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Demosthenes, Speeches 1-17

Demosthenes, Speeches 1-17

Translated with introduction and notes by Jeremy Trevett
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    Demosthenes, Speeches 1-17
    Book Description:

    This is the fourteenth 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 recently been attracting particular interest: women and family life, slavery, and religion, to name just a few.

    This volume contains translations of all the surviving deliberative speeches of Demosthenes (plus two that are almost certainly not his, although they have been passed down as part of his corpus), as well as the text of a letter from Philip of Macedon to the Athenians. All of the speeches were purportedly written to be delivered to the Athenian assembly and are in fact almost the only examples in Attic oratory of the genre of deliberative oratory. In the Olynthiac and Philippic speeches, Demosthenes identifies the Macedonian king Philip as a major threat to Athens and urges direct action against him. The Philippic speeches later inspired the Roman orator Cicero in his own attacks against Mark Antony, and became one of Demosthenes' claims to fame throughout history.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73550-7
    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)
    Jeremy Trevett
    (pp. xiii-xxxiv)
    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” (Iliad 9.443); 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 the Iliad, the messenger speeches in tragedy reporting...

    (pp. 1-5)
    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. 6-26)
    Jeremy Trevett

    This volume contains translations of all the surviving deliberative speeches of Demosthenes, including several whose authenticity has been questioned (Dem. 7, 10, 11, 13, 17), as well as the text of a letter of Philip of Macedon to the Athenians (Dem. 12). Collectively these form the first seventeen “speeches” of the corpus of Demosthenes’ works. All the speeches were, or at least purported to be, written to be delivered to the Athenian Assembly and are in fact almost the only examples in Attic oratory of the genre of deliberative oratory.

    The sovereign decision-making body of democratic Athens was the Assembly...


      (pp. 27-40)

      Olynthus was a city in the Chalcidic peninsula and the head of the Chalcidic League, the only significant Greek power in the north Aegean.¹ The league had made an alliance with Philip of Macedon in 357, when he offered to recover for them the nearby city of Potidaea, which was controlled by Athens and had a garrison of Athenian “cleruchs,” that is, settlers.² Philip and his new allies proceeded to lay siege to Potidaea, probably in early 356 (Diodorus 16.8.5). Demosthenes states that the Athenians voted to send a relief expedition, but that nothing came of it (4.35), no doubt...

      (pp. 41-52)

      This speech was delivered in 349/8 (see the Introduction to Dem. 1–3), apparently before the Athenians had sent any assistance to Olynthus, since at 12 Demosthenes calls for them to take action. As in the First Olynthiac, he represents the Olynthian appeal to Athens as a marvelous opportunity that must be taken (1–2). He proposes that the Athenians send help to Olynthus and also send an embassy to Thessaly, which has grown restive under Macedonian rule (11).

      The bulk of the speech is devoted to belittling Philip and seeking to persuade the Athenians that he is far from...

      (pp. 53-67)

      This is probably the third in order of writing of the three speeches that Demosthenes delivered in 349/8, arguing that Athens should send help to the northern Greek city of Olynthus, which was under attack from Philip of Macedon (see the Introduction to Dem. 1–3).

      The military situation had apparently deteriorated since Demosthenes delivered the first two Olynthiacs. Now the Athenians cannot effectively retaliate against Philip and are reduced to defending themselves and their allies (1–2), and their affairs are in an “utterly wretched state” (3). Although it is impossible to determine exactly when the speech was delivered,...

      (pp. 68-87)

      The First Philippic marks a turning point in Demosthenes’ political career: although he had made a glancing reference to Philip in an (arguably) earlier speech (15.24), this is the first speech in which he directly addresses the danger to Athens arising from the growth of Macedonian power. From now on, all his surviving deliberative speeches are characterized by ancient critics as “Philippics,” that is, as speeches concerned with policy towards Philip.¹

      Dionysius of Halicarnassus dates the speech to 352/1, but his testimony is not entirely straightforward,² and the question of its date continues to be debated.³ One important passage for...

    • 5. ON THE PEACE
      (pp. 88-99)

      Demosthenes’ speech On the Peace was delivered in the aftermath of the making of the Peace of Philocrates between Athens and Philip in summer 346.¹ It is correctly dated 346/5 by Dionysius of Halicarnassus² and was probably delivered in autumn 346.

      Philip’s capture of Olynthus in 348 (see the Introduction to Dem. 1–3) meant the failure of Athens’ attempt to resist him in the north, and he also now held many Athenians as prisoners of war. Athens tried to organize other states in Greece to unite against him, but without success. The city was isolated, war weary, and keen...

      (pp. 100-112)

      The Second Philippic is dated to 344/3, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who adds the information that it was delivered in reply to an embassy “from the Peloponnese.”¹ This was a year of important diplomatic activity for Athens. First, the Persian King sent ambassadors to the city, as well as to others, asking for friendship and alliance, in the hope of securing Greek help for his attempt to reconquer Egypt.² Second, there was at least one embassy from Philip that offered to renegotiate those terms of the Peace of Philocrates with which the Athenians were unhappy.³ This diplomatic overture is...

      (pp. 113-128)

      The authorship of the speech On Halonnesus was debated in antiquity. Dionysius of Halicarnassus accepts it as the work of Demosthenes without discussion,¹ but Libanius denies this attribution on the ground that some of its vocabulary is too vulgar to have been used by Demosthenes (see 45n) and reports the view of previous scholars that it was the work of a contemporary of Demosthenes named Hegesippus. This attribution was based partly on the speech’s style and partly on the speaker’s claim to have prosecuted a man named Callippus (43), since it was known that Hegesippus, and not Demosthenes, had prosecuted...

