DEMOSTHENES (Victor Bers)

      (pp. 19-38)

      This speech, delivered by Apollodorus, son of Pasion, is almost certainly his own composition, not Demosthenes’ (see the Introduction to this volume). Regardless of the authorship, the text is one of the most revealing sources of information on the trierarchy, a liturgy (see the Series Introduction, p. xxiii) that involved not only paying for much of the cost of the maintenance and operation of a warship (triērēs) for one year, both its equipment and manpower, but also commanding the vessel. Since the trierarchy was notable for its expense and military importance, it provided an important arena for political and social...

      (pp. 39-45)

      On the Trierarchic Crownshares a subject with the preceding speech, 50,Against Polycles, a dispute concerning a trierarchy, but otherwise it is unlike the other speeches in this volume in several respects. It was written for delivery before the Council of Five Hundred (boulē), which was not a court but sometimes heard legal disputes. The nature of the proceedings is not certain: it might have been a formal or informaldiadikasia, a hearing to decide between competing claims to something of value, normally an inheritance. In this case the speaker claims that he should be awarded a crown for...

      (pp. 46-55)

      This speech was written for delivery by Apollodorus, and in all likelihood he was also its author. If so, this is the earliest of his surviving speeches. The court case arose from the banking activities of Pasion, Apollodorus’ father (see pp. 12–13). Lycon, a man from Heraclea, a town on the southeast coast of the Black Sea, had deposited money with Pasion. Before leaving Athens on an ill-fated voyage, he reviewed the account and left instructions for paying it out to a partner, a certain Cephisiades. Callippus, if we believe the speaker, attempted to lay his hands on Lycon’s...

      (pp. 56-65)

      Apollodorus delivers this speech and, despite the ascription to Demosthenes, is probably its author as well.¹ As we see in many other lawcourt speeches, the litigant narrates a chain of actions and reactions, often in the form of legal maneuvers, nearly all of which would be deemed irrelevant in a modern court. Apollodorus tells a dramatic story, complete with reported dialogue, of friendship betrayed: his neighbor Nicostratus and Nicostratus’ brother Arethusius repaid Apollodorus’ exceptional kindness by employing the courts to make common cause with his adversaries in earlier litigation, damaging his property, laying a legal trap for him, and assaulting...

      (pp. 66-80)

      From antiquity¹ until the present day,Against Cononhas been one of the favorite speeches of the Demosthenic corpus. Moderns are amused by its vivid portrayal of drunken brawling in an army camp and in the streets of Athens itself, as well as the other forms of shocking behavior the speaker describes. There is, moreover, much interest in the speaker’s discussion of the choices available to a man contemplating a lawsuit and his account of an arbitration hearing.

      If we are to believe Ariston, the speaker, there was no enmity between himself and Conon until he had the bad luck...

      (pp. 81-91)

      We cannot dateAgainst Callicles, and we know nothing about the people involved in this dispute beyond what is in the text, not even the name of the speaker. Nevertheless, the speech is interesting for its portrayal of a quarrel that flared between neighboring families over difficulties faced by Attic farmers working steep slopes subject to occasional torrential rainstorms. We have evidence in this speech both for the private exchanges of the neighbors, first cordial, then rancorous, and for their turn to litigation to settle, or perhaps to protract, the dispute.

      The speaker assumes that the jury is familiar with...

      (pp. 92-106)

      Although a “Demosthenes” is called up to speak at the very end of this speech, its style has struck most scholars as falling well below Demosthenes’ standard of composition. Some technical characteristics also tell against Demosthenic authorship: hiatus, that is, the occurrence of a vowel at the end of a word and at the start of the following word; and the frequency of three short syllables in a row, contrary to Demosthenes’ usual practice, which is referred to as “Blass’s law.” Perhaps another Demosthenes is meant, but the appearance of the name suggested to some compiler or bookseller that the...

      (pp. 107-128)

      This speech andAgainst Neaera(Dem. 59) revolve around the issue of Athenian citizenship. The stakes were very high: it is no rhetorical exaggeration when in the opening section the speaker equates conviction with ruin, for he was to be sold into slavery if he lost the case (though at 65 it appears that an unsuccessful appellant might be expected to escape from Attica before that happened).

      A man named Euxitheus came before an Athenian court to present an appeal (ephesis) of the decision of his deme, Halimus, to strike him from its official register of deme members (lēxiarchikon grammateion)....

      (pp. 129-150)

      Acting, he says, to avenge his father, a man named Epichares¹ brought a denunciation of the sort called anendeixisagainst his father’s enemy, Theocrines.² The father was debarred from bringing the prosecution himself: he had been disenfranchised (atimos) ever since Theocrines had successfully prosecuted him on a charge of unconstitutional action (graphē paranomōn³) (30). Epichares’ father pressured his young and inexperienced son to institute litigation (2) and coached him in some detail (5). The specific complaint in Epichares’endeixisis that Theocrines had himself brought two prosecutions, despite his being a state debtor (opheilōn tōi dēmōsiōi) and therefore prohibited...

      (pp. 151-194)

      The author of this speech is almost certainly Apollodorus, father-in-law (also brother-in-law) of the man who delivers the first sixteen sections. The style ofAgainst Neaerais repetitious and sprawling and shows other signs that the speech is not by Demosthenes himself (see the Introduction, pp. 12–15). YetAgainst Neaeraholds exceptional interest for its picture of aspects of Athenian life seldom touched on with such detail in other texts. We see in particular howhetairai, deluxe prostitutes, played a part in the erotic and public lives of many Athenians, some of them very prominent.

      Prostitution itself was not...

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 195-205)