Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greek Political Oratory

Greek Political Oratory, Selected and Translated with an Introduction by A. N. W. Saunders, Penguin Classics, London, 1970.

Gorgias of Leontini in Sicily… Gorgias’ claim to fame as an orator seems to have rested on skill in expression rather than on exposition or treatment of his matter. His influence is said to have extended in particular to Thucydides and Isocrates. The only continuous passage of his which survives is itself part of a funeral oration. It must be granted that it is tiresomely overloaded with symmetrical antitheses, and does not suggest great oratory. Nonetheless it can readily be understood that this style explains some of the peculiarities of the speeches which Thucydides includes in his narrative, and also the smoother antithetical method of Isocrates. (10)

Antiphon and … Thucydides… given to brevity, symmetry and antithesis. These are characteristics which probably seemed to both writers to offer a method of bringing prose to the literal level of poetry. (11)

It is said that Pericles was the first to deliver a written speech in court, and it must be assumed that written speeches in the Assembly were a later habit. Pericles is described by the comic poets, Eupolis and Aristophanes, who refer to his lightning speed and persuasiveness. But we have no record of his speeches except Thucydides’ versions, … (11)

Isaeus, who enjoyed a special reputation as an expert in the composition of law-court speeches, particularly in cases of inheritance. Perhaps it is partly because of such narrow and individual aims that Plato regards oratory with such evident distaste and disparages it in a number of places. He calls it an art of spell-binding, and criticized its lengthy irrelevance, … (12)

Isocrates… was full of talent, as Plato makes Socrates describe him in [13] a celebrated passage at the end of the Phaedrus, and had wide views about the Greek world and particularly his native Athens. But he lacked the voice and the robust temperament needed for active oratory. He therefore found his own niche as a teacher, and communicated his ideas as written pamphlets. But he did not practise either activity on the same lines as his predecessors. He was a teacher of rhetoric, yet one who was neither a mere theorist nor a mere exponent of technique, and therefore departed from the practice of writing speeches for imaginary situations, like Antiphon, because he regarded contact with real and vital questions as important. Yet he did not seek to achieve it by speaking. He was a sophist, as a man who took fees for teaching oratory. But in an early discourse he makes a strong protest against sophists for making extravagant claims which they can never fulfil, for being oblivious of practical aims and for bringing discredit on genuine teachers—charges little different from Plato’s. What he sought to instill into his pupils he called ‘philosophy’; but it was not what Plato meant by the word. He regarded the Platonic pursuit of truth as too un-practical, indeed as humanly unattainable, while Plato grouped him with the Sophists, regarding them as tamperers with the truth rather than seekers of it. (13-14)

Isocrates… He did not go quite as far as Cicero was to do in depicting the orator as the ideally cultivated individual. But he did regard rhetoric not solely as a means to a practical end, success at law, but as a development of human [power] … (14-15)

Yet never, or never until it was too late, do Isocrates’ aspiration appear to have been taken seriously. This was not principally because they did not appeal enough to Philip, nor because of the rise of Demosthenes, who took a different view. Better to say that it was due to the political state of fourth-century Greece, … (16)

Not that Demosthenes was greatly successful. Indeed he is generally regarded as the patriot who could never induce a declining state to surmount self-seeking and revert to action. This is not wholly true. He was too great an orator to be always unsuccessful, even though the times were against him too. (17)

Great oratory is not solely a matter of style, but also of character. Whatever else Demosthenes was, he was a man of courage. He must have felt at his best when he was wrestling with difficulty: with his own temperament and physique, with his financial troubles after the early death of his father, with acquaintances who found him [17] tiresome, pompous and self-righteous (which he probably was) as well as with an inert and complacent Assembly. (18)

The translator can only attempt a faint suggestion of this Thucydidean style, which is perhaps due to intense feeling packed into an antithetical style derived from Gorgias. … Lysias, … But his most marked characteristic [19] is his straightforward ease of statement, and the essay On Style follows Cicero in stressing his ‘charm’. (20)

But Cicero points out, and we should remember, that Isocrates wrote with a view not to the ‘thrust and parry of the courts, but to give pleasure to the ear’. It is a polished style in which the antithesis he had learnt from Gorgias is ironed out, though it is still at times perceptible, and in which period succeeds period ‘with no less regularity than the hexameters in the poetry of Homer’, avoiding even hiatus as an undesirable roughness. It is thus a style of more beauty than strength, reflecting perhaps Isocrates’ personality and his own praise of a style which is as artistic as that of poetry. (20)

