ElAnt v2n5 - Historical Paradigms in Demosthenes' Public Speeches

Volume 2, Number 5
March 1995


R.D. Milns,
Department of Classics & Ancient History,
University of Queensland,
St Lucia,
Queensland 4027,
e-mail: c/o ian.worthington@classics.utas.edu.au

I have, through considerations of time and space, not tried to survey the use of historical paradigms in all the orators, but have limited myself to the symbouleutic speeches of Demosthenes and the two major political trials in which he was personally involved (viz. the False Embassy and Crown speeches). I have not included other Demosthenic speeches which have a political character, e.g. Leptines, Androtion, and Aristocrates, except to mention the latter in passing. For convenience, I have attached in chronological order a list of the speeches with which I deal. I do not argue about the precise dating of the speeches, as this has little importance for the present subject. It will be seen that I have included there speeches from the Demosthenic corpus which are generally or often regarded as not genuine, e.g. On Organisation, On Halonnesus, Philippic 4, Reply to Philip's Letter, and On the Treaty with Alexander. I have done this because, even if the speeches are not genuine Demosthenes, they seem, for the most part, to belong to the fourth century B.C. and, in the case of Halonnesus and The Treaty with Alexander, probably to have been spoken in the assembly.

I do not think it necessary, within the context of this paper, to go into the question of how far the 'published' speeches which have come down to us resemble the speech that was actually delivered. This, I know, is a topic close to the heart of Ian Worthington, who has recently published a very well argued article on it ('Greek Oratory, Revision of Speeches and the Problem of Historical Reliability', Cl & Med. 42 [1991], pp. 55-74). It seems true that even if the speeches were 'touched up', from the aspects of both style and content, we may assume that what we have is what the orator thought would still read like a genuine assembly- speech.

Another matter which I believe is not of great significance for this topic is a detailed analysis of composition -- social and economic -- of the Assembly (on this, apart from Jones in Athenian Democracy, Minor Markle has a good article in Crux and J. Ober has some sensible remarks in Mass and Elite, pp. 134ff.). While I tend to agree with those who believe that the 'poor' predominated both in the Assembly and in the jury-panels, I have no doubt that whatever is meant by such relative terms as 'moderately affluent', 'poor','rich', a speaker could not assume a detailed knowledge, based on formal study, of Athenian or Hellenic history in his audience. Moreover, when dealing with a mass audience of 6000 (see M.H. Hansen, GRBS 17 [1976], pp. 115-134, for the number which usually attended meetings of the Assembly), a speaker can not deal with historical problems and arguments; the message has to be clear, simple and uncomplicated. The wide-ranging, often abstruse and often highly complex historical knowledge assumed in his readers by Isocrates is a signal proof that the speeches were never spoken or meant to be spoken in a public gathering.

It is worthwhile speculating on what an orator could probably assume would be familiar 'historical' knowledge to his largely illiterate or semi-literate audience. My own guess would be that the more significant events of the previous ten or fifteen years would be imprinted on the minds of the citizens aged over 30; but, for most persons, events of more than 25 years ago would be somewhat remote and frequently be imparted by the oral tradition of the older generation. Events and personalities of more than fifty years before would probably tend to be limited to the really outstanding achievements (and disasters) and the figures associated with them. These deeds and persons -- the ancestors -- would be transmitted in a simplistic, idealised and laudatory form. Demosthenes gives us a good idea of the nature of Athenian historical consciousness when he claims that Aeschines, in the debate on the Peace terms of 346, told the Assembly that 'they ought neither to remember their ancestors nor put up with those who spoke of trophies and naval battles'. (19.16). Whether or not Aeschines said this (it is highly unlikely) does not matter. The words, however, reveal the essence of paradigms drawn from the 'historical' past: the virtues and glories of the ancestors and their deeds, especially in such naval battles as Salamis. It is worth speculating here on the question which I raised earlier: what 'historical' knowledge could your modern Australian politicians assume in their audiences, the sort of things that would strike a resonant chord in the hearer? It would be interesting to hear the reactions of different people. I myself would guess that most Australians will have heard of Captain Cook, the First Fleet, Ballarat, the Eureka Stockade, Gallipoli and the battle of the Coral Sea. But how far could that be extended? It is pretty self-evident that the list that would be in the minds of Athenians of the mid- fourth century would contain the names and virtues of the founders and restorers of the democracy, of the deeds that secured the freedom of Athens and Hellas from foreign conquest and of the period of Athens' greatest power and fame.

