« AnteriorContinuar »
neglecting the glory which present occasion offered, nor yet willing too often to expose his faculty to the mercy of chance. For in fact the orations which he spoke, had much more boldness and confidence than those he wrote, if we may believe Eratosthenes, Demetrius the Phalerian, and the comedians. Eratosthenes says that often in his speaking he would be transported into a kind of ecstacy, and Demetrius, that he uttered the famous metrical adjuration to the people,
By the earth, the springs, the rivers, and the streams,
as a man inspired, and beside himself. One of the comedians gives him a name for his bombast about knickknacks, and another mocks him for his use of antithesis :
And what he took, took back; a phrase to please
Unless indeed this also is meant by Antiphanes for a jest upon the speech on Halonesus, which Demosthenes advised the Athenians not to take at Philip's hands, but to take back.*
All however agreed in considering Demades in mere 10 natural gift an orator impossible to surpass, and that in
* Halonesus had belonged to Athens, but had been seized by pirates, from whom Philip took it. He was willing to make a present of it to the Athenians, but Demosthenes warned them not on any arcount to take it, unless it were expressly understood that they took it back ; Philip had no right to give what it was his duty to give back. The distinction thus put was apparently the subject of a good deal of pleasantry. Athenæus quotes fire other passages from the comic writers, playing upon it in the same way.
his speeches made on the moment he excelled all the study and preparation of Demosthenes. Ariston the Chian has recorded a judgment which Theophrastus passed upon the orators; for being asked what sort of orator he thought Demosthenes, he answered, “Worthy of Athens;” and then, what he thought of Demades, he answered, “More than worthy.” And the same philosopher records, that Polyeuctus the Sphettian, one of the Athenian politicians about that time, was wont to say, that Demosthenes was the greatest orator, but Phocion the ablest, as he expressed the most sense in the fewest words. And, indeed it is related that Demosthenes himself, as often as Phocion stood up to answer him, would say to his acquaintance, “Here comes the knife to my speech.” Yet it does not appear whether he had this feeling for his powers of speaking or for his life and character, meaning that one word or nod from a man who was really trusted, would go
further than a thousand lengthy periods from others. 11 Demetrius the Phalerian tells us, that he was in
formed by Demosthenes himself, now grown old, that the methods he made use of to remedy his natural bodily infirmities and defects were such as these ; his indistinct and slovenly pronunciation he overcame and rendered articulate by repeating passages with pebbles in his mouth; his voice he disciplined by declaiming and reciting speeches or verses when he was out of breath, while running or going up steep places; and that in his house he had a large looking-glass, before which he would stand and go through his exercises. It is told that some one once came to request his assistance as a pleader, and related how he had been assaulted and
beaten. “Certainly," said Demosthenes, “.othing of the kind can have happened to you." Upon which the other, raising his voice, exclaimed loudly, "What, Demosthenes, nothing has been done to me?"
" Ah," replied Demosthenes, “now I hear the voice of one that has been injured and cruelly treated.” Of such consequence towards gaining belief did he esteem the tone and action of the speaker. The action which he used himself was wonderfully pleasing to the common people; but persons of taste and education, as for example Demetrius the Phalerian, looked upon his intonation as something undignified, servile, and effeminate. And Hermippus says that Æsion was asked his opinion of the ancient orators compared with those of his own time, and his answer was that in the actual speaking it was impossible not to admire them for the composure and the high style in which they reasoned with the people; but that the speeches of Demosthenes, when they are read, certainly appear to be superior in point of construction, and more effective.* His written speeches beyond all question are characterised by a most austere tone and by their severity: though in mere extempore retorts and rejoinders he did not abstain from mockery. When Demades said, “Demosthenes teach me! So might the sow teach Minerva !” “Was it this Minerva," he replied, " that was lately found playing the harlot in Collytus ? " When the thief, who had the nickname
* Æsion was a fellow-scholar with Demosthenes. The comparison in his remarks gives the superiority in manner to the old speakers, whom he remembered in his youth, but in construction to Demosthenes his cotemporary.
+ “Sus Minervam,” the proverb. Collytus, together with Melite, formed the south-west, and apparently the more agree
to 346. Thefirst
of the Brazen, was attempting to say something about his sitting up late and writing by candlelight, “I know very well,” said he,“ that you had rather have all lights out; and wonder not, O men of Athens, at the many robberies which are committed, since we have thieves of brass and walls of clay." But on these points, though we have more to mention, we will add nothing at present. We proceed to take an estimate of his character
from his actions and his life as a statesman. 12 His first entering into public business was during The
the time of the Phocian war, as he himself tells us, Phocian
and as may be collected from his Philippic orations; of B.C. 357,
which some were made after that action was over, and Philip- the earliest refer to its concluding events. It is clear pic, B.C.
that he engaged in the accusation of Midias when two and thirty years old, and that at that time he had no interest or reputation as a politician. And this it was, I imagine, that induced him to withdraw the action and accept a sum of money as a compromise. For of himself
He was no easy or good-natured man,* but of a determined disposition and resolute to see himself righted; however, finding it a hard matter and above his strength to deal with Midias, a man so fortified with money, eloquence, and friends, he yielded to
able part of Athens. Plutarch, consoling a friend who was banished from his native city, tells him people cannot all live where they like best; it is not every Athenian can live in Collytus, nor does a man consider himself a miserable exile, who has to leave a house in Melite and take one in Diomea.
* Said of Achilles in battle after the death of Patroclus.Iliad xx. 467.
HIS POLITICAL COURSE.
the intercession made on his behalf. But had he felt himself likely and able to gain the day, I cannot believe that the three thousand drachmas could have taken off the edge of his revenge. The object which he chose for himself in political action was noble and just, to plead the cause of Greece against Philip; and so well and worthily did he do it, that he soon grew famous, and excited attention everywhere for his eloquence and courage in speaking. He was admired through all Greece, the king of Persia courted him, by Philip himself he was more regarded than all the other orators; and his very enemies were forced to confess that they had to do with a man of mark; even Æschines and Hyperides say so, when they accuse and speak against him.
So that I cannot imagine what ground Theopom- 13 pus had to say, that Demosthenes was of a fickle unsettled disposition and could not long continue firm either to the same men or the same affairs. Whereas the contrary is most apparent; for the same party and post in politics which he took from the beginning, to these he kept constant to the end; and was so far from leaving them while he lived, that he chose rather to forsake his life than his purpose. He was never heard to apologise for shifting sides, like Demades, who would say, he often spoke against himself but never against the city; or as Melanopus, who being generally against Callistratus but being often bribed off with money, was wont to tell the people, “ The man is indeed my enemy, but we must submit for the good of our country;” or as Nicodemus the Messenian, who having first appeared on Cassander's