Thucydides: Pericles’ Funeral Speech… It is not to be supposed genuine in the sense of giving the ipsissima verba of Pericles. There have been editors who have claimed to find in it an individuality distinct from other speeches in the work. But this is probably wishful thinking. The momentous, impressive style, and the tortuous sentences, are those of Thucydides. (31)

Their deeds in war, which won them each of these possessions, … all this you know, and since I do not wish to speak of it at length, I will omit it. But the way of life whose practice led to these achievements and the form of state and character which made them great, these I will [33] describe, (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech, 33-34)

The constitution by which we live does not emulate the enactments of our neighbours. It is an example to others father than an imitation of them. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech, 34)

Liberty marks both our public politics and the feels which touch our daily life together. We do not resent a neighbour’s pursuit of pleasure, nor cast on him the burden of ill will, which does no injury but gives pain to witness. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech, 34)

We are seekers of beauty, but avoid extravagance, of learning, but without unmanliness. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech, 35)

We do not win friendship from benefit received, but form service rendered. Lasting friendship comes rather from the doer of a benefit, who through good will towards the receiver keeps the debt in being; the debtor’s gratitude is blurred by the knowledge that it is not free service he will repay, but a debt. And we alone do good less from calculation of advantage than from the trust that is born of freedom without thought of the future. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech, 35)

We have no further need of a Homer to praise us, or any other poet whose words give transient pleasure, but the real truth will discredit their account. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech, 36)

When they failed to gain their hopes, they did not therefore think they should deprive the city of their merit, but gave it freely as their finest offering to her banquet. As citizen they gave their lives for the good of all, (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech 37)

It is not men in misfortune, without new hope of success, who should most justly be unsparing of their lives, but men before whom, if they still live, there looms the opposite change and the greatest reverse in the case of failure. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech, 37)

So for their parents who are here I have not so much grief as comfort. [37]… You must endure in the hope of other children, those of you who are still of an age to have them. In your private life the newcomers will make for forgetfulness of those who have gone, and for the state it will be a double gain, in making good the loss and adding to her security. For deliberations made in equality and justice are only possible between men who have an equal power to offer their children to the risk of danger. Those among you who are post the best of life should regard as gain your happiness in the greater part of it. Remember than what remains will be short, and be consoled by your lost ones’ high renown. The quest for honour alone is unging, and in the unproductive time of life it is not gain that brings pleasure, as some say, but honour. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech 38)

Now, therefore, weep your last for your own, and so depart. (Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Speech 38)

Lysias: Against Eratosthenes: … Lysias was the younger son of Cephalus of Syracuse, well known as a foreigner resident in Athens… (Against Eratosthenes, 39)

There is no difficulty in opening this prosecution, gentlemen. The difficulty will be to bring it to an end. The nature and the number of the charges are due to the character and the quantity of the facts. Invention could never exaggerate their heinousness, nor veracity reach the end of the list. The prosecutor would collapse or the time run short. We seem likely to find in this case the reverse of the normal experience. Normally the prosecution needs to explain the grounds for hostility to the defendants. But in this case it is the defendants whose hostility to Athens needs explaining, and the ground for such outrageous conduct towards the state. I do not claim that I am free of personal reasons for animosity, but that everyone has abundant cause for it on private and public grounds alike. Personally, gentlemen, I have never before conducted a case for myself or for anyone else, but I have been forced by the circumstances to prosecute Eratoshtenes. In fact I have been frequently troubled by the fear that inexperience may render inadequate and incompetent my presentation of the case for my brother and myself. I will try, however, to explain it from the beginning as best I can. (Lysias: Eratosthenes, 43)

Andocides is best known for his connexion with the mysterious incidents which occurred in Athens in the summer of 415 B.C., just before the great expedition to Sicily set sail. The fleet was on the point of departure, when it was learned that during the night the images of Hermes in the streets had been defaced. A further report said that a party of people, including one of the leaders of the expedition, Alcibiades, had conducted parody of performances of the Mysteries, the sacred rituals of Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis, … Andocides, a member of an old, distinguished and wealthy family, with political, perhaps oligarchic, interests, was among a [61] number denounced as implicated in these affairs. … he went into exile in Cyprus. He also visited other parts of the Greek world, and acquired some considerable wealth. He made several attempts to return to Athens, but without success, … Andocides won his case, and continued in Athens as a politician, … (62)