Pride and patriotism are the essence of historical examples, which are meant to be edifying and to provoke emulation. Hence a speaker is not likely to draw upon his city's or country's disasters, unless these can be seen as heroic, self-sacrificing and noble (e.g. Thermopylae, the vacation of Athens). Nor is a speaker likely, as a general rule, to draw on the history of other states for examples of virtuous or heroic conduct. 'What need do you have of foreign examples?', asks Demosthenes. A speaker is more likely to use the history of other states in order to show one's own city in a superior light.

I said before that the fact that a speech is delivered before a mass audience means that any historical examples must be simple and brief, since an audience will quickly become bored and impatient with any lengthy and complex discussions. Another factor which militates against any subtlety or complexity is brought out especially well by Lionel Pearson in his still most valuable article on historical allusions in the Attic Orators (CPh 36 [1941], pp. 209-229): the danger of alienating your audience by giving it the impression that you are a very clever person, steeped in book- learning and consciously superior to and patronising of the audience. The idea is that we are all ordinary, plain people together; and any knowledge that I may have of events outside my time was acquired, not from the pages of books, but from some wholesome source, such as parents or elders.

In what follows, I shall go through the speeches and isolate firstly the paradigms which mention particular persons and secondly those that mention particular events. The purpose of this is to see who and what Demosthenes assumed his audience would know and to see if any general deductions can be drawn from this. Obviously, there will be some overlap at times between the two categories, as particular persons are often mentioned for their involvement in particular events. I do not regard, for the purpose of this exercise, references back to the earlier career of the subject of a speech or passage in a speech as being a paradigm. Thus, Philip can not be paradigmatic of himself. I shall also point out in the more significant instances where Demosthenes' version of an historical event differs from our historical sources.

One point may be made immediately: of the 18 speeches involved, seven (= 39%) do not contain a paradigm, as I define it; and of these seven, three (= 43%) are regarded as non- Demosthenic. In other words, there is a high degree of consistency between the genuine and possibly spurious speeches with respect to the presence or absence of paradigms. These figures, moreover, seem hardly to bear out Pearson's description of Demosthenes as 'a notably paradigmatic orator.'

(i) On the Freedom of the Rhodians (15), sections 9-10: Timotheus is adduced to demonstrate the highly dubious proposition that men do not regard themselves as the victims of injustice if they are prevented from self-aggrandisement and do not, therefore, retaliate against those who prevent their aggrandisement. The incident adduced occurred fourteen years before the date of the speech, in 366, when Timotheus was sent to aid Ariobarzanes. When he found Ariobarzanes in revolt from the King, so that help would be in breach of the treaty with the King, he used his forces to liberate Samos from the garrison illegally installed there by Cyprothemis, who had been stationed there by Tigranes. Tigranes did not retaliate against Timotheus because Samos was not part of the King's territory; and Artemisia will show a similar restraint if the Athenians help the Rhodian democrats to put down the oligarchs, who are maintained by a Carian garrison imposed by the now dead Mausolus.

(ii) Philippic 1 (4), section 24: to explain why he insists on the presence of citizen-soldiers in his proposed 'northern' expeditionary force, Demosthenes brings the example of the mercenary force that Athens 'formerly' maintained at Corinth under Polystratus, Iphicrates and Chabrias and others and the success of this force when it fought alongside citizen-soldiers against the Spartans. The events seem to refer to the Corinthian War (394-387), i.e. c. fourty years earlier than the speech. Demosthenes described his source of knowledge as 'by hearing' (sc. from the older people who survived from that time?).

