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Headword: Δημοσθένης
Adler number: delta,455
Translated headword: Demosthenes
Vetting Status: high
The orator; he was a man of outstanding ability in reflection and in the expression of his thoughts; hence, too, he was regarded as the most eloquent among his contemporaries, since he was most competent in inferring what was not apparent[1] and in explaining what he had understood. In all that he tried to say or do in defence of the public interest, although he did not live at a time propitious for the reputation of political leaders, he alone among Athenians of his own time spoke out freely against the Macedonian tyrants; they saw him as someone impossible to bribe, at a time when it so happened that those in the other cities who, because they desired enrichment more than the public good, were bought by gifts of money, for the sake of their own gain placed what they saw as their own immediate interest before what was in the common interest. Hence, even the things for which they later blamed him were forgiven by the Athenians, and they welcomed him back again and relied on his advice in everything. And the nobility of his death most of all caused them to regret openly their decisions. Not long after the news came of Demosthenes' death, they went back on decisions they had taken more for fear of Macedon than with full integrity of judgement, and they voted to grant immunity from taxation to the eldest member of Demosthenes' family, and to set up a bronze image of him in the agora;[2] and they inscribed an elegy on the base of the statue: 'If your power had been equal to your judgement, Demosthenes, never would the Ares of Macedon have ruled the Greeks.'
Greek Original:
Δημοσθένης, ὁ ῥήτωρ, ἀνὴρ ἦν γνῶναί τε καὶ εἰπεῖν, ὅσα ἐνθυμηθείη, δυνατώτατος γενόμενος. ὅθεν καὶ δεινότατος ἔδοξε τῶν καθ' αὑτόν, οἷα δὴ ἱκανώτατος τὸ ἀφανὲς εἰκάσαι καὶ τὸ γνωσθὲν ἐξηγήσασθαι. καὶ ἐν οἷς ὑπὲρ τῶν κοινῶν λέγειν τι ἢ πράττειν ἐπεχείρησε, καιρῷ μὲν ἐπιτηδείῳ οὐ μάλα ἐχρήσατο ἐς δόξαν τῶν δημαγωγούντων. πλεῖστα δὲ εἷς ἀνὴρ οὗτος τῶν καθ' αὑτὸν Ἀθηναίων τοῖς Μακεδόνων τυράννοις σὺν παρρησίᾳ ἀντειπὼν παρὰ τοῖσδε ἀδωρότατος ἔδοξεν εἶναι. ὅτε δὴ συνέβαινε τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις πόλεσιν, οἷα δὴ τῶν κερδῶν ἐφιεμένους μᾶλλον ἐκ τοῦ ἐς τὸ κοινὸν λυσιτελοῦντος, ἐξωνηθέντας χρημάτων δόσει τὸ κατὰ σφᾶς ὡς ἐδόκουν ἐν τῷ παραυτίκα κέρδους τοῦ σφετέρου εἵνεκα πρὸ τοῦ ἐς τὰ κοινὰ συμφέροντος τίθεσθαι. ὅθεν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐφ' οἷς ὕστερον ᾐτιάθη συγγνόντες οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι κατεδέξαντό τε αὖθις καὶ ἐς πάντα συμβούλῳ ἐχρήσαντο. καὶ αὐτῷ ἡ τελευτὴ γενναία ἐπιγενομένη μάλιστα ἐς μεταμέλειαν ἤγαγεν αὐτοὺς οὐκ ἀφανῆ τῶν γνωσθέντων. οὐ πολλῷ γοῦν ὕστερον ἢ ἐξαγγελθῆναι τεθνηκότα Δημοσθένην μετεγίνωσκον ἐφ' οἷς δέει τῶν Μακεδόνων μᾶλλον ἢ γνώμῃ τῇ δικαιοτάτῃ ἔκριναν, καὶ ἀτέλειάν τε τῷ πρεσβυτάτῳ γένους τοῦ Δημοσθένους ψηφίζονται καὶ χαλκοῦν στῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν ἀγορᾷ, καὶ ἐλεγεῖον τῇ βάσει τοῦ ἀνδριάντος ἐπέγραψαν: εἴπερ ἴσην ῥώμην γνώμῃ, Δημόσθενες, εἶχες, οὔποτ' ἂν Ἑλλήνων ἦρξεν Ἄρης Μακεδών.
Arrian, Historia Successorum Alexandri fr.23 Roos-Wirth (FGrH 156 F176a). For Demosthenes see already delta 454, and cf. delta 456.
[1] Again at epsiloniota 57.
[2] cf. [Plutarch], Lives of the Ten Orators 847C-E.
Keywords: art history; biography; constitution; economics; ethics; geography; historiography; history; imagery; poetry; politics; rhetoric
Translated by: Malcolm Heath on 28 June 2000@13:51:36.
Vetted by:
Ross Scaife ✝ (changed keyword, upped status) on 28 June 2000@15:20:04.
David Whitehead (added note and keywords; cosmetics) on 26 March 2001@03:46:37.
David Whitehead (added note) on 26 March 2001@03:58:40.
David Whitehead (added keywords) on 9 February 2003@10:08:54.
Catharine Roth (rearrangement) on 24 August 2005@11:23:49.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 9 October 2005@06:37:48.
David Whitehead (more x-refs; more keywords) on 26 June 2012@08:17:54.
Catharine Roth (note number) on 18 July 2016@15:55:44.


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