2. Lessons from Home: Remembering the Arkhē in Fourth Century Oratory

  Lehmann, Hilary J. C. 2023. “Lessons from Home: Remembering the Arkhē in Fourth Century Oratory.” In “The Athenian Empire Anew: Acting Hegemonically, Reacting Locally in the Athenian Arkhē,” ed. Aaron Hershkowitz and Michael McGlin, special issue, Classics@ 23. https://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HLNC.ESSAY:103490528.


As the power of Philip of Macedon grew closer and closer to Athens, the orators Demosthenes and Aeschines repeatedly clashed in their attempts to win over the Athenian populace to their respective policies. Each orator posits a competing interpretation of the relationship between the household and the city. Demosthenes describes the citizen body as a large-scale household, collective heirs to the excellence that once acquired a hegemony. Aeschines, on the other hand, suggests that Athenian excellence comes from one’s own family, not the generic ancestors evoked by Demosthenes. He argues that the Athenians must learn from the errors made by their ancestors in acquiring, holding, and ultimately losing their empire. These competing definitions of how the Athenians should relate to their past continued to play an important role in the construction of Athenian identity after Greece fell to Philip.

The fourth century BCE was a period of reinvention for the Athenians. The previous century had been characterized by great victories and devastating losses; during the seventy-five year span from Salamis to the end of the war with the Spartans, the Athenians rose to prominence, gained great wealth, acquired an empire (arkhē), and then lost everything—their renowned democracy twice, their empire, and half of the citizen population. [1] Following the restoration of the democracy in 403, Athens was preoccupied with coming to terms with its post-arkhē reality, and was even led at times to dangerous measures by this obsession. [2] Yet this period also saw the rise in prominence of the individual household (oikos). [3] The oikos was the site of both sexual and cultural reproduction, and its strength and continuity was essential to the existence of the city-state. [4] The reevaluation of the relationship between the oikos and the city-state would play an important role in the process of reinvention that took place during the fourth century.
Across genres, Athenian culture during this period reveals an interest in understanding and defining the role of the household in relation to the city-state. The transitions between Old, Middle, and New Comedy show an increased focus upon the private household, moving away, but never entirely detaching, from the political commentary of earlier comedy. [5] In philosophy, Plato’s thought experiment in the Republic eliminated individual oikoi, which he identified as the source of acquisitiveness and strife. [6] Aristotle criticized Plato’s dismantling of the family unit, arguing that love for one’s family members must necessarily precede love for the city. [7] Among the orators, there was a similar debate over the question of whether the Athenians should consider themselves a citywide kinship unit, suppressing the importance of the individual oikos, or whether individual households should be considered more significant than a collective, citywide identity. The relationship between Athenians of the fourth century and the accomplishments of their ancestors is at the heart of this debate.
Certainly the myths and ideologies that loomed large in Athenian culture seemed to support the idea of a citywide collectivity, in particular the myth of autochthony that undergirded a sense of superiority and exclusivity among the citizen body. [8] The Athenians, originally born from the earth itself, were equal heirs to their ancestors’ virtues and achievements. [9] As Cynthia Patterson has argued, the Periclean citizenship law of 451/50 codified this conceptualization of an exclusive, citywide Athenian oikos: citizenship became an inheritance passed down from father to legitimate son. [10] In addition to citizenship, this inheritance comprised the material things that the ancestors achieved when Athens was at its height, when it brought hundreds of poleis under its leadership and collected phoros which contributed to the construction of the iconic monuments of Athens. When the Athenian orators referred to the accomplishments of previous generations, they could at the same time evoke this inheritance, making their auditors feel that they too, as legitimate heirs to the Athenian ancestors, possessed their greatness.
This contribution looks at how this debate played out in the speeches of Demosthenes and Aeschines from between 350 and 330 BCE. I explore Demosthenes’ use of the idea of the citywide oikos to try to persuade the Athenians to come together and take action against Philip. I argue that Demosthenes draws on the notion of a shared civic inheritance to try to motivate the Athenians to behave like their ancestors did in the previous century, using an idealized sketch of the arkhē as a model for what the Athenians could achieve if they acted collectively. In contrast, as I will demonstrate, his rival Aeschines presents his own distinct vision of how the Athenians should treat the examples of their ancestors, pointing out the errors that were made during the time of the arkhē and suggesting that the Athenians’ strength comes from their individual families, not the composite, generic collective ancestry to which Demosthenes appeals. Positioned at the intersection between patriotism and patrimony, these competing domestic ideologies show the complex negotiations surrounding the formation of an Athenian identity during a period of insecurity and change.