(iii) On Organisation (13), section 21ff.: to illustrate the degenerate practice of today in the awarding of honours to politicians, the speaker states that the Athenians of old did not rob themselves of their glory and erected no statues to Themistocles, Miltiades and such; nor would anybody ever speak of Salamis as 'Themistocles' battle'. Now, however, people say that Timotheus took Corcyra (376); Iphicrates cut up a Spartan mora (390; but note that it was mercenary peltasts who did this, not citizens); and Chabrias won the battle of Naxos (376). Similarly in the rewarding of foreigners: nowadays citizenship is given to the lowest of the low or sold at a price, like any other goods in the market. But in former times it was ateleia, not politeia, that was given to Meno of Pharsalus for his contribution to the war at Eion; and it was likewise ateleia that was given to King Perdiccas, who helped to destroy the retreating Persians after Plataea. What, asks the speaker, is the reason for this? It is because the Athenians of today have lost the high spirit and pride of their ancestors. They can, however, still become their own masters by reflecting upon and comparing the behaviour and achievements of their ancestors with their own situations and the behaviour of today's politicians. The speaker then illustrates this proposition by means of the long sunkrisis between the achievements of our ancestors and today and between the public splendour and private modesty then and their opposites now. Even if one knows the house of Themistocles, Cimon and Miltiades, you can see that they are no more splendid than those of their neighbours. The whole passage is interesting from several ways, not least in the number of historical incidents and persons that are cited. Whilst all the others are well known figures to us, Meno of Pharsalus is unknown, yet the speaker seems to assume that the reference will be understood by his audience.

Interesting too is the fact that both the domestic and foreign paradigms adduced had been used already in the Aristocrates speech; while the sunkrisis appears in both the Aristocrates speech and in Olynthiac 3, which is probably later than this speech. In the Aristocrates speech it is stated that Menon and Perdiccas were given politeia for their services to Athens, not ateleia; and Fossey (LCM 11 [1986], pp.77-78) has argued that the word ateleia indicates that speech 13 is the work of an Hellenistic forger, though with a rather unconvincing argument. The sunkrisis differs with respect to the names in the three speeches: in the Aristocrates speech Miltiades and Themistocles are cited; in Olynthiac 3, Miltiades and Aristides; and in speech 13 there are three men named -- Themistocles, Aristides and Cimon. It is also noteworthy that according to Herodotus (9.89) it was the Thracians, not the Macedonians, who harassed the Persians; and the Macedonian King was Alexander I, not Perdiccas.

(iv) Olynthiac 2 (2), section 14: to prove his contention that the Macedonian state is a not insignificant factor when it is used to supplement other forces, Demosthenes quotes the help given by it against Olynthus 'in the time of Timotheus'. The reference here is almost certainly to Timotheus' operations against Olynthus and Potidaea in 364 (Diodorus 15.81.6) when he captured Potidaea and Torone.

(v) Olynthiac 3 (3), section 21: to show that the orators of the past, unlike those of today, used to set the welfare of the state above personal popularity, Demosthenes gives the examples of Aristides, Nicias, 'my own namesake' (i.e. the general Demosthenes) and Pericles. To indicate the temporal remoteness of these well known figures, Demosthenes says that he knows of them 'through hearing about them, as perhaps you do also.' There is no doubt that he has chosen his paradigmatic persons well, even Demosthenes the general, though we have no record of his skills as an orator, let alone an orator ready to court unpopularity by speaking unpalatable truths.

Sections 23ff. contain the long and elaborate sunkrisis discussed under the Organisation speech, to which may be added that the orator presents the Athenian empire in an idealised light, though none of the leading figures of the empire at its zenith are adduced to demonstrate the private modesty of the politicians.

(vi) Philippic 2 (6), sections 10-12: to show why Philip has chosen to benefit the Thebans and Argives, Demosthenes produces the example of the past behaviour of other states, in comparison with that of Athens, when Hellenic liberty and interests were at stake. Philip, he claims, knows that in pursuit of their private interests and ambitions the Thebans and Argives betrayed the interests of Hellas to the Persians, whereas the Athenians -- your ancestors and you -- would never do this. They could have ruled over the Hellenes, if they had agreed to obey the Great King, but refused to accept the offer when it was brought by Alexander, the ancestor of 'these fellows' (i.e. Philip's family). Demosthenes seems to be deliberately misleading here, according to Sandys (p.116), since the tenor of the passage invoking Alexander strongly suggests that the offer was made before Salamis, when Herodotus (9.6) shows that it was made shortly before Plataea. It would certainly be more dramatic to have the offer made and rejected immediately before the Athenian success of Salamis than before the Spartan victory of Plataea.

