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Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Fri May 29, 2020 3:35 pm
by dean
I had prepared this post and just as I was about to send it, something happened and all my post just happened to vanish into thin this is a more condensed version.

Just finished my second book pre Alexander. Demosthenes orator and statesman It was talking about the greatest orator of all time(well, some have called him that apart from a few other names too through history, his nickname Batalos for example but that is another story.)

The book includes several dissertations from several experts in the field amongst whom are E.Badian, Ian Worthington to name a couple.
I liked the chapter by Badian although a bit dense, it was interestingly about the orator and Philip.
Demostenes achievement was really laudatory due to the fact that he had to overcome several obstacles like stuttering(not the most ideal problem when you want to be a big hot shot public speaker)

Badian mentions that Demosthenes' meeting with Philip was quite exceptional because of a certain freezing up which at first glance could seem like anxiety getting the better but Badian posits a different posture.
Demosthenes was famous for his inability to extermporize and it could have just happened that what he had prepared to say was so off the mark that he didnt feel he could verbalize it and so he was left speechless.

I went into reading the book with a heavy bias and general set of beliefs about him that weren't exactly the fairest.

The concept of desertor had tinged my perception of the man and yet after reading the book, I see that he was hardly on his own in his unexpected disappearance from the battlefield of Chareoneaand not only that but the people of Athens can hardly have held him in poor account because of it, as he was asked to give a speech for the dead of Chaeronea.

His accomplishments in rhetoric are lauded too as Cambridge and Oxford used his extant speeches to teach with and his speech "on the crown" was considered a tour de force.

There is a comparsion made between Demesthenes and Philip and Churchill and Hitler although Churchill was warning the British several years before Hitler and his armies were committing attrocities. Demosthenes didn-t seem aware of Philip until he was knocking on the door.

All in all, an eye opener of a book for me and very interestinng about a very interesting individual who was studied in detail by Elizabeth the first.

Best regards,

Re: Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 8:36 am
by Alexias
Thanks for this. Does the book make it clear what happened to Demosthenes' career after Alexander became king? I was always a bit hazy on what his influence was while Alexander was in Asia.

Re: Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 3:16 pm
by dean

Yes, there is a chapter regarding his (in)activity during the reign of Alexander and I found it quite interesting. I'll just gloss over a few details.

When news was received that Alexander had been killed in Ilyria and Thebes revolted, Initially Demosthenes had shown support but later fortunately withdrew. Thebes was razed.

12 years after 335, and the razing of Thebes, he had made 3 major public appearances so he was hardly a prominent orator especially while contrasted with his activity during Philip's reign. After the punishment of Thebes, Alexander demanded several statesman to be sent, amongst whom was Demosthenes but thanks to the intervention of Demades, was spared.

Ian Worthington, the writer of this section, mentions that he occupied himself with work as a logographos or private speech writer. Demosthenes "scare tactic rhetoric" was extremely provocative while Philip was near but with Alexander in Persia, his anti Macedonian speeches perhaps were not so necessary.

Demosthenes is accused of taking money sent by Darius to support a revolt. It was said that he had hoped that Alexander would be trampled under the hoofs of the Persian cavalry at Issus.

Between the years 330 to 324 all quiet but then Harpalus, Alexander's treasurer ominously arrives asking to be let into Athens with men and 700 talents. He is taken prisoner but suspiciously escapes.
Demosthenes importance must still have been quite considerable as he was asked to go to Nicanor in Olympia to speak about Alexander's exile decree obligating all polis to retake exiles.(something the Corinthian league considered illegal) This coincides with Opis and Demosthenes didn't want to risk Alexander appearing at any time in Greece so he tried to use flattery saying that if Alexander wanted to call himself the son of Zeus or Poseidon so be it and would accept his deification.

When speaking to Nicanor(Alexander's messenger)Demosthenes wisely spoke against Harpalus and hoped that this along with accepted deification would be sufficient however Alexander decided not to accede on the issue of the exiles and Athens lost the cleruchy on the island Samos. Demosthenes was then accused of taking money from Harpalus and this proved to be his downfall.

Demades who some years earlier had spoken up for Demosthenes now condemned him to death. He fled to the temple of Poseidon and rather than having to go before Antipater, decided to end his life with the poision, kept in his quill.

Best regards,Dean

Re: Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:16 am
by hiphys
Is in this book any hint of Aristion, the man Demosthenes sent to Hephaestion - according to Diyllus - for the purpose of a reconciliation with Alexander (Jacoby, FGrHist 135 F 2)?

Re: Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:24 pm
by dean

Yes, this is mentioned in the chapter dedicated to Demosthenes and his *in*activity during the reign of Alexander the great by Ian Worthington.
Demosthenes sends his friend Aristion to stay with Hephaestion.

During the 330 to 324 period, Athenians and Greeks as a whole came to enjoy a period of Peace/ A pax Macedonica.

Certain friendships developed or continued between Athenian statesman such as Demosthenes, Demades and Antipater or Phocion and Alexander*Dem 47.21.42 Perhaps it explains why Demosthenes sent his friend Aristion to live with Alexander's close friend Hephaestion
So, it would appear that through these years, there was reconciliation and Aristion's staying with Hephaestion may have been a sign of that.

Aristion isn't mentioned elsewhere in the book.


Re: Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:40 pm
by hiphys
Thank you, Dean!
Your quote of Worthington is very interesting. If I interpret well his opinion, Demosthenes didn't restrict himself to sending Aristion to Hephaestion, but he managed to keep him "to live with Alexander's close friend". I wonder whether he had to play the hostage, as well, till 324 b. C.!
What a pity we know so little of Aristion and his task!
Best regards,

Re: Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:33 pm
by Alexias
Thank you, Dean for your earlier digest.

I think to say that Aristion went to stay with Hephaestion is stretching the truth a little. He may have hung around the court a bit but that does not mean he was in close contact with Hephaestion. Heckel's 'Who's Who' says:
Aristion. Son of Aristobulus.108 Young man of Plataean (Marsyas, FGrH 135/6 F2) or Samian (so Diyllus, FGrH 73 F2) origin, sent by Demosthenes to Hephaestion,asking him to intercede with Alexander on Demosthenes’ behalf. Aristion’s presence at Alexander’s court is dated to 331 by an Athenian embassy which found him there (Aes 3.162).
Kirchner, RE s.v. “Aristion (12)”; Schaefer iii2
195 n. 5; Berve ii.63 no. 120.

Re: Demosthenes by Ian Worthington and buddies

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:04 pm
by hiphys
By the way, I think actually no one of our ancient sources allow us to stretch Aristion's presence at Alexander's court more than 331 b. C.