The Ancestral Inheritance

According to the cultural conception of the polis-as-oikos, all Athenian citizens belong to the same citywide household; as such, they are all equal heirs to the achievements of these ancestors. [11] Early in his career as a public speaker, Demosthenes develops a distinctive approach to using this idea of the ancestral inheritance as a persuasive technique, presenting examples from the past—in particular, as this chapter examines, an idealized portrayal of the arkhē—as models for how Athenians of his own day should act. My focus in this section is on the Third Olynthiac, the last of a series of speeches urging the Athenians to send military aid to the city of Olynthos in the Chalkidike, then under siege by Philip. [12] The first two speeches emphasize the need to be proactive to forestall Philip and even gain some advantage. The third, however, probably delivered when Philip’s military activity against Olynthos had already begun, has a less hopeful attitude. A major focus of this speech is Demosthenes’ use of comparisons between the present and the past to motivate the people to act collectively. He uses kinship language and examples from the past to bring the Athenians together, rhetorically, into a single cohesive group, worthy of receiving their ancestral inheritance.
After spending most of the speech advising the people to enact a decree to fund their military, Demosthenes turns to the problem of the individual versus the collective. Now, he complains, individual politicians flatter the people to distract from their personal aggrandizement at the expense of public welfare. In contrast, the illustrious politicians of the previous century minimized their own acquisitions in favor of the greater good. As a visual illustration of this contrast, he points to the private houses of these politicians: in the past, their houses were very small while public architecture thrived, while in the present, politicians build grand houses for themselves and public works have declined (3.25–26, 29). [13] Because of the semantic overlap between house (oikia) and household (oikos), the house can be understood as a symbol for the family unit. [14] By using private houses to show that politicians of the previous century adhered to the ēthos of the polity more than his contemporaries did (3.25), Demosthenes signals his ideal form of the relationship between the private household and the city-state, showing that he values the minimization of the individual oikos in favor of a citywide collective.
Demosthenes uses this conception of the citizen body as a family to develop his metaphor of the shared ancestral inheritance. For Demosthenes, the actions of the ancestors are both a bestowal and a directive, lessons that must be followed for the Athenians to act in accordance with their heritage. The way Demosthenes refers to the examples provided by the Athenians’ forebears reveals his vision of a citywide oikos (3.23):

Consider, men of Athens, how one might summarize the achievements of your ancestors’ time and those of your own time. My account will be brief and well-known to you, since it is by using examples from home (paradeigmasin oikeiois) rather than from elsewhere, men of Athens, that you will be able to prosper. [15]

The phrase he uses to describe these lessons is oikeia paradeigmata, which Trevett translates as “examples from home.” [16] The definitions of the adjective oikeios include both “pertaining to the home” and “one’s own.” [17] In this context, both definitions apply: the examples are their own because they derive from the collective household, the oikos, of the Athenians. This passage and the analogy about the size of houses that appears soon afterward together contribute to Demosthenes’ strategy of emphasizing the interfamilial continuity of Athenian identity from the past to the present. The Athenians can use lessons from home because their ancestors, who bestowed the inheritance upon them, belong to the same kinship circle; this domestic collectivity transcends the private aggrandizements that threaten the unity of the people.