(vii) On the False Embassy(19), section 31: to illustrate the unprecedented nature of the withholding from the second embassy to Philip of a vote of thanks and invitation to dinner at the Prytanaeum, Demosthenes adduced the example of Timagoras, who was not refused this honour, even though he was (presumably later) condemned to death by the Assembly. No reason is given here for condemnation, though the context makes one think of bribe-taking on an embassy. At section 137, Timagoras is again used as an example to prove the orator's point that if traitors are punished, this deters those who hire them. Timagoras is said to have been given fourty talents by the Great King to do something not specified by the orator. The King realised his great mistake when he heard of Timagoras' execution and henceforth never again gave bribe-money to anybody (not to mention his voluntary handing over of Amphipolis to Athens). At section 191, the unfortunate Timagoras is again used, along with others, to show that there were ample precedents for delinquent ambassadors and officials being denounced by their colleagues. Timagoras was denounced by his colleagues of four years, Leon, though the charge is not specified; Eubulus denounced Tharrex and Smicythus; and Conon denounced his fellow-general Adimantus. From Xenophon (Hellenica 7.1.33ff.) we hear that Timagoras was denounced by Leon because he collaborated with Pelopidas in 368, but with no indications of his having been bribed by the Great King. Of the other denunciations and trials, the one involving Eubulus was probably c.354, according to Kirchner in PIR; while the Conon prosecution of Adimantus must have taken place in 393/2 (Adimantus was alleged to have betrayed the Athenian fleet at Aegospotami). Of the three trials, two (Leon and Eubulus) had occurred in the last 20 years; while the Conon trial, though fifty years ago, would have been such a cause celèbre that Demosthenes could reasonably assume knowledge of it amongst the jury, especially if, as seems likely, there was a considerable number of the elderly amongst them.

Section 180: Demosthenes gives a list of men who had been condemned to death or a heavy fine for conduct harmful to Athens in the Thracian area, but whose actions all combined harmed Athens less than Aeschines' betrayal of Thrace to Philip. The names are cited without any elaboration, implying that the speaker believed that his audience would understand the references. The five are: Ergophilus, Cephisodotus, Timomachus, Ergocles and Dionysus. The incidents involving the first three seem to have happened within the previous 20 years (the Cephisodotus affair is narrated in full in the Aristocrates speech, 23.153-167) and the last two -- said to have occurred to palaion -- less than fifty years previously (389 and 387/6 respectively).

Sections 251-254: Demosthenes neatly counters Aeschines' appeal to the authority of Solon (In Timarchum 25). Aeschines had spoken of the statue of Solon in Salamis, with his head inside his cloak, as a model for contemporary politicians to follow. Demosthenes says that the statue, being only fifty years old, can not be used to illustrate the dress and gestures of Solon's time. It was, he claims, Solon's character, not his manner of dress, that Aeschines should have appealed to; and in this the two were quite the opposite: Solon brought about Athens' recovery of Salamis and rid it of its shame by means of his poetry, despite the danger of death which he thereby faced; Aeschines betrayed and sold Amphipolis and spoke in support of Philocrates, who moved the decree that brought this about. He then has the clerk read out fourty verses of Solon which show how Solon hated men like Aeschines, i.e. bribe-takers. It is impossible to say whether the verses were indeed read out at the trial or added in the 'published' version. I find nothing improbable in the former case: the verses are clear and straightforward and their message to the point; and the authority of Solon -- 'the one man who in his own person and enactments personifies Athenian democratic ideals' (Pearson, 'Historical Allusions', p. 222) -- would surely guarantee that most people would be acquainted with them, so that the orator would not give the impression of showing off learning not possessed by his audience.

Section 271: to illustrate the point that Athens by itself can find examples of its own to imitate in dealing with bribe-takers, Demosthenes cites the example of Arthmius of Zelea, who was evidently a well known figure, as he is used paradigmatically by Demosthenes himself in the third Philippic, delivered c. two years later, by Aeschines in the Ctesiphon speech (3.258) and by Dinarchus (2.24 & 25). The date of the Arthmius incident and of the famous decree, quoted with minor variations in this speech and the 3rd Philippic, is discussed by R. Meiggs, The Athenian Empire (Oxford, 1972), Appendix 10c, pp. 508-512. It is interesting to note that although Arthmius is cited in both speeches in connection with bribery and corruption, there is a difference of emphasis: in the Embassy speech Arthmius is adduced as an example of a man rightly punished for taking bribes; in the Philippic speech his crime is that of trying to offer bribes on behalf of the Great King. This is meant to illustrate the point that in the good old days Athens was prepared to act against those whom she saw subverting Hellas, even though she herself was not directly affected; whereas it is to the rampant bribery and corruption of today that Philip's aggrandisement and the enslaving of Hellas are due. Hence, argues Demosthenes, the stele on the Acropolis recording the decree was set up by the ancestors specifically to be an example to their descendants.