The preparation my opponents undertook and the eagerness they showed to injure me in every respect, right or wrong, from the first moment I arrived in this city, is something you realize for the most part, and I need go to no length about it. What I shall ask of you, gentlemen, is my rights, which are as easy for you to grant as they are valuable for me to receive. And the first thing I want you to keep in mind is that I am here under no compulsion either in the form of bail or of physical force. I trusted in justice and in your integrity to determine rightly and not allow me to be wrongfully done to death by my antagonists, but to preserve me in accordance with justice, with Athenian law, and with the oaths you swore before embarking on the vote you are going to make. (Andocides: On the Mysteries, 63)

Isocrates was born in 435 B.C., and died at the age of ninety-eight. He was well educated, and early in his life came under the influence of the leading intellectuals of the period of the early Sophists, in particular of Gorgias, and he is mentioned in the Phaedrus of Plato (279a) as a follower of Socrates and a young man of very great promise. Financial difficulties during the Peloponnesian War made it necessary for him to earn his living, and after a period of writing speeches for use by litigants in the courts, he turned to teaching, … He published a number of works which were oratorical in form, but were not intended to be delivered, but to be read. He describes in the Philip (81) his reasons for giving up practical oratory and preferring to affect the course of the political world partly by his teaching and partly by such essays as these. (99)

The Panegyricus, published in or after 380 B.C., was ostensibly devoted to one of Isocrates’ main themes, the unification of the Greek world. For this he looks to a reconciliation of Athens and Sparta. But much of the treatise concerns the fitness of Athens for the leadership of Greece, and its general praise of Athens affords some interesting comparisons with the Funeral Oration of Pericles. It is the more remarkable because Athens, though in part recovered from her collapse in 404 B.C., was still far form her old wealth and greatness in a world dominated by Sparta, whose disastrous policy is much emphasized. The Panegyricus thus refers for the most part to events after the Peloponnesian War… (99)

The institution of festivals [The Panegyricus was written as though for a Pan-Hellenic festival, though it was never delivered at one.] which include athletic competitions has often led me to feel surprise at the large rewards offered for mere physical successes, which the unselfish endeavour of men who have set their whole being to work for the benefit of others receives no recognition, though they merit the greater consideration. Athletic physique might be doubled without any benefit to others, while the public spirit of a single individual may bring profit to all who care to participate in it. Nonetheless I have not been discouraged or reduced to inactivity. In the assurance that the repute my words will win me is sufficient reward I come here to advocate a policy of war outside the bounds of Greece, and unity within. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 101)

I am aware that many who claim to be men of intelligence have coe forward to deal with this subject. But I make a double claim to it, first in the hopes of establishing such a distinction from them that mine will be thought the first word on the subject, and secondly in the initial belief that the best oratory is that which deals with the greatest themes and combines a display of the speaker’s powers with the interests of his audience, as this does. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 101)

In addition, favourable circumstances still hold, so that the subject has not yet become obsolete. … But as the nature of the theme is such as to allow numerous variations of treatment, to make it possible to increase or diminish the prominence of different aspects, to use a novel approach to early instances or see the new in the light of the old, there is no cause to avoid ground already explored, but rather to attempt to improve on previous approaches to it. Past history is indeed a common legacy. But to make appropriate use of it, to take a right attitude to its details and documents it fully requires real soundness of thought. And this, I think, is where the greatest advance can be made in any art, not least in the culture which comes through oratory. It demands that we shall value and give credit, not to the first in the field, but to the best performance, not to an original choice of subject, but to the ability to outdistance all rivals. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 101-2)

