Biographies KOTHOKIDES (Ancient demos) ATTICA - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

Location information

Listed 5 sub titles with search on: Biographies for destination: "KOTHOKIDES Ancient demos ATTICA".

Biographies (5)



Aeschines (c. 390-c.322 BC) was an Athenian political figure, three of whose orations survive. Early in his career he worked with Demosthenes to resist the expanding power of Philip of Macedon, but after the failure of an embassy to Philip in 346 BC, in which both Aeschines and Demosthenes participated, the two men became bitter enemies. Their rivalry culminated in the famous trial in 330, when Aeschines delivered Against Ctesiphon and Demosthenes responded with On the Crown. The verdict went overwhelmingly against Aeschines, and he was forced to leave Athens. History has not treated him well, and his inferiority to Demosthenes as an orator and politician is generally taken for granted.
Life and Works
  We know little of Aeschines' family or early life besides what we are told by Demosthenes, whose bias is obvious, but it is probably fair to say that he came from a poor but respectable family. We have no evidence that he formally studied rhetoric, or wrote speeches for others; rather he seems to have been a politician first and an orator only from necessity. He served in the army and had a career as an actor before becoming involved in politics. In 347/6 he served on the Council (with Demosthenes). The main issue facing Athens at this time was how best to stop the advance of Philip into Greece. After several strategies failed, the Athenians sent an embassy to Philip to negotiate peace. Both Aeschines and Demosthenes were members of the embassy, but in the process of dealing both with Philip and the Athenian assembly the two men became more and more hostile to one another, with Demosthenes opposing the eventual peace treaty and Aeschines supporting it.
  Relations between the two men over the next fifteen years are marked by three trials, which account for all three of Aeschines' surviving speeches. He must have spoken often in the assembly, but no deliberative speech of his survives; perhaps none was ever published. In all three cases Demosthenes supported the other side, and in two of these we have his speech. The legal disputes began in 346/5, when the ambassadors underwent an accounting for their actions on the embassy. Timarchus, a politician allied with Demosthenes, charged Aeschines with treason, but Aeschines responded with a countersuit, claiming in Against Timarchus (1) that Timarchus was unfit to prosecute because he had been a prostitute, which was illegal for an Athenian citizen. This speech has traditionally been neglected, but recently there has been increased interest in it as a source for Athenian views of homosexuality (Dover 1978). Aeschines won the case against Timarchus, and the prosecution for treason was postponed until 343, when Demosthenes delivered On the False Embassy (19) and Aeschines responded with On the Embassy (2). Aeschines was narrowly acquitted of the charges, but his career suffered.
  The most famous episode in Aeschines' life came after the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), when Philip decisively defeated Athens and its allies. In 336 Ctesiphon proposed in the assembly that Demosthenes be awarded a crown for his service to the city. On the basis of some relatively minor (though probably valid) legal points, Aeschines then charged Ctesiphon with making an illegal proposal. When the case was finally tried in 330, Aeschines (in Against Ctesiphon) raised his legal objections but devoted most of his speech to attacking the career and person of Demosthenes. The latter responded in On the Crown with an impassioned defense of himself and his service to Athens and a virulent attack on Aeschines? family, character and policies. The verdict was so one-sided that Aeschines was fined and went into exile. He finished his life teaching rhetoric on the island of Rhodes.
  The speeches of Aeschines, especially On the Embassy and Against Ctesiphon, have been read and studied primarily by those interested in the opposing speeches of Demosthenes, and indeed Aeschines' entire career has been relegated to the shadow of that of his more famous opponent. With regard to rhetorical skill this is a fair assessment, for although Aeschines is skilled at attacking his opponents and arguing relatively minor points, he does not have Demosthenes' ability to sound grand and noble themes or to raise larger issues of policy. As a result, his speeches often appear petty and mean. Because of his rhetorical inferiority, however, Aeschines' political views may be unfairly judged. Since he never presents a comprehensive defense of his positions in the context of the overall goals of Athenian policy, most have judged his views inferior to Demosthenes', but it is arguable that his policy of a less strident opposition to Philip and greater cooperation with Athens' allies was the better one. In any case, it is unlikely that anyone could have stopped Philip in the end, and Aeschines seems to have been as honest as Demosthenes in his proposals. As is usually the case, however, claims of patriotism on one's own part and accusations of treason on one's opponent's, even if grossly misleading (at best), were politically opportune. Aeschines' career ended in failure, but a balanced judgment would see him as a well-meaning and partially successful politician but a second-rate speaker, who had the misfortune to be pitted against one of the most brilliant orators the world has ever known.

Michael Gagarin, ed.
This text is cited August 2004 from Perseus Project URL bellow, which contains interesting hyperlinks