Demosthenes goes on to define these lessons, and the inheritance they represent, by invoking the time of the Athenian arkhē. The ancestors’ unity allowed them to accomplish what they did; this collectivity and the greatness that it achieved comprise the inheritance they passed down (3.23–24):

Our ancestors … ruled the Greeks as willing subjects for forty-five years, carried up more than ten thousand talents to the Acropolis, and had the king who possesses this land as their subject, which is the proper relationship between a foreigner and Greeks, and erected many fine trophies, fighting in person both on land and at sea, and alone among men left behind (katelipon) glorious achievements that are beyond the reach of envy. [18]

Demosthenes summons the period of the arkhē with specific details (albeit exaggerated about the status of the Macedonian king) and indicates, as an illustration and incentive, the constant reminder of the ancestors’ accomplishments: the monuments visible upon the Acropolis. In this passage, Demosthenes distills the complex history of the arkhē into an appealing, patriotic package, beguilingly articulating the material benefits promised via the inheritance. [19] The details are not necessary: as Rosalind Thomas notes, when the orators refer to the time of the arkhē, “the picture of the Athenian empire is patriotic, nostalgic and exceedingly simple.” [20] Instead, the passage summons a vague sense of a time when things were better, and the promise that, on the basis of their shared kinship and guaranteed inheritance, the Athenians could once again obtain supremacy.

Other language in the speech emphasizes the metaphor of the inheritance: in the passage quoted above, Demosthenes uses the verb kataleipō to enhance the idea of the exclusive inheritance, [21] stating that the ancestors “alone among men left behind (katelipon) glorious achievements that are beyond the reach of envy” (3.24). The same verb appears again in the conclusion of the speech: “I do urge you to do for yourselves the things for which you honor others, and not withdraw from the position of virtue that your ancestors left (katelipon) to you, men of Athens, after acquiring it by undergoing many glorious dangers” (3.36). [22] This “position of virtue” comprises the Athenians’ inheritance, the promise that they could—and should—once again obtain what their ancestors once had.
As the conclusion to the Third Olynthiac makes clear, the lessons from home that the ancestors passed down to the present day confer an obligation to help other Greeks—precisely the actions that won them the arkhē to begin with. As Demosthenes describes it, the Athenians’ ancestors consistently acted on behalf of their fellow Greeks; he frames this interventionism as a generosity and essential to their identity. This is the sentiment that the Athenians used to justify the acquisition of the arkhē as in the interest of all Greeks: as Thucydides puts it in Pericles’ epitaphios, “we make friends not by receiving favors, but by bestowing them” (2.40.4). [23] However, as Polly Low has shown, Athenian interventionism, “helping those who have been wronged,” was by no means a selfless practice. [24] In the early fifth century, the Athenians used their victories against the Persians as a stepping stone to empire, forcefully bestowing their paid protection on less powerful poleis. Low identifies this type of mutually beneficial, but still hierarchical, relationship as being a “marker of stability and power” that lies at the heart of empire; she goes on to observe that “this is a theme that recurs in Athenian writing—often, in the fourth century, with a tinge of nostalgia: one of the ways that the past greatness of the city was manifested was in the fact that she was, in the good old days, always the first port of call for those in distress” (202). Even in the time of crisis that triggered the Olynthiacs, Demosthenes’ rhetoric is tinged with the ideology of empire. Despite the burgeoning threat of Philip approaching from the north, Demosthenes still implies that following the lessons of home might result in holding on to what remained of an Athenian sphere of influence and even in the reacquisition of the arkhē.
In the Third Olynthiac, Demosthenes juxtaposes the achievements of the ancestors and the inferior character of present-day Athenians, using the ancestors’ accomplishments as proof of the still-attainable greatness that the modern Athenians ought to earn as inheritance. The ancestors held the wellbeing of the city as a whole as primary, while individual interests came later. Demosthenes appeals to this vision of the past as a blueprint for future supremacy at a time when Philip was still far enough away that his interference with Athens was not yet inevitable. In the years to come, as Philip became more prominent, and the threat he posed more inevitable, Demosthenes nevertheless continued alluding to the ancestral promise of inherited excellence. This idea infused Demosthenes’ “Embassy” speech, where he used Aeschines’ apparent rejection of the ancestral inheritance as evidence of his opponent’s treason. In contrast, in Aeschines’ defense speech from the “Embassy” trial, he articulated his own interpretation of the ideal relationship between the oikos and the polis. As the next section demonstrates, these two speeches reveal the complex ways that the Athenians thought about their present identity, their relationship to the past, and how it should guide their decisions for the future.