There is some tendency to criticize speeches which are too highly elaborated for the ordinary man. Such critics make the great mistake of viewing a very elaborate discourse in the same light as a speech in a private suit, as though both should have the light as a speech in a private suit, as though both should have the same character. They do not realize that one kind aims at accuracy, the other at display, that their own eye is on simplicity, but that the power to command perfection in oratory would be incompatible with a simple style. There is no difficulty in seeing that they give their approval within their own familiar understanding. I am not concerned with them so much as with the view that will reject any looseness of expression and will irritably demand qualities in my work which will not appear in any other. To this I will speak a bold word in self-defence before embarking on my theme. In general, opening passages are designed to mollify the audience and make excuse for the discourse which is to follow, by claiming either hasty preparation or the difficulty of finding words to match the greatness of the subject. I take the opposite approach, and declare that, if I fail to do justice to my subject, to my reputation and to the length, not only of the time now occupied by it, but of my whole life, I ask for no sympathy, but ridicule and contempt. I deserve it in the fullest measure, if I have no more than ordinary qualifications for so lofty an undertaking. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 102)

It is easy to lead Athens to this view, but Sparta is still hard to influence, having taken up on herself the false idea of supremacy as her heritage. But a demonstration that this priority is ours of right rather than their may induce them to pursue the general advantage instead of standing on precise legal claims. /
This should have been the starting point for the other speakers, who should not have introduced discussion of points of agreement before dealing with controversial issues. (Isocrates: Panegyrics, 103)

The total of the benefits we have conferred on others can most properly be reckoned by a systematic account of the history of Athens from the beginning . … First, then, it was be means of our country that the first need of man’s nature was provided. … When Demeter arrived in this district in her wanderings after the rape of Persephone, she showed favour to our forbears for benefits received which can only be mentioned to the initiated, and conferred two gifts which surpass all others, the cultivation [104] of crops, which brought a higher form of life than that of the animals, and the mysteries, which gave their initiates more enviable hopes both for the conclusion of this life and for all eternity. It has come about that this city of ours was endowed not merely with the love of the gods, but with love for mankind, and consequently, having such wonderful things in her control, did not grudge them to others, but allowed all to participate in them. We still perform these mysteries annually, and the state gave instruction about the practices conveyed to man and their development and value. These are facts which, with a little information added, no one could call in question. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 104-5)

…it was Athens who observed that most of the world was in the hands of non-Greek people, while the Greek states were confined to a small territory, and led by shortage of living space into conspiracy and internal strife, and decimated by starvation or war. She refused to acquiesce in these circumstances, and dispatched leaders into the Greek cities, who took over the most poverty-stricken, established themselves in command of them, fought and defeated the non-Greek inhabitants and founded communities on all the islands, securing the preservation of their followers and the remaining population alike. … dispossessed non-Greek people and brought such prosperity to the Greeks. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 106)

…gave honour to skill in words, which is the desire and the envy of all. She realized that… were the province of the well-ordained mind: … (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 108)

Let no one suppose me ignorant of the many services performed by Sparta for the Greek cause in those great days. But this is a reason to give still greater praise to Athens: that with such rivals to emulate she yet outdid them. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 113)

[Athenian ancestors] They knew that for men of high breeding there is no need of many written words, since agreement in a few principles will bring accord in private and in public alike. So deep-set in their thought was the community, that even their dissensions arose, not in dispute as to which party should destroy the other and control the state, but which should be first to bring benefit to the whole. … They made their word more sure than an oath is in our time, and expected to abide by an agreement as binding beyond avoidance. The did not take pride in power so much as credit for restraint, demanding in themselves the same attitude towards inferiors as they received from superiors, since they thought of their individual towns as their own abode, but of Greece as the fatherland of all. /

It was by adopting ideas such as this, and by training the young in these habits of thought, that they raise so fine a generation in those who fought against the invaders from Asia, that neither thinker nor poet could reach the height of what they accomplished. And this may well be pardoned. It is as hard to praise men of outstanding merit as men of none. If these last have no actions worthy of praise, the first can engender no fitting [114] praise to match their actions… Continuously, then, our ancestors and those of Sparta were in contention with each other, but at that time it was contention for the prize of honour, and they held themselves not in enmity but rivalry. They did not seek the enslavement of Greece, … (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 114-115)

Instead, when a campaign is intended against Persia, who ought to be given the leadership of it? … Surely it should go to the country which abandoned its own land for the safety of the rest, which in ancient times founded most other states, and later rescued them from the most signal disasters. It would be outrageous treatment if, after shouldering the greatest burden of hardship, we were expected to receive less than our share of honour, if, after standing in the front line, we were compelled to follow in the rear of other states. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 118)