Section 273: the example of Arthmius is followed by yet another example of the ancestors in dealing with bribe-takers, namely the punishment inflicted on Callias, son of Hipponicus. He was fined fifty talents because he was thought to have taken bribes on an embassy, despite the fact that the embassy produced the famous and most honourable Peace. It is obvious that the speaker can make the assumption that his audience is acquainted with the Peace of Callias (and do not doubt its genuineness).

Section 276: still continuing the theme of the punishment of bribe- takers, Demosthenes refers to instances 'in your own lifetime' and has a decree read out in which certain unspecified ambassadors are condemned. Amongst them, he says, was Epicrates, who, according to the elders, was good, useful and a friend of the people and one of those who restored the democracy (in 403). Yet, despite all these positive qualities, he too was condemned. K.J. Beloch, Griechische Geschichte ii (Leipzig, 1912), p. 232,2, argues that the date of this affair was c. 387, i.e. more than fourty years before the trial. Demosthenes seems happy to assume that his audience will have some knowledge of the matter and even the date of it, though 'in your lifetime' could only apply to the older members of the jury.

(viii) On Chersonesus (8), sections 74-75: to back up the argument that the function of the adviser of the People is to advise and of the People to act, Demosthenes cites the example, which 'you know, of course', of Timotheus' speech to the Athenians, urging them to save the Euboeans when the Thebans were trying to enslave them. He very dramatically quotes in direct speech what purports to be something like Timotheus' own words. If the occasion indeed was the successful Athenian expedition to Euboea of 357, on which occasion Demosthenes served as trierarch, he would almost certainly have been in the Assembly and heard Timotheus' speech; and he can reasonably assume acquaintance with it on the part of a large section of the Assembly.

(ix) Philippic 3 (9), section 41ff.: the 'Arthmius' paradigm, referred to above.

(x) On the Treaty with Alexander (17), section 3: in order to show the enormity of Alexander's actions in restoring the sons of the tyrant Philiades to Messene, Demosthenes invites the Athenians to think how indignant they would be, if they were compelled to take back the sons of Pisistratus. The paradigm indicates that the Pisistratidae were still regarded as betes noires c. 200 years later.

(xi) On the Crown (18), sections 203-205: to demonstrate how the Athenian people have never agreed to subject themselves to the enslavers of the human race, but have always struggled for honour, renown and primacy, there are cited the example of Themistocles, who commanded the Athenian fleet at Salamis; and he is contrasted with Cyrsilus, who was stoned to death by the Athenians for counselling submission, as was his wife by the wives of the Athenians. The paradigm is yet another instance of the way in which Demosthenes can be somewhat misleading, since the incident of Cyrsilus (called 'Lycides' by Herodotus, 9.5) is put by Herodotus shortly before the battle of Plataea, whereas one gains the impression from Demosthenes that it occurred shortly before Salamis. The same technique has already been seen in the second *Philippic(, with the embassy of Alexander I.


(i) *On the Freedom of the Rhodians( (15), section 29: to prove the truth of the argument that people are always accorded their rights in proportion to their ability to assert them, Demosthenes adduces the example of the two treaties that the Hellenes have with the Great King (an example 'known to you all'): one, made by the Athenians, which is praised by all; the other, made by the Lacedaemonians, which all condemn. Though neither treaty is named, it would seem reasonable to assume that the former is the Peace of Callias, the latter that of Antalcides.

(ii) Philippic 1 (4), section 3: to demonstrate that nothing need be fearful to the Athenians if they are prepared to be on their guard, unlike the present situation, which is the result of their negligence, Demosthenes cites the example of Athenian resistance to Spartan power 'not long ago' which resulted in Sparta's defeat. Demosthenes here is obviously referring to the period of Spartan hegemony, though it is impossible to say whether to a particular incident or to Athenian resistance to Sparta in general. Sandys (p. 74) and Vince (Loeb i, p. 70) both see the reference as being to the Boeotian War, which began in 378 with Agesilaus' invasion of Boeotia.