    Aeschines, (Aischines) . A great Athenian orator, born in B.C. 389, the son of Atrometus, a schoolmaster, and Leucothea. The statements of Demosthenes in regard to the disreputable character of his parents are probably groundless. After some experience as a soldier he entered upon the profession of a public clerk, which, however, he soon left to become an actor of indifferent success. But his real talents, aided by his experience of public life gained as a clerk, soon made him prominent when he turned his attention to a political career. In B.C. 348, after the fall of Olynthus, he attracted attention by advocating a general council of the Greek States to concert measures [p. 35] against King Philip. But the failure of the embassy to Arcadia, which he undertook in pursuance of this plan, seems to have so discouraged him that he immediately changed sides, and was thenceforth an adherent of the peace party. In this capacity he played a conspicuous part as a member of the famous embassy to Philip in b. c. 346, preliminary to the peace of Philocrates. The complicated details of these negotiations need not be given here. It is sufficient to say that Aeschines was won over by Philip's flattery (there is no proof that he was actually bribed, beyond the partisan statement of Demosthenes), and became convinced that a close alliance with the Macedonian king was the safest course for Athens. Almost immediately after the conclusion of the peace, he was indicted by Timarchus, an adherent of Demosthenes, for treasonablc conduct, but was triumphantly acquitted. A second accusation, brought by Demosthenes himself in b. c. 343, was more nearly successful, and Aeschines narrowly escaped conviction, after an able defence, in which he was aided by the intercession of Eubulus and Phocion. Aeschines next appears as one of the representatives of Athens at the Amphictyonic Council at Delphi in b. c. 339. Here, as he tells us, he was so enraged by an unjust complaint which the delegates from Amphissa brought against Athens, that he in turn made a vehement counter-attack on the Amphissians for their occupation of the sacred plain of Cirrha. So infuriated were the Amphictyons by his invective that, after burning the buildings of the offending Amphissian settlers, they voted to hold a special meeting of the council to consider what further punishment should be inflicted. Athens and Thebes refused to send delegates to this assembly, and thus became involved in war with Philip and the rest of the Amphictyons--a war which resulted in the fatal battle of Chaeronea and the downfall of Athenian independence.
    In stirring up this new conflict, Aeschines certainly played into the hands of Philip, who was awaiting an opportunity for armed interference in the affairs of Central Greece; but here, too, the charge of bribery rests on the unsupported testimony of his bitterest enemy. After the battle of Chaeronea, the party of Aeschines naturally fell into disfavour. He does not figure prominently in public affairs again till B.C. 330, when he made a final effort to defeat his hated rival. An obscure politician named Ctesiphon had in b. c. 336 brought in a bill proposing to confer a golden crown upon Demosthenes for his services to the State. Aeschines raised objection to this on the score of illegality. The case did not come to trial till six years had elapsed, and then each of the orators exhausted every effort to crush his opponent. But Aeschines was the weaker, both in genius and in merit, and, not receiving the fifth part of the votes of the court, he was fined one thousand drachmas, and lost the right of appearing before the people in a similar capacity again. He left Athens and went first to Ephesus and afterwards to Rhodes, where he is said to have opened a school of oratory. He outlived his great opponent and died at Samos at the age of seventy-five.
    Only three orations of Aeschines have been preserved, and all of these bear, directly or indirectly, on his quarrel with Demosthenes. Their titles are: (a) Against Timarchus, (b) On the Dishonest Embassy, (c) Against Ctesiphon. The occasion and subject of each have been noticed above. The second of them is generally considered to be the best. In natural gifts of oratory Aeschines was inferior to Demosthenes alone among his contemporaries. He excelled particularly in brilliant narrative, and was also one of the first to win a reputation for extemporaneous speech. He was less careful in his composition than Demosthenes, and was inferior to him in vigour and moral earnestness.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Aeschines (Aischines), the orator, was born in Attica in the demus of Cothocidae, in B. C. 389, as is clear from his speech against Timarchus, which was delivered in B. C. 345, and in which he himself says that he was then in his forty-fifth year. He was the son of Tromes and Glaucothea, and if we listen to the account of Demosthenes, his political antagonist, his father was not a free citizen of Athens, but had been a slave in the house of Elpias, a schoolmaster. After the return of the Athenian exiles under Thrasybulus, Tromes himself kept a small school, and Athenias in his youth assisted his father and performed such services as were unworthy of a free Athenian youth. Demosthenes further states, that Aeschines, in order to conceal the low condition of his father, changed his name Tromes into Atrometus, and that he afterwards usurped the rights of an Athenian citizen (Dem. De Coron.). The mother of Aeschines is described as originally a dancer and a prostitute, who even after her marriage with Tromes continued to carry on unlawful practices in her house, and made money by initiating low and superstitious persons into a sort of private mysteries. She is said to have been generally known at Athens under the nickname Empusa. According to Aeschines himself, on the other hand, his father Atrometus was descended from an honourable family, and was in some way even connected with the noble priestly family of the Eteobutadae. He was originally an athlete, but lost his property during the time of the Peloponnesian war, and was afterwards driven from his country under the tyranny of the Thirty. He then served in the Athenian armies in Asia and spent the remainder of his life at Athens, at first in reduced circumstances (Aesch. De fals. Leg.). His mother, too, was a free Athenian citizen, and the daughter of Glaucias of Acharne. Which of these accounts is true, cannot be decided, but there seems to be no doubt that Demosthenes is guilty of exaggeration in his account of the parents of Aeschines and his early youth.
  Aeschines had two brothers, one of whom, Philochares, was older than himself, and the other, Aphobetus, was the youngest of the three. Philochares was at one time one of the ten Athenian generals, an office which was conferred upon him for three successive years; Aphobetus followed the calling of a scribe, but had once been sent on an embassy to the king of Persia and was afterwards connected with the administration of the public revenue of Athens (Aesch. De fals. Leg.). All these things seem to contain strong evidence that the family of Aeschines, although poor, must have been of some respectability. Respecting his early youth nothing can be said with certainty, except that he assisted his father in his school, and that afterwards, being of a strong and athletic constitution, he was employed in the gymnasia for money, to contend with other young men in their exercises (Dem. De Coron.; Plut. Vit. x orat. Aesch.). It is a favourite custom of late writers to place great orators, philosophers, poets, &c., in the relation of teacher and scholar to one another, and accordingly Aeschines is represented as a disciple of Socrates, Plato, and Isocrates. If these statements, which are even contradicted by the ancients themselves, were true, Aeschines would not have omitted to mention it in the many opportunities he had. The distinguished orator and statesman Aristophon engaged Aeschines as a scribe, and in the same capacity he afterwards served Eubulus, a man of great influence with the democratical party, with whom lie formed an intimate friendship, and to whose political principles he remained faithful to the end of his life. That he served two years as peripolos from his eighteenth to his twentieth year, as all young men at Athens did, Aeschines (De fals. Leg.) expressly states, and this period of his military training must probably be placed before the time that he acted as a scribe to Aristophon; for we find that, after leaving the service of Eubulus, lie tried his fortune as an actor, for which he was provided by nature with a strong and sonorous voice. He acted the parts of tritagonistes but was unsuccessful, and on one occasion, when he was performing in the character of Oenomaus, was hissed off the stage (Dem. De Coron.). After this he left the stage and engaged in military services, in which, according to his own account (De fals. Leg.), he gained great distinction. After several less important engagements in other parts of Greece, he distinguished himself in B. C. 362 in the battle of Mantineia; and afterwards in B. C. 358, he also took part in the expedition of the Athenians against Euboea, and fought in the battle of Tamynae, and on this occasion he gained such laurels, that he was praised by the generals on the spot, and, after the victory was gained, was sent to carry the news of it to Athens. Temenides, who was sent with him, bore witness to his courage and bravery, and the Athenians honoured him with a crown (Aesch. De fals Leg.)
  Two years before this campaign, the last in which he took part, he had come forward at Athens as a public speaker (Aesch. Epist. 12), and the military fame which he had now acquired established his reputation. His former occupation as a scribe to Aristophon and Eubulus had made him acquainted with the laws and constitution of Athens, while his acting on the stage had been a useful preparation for public speaking. During the first period of his public career, he was, like all other Athenians, zealously engaged in directing the attention of his fellow-citizens to the growing power of Philip, and exhorted them to check it in its growth. After the fall of Olynthus in B. C. 348, Eubulus prevailed on the Athenians to send an embassy to Peloponnesus with the object of uniting the Greeks against the common enemy. and Aeschines was sent to Arcadia. Here Aeschines spoke at Megalopolis against Hieronymus an emissary of Philip, but without success; and from this moment Aeschines, as well as all his fellow-citizens, gave up the hope of effecting anything by the united forces of Greece. (Dem. De fals. Leg.; Aesch. De fals. Leg.). When therefore Philip, in B. C. 347, gave the Athenians to understand that he was inclined to make peace with them, Philocrates urged the necessity of sending an embassy to Philip to treat on the subject. Ten men, and among them Aeschines and Demosthenes, were accordingly sent to Philip, who received them with the utmost politeness, and Aeschines, when it was his turn to speak, reminded the king of the rights which Athens had to his friendship and alliance. The king promised to send forthwith ambassadors to Athens to negotiate the terms of peace. After the return of the Athenian ambassadors they were each rewarded with a wreath of olive, on the proposal of Demosthenes, for the manner in which they had discharged their duties. Aeschines from this moment forward was inflexible in his opinion, that nothing but peace with Philip could avert utter ruin from his country. That this was perfectly in accordance with what Philip wished is clear, but there is no reason for supposing, that Aeschines had been bribed into this opinion, or that he urged the necessity of peace with a view to ruin his country (Aesch. in Ctesiph.). Antipater and two other Macedonian ambassadors arrived at Athens soon after the return of the Athenian ones, and after various debates Demosthenes urgently advised the people to conclude the peace, and speedily to send other ambassadors to Philip to receive his oath to it. The only difference between Aeschines and Demosthenes was, that the former would have concluded the peace even without providing for the Athenian allies, which was happily prevented by Demosthenes. Five Athenian ambassadors, and among them Aeschines but not Demosthenes (De Coron.), set out for Macedonia the more speedily, as Philip was making war upon Cersobleptes, a Thracian prince and ally of Athens. They went to Pella to wait for the arrival of Philip from Thrace, and were kept there for a considerable time, for Philip did not come until he had completely subdued Cersobleptes. At last, however, he swore to the peace, from which the Phocians were expressly excluded. Philip honoured the Athenian ambassadors with rich presents, promised to restore all Athenian prisoners without ransom, and wrote a polite letter to the people of Athens apologizing for having detained their ambassadors so long. (Dem. De fals. Leg.). Hyperides and Timarchus, the former of whom was a friend of Demosthenes, brought forward an accusation against the ambassadors, charging them with high treason against the republic, because they were bribed by the king. Timarchus accused Aeschines, and Hyperides Philocrates. But Aeschines evaded the danger by bringing forward a counter-accusation against Timiarchus (B. C. 345), and by showing that the moral conduct of his accuser was such that lie had no right to speak before the people. The speech in which Aeschines attacked Timarchus is still extant, and its effect was, that Timarchus was obliged to drop his accusation, and Aeschines gained a brilliant triumph. The operations of Philip after this peace, and his march towards Thermopylae, made the Athenians very uneasy, and Aeschines, though he assured the people that the king had no hostile intentions towards Athens and only intended to chastise Thebes, was again requested to go as ambassador to Philip and insure his abiding by the terms of his peace. But he deferred going on the pretext that he was ill (Dem. De fals. Leg.). On his return he pretended that the king had secretly confided to him that he would undertake nothing against either Phocis or Athens. Demosthenes saw through the king's plans as well as the treachery of Aeschines, and how just his apprehensions were became evident soon after the return of Aeschines, when Philip announced to the Athenians that he had taken possession of Phocis. The people of Athens, however, were silenced and lulled into security by the repeated assurances of the king and the venal orators who advocated his cause at Athens. In B. C. 346, Aeschines was sent as pulagoras to the assembly of the amphictyons at Pylae which was convoked by Philip, and at which he received greater honours than he could ever have expected.
  At this time Aeschines and Demosthenes were at the head of the two parties, into which not only Athens, but all Greece was divided, and their political enmity created and nourished personal hatred. This enmity came to a head in the year B. C. 343, when Demosthenes charged Aeschines with having been bribed and having betrayed the interests of his country during the second embassy to Philip. This charge of Demosthenes (peri parapresbeias) was not spoken, but published as a memorial, and Aeschines answered it in a similar memorial on the embassy (peri parapresbeias), which was likewise published (Dem. De fals. Leg.), and in the composition of which he is said to have been assisted by his friend Eubulus. The result of these mutual attacks is unknown, but there is no doubt that it gave a severe shock to the popularity of Aeschines. At the time he wrote his memorial we gain a glimpse into his private life. Some years before that occurrence he had married a daughter of Philodemus, a man of high respectability in his tribe of Paeania, and in 343 he was father of three little children (Aesch, De falss. Leg.).
  It was probably in B. C. 342, that Antiphon, who had been exiled and lived in Macedonia, secretly returned to the Peiraeeus with the intention of setting fire to the Athenian ships of war. Demosthenes, discovered him, and had him arrested. Aeschines denounced the conduct of Demosthenes as a violation of the democratical constitution. Antiphon was sentenced to death; and although no disclosure of any kind could be extorted from him, still it seems to have been believed in many quarters that Aeschines had been his accomplice. Hence the honourable office of sundikos to the sanctuary in Delos, which had just been given him, was taken from him and bestowed upon Hyperides (Demosth. De Coron.). In B. C. 340 Aeschines was again present at Delphi as Athenian pulagoras, and caused the second sacred war against Amphissa in Locris for having taken into cultivation some sacred lands. Philip entrusted with the supreme command by the amphictyons, marched into Locris with an army of 30,000 men, ravaged the country, and established himself in it. When in 338 he advanced southward as far as Elatea, all Greece was in consternation. Demosthenes alone persevered, and roused his countrymen to a last and desperate struggle. The battle of Chaeroneia in this same year decided the fate of Greece. The misfortune of that day gave a handle to the enemies of Demosthenes for attacking him; but notwithstanding the bribes which Aeschines received from Antipater for this purpose, the pure and unstained patriotism of Demosthenes was so generally recognised, that he received the honourable charge of delivering the funeral oration over those who had fallen at Chacroneia. Ctesiphon proposed that Demosthenes should be rewarded for the services he had done to his country, with a golden crown in the theatre at the great Dionysia. Aeschines availed himself of the illegal form in which this reward was proposed to be given, to bring a charge against Ctesiphon on that ground. But lie did not prosecute the matter till eight years later, that is, in B. C. 330, when after the death of Philip, and the victories of Alexander, political affairs had assumed a different aspect in Greece. After having commenced the prosecution of Ctesiphon, he is said to have gone for some time to Macedonia. What induced him to drop the prosecution of Ctesiphon, and to take it up again eight years afterwards, are questions which can only be answered by conjectures. The speech in which he accused Ctesiphon in B. C. 330, and which is still extant, is so skilfully managed, that if he had succeeded he would have totally destroyed all the political influence and authority of Demosthenes. The latter answered Aeschines in his celebrated oration on the crown (peri stephanou. Even before Demosthenes had finished his speech, Aeschines acknowledged himself conquered, and withdrew from the court and his country. When the matter was put to the votes, not even a fifth of them was in favour of Aeschiines.
  Aeschines went to Asia Minor. The statement of Plutarch, that Demosthenes provided him with the means of accomplishing his journey, is surely a fable. He spent several years in Ionia and Caria, occupying himself with teaching rhetoric, and anxiously waiting for the return of Alexander to Europe. When in B. C. 324 the report of the death of Alexander reached him, he left Asia and went to Rhodes, where he established a school of eloquence, which subsequently became very celebrated, and occupies a middle position between the [p. 39] grave manliness of the Attic orators, and the effeminate luxuriance of the so-called Asiatic school of oratory. On one occasion he read to his audience in Rhodes his speech against Ctesiphon, and when some of his hearers expressed their astonishment at his having been defeated notwithstanding his brilliant oration, he replied, " You would cease to be astonished, if you had heard Demosthenes" (Cic. De Orat. iii. 56; Plin. H. N. vii. 30; Plin. Epist. ii. 3; Quinctil. xi. 3. 6). From Rhodes he went to Samos, where he died in B. C. 314.
The conduct of Aeschines has been censured by the writers of all ages; and for this many reasons may be mentioned. Ill the first place, and above all, it was his misfortune to be constantly placed in juxtaposition or opposition to the spotless glory of Demosthenes, and this must have made him appear more guilty in the eyes of those who saw through his actions, while in later times the contrast between the greatest orators of the time was frequently made the theme of rhetorical declamation, in which one of the two was praised or blamed at the cost of the other, and less with regard to truth than to effect. Respecting the last period of his life we scarcely possess any other source of information than the accounts of late sophists and declamations. Another point to be considered in forming a just estimate of the character of Aeschines is, that he had no advantages of education, and that lie owed his greatness to none but himself. His occupations during the early part of his life were such as necessarily engendered in him the low desire of gain and wealth; and had he overcome these passions, he would have been equal to Demosthenes. There is, however, not the slightest ground for believing, that Aeschines recommended peace with Macedonia at first from any other motive than the desire of promoting the good of his country. Demosthenes himself acted in the same spirit at that time, for the craftiness of Philip deceived both of them. But while Demosthenes altered his policy on discovering the secret intentions of the king, Aeschines continued to advocate the principles of peace. But there is nothing to justify the belief that Aeschines intended to ruin his country, and it is much more probable that the crafty king made such an impression upon him, that he firmly believed he was doing right, and was thus unconsciously led on to become a traitor to his country. But no ancient writer except Demosthenes charges him with having received bribes from the Macedonians for the purpose of betraying his country. He appears to have been carried away by the favour of the king and the people, who delighted in hearing from him what they themselves wished, and, perhaps also, by the opposition of Demosthenes himself.
  Aeschines spoke on various occasions, but he published only three of his orations, namely, against Timarchus, on the Embassy, and against Ctesiphon. As an orator, he was inferior to none but Demosthenes. He was endowed by nature with extraordinary oratorical powers, of which his orations afford abundant proofs. The facility and felicity of his diction, the boldness and the vigour of his descriptions, carry away the reader now, as they must have carried away his audience. The ancients, as Photius (Cod. 61) remarks, designated these three orations as the Graces, and the nine letters which were extant in the time of Photius, as the Muses. Besides the three orations, we now possess twelve letters which are ascribed to Aeschines, which however are in all probability not more genuine than the so-called epistles of Phalaris, and are undoubtedly the work of late sophists.
  The principal sources of information concerning Aeschines are:
1. The orations of Demosthenes on the Embassy, and on the Crown, and the orations of Aeschines on the Embassy and against Ctesiphon. These four orations were translated into Latin by Cicero; but the translation is lost, and we now possess only an essay which Cicero wrote as an introduction to them: "De optimo genere Oratorum."
2. The life in Plutarch's Vitac decem Oratorum.
3. The life of Aeschines by Philostratus.
4. The life of Aeschines by Libanius.
5. Apollonius' Exegesis.