Such has been our character, and such the proofs we have given of our freedom from rapacity. Yet we are unjustifiably accused by participants in the decarchies, who did violence to their own countries, made the atrocities of their predecessors look trivial and left no room for further extremes in the history of wickedness… (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 120)

No Athenian inflicts such cruelty on his slaves as the Persian punishment of free men. But the greatest misery of their subjects is the compulsion to join in the fight for slavery against the cause of freedom, and to endure the prospect of defeat which will cause their instant destruction or a success which will plunge them further into slavery in the future. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 123)

Let it not be supposed to be due to ill will that I make a somewhat brusque reference to these subjects after a prelude promising reconciliation. My intention in speaking in this way is not to defame Sparta in the eyes of others so much as to put a check on her, in so far as my discourses is able, and to put an end to her present attitude. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 124)

There could never arise either an outstanding general or a good solider in a regime like this, where the bulk of the population is utterly incapable of sustaining discipline or facing danger, and lacks the toughness needed for war after an upbringing more suited to servility than that of servants with us. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 128)

They spend their time showing arrogance towards one class and subservience towards another, in the fashion most calculated to demoralize humanity. Physically their wealth has made them over self-indulgent, while psychologically their monarchical constitution makes them degraded and cringing, … (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 129)

Possibly my own simplicity may come in for ridicule, if I lament the sorrows of men in the circumstances of the present, … I am surprised that leading statesmen in the Greek cities think a lofty attitude suitable, though they have always been incapable of either speech or reflection to mitigate such a situation. If they deserved their reputation they should abandon all else, and introduce and discuss the subject of the expedition against Persia. (Isocrates: Panegyrics, 132)

However, I think a different approach will show more clearly the dishonour we have undergone and the rapacity of Persia. The whole world beneath the stars consists of two parts, called Asia and Europe, and the King has appropriated half of it under the treaty, as though he were making a division with Zeus instead of a settlement with men. He has compelled us to have this inscribed on stone and erected in public temples, … (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 134)

It is a disgrace to expect in private to think of foreigners as servants, and in public to allow so many of our allies to be slaves to them; a disgrace that at the rape of a single woman the Greeks of the Trojan wars should join the victims of wrong in such universal indignation as to refuse any compromise till they had razed the presumptuous offenders’s city to the ground, while we exact no combined retribution for the insult to the whole Greek race, though we have the power to make our very dreams realities. This is the only war which is in fact preferable to peace. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 135)

I think there will be far fewer who wish to stay at home than those who desire to be on the march. Who is there, young or old, who will be so inert as not to desire a part in this army, led by Athens and Sparta and gathered for the freedom of the allied Greeks, sent out by all Greece for retribution on Persia? (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 135)

By now I no longer feel the same as at the beginning of my oration. I was then of opinion that I should be able to find words to fit my subject. But I cannot attain to its magnitude. Much of my intention of the good fortune which would be ours, if we could change the present war among ourselves to a war against the mainland, and transfer the wealth of Asia to Europe. (Isocrates: Panegyricus, 136)

You must not be surprised, Philip, if I do not begin with the thesis which is to be put before you and will follow immediately, but with one in which I discussed Amphipolis. (Isocrates: Philip, 139)

However, I set [140] aside these difficulties, and was ambitious enough in my old age to hope to combine what I had to say to you with a conclusive demonstration to my own pupils that to disturb general assemblies with addresses presented to the entire crowd of participants is in fact to address no one. (Isocrates: Philip, 140-1)

Indeed I regard even my project as likely to need both these, because I intend to urge you to take the lead in a movement for Greek unity and in the campaign against the non-Greek world. Persuasion will be desirable in dealing with the Greeks, and compulsion of practical use against the others. This aim covers the whole discourse. (Isocrates: Philip, 141)

If the gods granted you a choice of the pursuit or activity in which you would spend your life, there is no other, in my submission, which you could prefer to this. … And no one of even moderate intelligence could fail to urge you to a plan of action which would bring a double harvest of outstanding pleasure and inextinguishable honour. (Isocrates: Philip, 151)

