Demosthenes . Orator orator and statesman from Athens , Greece , ( 384 – 322 BC ). His harsh speeches against the Macedonian King Philip (father of Alexander the Great ) were called Philippians and even to date, if someone gives a speech against someone the speech is called as Philippic.


[ hide ]

  • 1 Biographical Synthesis
    • 1 Escape
    • 2 Return
    • 3 Death
  • 2 Artwork
    • 1 The Philippians
  • 3 Source

Biographical Synthesis

Greek politician and orator who was born in Athens in 384 BC and died in Calauria in 322 BC He was the son of a weapons manufacturer, orphaned at the age of seven. His tutors Aphobus, Demophon and Teripides unfairly administered his inheritance, so at the age of eighteen he decided to bring his tutors to justice, to vindicate his heritage.

He was a disciple of Iseo, read the works of Isocrates, and in his early youth practiced the profession of a logographer. He overcame his speech difficulties ( dyslexia , improvisation inability) with effort through declamation exercises . From 354 BC he displayed great diplomatic activity, and clashed vigorously with the Promacedonian party. Defender of the alliance with Thebes , he fights in Querone and assists in the total bankruptcy of his politics.

Because of his zeal in rebuilding the defenses of Athens and his significant monetary contribution to the works, Ctesiphon proposed that he be awarded a crown.


In the last years of his life he was involved in the scandal of Hárpalo , an unfaithful treasurer who deposited in Athens and distributed Alexander’s money among certain politicians. He was sentenced to 55 talents of fine and fled to Trezén.


In 323, with the death of Alexander, Athens, Argos and Corinth revolted against the Macedonian hegemony, Demosthenes returned to his homeland and was received triumphantly, but the naval defeat in Amorgos and the land of Cranón ruined the dreams of the rebels.


Demosthenes had to flee again to the island of Calauria, where he committed suicide so as not to fall into the hands of Antipater’s agents.


Considered the most brilliant of Greek orators, with him oratory breaks the narrow mold of rhetorical rules. In his first speeches he respects the period of Isocrates, but in later he manages to create a totally personal style in which passion is put at the service of the idea.

About seventy speeches bearing his name are preserved, and which are divided into private speeches and political speeches.

  • Private speeches:
  • Accusation Against Aphobus, to defend Fano from an accusation of perjury.
  • Custom speeches:
  • In defense of Formión and Contra Estéfano.

A special place is occupied by the two discourses Against Androción, the Against Timocrates and the Against Leptines, which belong to the period following the end of the Social War and are closely related to each other. All of them attack people close to Aristophon, and must be considered as works of agitation destined to discredit the ruling team.

Different in tone is the Contra Leptines, which he delivered on behalf of Ctesippus. The speech attacks a bill that abolished all tax exemptions except for the descendants of tyrannies.

The speech Against Zenótemis belongs to the reign of Alexander and contains in its final part the observation of Demón, Demosthenes’s client, that Demosthenes had decided not to deal with private processes since his delivery to politics.

Among the private apocryphal pieces of the Corpus Demosthenium, the Contra Noera, a living document of the time, and the two speeches Against Aritogitón and Contra Teócrines deserve mention.

  • Political speeches: His first speeches in the Assembly were on foreign policy matters, with his speech On simmonies, in which he met those who speculated on the imminence of a Persian attack. The speech In favor of the megalopolitans (352 BC) shows an opportunist politician, in favor of the balance of power in politics, for which he supports the alliance with Megalopolis. In the speech Against Aristocrates (352 BC or 351 BC), he challenges the proposal to grant Caridemo, an Athenian mercenary in the service of the Thracian king Cersobleptes, special protection.

The main theme of his most famous speeches was the danger posed to Athenian hegemony, the irrepressible expansion of Philip of Macedon . Among these speeches, Las Filípicas stands out, in which he urged citizens to resist the Macedonian invader.

The philippics

  • 351 BC pronounced his first Philippians against Philip of Macedonia.
  • This speech was followed by the Olínticas (349 BC-348 BC) in defense of Olinto, ambassador sent to Macedonia to achieve peace.
  • With the second and third Philippians (344 BC-343 BC), he managed to annul the treaty, increase the army and achieve the alliance with Thebes.
  • The fourth Philippians (341 BC) was a declaration of war on the Macedonians, leading to another defeat for Athens.
  • In 330 BC he delivered his most famous speech, Pro Corona, in defense of all his political performance.

Leave a Comment