The first edition of the orations of Aeschines is that of Aldus Manutius in his Collectio Rhetorum Graecorum, Venice, 1513, fol. An edition with a Latin translation, which also contains the letters ascribed to Aeschines, is that of H. Wolf, Basel. 1572, fol. The next important edition is that by Taylor, which contains the notes of Wolf, Taylor, and Markland, and appeared at Cambridge in 1748-56 in his collection of the Attic orators. In Reiske's edition of the Attic orators Aeschines occupies the third volume, Lips. 1771, 8vo. The best editions are those of I. Bekker, vol. iii. of his Oratores Attici, Oxford, 1822, 8vo., for which thirteen new MSS. were collated, and of F. H. Bremi, Zurich, 1823, 2 vols. 8vo. The oration against Demosthenes has been translated into English by Portal and Leland.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited July 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Aeschines' Life
Aeschines was for twenty years a bitter enemy of Demosthenes. This enmity was perhaps the chief interest in his life; at any rate it is the dominant motive of his extant speeches. Demosthenes on his side could not afford to despise an enemy whose biting wit and real gift of eloquence assured him an attentive hearing, whether in the courts or before the ecclesia, and thus gave him an influence which the vagueness of his political views and the instability of his personal character could never entirely dissipate. Aeschines had no constructive policy, but he had just the talents which are requisite for the leader of a captious and malicious opposition. To the fact of the long-maintained hostility between these two men we owe a good deal of first-hand information about each of them, both as regards public and private life. It is true that we cannot accept without reservation the statements and criticisms made by either speaker about his rival; but in many cases they agree about facts, though they put different interpretations on them, and so, with care, we may arrive at a substratum of truth.
  Aeschines was born about 390 B.C. His father Atrometus, an Athenian citizen of pure descent, was exiled by the Thirty, and fled to Corinth, with his wife. He served for some time as a mercenary soldier in Asia, and finally returned to Athens, where he kept a school. His wife, Glaucothea, filled some minor religious office, initiating the neophytes in certain mysteries, apparently connected with Orphism. Aeschines seems to have helped both his parents in their work, if we may suppose that there is a grain of truth mixed with the malice of Demosthenes:

You used to fill the ink-pots, sponge the benches, and sweep the schoolroom, like a slave, not like a gentleman's son. When you grew up you helped your mother in her initiations, reciting the formulas, and making yourself generally useful. All night long you were wrapping the celebrants in fawn-skins, preparing their drink-offerings, smearing them with clay and bran, etc. (Dem., de Cor., 258-259)

The whole of the description from which the foregoing passage is taken is an obvious caricature, and its chief value is to show that Demosthenes, if circumstances had not made him a statesman, might have been a successful writer of mediocre comedy; but it seems to point to the fact that Aeschines' parents were in humble circumstances, that he himself had a hard life as a boy, and did not enjoy the usual opportunities of obtaining the kind of education desirable for a statesman. After this, at an age when other aspirants to public life would have been studying under teachers of rhetoric, he was forced to earn his living. He was first clerk to some minor officials, then an actor -according to Demosthenes he played small parts in an inferior company, and lived chiefly on the figs and olives with which the spectators pelted him (de Cor.). He also served as a hoplite, and, by his own account, distinguished himself at Mantinea and Tamynae. In 357 B.C. he obtained political employment, first under Aristophon of Azenia, then under Eubulus, and later we find him acting as clerk of the ecclesia.
  He married into a respectable family about 350 B.C., and in 348 B.C. he first appears in a position of public trust, being appointed a member of the embassy to Megalopolis in Arcadia. On this occasion he went out admittedly as an opponent of Philip, but came back a partisan of peace. The reasons for this change of view will be discussed later. His own explanation, that he realized war to be impracticable is reasonable in itself (de Leg. 79; ). Two years later he was associated with Demosthenes in the famous embassies to Philip, which, after serious delays, resulted in the unsatisfactory peace of Philocrates. The peace was pronounced by Demosthenes to be unworthy of Athens, though he urged that, good or bad, it must be upheld; and besides uttering insinuations against the conduct of Aeschines as an ambassador, he prepared to prosecute him for betraying his trust by taking bribes from Philip. He associated with himself as a prosecutor one Timarchus. Aeschines prepared a counter-stroke. He prosecuted Timarchus on the ground that he was a person of notorious immorality, and, as such, debarred from speaking in public. Timarchus appears to have been found guilty. In 343 B.C. Demosthenes brought the action in which his speech de Falsa Legatione and that of Aeschines bearing the same title were delivered, and Aeschines was acquitted by the rather small majority of thirty votes. In the next year Aeschines prepared for reprisals, but when on the point of impeaching Demosthenes he in his turn was thwarted by a counter-move on his rival's part (Aesch., Ctes., 222-225).
  In 339 B.C. Aeschines was a pylagorus at the Amphictyonic Council, and an inflammatory speech which he made there led to the outbreak of the Sacred War.
  In 337 B.C., the year after the battle of Chaeronea, the proposal of Ctesiphon to confer a crown on Demosthenes for his services to Athens gave Aeschines a new weapon with which to strike at his enemy. He impeached Ctesiphon for illegality. The case was not actually tried till 330 B.C., when Aeschines, failing to obtain a fifth of the votes, was fined a thousand drachmae, and, being unable or unwilling to pay, went into exile. He retired to Asia Minor, and lived either in Ephesus or Rhodes. He is said by Plutarch to have spent the rest of his life as a professional Sophist, that is to say, no doubt, as a teacher of rhetoric; but we have no further information about his life or the manner or date of his death.

Public character
Aeschines cannot be considered as a statesman, since he had no definite policy. He was, as he admitted himself, an opportunist. 'Both individual and state', he says, 'must shift their ground according to change of circumstances, and aim at what is best for the time'; and though he claims to be 'the adviser of the greatest of all cities', he never had in public matters any higher principle than this following of the line of least resistance.
It is necessary, however, to consider whether he was actually the corrupt politician that Demosthenes makes him out to be.
  Athenian opinion with regard to corrupt practices was less strict than ours; Hyperides admits that there are various degrees of guiltiness in the matter of receiving bribes; the worst offence is to receive bribes from improper quarters, i.e. from an enemy of the State, and to the detriment of the State (Hyperides, adv. Dem., xxiv).
  This principle implies a corollary that to receive bribes for doing one's duty and acting in the best interests of one's country is a venial offence, if indeed it is an offence at all; in which case a man's guilt or innocence may be a matter for his individual conscience to determine.
  Demosthenes definitely accused Aeschines of changing his policy in consequence of bribes received from Philip. It is known that at the beginning of his public life he was an opponent of Macedon, and we have his own account of his conversion on the occasion of the embassy to Megalopolis:

You reproach me for the speech which I made, as an envoy, before ten thousand people in Arcadia; you say that I have changed sides, you abject creature, who were nearly branded as a deserter. The truth is that during the war I tried to the best of my ability to unite the Arcadians and the rest of the Greeks against Philip; but when I found that nobody would give help to Athens, but some were waiting to see what happened and others were marching against us, and the orators in the city were using the war as a means of meeting their daily expenses, I admit that I advised the people to come to terms with Philip, and make the peace which you, who have never drawn a sword, now say is disgraceful, though I say that it is far more honourable than the war. (de Leg., 79)

After the conclusion of the peace of Philocrates the accusations were more definite. Demosthenes asserts that Aeschines had private interviews with Philip when on the second embassy, and that for his services he received certain lands in Boeotia;3 he recurs to this charge in the de Corona, many years later. Aeschines does not deny or even mention this charge either in the speech On the Embassy or in the accusation of Ctesiphon. Demosthenes, having, apparently, little direct evidence, tries to establish his case by emphasizing the relations of Aeschines with the traitor Philocrates; but this is a weak argument, for though Aeschines at one time boasted of these relations, on a later occasion he repudiated them, and even ventured to rank Demosthenes himself with Philocrates. Perhaps we should attach more importance to the other fact urged by Demosthenes, that Aeschines from time to time urged the city to accept Philip's vague promises of goodwill; but before we condemn him on this ground we must recollect that Isocrates, a man of far greater intelligence than Aeschines, and of undoubted honesty, had come so completely under the spell of Philip's personality as to place a thorough belief in the sincerity of his professions. Aeschines may have been duped in the same manner.
  But the most severe condemnation of Aeschines' policy is contained in his own speeches.
  During a visit to the Macedonian army in Phocis he was guilty of a gross piece of bad taste by joining with Philip in dancing the paean to celebrate the defeat of Phocis. He admits the charge, and maintains that it was even a proper thing to do (de Leg. 163). His conduct at the Amphictyonic Council was far more serious. He was invited to make a speech, and as he began, was rudely interrupted by a Locrian of Amphissa. In revenge it 'occurred to him' to recall the impiety of the Amphissians in occupying the Cirrhaean plain. He caused to be read aloud the curse pronounced after the first Sacred War, and by recalling the forgotten events of past generations worked up his audience to such a pitch of excitement that on the following morning -for it was too late to take action that night -the whole population of Delphi marched down to Cirrha, destroyed the harbour buildings, and set fire to the town. Though this action undoubtedly plunged Greece into an Amphictyonic War, Aeschines, quite regardless of the awful consequences, can only dwell upon the remarkable effects of his own oratory.