…the greatest of Greek orators began his career at an early age. Yet he was not physically robust, and was thought unsociable, puritanical and perhaps self-righteous. If so, he overcame the diffidence which this reputation implies by a strong determination, which must have been characteristic of a man who is said to have improved his vocal delivery by declaiming on the shore with pebbles in his mouth. (169)

In my opinion, gentlemen, both parties are wrong, both the supporters of Arcadia and those of Sparta. Their accusation and misrepresentations make them appear actual members of the states they support instead of Athenians. Such proceedings may be the proper function of the visiting delegations, but a balanced discussion of the facts with a reasoned view of Athenian interests and without bias is what is demanded in a discussion of policy by our own speakers. As it is, take away known personalities and Attic speech, and I think that most people would take one party to be Arcadian and the other Spartan. (Demosthenes: For Megalopolis, 173)

I should very much like to ask speakers who declare their dislike of Thebes or of Sparta whether it is a dislike based in either case on a liking for Athens and her interests, or on a liking for Sparta or Thebes, as the case may be. If the later, no support should be given to either. They are out of their senses. If they say, ‘for Athens’, why enhance the other two? I assure you that it is possible to bring Thebes down without increasing the strength of Sparta. Indeed it is far easier. How this is so, I will try to explain. (Demosthenes: For Megalopolis, 173)

In a debate on so important a question, gentlemen, freedom must, I think, be extended to every participant. I personally have never considered it difficult to find the best ideas to present to you—to be candid I think they are in your minds already. The difficulty is to induce you to carry them out. A motion voted and carried is still as far from execution as before. (Demosthenes: On the Liberty of Rhodes, 180)

Were it a new question, gentlemen, which lay before us, I should wait until most of the regular speakers had made their contribution, and if I were satisfied with the views expressed, I should add nothing; if not, I should try to voice my own. But as it is the reconsideration of a subjection frequently discussed by speakers before, I hope I may be pardoned for speaking first. Had my opponents urged the rights policy in the past, this discussion would be superfluous. (Demosthenes: Philippic I, 188)

Why mention this? To set this fact firmly before your minds, gentlemen, that if you are awake, you have nothing to fear, if you close your eyes, nothing to hope for. To prove this I point to two things, the past power of Sparta, which we defeated by sheer attention to business, and the present aggression of Macedon, which alarms us because our attitude is wrong. (Demosthenes: Philippic I, 188)

When are we to act? What is to be the signal? When compulsion drives, I suppose. Then what are we to say of the present? In my view the greatest compulsion that can be laid upon free men is their shame at the circumstances in which they find themselves. (Demosthenes: Philippic I, 189)

‘Philip is dead’, comes one report. ‘No, he is only ill’, from another. What difference does it make? Should anything happen to Philip, Athens, in her present frame of mind, will soon create another Philip. This one’s rise was due less to his own power than to Athenian apathy. (Demosthenes: Philippic I, 190)

Yet why is it, do you suppose, that the festivals of the Panathenaea and the Dionysia always take place at the correct time, whether the task of managing them is allotted to experts or laymen—and these are things which run into greater expense than any military expedition, … The reason is that the festivals are regulated by law. … But in the military field and in preparation for it there is no order, no organization, no precise control. The result is this. It is not till the news of the actual emergency comes that we appoint commanders. (Demosthenes: Philippic I, 195)

The war against Philip exactly resembles the methods of an untaught foreigner in the boxing ring. If he is hit, he hugs the place, and if you hit him somewhere else, there go his hands again. He has not learnt, and is not prepared, to defend himself or look to his front. So it is with the policy of Athens. (Demosthenes: Philippic I, 196)

You would give a great deal, I fancy, gentlemen, for a clear understanding where your interest is likely to lie in the affairs under consideration. This being so, you should be ready to pay keen attention to such proposals as are made. (Opening, Demosthenes: Olynthiac I, 199)

As it is, our refusal to seize the fleeting moment, and our assumption that the future will look after itself, have effectively turned Philip into the greatest monarch who has ever appeared in Macedonia. Now at last we have our opportunity in Olynthus. It has come to us unsought, and it is the greatest in our history. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac I, 200)