(iii) Olynthiac 3 (3), section 20: in the context of the use of the Theoric fund, the orator claims that it is not the mark of prudent and generous spirited men to shirk their military duty because of lack of pay; nor to snatch up arms and march against Corinth and Megara, but to allow Philip to enslave Greek cities because you are short of rations for the campaign. Demosthenes obviously believed that his audience would understand what he was alluding to. Vince, Loeb i, p. 54, says that the allusion is usually explained of the attack on Corinth in 458 and Megara in 431, 'but probably the reference is to some later and obscure events' -- a sensible observation. Sandys, p. 206, believes that the reference is to the attack on the Megarians mentioned in the Aristocrates speech (23.212) and the speech On Organisation (13.32). One scholiast on this passage mentions Megarians cultivating orgas and claims that the Corinthians were allied to the Megarians; hence war with Corinth and Megara. Another scholiast relates the story of how the Corinthians excluded Athens from the Isthmian Games and how Athens sent their sacrifices with an escort of hoplites, so that the Corinthians gave way. Demosthenes, says the scholiast, has here introduced an appropriate paradigm, 'for he recalls wars and successes without toils and labours, in order that they (the Athenians) might have the same thoughts in the present situation also.' It is possible that the incident is the same as that related by both Philochorus and Androtion (Jacoby, FGrH 328, F155 and J324, F30 respectively; see too J.R. Ellis and R.D. Milns, The Spectre of Philip [Sydney, 1970], pp. 95-96), which Didymus tells us took place in the archonship of Apollodorus (350/49). If this is so, it can not be the same incident as is mentioned in the Aristocrates speech, if the dating of that speech to 352/1 is accepted; a similar argument obtains for the Organisation speech, if it be accepted as genuine (Crosset and Pearson both accept its genuineness and date it to 349 and 350/49 respectively).

(v) On the False Embassy (19), section 263: to illustrate the dangerous effects of corruption among the leaders of the city- states, Demosthenes adduces the case of Olynthus as the paradigm. When, he says, the Spartans were the dominant power, Olynthus, which had only half the forces of the later Chalcidic league, resisted Spartan attacks by land and by sea. 'They never', he claims, 'lost their city nor a fortress; they won many battles; slew three of the enemy's generals; and finished off the war on their own terms'. When, however, their leaders began to take bribes, Olynthus, despite the doubling of its strength, was itself rapidly overrun, together with its allies. The alleged Olynthian successes, which Demosthenes seems to expect his audience to know about, may be referring to the campaigns of 382 and 381-379, as narrated by Xenophon, Hellenica 5.3.25 and 5.2.37ff. Xenophon's account certainly shows that in engagements of 382 and early 381 two Spartan generals were killed and one severely wounded; and in 381 the Olynthians got the better in two engagements. So far the orator's statements are reasonably in harmony with those of the historian. But the Olynthians could hardly be said to have 'finished off the war on their own terms', since, according to Xenophon, Olynthus was reduced to the extremes of famine and forced to conclude a very unequal peace in 379.

(vi) On the Crown (18), sections 95-99: three examples are cited by the orator to back up his claim that the Athenians, both in former times and more recently, have never allowed their behaviour to be influenced by old grudges, but have always behaved in accordance with what they believe to be glorious and noble in order to protect the life and liberty of others. Firstly, there is the help given by Athens to her former enemies, Thebes and Corinth, against Spartan aggressors at Haliartus and at Corinth. These events, knowledge of which the orator can obviously take for granted, occurred in 395 and 394 respectively, though he is quite happy, for the sake of dramatic impact to describe the second as happening 'not many days later.'

Secondly, there is the instance of Athenian support of Sparta after Leuctra, despite all the wrongs done to Athens by Sparta. In this the elders among his audience were involved, claims Demosthenes.

Thirdly, he recalls the help given to Euboea, when the Thebans were trying to make the island their own. Athens helped even Themison and Theodorus in Oropus, despite all the harm they had done. That this is the expedition of 357 is shown by the statement that this was the first occasion when voluntary trierarchs served (including Demosthenes). The event had already been cited in the Chersonese speech eleven years earlier (8.74-5).