Something of the personal characteristics of Aeschines may be gathered from his own writings and those of Demosthenes. He must have been a man of dignified presence, for even if he only played minor parts, as Demosthenes so frequently asserts, he acted, on occasion, in good company, as his enemy, in an unguarded moment, admitted. The conditions under which Greek tragedy was performed required a majestic bearing even in a tritagonist, and the taunt of Demosthenes, who calls him 'a noble statue', makes it certain that Aeschines did not fall short of these requirements. The words of Demosthenes probably imply that the dignity was overdone, that the statuesque pose of the ex-actor appeared pompous and exaggerated in a lawcourt. Aeschines himself condemned the use of excited gestures by orators. He urged the necessity of restraint, and often insisted that an orator should, while speaking, hold his hand within his robe (Timarch., 25). This declared prejudice on his part gave Demosthenes his opportunity for a neat retort: 'You should keep your hand there, not when you are speaking, but when you go on an embassy' (Dem., de Falsa Leg. 252). On this occasion Demosthenes scored a point, but where wit and repartee were in question, the honours generally rested with Aeschines.
  Another striking characteristic of Aeschines was his magnificent voice, which he used with practised skill; Demosthenes, who had serious natural disabilities as a speaker, envied him bitterly, and in consequence was always trying to ridicule his delivery. Conscious, no doubt, of his natural advantages, to which Demosthenes had once paid a more or less sincere tribute, Aeschines was apparently unmoved by these taunts; but he seems to have been deeply injured when Demosthenes compared him to the Sirens, whose voices charm men to their destruction. His indignation can find no repartee; he can only expostulate that the charge is indecent, and even if it were true, Demosthenes is not a fit man to bring it; only a man of deeds would be a worthy accuser; his rival is nothing but a bundle of words. Here, recovering himself a little, he delivers himself of the idea that Demosthenes is as empty as a flute -no good for anything if you take away the mouthpiece.
  In the case of other orators I have laid but little stress on personal characteristics, because as a rule the orator must be judged apart from his qualities as a man. In considering Isaeus, for instance -an extreme case, certainly- personal qualities and peculiarities are of no importance at all. But so many personal traits appear in the writings of Aeschines that we cannot afford to neglect them; they form important data for our estimate of him, both as a speaker and a public character. There is some excuse, then, for dealing at greater length with his personality than with that of any other of the Attic orators. The question of his public morality has already to some extent been discussed; an examination of his more private qualities may possibly throw further light on the question of his culpability.
  He was, as we saw, to some extent a self-made man; he had at least risen far above the station in which he was born. All through his speeches we find traces of his pride in the position and the culture which he has attained -his vanite de parvenu, as M. Croiset styles it. He is proud of his education, and boasts of it to excess, not realizing that he thus lays himself open to the charge of having missed the best that education can give. Demosthenes is just, though on the side of severity:

What right have you (he asks) to speak of education? No man who really had received a liberal education would ever talk about himself in such a tone as you do; he would have the modesty to blush if any one else said such things about him; but people who have missed a proper education, as you have, and are stupid enough to pretend that they possess it, only succeed in offending their hearers when they talk about it, and fail completely to produce the desired impression. (Dem., de Cor. 128)

Aeschines considered apaideusia, want of education, almost as a cardinal sin, and could never conceive that he himself was guilty of it. He displays his learning by quotations from the poets, which are sometimes, it must be admitted, very appropriate to his argument, and by references to mythology and legend, which are sometimes frigid. His use of history betrays a rather superficial knowledge of the subject; it is hardly probable that he had studied Thucydides, for instance. Still, he possessed a fair portion of learning; what leads him astray is really his lack of taste. He is at his best in the use of quotation when he adduces the lines of Hesiod on the man whose guilt in volves a whole city in his own ruin--the passage will be quoted later. The verses give a real sting to his denunciations, and the opinion which he expresses on the educational influence of poetry is both solemn and sincere. But he cannot keep to this level. His much boasted education results generally in an affectation of a sort of artificial propriety in action and language, and a profession of prudery which is really foreign to his nature. He professes an admiration for the self-restraint of public speakers in Solon's time, and during the greatness of the republic, and speaks with disgust of Timarchus, who 'threw off his cloak and performed a pancration naked in the assembly'. In the opening of the same speech he makes a strong claim to the merit of ?moderation?; in the prosecution of Timarchus his moderation consists in hinting at certain abominable practices, which he does not describe by name.

I pray you, Gentlemen, to forgive me if, when forced to speak of certain practices which are not honourable by nature, but are the established habits of the defendant, I am led away into using any expression which resembles the actions of Timarchus. . . . The blame should rest on him rather than on me. It will be impossible to avoid all use of such expressions, . . . but I shall try to avoid it as far as possible. (Timarch. 37-38)

Notice again the hypocritical reticence or 'omission' (paraleipsis) -a rhetorical device familiar to readers of Cicero- which insinuates what it cannot prove:
'Mark, men of Athens, how moderate I intend to be in my attack on Timarchus. I omit all the abuses of which he was guilty as a boy. So far as I am concerned they may be no more valid than, say, the actions of the Thirty, the events before the archonship of Euclides, or any other limitation which may ever have been established'.
'I hear that this creature' (an associate of Timarchus) 'has committed certain abominable offences, which, I swear by Zeus of Olympus, I should never dare to mention in your presence; he was not ashamed of doing these things, but I could not bear to live if I had even named them to you explicitly'.
  In spite of the prosecutor's modesty, particular references to the offences of Timarchus are frequent enough throughout the speech; the reticence is assumed for the purpose of insinuating that only a tithe of the offences are really named. The whole tone of the speech, therefore, is disingenuous and dishonest.
  On the other hand, the orator's tribute to the judges' respectability is at times overdrawn. They are informed that 'Timarchus used to spend his days in a gambling-house, where there is a pit in which cockfights are held, and games of chance are played -I imagine there are some of you who have seen the things I refer to, or if not, have heard of them' (Timarch. 53). No large assembly could ever take quite seriously such a compliment to its innocence, and it must have been meant as a lighter touch to relieve the dark hues around it. Such playful sallies are not infrequent, and, like this one, are often quite inoffensive.
  A far more serious arraignment of the character of Aeschines is brought by Blass, who, having made a very careful study of the speech against Timarchus, finds a strong presumption, on chronological grounds, that the majority of the charges are false. It is certainly remarkable that the charges of immorality rest almost entirely on the statements of the prosecutor. He expresses an apprehension that Misgolas, a most important witness, will either refuse to give evidence altogether, or will not tell the truth. To meet trouble half-way like this is a very serious confession of weakness, which is confirmed by the orator's further comment on the state of the case. He has, he says, other witnesses, but 'if the defendant and his supporters persuade them also to refuse to give evidence -I think they will not persuade them; at any rate not all of them- there is one thing which they never can do, and that is to abolish the truth and the reputation which Timarchus bears in the city, a reputation which I have not secured for him; he has earned it for himself. For the life of a respectable man should be so spotless as not to admit even the suspicion of offence' (Timarch. 48).
  Blass considers that the minor charges, directed against the reckless extravagance with which Timarchus had dissipated his inherited property, are better substantiated; but these alone would have been hardly enough to secure his condemnation.
  Against Blass' theories we must set the little that we know about the facts. Timarchus was certainly condemned and disfranchised. Now an Athenian jury was not infallible, and whether in an ordinary court of justice or, as for this case, in the high court of the ecclesia, political convictions might triumph over partiality; nevertheless, a man who was innocent of the charge specifically brought against him, especially if he had not only committed no real political offence, but had played no part in political affairs -a man, moreover, who had the powerful influence of Demosthenes behind him- might reasonably expect to have a fair chance of being acquitted. Aeschines himself was acquitted a few years later on a political charge, though his political conduct required a good deal of explanation, and he had all the weight of Demosthenes not for him, but against him.
  Aeschines might well feel a legitimate pride at the high position to which he had climbed from a comparatively humble starting-point; but to reiterate the reasons for this pride is a display of vanity. He likes to talk of himself as 'the counsellor of this the greatest of cities', as the friend of Alexander and Philip. 'Demosthenes', he says, 'brings up against me the fact of my friendship with Alexander'. Demosthenes retorts that he has done nothing of the sort. 'I reproach you, you say, with Alexander's friendship? How in the world could you have gained it or deserved it? I should never be so mad as to call you the friend of either Philip or Alexander, unless we are to say that our harvesters and hirelings of other sorts are ?friends? and ?guests? of those who have hired their services' (de Cor. 51).
  And again: 'On what just or reasonable grounds could Aeschines, the son of Glaucothea, the tambourine-player, have as his host, or his friend, or his acquaintance, Philip?'? (Ibid., 284). Demosthenes' estimate of the position is probably the truer one; Aeschines, with all his cleverness, was not the man, as Isocrates was, to meet princes on terms of equality.
  His vanity about his speeches and the effect which they produced is attested by the various occasions on which he quotes them, or refers to them. He gives a summary of a speech which he made as an envoy to Philip (Aesch., de Leg. 25-33); a speech delivered before the ecclesia is epitomized (Ibid. 75-78); a speech made before 'thousands and thousands of Arcadians' is mentioned (Ibid. 79). The notorious speech delivered to the Amphictyons is quoted at some length (Ctes. 119-121), and its disastrous effect described, the speaker's delight in his own powers blinding him completely to the serious and far-reaching consequences of his criminal indiscretion.
  His private life, in spite of some damaging admissions in the Timarchus, seems to have been satisfactory according to Athenian standards. Demosthenes accused him of offering a gross insult to an Olynthian lady. Whether or not the statement was an entire fiction, we are not in a position to judge. Aeschines indignantly denies the charge, and asserts that the Athenian people, when it was made, refused to listen to it, in view of their confirmed respect for his own character:

Only consider the folly, the vulgarity of the man, who has invented so monstrous a lie against me as the one about the Olynthian woman. You hissed him down in the middle of the story, for the slander was quite out of keeping with my character, and you knew me well. (Aesch., de Leg. 153)

Whatever his origin may have been, he was not ashamed of it. He more than once refers with affectionate respect to his father. His love for his wife and children is on one occasion ingeniously introduced in an eloquent passage to influence the feelings of his hearers. This use of 'pathos' was familiar enough to Greek audiences, but Aeschines shows his originality by the form in which he puts the appeal -aiming directly at the feelings of individual hearers for their own families, rather than asking the assembly collectively to pity the victims of misfortune:

I have by my wife, the daughter of Philodemus and sister of Philon and Echecrates, three children, a daughter and two sons. I have brought them here with the rest of my family in order that I may put one question and prove one point to my judges; and this I shall now proceed to do. I ask you, men of Athens, whether you think it likely that, in addition to sacrificing my country and the companionship of my friends and my right to a share in the worship and the burial-place of my fathers, I could betray to Philip these whom I love more than anything in the world, and value his friendship higher than their safety? Have I ever become so far the slave of base pleasures? Have I ever yet done anything so base for the sake of money? No; it is not Macedon that makes a man good or bad, but nature; and when we return from an embassy we are the same men that we were when you sent us out. (de Leg. 152)

Lastly, he could speak of himself with dignity, as in the passage where he rebuts a charge against his private character, and in the following:

My silence, Demosthenes, is due to the moderation of my life; I am content with a little; I have no base desire for greatness; and so my silence or my speech is due to careful deliberation, not to necessity imposed by habits of extravagance. You, I imagine, are habitually silent when you have got what you want; when you have spent it, you raise your voice. (Ctes. 218)


The vocabulary of Aeschines consists mostly of words in ordinary use which require no comment. Though he was a great admirer of poetry, his ordinary writing does not display more poetical or unusual words than that of any other orator.
  The difference between his style and that of a writer such as Lysias is, essentially, a difference not of vocabulary but of tone; the tones of Aeschines are raised. He tends to use words which are stronger than they need be, to be 'angry' when only surprise is called for; to be ?excessively indignant? when a moderate resentment would meet the case, to 'detest' when to dislike would be enough. He makes unnecessary appeals to the gods more frequently than any other orator except Demosthenes. Exaggeration is part of the secret of his splendor verborum, as the Roman critic described it; but by far the greatest part is his instinct for using quite ordinary words in the most effective combinations. His best passages, if analysed, contain hardly any words which are at all out of the common, and yet their vigour and dignity are unquestionable. The ancients, however, denied purity of diction to Aeschines, perhaps on account of the characteristics just described.
  He is, as Blass observes, occasionally obscure; that is, it is possible to find sentences which are not quite easy to understand; but on the whole these are very rare. No writer, even a Lysias, can be at all times perfectly lucid. As a rule Aeschines is as simple in the construction of his sentences as he is in the arrangement of his speeches, and he is much easier to understand than, for instance, Demosthenes.
  He has not the consummate grace and terseness which critics admire as the chief beauties of Lysias; sometimes unnecessary repetitions of a word are to be found, sometimes two synonyms are used where one word would suffice; but such repetitions often give us lucidity, though at the expense of strict form, and the accumulation of synonyms increases the emphasis. Only the great artist, who is perfectly confident that he has found the right word to express adequately his whole meaning in exactly the right way, can afford to do without all superfluous strokes. Aeschines is not a perfect artist in language; he aims not at artistic beauty but effect, to which style is nothing but a subordinate aid. The composition of artistic prose is, for him, far from being an end in itself.
  His speeches were designed not to be read by literary experts, but to be delivered from the platform, and he aimed, not at pleasing the critics' taste but at working on the passions of the ordinary citizen. Some of his most important orations were not written at all, though he probably preserved notes of them, and the three which he did write out in full were preserved not for their literary beauty but for their subject-matter. The time for the rhetoric of culture was past; the course of events required the kind of oratory that would stir men to action. As to the effectiveness of his speeches, there can be no doubt. We know -on his own authority, certainly; but it has never been disputed- how his harangue moved the Amphictyons; and we know that, without any conspicuous moral qualities, with no advantages from family influence and no definite political principles, he became a power in Athens solely by virtue of his eloquence.
  Aeschines varies the length of his sentences very considerably; some of them are long, and consist of strings of participial and relative clauses. These, however, occur mostly in narrative passages, where such discursive style is excusable: for instance, the long sentences in the de Legatione, 26-27, 75-77, and 115, contain reports of Aeschines' own earlier speeches. The first of these ( 26-27) is monotonous owing to the series of genitives absolute which compose an inordinately long protasis, the main verb not occurring till near the end of the sentence, and then being followed by another genitive clause.
  A long sentence early in the Ctesiphon gives a resume of the circumstances by which the orator is impelled to speak; the clauses are mostly connected by kai, though all depend on a relative at the beginning. No skill is displayed in the structure of such sentences, and their possible length is limited only by the amount of water in the clepsydra. Up to a certain length, they are forcible, but if the limit is exceeded, the effect is lost, for the point which the orator wishes to make is too long deferred, since the main clause, containing the statement which the preceding relative clauses illustrate or explain, is not reached until the heavy accumulation of relative clauses has wearied the perception.
  In general, however, Aeschines is moderate in length; his sentences, on the average, are shorter than those of Isocrates, and he tacitly adheres to the rule that a period should not be so long that it cannot be uttered in one breath.
  Though not pedantic, he was far from being without a taste for composition. In all the speeches we find examples of the deliberate avoidance of hiatus, and in the de Legatione he bestowed some care on the matter.
  The avoidance may generally, though not always, be traced in an unusual order of words. Examples of harsh hiatus are rare, though there are many unimportant instances. Quite apart from theoretical rules, a good orator will instinctively avoid awkward combinations of letters, for euphony is necessary for fluent speaking. Aeschines, secure in the possession of a perfect delivery, might admit sounds which Isocrates and other theorists considered harsh; it was with practical declamation that he was concerned.
  The use of the rhetorical 'figures' is a prominent characteristic of Aeschines. The verbal contrasts which Gorgias and the Sophists affected, many of which seem to us so frigid and tedious, have too much honour from Aeschines; for instance, the purely formal antithesis -'He mentions the names of those whose bodies he has never seen' (Ctes. 99), where the sound of the jingle - onomata, somata- is more important than the sense. The effect of such 'like endings' (homoeoteleute) cannot as a rule be reproduced, though sometimes a play upon words will indicate it: e.g. ou ton tropon alla ton topon monon metellaxen - 'he has changed, not his habits, but only his habitation' (Ibid. 78). In such assonance there is an undoubted aiming at comic effect. A forcible repetition of words is found in such sentences as the following: 'What I saw, I reported to you as I saw it; what I heard, as I heard it; now what was it that I saw and heard about Cersobleptes? I saw . . .' etc. (de Leg. 81). Repetitions of this and similar kinds seem to break at times from the speaker's control, and pass all measure.
  Aeschines does not seem to have paid any attention to rhythmical writing; his style is too free to be bound by unnecessary restrictions; verses and metrical passages occur sporadically, but they are rare. He seems to have fallen into them by accident, since they occur in positions where no special point is marked by an unusual rhythm.
  Direct quotations of poetry, for which he had a great liking, are, on the other hand, very frequent. No other orator, except Lycurgus, is comparable to him in this respect, and Lycurgus uses his power of quotation with much less force than Aeschines, who often employs it aptly. He gives us the impression that serious religious conviction is at the back of his quotation from Hesiod:

Often the whole of a city must suffer for one man's sin. (Ctes.135; Works and Days, 240)