If we are to abandon Olynthus too, and Philip is to become its master, what is to prevent him, I should like to know, from moving wherever he chooses? Do any of us reckon and fully realize the methods which have brought Philip from initial weakness to his present stature? … Why point this out now? It is to bring to your knowledge and realization two tings: first the disaster of squandering your interests one by one, and secondly the restless activity which is Philip’s life and which never allows him to rest on his laurels. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac I, 201)

A long account of the power of Macedon as a means to urge Athenians to their duty I regard as a mistake, for this reason. Anything that can be said to this effect increases Macedonian prestige and damages this country. … But there are subjects apart form this which are of greater value to put before this assembly, and which on a true reckoning constitute a damaging charge against him. These I shall try to present. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac II, 205)

I should emphatically agree that Philip was an object for our fear and our wonder, if what I saw were a power based upon right. But long and full consideration shows the truth. His first success was at the expense of our own folly, … There is not a state which has tried to make use of him without falling victim to his duplicity. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac II, 206)

He should owe his destruction to the same forces, now that his invariable self-interest has been proved against him. This is the point to which Philips’s fortunes have been brought, and I challenge any speaker to prove to me, or rather to this assembly, either that my contention is false, … Never, gentlemen, never can a lasting power be founded on broken promises and lying words. [un-Machiavellian] Such [206] empires stand for one short hour. They may blossom with fair hopes, but time finds them out, and they fade and die. In a house, in a ship, in any structure, it is the foundation which most needs strength. So it is too with the actions of men’s lives, which must be founded on truth and justice. And this is not true of the achievements of Macedon. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac II, 206)

As to his paid soldiers and his corps d’elite, who have the reputation of being a superbly welded military force, I have it from an irreproachable informant, who has been in that country, that they are no more than ordinary. Men of military experience, I was told are discarded by a selfish leader who wants all the credit himself, because his ambition is as outstanding as anything else about him. On the other hand men of restraint and integrity in other field, who cannot endure a life of drunkenness and debauchery and indecent dancing, are rejected and passed over by a man like Philip. The rest of his entourage are bandits and flatterers, capable of taking part in drunken revelry which I hesitate to describe. This is clearly true, because the outcasts of our society, who were thought lower than mere street-entertainers, creatures like the slave, Callias, who do comic performances and write low song at the expense of others to get a laugh, these are the people he likes and keeps around him. (Cf. Cicero’s Philippic.) (Demosthenes: Olynthiac, 208)

…what this country has been doing in all this length of time. You know the answer. She has passed it in procrastination, in optimism, in recrimination, condemnation and yet more optimism. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac, 209)

Le me summarize our requirements: universal money contribution according to means, universal service in detachment till all have served, universal freedom to speak and a choice of policy not confined to that of one or two particular politicians. Carry this out, and instead of immediate applause for the last speaker, bestow it on yourself for a general improvement in the whole position. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac, 211)

This present moment, beyond all others, demands deep consideration. It is not present policy that I regard as the main difficulty. My problem is how to address this meeting. The evidence of my own eyes and ears convinces me that this lack of grip upon affairs is more a failure of will than of intelligence. I beg you therefore to tolerate directness on my part. You must consider the truth of what I say with the aim of improvement in the future. You must realize that it is the ingratiating method of certain speakers which has brought our whole position to so low an ebb. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac III, 212)

Nor must it escape you that a vote is valueless without the will to carry it out whole-heartedly. If measure passed had power in themselves to compel us to action, or to bring the substance of them into reality, we should not have a history of numerous enactments and little or no action, nor would Philip so long have defied restraint. (Demosthenes: Olynthiac III, 214)

The result is inevitable, I suppose, and perhaps right. We each succeed best in the field of our greatest activity and interest, Philip in the field in the field of action, Athens in that of words. (Demosthenes: Philippic II, 228)

I now wish to make a candid appraisal of the present situation of the country and our activities and our conduct of affairs. We are not willing to pay money contributions, not prepared to serve in the forces, unable to keep from public spending. [i.e. the Theoric Fund] (Demosthenes: On the Chersonese, 235)

The worst feature of the past is the best basis for future hope. What feature? The fact that it is complete and total dereliction of duty on our part which has brought us to this position. If it followed a period of exemplary conduct by the people of Athens, there would be no hope of improvement. But in fact it is the neglect and inertia of Athens which Philip has worsted. She has not been defeated. She has never stirred a finger. (Demosthenes: Philippic III, 250)


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