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got the day and being much admired, the boy regarded his glory with a kind of emulation, when he saw him receiving congratulations and attended on his way by the multitude; but his wonder was more excited by the power of the oratory, which seemed to have the faculty to subdue and win over anything. From this time, therefore, bidding farewell to other sorts of learning and study, he did nothing but practise and labour at declaiming, as if he too would be an orator. He took Isæus as his master in speaking, though Isocrates at that time was giving lessons; whether, as some say, because in his condition as an orphan he was not able to pay Isocrates his stated fee of ten minæ, or because he preferred Isæus's speaking, as being more business-like and effective in actual use. Hermippus speaks of having met with some memoirs without
name, in which Demosthenes was stated to have studied under Plato and to have learnt much of his eloquence from him, and mentions Ctesibius as saying, that Demosthenes secretly obtained, through Callias of Syracuse and some others, a knowledge of the systems of Isocrates and
Alcidamas, and mastered them both thoroughly. 6. Any way, as soon as he was grown up, he went to
law with his guardians and set to work to write speeches against them; who on their part did not fail to resort to various evasions and pleas for new trials; and Demosthenes, who was thus, as Thucydides says, taught his business not idly, but in real dangers, though successful in his suit, was yet unable to recover so much as a small fraction of his patrimony: all he got was some degree of confidence in speaking and some competent experience in it. And having tasted the honour
HIS STUDY OF ORATORY.
and power which are acquired by pleadings, he now essayed to come forth and take a part in political business. And, as it is said of Laomedon the Orchomenian, that by the advice of his physician he used to run long distances to keep off some disease of his spleen, and by that means having established the habit of his body, he entered himself at the great garland games*, and became one of the best runners at the long race; so it happened to Demosthenes, who, first venturing upon oratory for the recovery of his own private property, by this means acquired ability in speaking, and at length in public business, as it were in the great games, came to have the pre-eminence of all competitors on the speaker's stand. But when he first addressed the assembly, he was received with outeries, and laughed down, people not understanding his style, which seemed to be confused in its sentences and tortured with formal arguments to a most harsh and disagreeable
Besides he had, it seems, a weakness in his voice, an indistinct utterance, and a shortness of breath, which disjointed his sentences, and obscured his meaning. So that at last he gave up the assembly; and as he was walking and sauntering in dejection about the Piræus, Eunomus the Thriasian, then a very old man, saw him and came up and upbraided him, telling him that his diction was more than any other man's like that of Pericles, and that he was wanting to himself through cowardice and meanness of spirit, not confronting the people boldly as he ought to do, and instead of fitting
* The Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemean Games, where the victors were crowned with garlands.
his body for action, letting it lose its powers through
sloth and negligence. 7 Another time, when the assembly had refused to hear
him, and he was going home with his head muffled up, taking it very heavily, they relate that Satyrus the actor followed him, and being his familiar acquaintance, entered into conversation with him. To whom when Demosthenes bemoaned himself, that having been the most industrious of all the pleaders, and having almost spent the whole strength and vigour of his body in that employment, he could not find any acceptance with the people,—that drunken sots, mariners, and illiterate fellows were heard and had the hustings for their own, while he himself was despised, “You say true, Demosthenes," replied Satyrus, “but I will soon show you the cause of and the remedy for all this, if you
repeat to me some passage out of Euripides or Sophocles.” Which when Demosthenes had done, Satyrus taking it up
after him, gave the same passage in his rendering such a new form by delivering it in the proper spirit and character, that to Demosthenes it seemed quite another thing. By this being convinced how much grace and ornament language acquires from action, he began to esteem it a small matter and as good as nothing for a man to exercise himself in declaiming, if he neglected enunciation and delivery. Hereupon he built himself a place to study in under ground (which was still remaining in our time), and hither he would come constantly every day to form his action and exercise his voice; and would thus very
often for two or three months together, shaving one half of his head, that so for shame he might
from home, though he desired it ever so much.
HIS EARLY FAILURES.
Nor was this all, but he also made his conversation 8 with people abroad, his common speech, and his business subservient to his studies, taking from hence occasions and arguments as matter to work upon.
For as soon as he was parted from his company, down he would go at once into his study, and run over everything in order that had passed and the reasons that might be alleged for and against it. Any speeches also that he was present at, he would go over again with himself and reduce into periods; and whatever others spoke to him or he to them, he would correct, transform, and vary several ways.
Hence it was, that he was looked upon as a person of no great natural genius, but one who owed all the skill and ability he had in speaking, to labour and industry. Of the truth of which it was thought to be no small sign, that he was very rarely heard to speak off-hand; but though he were by name frequently called upon by the people, as he sat in the assembly, yet he would not rise unless he had previously considered the subject, and came prepared for it. So that many of the popular pleaders used to make it a jest against him; and Pytheas once, scoffing at him, said that his arguments smelt of the lamp. To which Demosthenes gave the sharp answer, “ It is true, Pytheas, that your lamp and mine would tell very different stories."
Το others however he would not much deny it, but would admit that he neither entirely wrote his speeches beforehand, nor yet spoke wholly extempore. And he would affirm, that it was the more truly popular act to use premeditation, such care being a kind of respect to the people; whereas to take no thought how what is said is likely to be received by the audience, shows
something of an oligarchical temper, and is the course of one that intends force rather than persuasion. Of his want of courage and assurance to speak on the moment they make it also another argument, that when he was attacked in a debate, Demades often came forward on the sudden to support him, but he
was never observed to do the same for Demades. 9 Whence then, may some say, was it, that Æschines
speaks of him as so astonishing for his boldness in speaking ? Or how could it be, when Python the Byzantine with so much confidence and such a torrent of words inveighed against* the Athenians, that Demosthenes alone stood up to oppose him? Or, when Lamachus the Myrinæan brought a panegyric upon king Philip and Alexander, full of reproach of the Thebang and Olynthians, and at the Olympic Games recited it publicly, how was it, that he, rising up and recounting historically and demonstratively what benefits and advantages all Greece had received from the Thebans and Chalcidians, and on the contrary what mischiefs the flatterers of the Macedonians had brought upon it, so turned the minds of all that were present, that the sophist, in alarm at the outcry against him, secretly made his way out of the assembly? But Demosthenes, it should seem, regarded other points in the character of Pericles to be unsuited to him ; only his reserve and his sustained manner and his forbearing to speak immediately or upon every subject and occasion, as being the things to which principally he owed his greatness, these he followed, and endeavoured to imitate, neither wholly
* These are his own words, quoted from the Oration on the Crown.