Section 238: in response to Aeschines' reproach that the terms of the Theban alliance, the great triumph of Demosthenes' foreign policy, had been grossly detrimental to Athens, the orator points out that of the 300 ships that 'fought for Greece in former days' Athens provided 200, without grumbling about it or putting on trial the statesman who urged this; instead, she gave thanks that she was able to do twice as much as everyone else in the common peril of all the Greeks. The battle is so obvious and so well known that Demosthenes not only does not need to name it but actually heightens the dramatic impact by referring to it in this indirect manner.

Section 208: the famous and splendid 'Marathon oath' can itself be regarded as a sort of paradigm, with its appeal to the heroes of Marathon, Plataea, Salamis and Artemisium.

From all the above discussion, a few general conclusions may be drawn:

(1) The number of historical events used paradigmatically is, not surprisingly, fairly limited. Only two events before the Persian Wars are mentioned: the expulsion of the Pisistratidae and the Athenian recovery of Salamis, c. 600 B.C. Even less surprisingly, a large proportion of these depict Athens in what the Athenians liked to regard as their traditional rôle as champions of the freedom of the Hellenes against aggressors and tyrants. In the context of the fifth century, the main emphasis is upon Athens' part in the Persian Wars, especially Salamis, which is the most frequently mentioned event. Marathon only occurs once outside the famous or notorious Marathon oath. This may well be because Marathon was a purely Athenian affair, whereas Salamis was fought on behalf of all the Hellenes. Moreover, Marathon was a hoplite battle, whereas Salamis, being won by the fleet, was more 'democratic'. Plataea, which may be regarded as primarily Sparta's victory, is only once specifically mentioned by name. The incident of Arthmius of Zelea figures prominently in the demonstration of Athenian concern for all Hellas.

(2) A large number of personages are used paradigmatically or figure in paradigms, though Solon and the Pisistratidae are the only ones from before the fifth century. There is a slight preponderance of persons from the fourth century, though this may be a little misleading, as several names are cited only once and in the context of fairly recent trials, the details of which are largely unknown to us now, but were still well known at the time. Of the thirteen persons from the fifth and sixth centuries, ten are Athenians, of whom only two are mentioned in more than one speech (Themistocles, three times; Aristides, twice). Of the fourth century personalities, Timotheus occurs in three different speeches; Iphicrates and Chabrias in two each. Themistocles and Timotheus are invariably spoken of with respect and admiration.

(3) Demosthenes can obviously assume that his audience knows of the events and persons to whom he alludes; and, in general, he does not feel any need for chronological precision. But it is interesting to note that of the specific events to which mention is made, there are, with the exception of the famous battles of the Persian Wars and the Athenian recovery of Salamis, only two definite references to events which occurred before the Corinthian War and during the period of the Athenian arche, viz. the Peace of Callias and the restoration of the democracy.

(4) Demosthenes' reporting of historical events, as far as can be judged, seems to be reasonably accurate overall. Not surprisingly, the period of Athenian domination in the fifth century is spoken of in a patriotic and laudatory manner ('for 45 years they ruled over the willing Hellenes'). Mistakes of fact are few: in the Organisation speech (12.24) it was, if we accept Herodotus, the Thracians, not the Macedonians, who harried the retreating Persians and Alexander I was the Macedonian king, not Perdiccas; and in the Embassy speech (263) it is incorrect to claim that the Olynthians settled their war with Sparta on their own terms (if we assume, as we should, that Xenophon's account is the more accurate one). There are two examples (in the second Philippic and the Crown speech) where Demosthenes seems to be trying to give the impression that an event occurred just before the 'Athenian' battle of Salamis rather than the 'Spartan' battle of Plataea, thus giving a dramatic -- and patriotic -- colour to his narrative. The details of the affair of Timagoras, cited three times in the Embassy speech as an example, do not agree with the account of Xenophon in the Hellenica. It is, however, possible that the two authors are reporting separate, not contradictory, aspects of Timagoras' corrupt and treasonable behaviour.

R.D. Milns,
e-mail: c/o ian.worthington@classics.utas.edu.au

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright remains with authors, but due reference should be made to this journal if any part of the above is later published elsewhere.

Electronic Antiquity Vol. 2 Issue 5 - March 1995
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606
by Kaavya Giridhar