      (pp. 129-151)

      This speech, which is dated 342/1 by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, was delivered in spring 341.¹ Demosthenes’ statement in it that Philip has been campaigning in Thrace for ten months (2) is consistent with this date, assuming that he started his campaign in summer 342, and the Etesian winds of summer for which Philip may wait (14) are therefore those of 341. At the time of the speech Philip was on campaign in the interior of Thrace: he is said to be in the Hellespont region with a large army (3, cf. 14) and to be currently capturing a number of...

      (pp. 152-176)

      The Third Philippic was delivered in spring 341, at about the same time as Dem. 8.¹ Certainly the two speeches paint a similar picture of the situation in Thrace and the Chersonese. In the present speech, Demosthenes claims that Philip has set out against the Hellespont (27), is marching on Byzantium (34), and has sent mercenaries into the Chersonese, that is, to support his ally Cardia (16). Both Byzantium and the Chersonese are in such grave danger that the Athenians must take immediate action (19) and send funds to those in the Chersonese (73), by which he means the Athenian...

      (pp. 177-200)

      The authenticity of the Fourth Philippic has in the past been denied, but it is now generally accepted as a genuine speech of Demosthenes. Scholars in antiquity expressed no doubts on this score: Dionysius of Halicarnassus treats it as genuine,¹ and Libanius makes no mention of its authorship. Moreover, the Hellenistic scholar Didymus included it in his commentary on Demosthenes’ deliberative speeches, without any discussion of its authorship, which strongly suggests that he and his contemporaries did not regard it as a matter of controversy.²

      The speech’s authenticity came to be doubted in the nineteenth century, before the discovery of...

      (pp. 201-210)

      The authenticity of this short speech¹ is open to doubt, and the majority opinion among scholars is that it is spurious, even though ancient critics generally accepted it as genuine.² Dionysius of Halicarnassus regards it as authentic, “the last of the speeches against Philip.”³ It is also included by Didymus in his commentary on the deliberative speeches of Demosthenes (cols. 10.13–13.12). He apparently accepts it as genuine, though he writes that it is “cobbled together” from some of Demosthenes’ previous speeches on the same issues (col. 11.7–10). This statement is clearly true, since part of the speech is...

      (pp. 211-223)

      The Letter of Philip to the Athenians, whether genuine or not, clearly does not properly belong in a collection of Demosthenes’ deliberative speeches, but ancient editors presumably included it because they believed (perhaps correctly) that it was the letter to which Dem. 11 responds.

      The Letter is found in only some of the manuscripts of Demosthenes (FY, not SA) and is not discussed by the ancient commentators. Didymus, however, quotes (col. 10.24–30) the closing sentences from a “letter of Philip” that are very close to, and in some cases identical with, the closing words of this letter. It is...

      (pp. 224-239)

      The date and authorship of this speech are both disputed. It was accepted as genuine both by Libanius in his Introduction to it and by Didymus, who included it in his commentary on the deliberative speeches of Demosthenes (cols. 13.14–15.10). It is, however, uniquely among the surviving deliberative speeches, not included among the speeches for which Dionysius of Halicarnassus provides dates.¹ This, among other arguments, has prompted some scholars to deny its authenticity.² In my view, the speech is in fact genuine, for the following reasons.³

      First, Dionysius’ omission of the speech does not prove that he judged it...

      (pp. 240-256)

      On the Symmories is the earliest surviving deliberative speech of Demosthenes. It is dated 354/3 by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and this date has been generally accepted.¹ According to Libanius’ Introduction, the occasion of the speech was a rumor that the Persian King was planning to attack Greece. Apparently some politicians at Athens had argued for an aggressive response (1), but Demosthenes advocates restraint: the Athenians should resist if they are attacked but not provoke war with Persia. At the same time, he argues that they should improve their readiness for war by reforming the financial organization of their navy.


      (pp. 257-273)

      The date of this speech is open to some doubt. Dionysius of Halicarnassus places it in 351/0, although we do not know how he or his source arrived at this date.¹ It was clearly delivered after the death of Mausolus, ruler of Caria, and during the rule of his sister and widow Artemisia (e.g., 27). Mausolus died in 353/2 (Diodorus 16.36.2), and Artemisia died in 351/0 (Diodorus 16.45.7), and so the speech must belong within those years. Demosthenes reports rumors that the Persian campaign to regain Egypt is failing (12), but the dates of this campaign are not exactly known.²...

      (pp. 274-285)

      Dionysius of Halicarnassus states that this speech was delivered in 353/2.¹ This date is consistent with the recording by the historian Diodorus Siculus (16.39) of a Spartan attack on Megalopolis in the following year, 352/1, although Diodorus’ chronology is often faulty and cannot be relied on.

      By the middle of the fourth century the three major powers of mainland Greece—Sparta, Thebes, and Athens—were all in a considerably weakened state. Sparta, which had dominated Greece since the end of the Peloponnesian War, had been decisively defeated by Thebes at the battle of Leuctra in 371. As a result of...

      (pp. 286-300)

      This speech is certainly later than any of the other speeches in this volume, since it belongs to the reign of Philip’s son Alexander. After the defeat of an anti-Macedonian Greek coalition, led by Athens and Thebes, at the battle of Chaeronea in 338, Greece fell under Macedonian domination. Philip imposed on the Greeks a common peace and established an alliance known by modern historians as the League of Corinth (from the Greek city where its Council met).¹ The league served both as an instrument of Macedonian domination and as a legitimization of Philip’s leadership of Greece in the planned...

    (pp. 301-308)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 309-318)