In other cases the quotations are excessively long and, like those of Lycurgus, have hardly any bearing on the point.
  His metaphors are sometimes vivid and well chosen -ampelourgein ten polin- 'to strip the city like a vineyard' enaulon en pasin - 'it was dinned into everybody's ears'. Some of the most forcible occur in passages which purport to be quotations or paraphrases of Demosthenes: e.g. epistomisai, 'to bridle' the war-party; aporrapsein to Philippou stoma, 'to sew up Philip's mouth' (Ctes. 192-193). These are probably caricatures of Demosthenes' daring phrases.
  Turning now from the consideration of the materials to the finished product, we find that Aeschines can attain a high level of style. His denunciation of the sharp practices prevailing in the course of his day is impressive; we know that he is speaking the truth, and he does not make the mistake of exaggerating. The seriousness is relieved, but not impaired, by the light thread of sarcasm which runs through the whole fabric: 'The hearing of such cases, as my father used to tell me, was conducted in a way very different from ours. The judges were much more severe with those who proposed illegal measures than the prosecutor was, and they would often interrupt the clerk and ask him to read over again the laws and the decree; and the proposers of illegal measures were found guilty not if they had ridden over all the laws, but if they had subverted one single clause. The present procedure is ridiculous beyond words; the clerk reads the illegal decree, and the judges, as if they were listening to an incantation or something that did not concern them, keep their minds fixed on something else. And already, through the devices of Demosthenes, you are admitting a disgraceful practice; you have allowed the course of justice to be changed, for the prosecutor is on his defence, and the defendant conducts his prosecution; and the judges sometimes forget the matter of which they are called on to be arbiters, and are compelled to vote on questions which they ought not to be judging. The defendant, if he ever refers to the facts at all, tells you, not that his proposal was legal, but that somebody else has proposed similar measures before his time, and has been acquitted'.
  The following passage has been many times pointed out, and justly, as a fine example of the higher style of Aeschines' rhetoric. Taken apart from its context, and without any consideration of the truth of the insinuations which it makes, it is a notable piece of ?pathetic? pleading. The Romans, with a fondness for epigrammatic contrast, attributed to Aeschines more of sound and less of strength than to Demosthenes. This is true if we regard their works as a whole; but in isolated passages like this, Aeschines finds his level with the best of Attic orators:

Thebes, our neighbour Thebes, in the course of a single day has been torn from the midst of Greece; justly, perhaps, for in general she followed a mistaken policy; yet it was not human judgment but divine ordinance that led her into error. And the poor Lacedaemonians, who only interfered in this matter originally in connection with the seizure of the sanctuary, they who once could claim to be the leaders of the Greeks, must now be sent up to Alexander to offer themselves as hostages and advertise their disaster; they and their country must submit to any treatment on which he decides, and be judged by the clemency of the conqueror who was the injured party. And our city, the common asylum of all Greeks, to whom formerly embassies used to come from Greece to obtain their safety from us, city by city, is struggling now not for the leadership of the Greeks but for the very soil of her fatherland. And this has befallen us since Demosthenes took the direction of our policy. A passage in Hesiod contains a solemn warning appropriate to such a case. He speaks, I believe, with the intention of educating the people, and advising the cities not to take to themselves evil leaders.
I shall quote the lines, for I conceive that we learn by heart the maxims of the poets in childhood, so that in manhood we may apply them:
"Often the whole of a city must suffer for one man's sin, Who plotteth infatuate counsel, and walketh in evil ways, On such God sendeth destruction, by famine and wasting plague, And razeth their walls and armies, and shatters their ships at sea". (Ctes. 133-136)

We know that Aeschines took education very seriously -more seriously, in fact, than anything else- and his reference here to the educative influence of the poets gives proof of his earnestness, which may have been a transient emotion, but was, for the moment, a strong one.
  Setting apart a few such serious passages, Aeschines is at his best when he is directly accusing Demosthenes. His attacks are nearly always characterized by a humorous manner which does not make them any the less forcible, and they generally contain just enough truth to make their malice effective. The fact that Aeschines himself had too deep a respect for the truth to be prodigal in the use of it does not diminish the virulence of his attack on his rival's veracity, while any question as to the exactitude of his statements would be drowned in the laugh that followed the concluding paragraph:

The fellow has one characteristic peculiarly his own when other impostors tell a lie, they try to speak vaguely and indefinitely, for fear of being convicted of falsehood; but when Demosthenes seeks to impose upon you, he first of all enforces his lie with an oath, invoking eternal ruin on himself; secondly, though he knows that a thing never can happen at all, he dares to speak with a nice calculation of the day when it is going to happen; he utters the names of people whose faces he has never seen, thus cheating you into hearing him, and assuming an air of truthfulness; and so he thoroughly merits your detestation, since, being such a scoundrel as he is, he discredits the usual proofs of honesty.
After talking in this way he gives the clerk a decree to read -something longer than the Iliad, and more empty than the speeches he makes or the life he has led; full of hopes that can never be realized, and armies that will never be mustered. (Ctes. 99-100)

The pleasing custom followed by the orators of antiquity, whether Greek or Roman, of defiling the graves of the ancestors of their political opponents, and defaming their private lives, can be as well exemplified from Aeschines as from his rival. Aeschines shows no great originality in particular terms of abuse -Dinarchus has a greater variety of offensive words--but the following extract from his circumstantial fictions about Demosthenes is more effective, because more moderate in tone, than the incredible insults with which the latter described the family circumstances and the career of Aeschines:

So, on his grandfather's account, he must be an enemy of the people, for you condemned his ancestors to death; but through his mother's family he is a Scythian, a barbarian, though he speaks Greek; so that even his wickedness is not of native growth. And what of his daily life? Once a trierarch, he appeared again as a speechwriter, having in some ridiculous fashion thrown away his patrimony; but as in this profession he came under suspicion of disclosing the speeches to the other side, he bounded up on to the tribunal; and though he took great sums of money from his administration, he saved very little for himself. Now, however, the king's treasure has drowned his extravagance -but even that will not be enough; for no conceivable wealth can survive evil habits. Worst of all, he makes a living not out of his private sources of income, but out of your danger. (Ctes. 172-173)

But he is really at his best where some slight slip on the part of his opponent gives him the opportunity of magnifying a trivial incident into importance. In the following caricature the indecision of Demosthenes is better expressed by the vacillating language thrust into his mouth than it could have been by the most eloquent description in the third person:

While I was in the middle of this speech, Demosthenes shouted out at the top of his voice -all our fellow-envoys can support my statement- for in addition to his other vices he is a partisan of Boeotia. What he said was something to this purpose: "This fellow is full of a spirit of turbulence and recklessness; I admit that I am made of softer stuff, and fear dangers afar off. However, I would forbid him to raise disturbances between the States, for I think that the right course is for us ambassadors not to meddle with anything. Philip is marching to Thermopylae; I cover my face. No man will judge me because Philip takes up arms; I shall be judged for any unnecessary word that I utter, or for any action in which I exceed my instructions". (de Leg. 106-107)

The failure of Demosthenes to rise to the occasion when he had the opportunity of delivering an impressive speech before Philip, during the first embassy, forms the groundwork for excellent comedy on the part of Aeschines. Demosthenes, by his rival's account, was usually so intolerable as a companion that his colleagues refused to stay in the same lodging with him whenever another was obtainable; but he had found opportunity to impress them with his own sense of his importance as an orator. These professions are well indicated in a few words. The account of his failure, of Philip's patronizing encouragement, of the fiasco in which the whole proceedings terminated, are sketched with a delicate malice that must have made any defence or explanation impossible; indeed Demosthenes seems to have attempted no reply:

When these and other speeches had been made, it was Demosthenes' turn to play his part in the embassy, and everybody was most attentive, expecting to hear a speech of exceptional power; for, as we gathered later, even Philip and his companions had heard the report of his ambitious promises. When everybody was thus prepared to listen to him, the brute gave utterance to some sort of obscure exordium, half-dead with nervousness, and having made a little progress over the surface of the subject he suddenly halted and hesitated, and at last completely lost his way. Philip, seeing the state he was in, urged him to take courage, and not to think he had failed because, like an actor, he had forgotten his part; but to try quietly and little by little to recollect himself and make the speech as he intended it. But he, having once been flurried, and lost the thread of his written speech, could not recover himself again; he tried once more, and failed in the same way. A silence followed, after which the herald dismissed the embassy. (de Leg. 34-35)

Aeschines not only excelled in this class of circumstantial caricature, but he could win a laugh by a single phrase. It is well known that Midias, after various discreditable quarrels, put the final touch to his insolence by a public assault on Demosthenes, whose face he slapped in the theatre. Demosthenes on many occasions made capital out of this assault; which fact inspires the remark of Aeschines, 'His face is his fortune'. Of his dexterity in repartee a single instance may be quoted: Demosthenes, in an outburst of indignation, had suggested that the court should refuse to be impressed by the oratory of a man who was notoriously corrupt, but should rather be prejudiced by it against him (de Falsa Leg. 339). Aeschines, catching at the words, rather than the spirit, retorted, 'Though you, gentlemen, have taken a solemn oath to give an impartial hearing to both parties, he has dared to urge you not to listen to the voice of the defendant' (Aesch., de Leg.1).

Treatment of subjects: general estimate

During his tenure of the office of grammateus -clerk to the ecclesia- Aeschines must have gained a thorough knowledge of the procedure of that assembly, and of law. This comes out in his general treatment of his subjects, and particularly in his legal arguments, which are clear and convincing. In the speech against Ctesiphon, where the irregularities of the proceedings about Demosthenes' crown gave him a good subject for argument, he makes out a very strong case.
  In the structure of his speeches he follows a chronological order. He realized well that the style of his eloquence lent itself naturally to bright and attractive narrative. His versatility saves him from becoming tedious; at one time he can speak with a noble solemnity which reminds M. Croiset of the eloquence of the pulpit, at another, the lightness of his touch almost conceals the bitterness of his sentiments and the seriousness of his purpose. He can speak of himself with dignity, of his family with true feeling; careful argument succeeds to lucid narrative; crisp interrogation, reinforced by powerful sarcasm, to masterly exposition. He can awaken his hearers' interest by an indication of the course which he intends to follow, and this interest is sustained by all the resources of an eloquence which, though at times sophistical, and though disfigured by occasional blemishes, has more of naturalness and shows less traces of scholastic elaboration, than that of any other great orator. He is abler than Andocides, more varied than Lysias, more alive than Isaeus.
  His natural gifts place him above Lycurgus, though our insight into the latter's high character gives him a powerful claim to our consideration. Blass ranks him below Hyperides, but a study of the lighter passages in Aeschines leads us to believe that, had he turned his attention to private cases, he might have equalled or surpassed that polished orator on his own chosen ground. The unanimous judgment of ancient and modern times places him far below Demosthenes, who stands apart without a rival; but in one quality, at least, he surpasses the paragon. Demosthenes, according to the opinion of Longinus, is apt to make his hearers laugh not with him but at him; Aeschines never turns the laugh against himself.
  Aeschines is perhaps less read than he deserves; he has suffered from historical bias, and the prevalent contempt for his qualities as a statesman has led to an undue disregard of his virtues as an orator. There is nothing unfamiliar in this judgment; other orators have suffered in the same way at the hands of prejudiced historians.
  It is interesting to read the account of Aeschines in Blass' Attische Beredsamkeit; the gifted scholar apparently starts with a strong prejudice against his author, and is almost too ready to insist on his faults; but time after time he is obliged to admit the existence of positive merits, and in the end he seems, almost against his will, to have been forced to modify his judgment; while the care and impartiality with which he has detailed all points, good and bad alike, provides material for a more favourable estimate such as that of Croiset.

Contents of speeches
A short account of the subject-matter of the three speeches may conclude this chapter.

1. Against Timarchus.
The speech begins (§ 1-2) with a statement of the prosecutor's motives; § 3 states the position which he intends to assume: that Timarchus, by breaking the laws, has made the bringing of this action inevitable. Laws relating to the matter are read and fully discussed (§ 4-36).
  This preliminary legal statement, apart from the particular case, puts the prosecution on a sounder footing than if the speech had begun at once with the narrative.
§ 37-76. The first charge (immorality). Narrative of the private life of Timarchus, interspersed with evidence and argument as to his political disabilities.
§ 77-93. Examples of disability imposed on other grounds. Precedents for a verdict in accordance with general knowledge even when the evidence is defective.
§ 94-105. The second charge. Timarchus is a spendthrift. Narrative and evidence about his prodigality.
§ 106-115. The third charge. His corruptness in public life.
§ 116, recapitulation. § 117-176, anticipation of the defence.
§ 177-195. Epilogue, announced beforehand (§ 117) as an 'exhortation to a virtuous life'.
§ 196, a short conclusion: 'I have instructed you in the laws, I have examined the life of the defendant; I now retire, leaving the matter in your hands'.

2. On the Embassy.
Demosthenes had accused Aeschines of treason; his speech, it is to be noted, dealt really with the second embassy only, and the events in Athens subsequent to it, though he makes some reference to the third embassy, and implies that Aeschines was corrupt even before the second. He follows no chronological order, so that his story is hard to follow. Aeschines, on the other hand, has a great appearance of lucidity, treating all events in chronological order; but this is misleading, for, in order to divert attention from the period in which his conduct was questionable, he spends a disproportionate time in describing the first embassy, in connection with which no accusation is made by Demosthenes.
  The exordium (§ 1-11) contains a strong appeal for an impartial hearing. The events of the first embassy to Philip are the subject of an amusing narrative at the expense of Demosthenes (§ 12-39); the return of the envoys and their reports, etc., occupy § 40-55. The same clearness does not appear in the rest of the speech. Aeschines has to make a defence on various charges brought against himself, so a plain narrative is not enough. The chief charges were that Aeschines was in the pay of Philip, and that he deceived the people as to Philip's intentions, thus leading them into actions which proved disastrous. The former charge could not be proved by Demosthenes, however strong his suspicions were; the facts relating to the peace of Philocrates and the delay in the ratification of the agreement with Philip were matters of common knowledge; it was only a question of intention. The defence of Aeschines is that he deceived the people because he was himself deceived--a confession of credulity and incompetence. The narrative is not continuous; details about the embassy to Philip, the embassy to the Arcadians, and the fate of Cersobleptes, are to some extent mixed together. Reference is also made to some specific charges, e.g. the case of the Olynthian woman, the speech before the Amphictyons, the singing of the paean, etc. In the two latter cases there is no defence, but an attempt at justification (§ 55-170). The epilogue begins with an historical survey of Athenian affairs, which is stolen either from Andocides or from some popular commonplace book, and contains the usual appeal to the judges to save the speaker from his adversaries' malice.
  He ends by calling on Eubulus and Phocion to speak for him. (§ 171-178.)
  Stress has been laid in these pages on the somewhat disjointed character of the sections dealing with the principal charges, and it cannot be denied that the defence is sometimes vague; that Aeschines seems to aim not at refuting but eluding the accusations. These imperfections come out on an analysis; but the speech taken as a whole is a very fine piece of advocacy, and makes the acquittal of the speaker quite intelligible.

3. Against Ctesiphon.
The speech opens with an elaboration of a trite commonplace, modelled on the style of Andocides, about the vicious cleverness of the speaker's opponents and his own simple trust in the laws. Aeschines proposes to prove that the procedure of Ctesiphon was illegal, his statements false, and his action harmful. (§ 1-8.)
First charge: 'The proposal to grant a crown to Demosthenes was illegal, because Demosthenes was at the time liable to euthuna (§ 9-12). All statements to the contrary notwithstanding, a consideration of the laws proves conclusively that Demosthenes was so liable'. (§ 13-31.)
Second charge: 'It was illegal for the proclamation of the crown to be made in the theatre'. (§ 32-48.)
Third charge: 'The statements on which the proposal was made, viz. that the public counsel and public actions of Demosthenes are for the best interests of the people, are false'. (§ 49.)
  The first two charges are dealt with by means of legal argument, in which Aeschines, as usual, displays considerable ability. The third and longest section of the speech (§ 49-176) is less satisfactory. The orator proposes to set aside the private life of his enemy, though he hints that many incidents might be adduced to prove its general worthlessness (§ 51-53), and to deal only with his public policy. This he does, in chronological order and at great length. Numerous occasions are described on which the policy of Demosthenes was detrimental to Athens. The arguments with which the narrative is interspersed are often of a trivial nature, consisting sometimes of appeals to superstition, as when he tells us that troops were sent to Chaeronea, although the proper sacrifices had not been performed; and attempts to show that Demosthenes is an aliterios, for whose sin the whole city must suffer. Taken in detail, some of these passages are impressive; but the weakness of the whole is that Aeschines himself does not declare any serious or systematic policy. This section contains incidentally digressions, in the taste of the day, about the family and character of Demosthenes.
§ 177-190 contain some references to heroes of antiquity, by way of invidious comparison;
§ 191-202, the deterioration of procedure in the courts.
§§ 203-205, recapitulation;
§ 206-212, further incrimination of Demosthenes, and
§ 213-214, of Ctesiphon.
§ 215-229, chiefly refutation of charges against Aeschines.
§ 230-259, further general discussion of the illegality of the measure and the unworthiness of Demosthenes. The final appeal to the past: 'Think you not that Themistocles and the heroes who fell at Marathon and Plataea, and the very graves of our ancestors, will groan aloud if a crown is to be granted to one who concerts with the barbarians for the ruin of Greece'? ends abruptly and grotesquely with an invocation to 'Earth and Sun and Virtue and Intelligence and Education, through which we distinguish between the noble and the base'.
  It reminds us strangely of the invocations put into the mouth of Euripides by Aristophanes.

This text is cited July 2005 from Perseus Project URL bellow, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Editor’s Information
The e-texts of the works by Aeschines are found in Greece (ancient country) under the category Ancient Greek Writings.

You are able to search for more information in greater and/or surrounding areas by choosing one of the titles below and clicking on "more".

GTP Headlines

Receive our daily Newsletter with all the latest updates on the Greek Travel industry.

Subscribe now!

Ferry Departures