The Embassy Trial

In the years between the delivery of the Olynthiacs and the “Embassy” Trial in 343, the Athenians were beginning to take measures to mitigate the threat that Philip posed. [25] The Athenian aid to Olynthos came too late: Philip successfully besieged Olynthos, enslaved its inhabitants, and razed the town. After the devastating loss of their important northern ally, and with Philip drawing closer to Phocis and the pass at Thermopylae that protected central Greece and thereby Attica from northern invasions, the Athenians decided to send ambassadors to Philip in 346 to discuss the possibility of making a peace treaty; among the ambassadors were Demosthenes and Aeschines. Since Philip seemed amenable to the idea of making peace, the ambassadors returned and presented Philip’s terms to the Athenian Assembly. After a debate, the proposal set forth by one of the ambassadors named Philokrates was approved, with the support of both Demosthenes and Aeschines. [26] The ambassadors then returned to the north to obtain Philip’s ratification. This second embassy was delayed for several months while Philip continued his acquisitions in the north; by the time the Peace of Philokrates was ratified, some of the allies (in particular, the Phocians) that the Athenians had hoped to protect to some degree lay vulnerable to Philip’s control.
Soon after the ambassadors returned to Athens, Demosthenes along with his associate Timarchos accused Aeschines of misconduct during the embassy. Aeschines preempted the trial by taking Timarchos to court for having engaged in sex labor in his youth, which disqualified him from public speaking; Timarchos lost the case and was driven from public life. [27] The case against Aeschines was then put off until 343 when Philokrates was driven into exile and Demosthenes was at last able to prosecute Aeschines for taking bribes from Philip in exchange for favoring the peace. Both Demosthenes’ speech for the prosecution and Aeschines’ for the defense feature a lengthy discussion of the debate over the Peace of Philokrates, which show their different conceptions of how the Athenians should understand the relationships between the oikos and the polis, the present and the past.
Throughout his prosecution speech On the False Embassy (Demosthenes 19), Demosthenes continues to urge his contemporaries to follow the example of their ancestors’ actions. [28] Unlike Aeschines (Demosthenes asserts), the ancestors never took bribes, never shirked their military duty, never betrayed the city. Using the same phrasing he used in his Third Olynthiac, Demosthenes calls on his listeners to use them as models for present day policy: “Of all men, Athenians, you alone can use examples from home (oikeiois paradeigmasi) in these circumstances and imitate the example of the ancestors whom you rightly praise” (19.269). [29] This language, as in the Third Olynthiac, emphasizes that the ancestors belong to the same household as present-day Athenians and that they alone are the heirs to the ancestors’ accomplishments. He asserts that the Athenians should follow their forefathers’ conduct precisely, step by step (§273). Through his patriotic conception of a consistent, native Athenian ethos that brings together past and present and unites all Athenian citizens into one family, Demosthenes frames his opponent’s viewpoint as not merely incorrect, but actively seditious. In his criticisms of Aeschines, he bolsters his arguments about his opponent’s misdeeds during the embassy with the accusation that Aeschines, by critiquing the examples of the ancestors, was trying to prevent the people from receiving their ancestral inheritance.
As evidence for Aeschines’ treasonous nature, Demosthenes describes at length his rejection of the Athenian legacy. Demosthenes claims that during the debate over the Peace, Aeschines spoke in support of Philokrates and explicitly instructed the Assembly to reject the lessons of the ancestors: “He said you should not recall your ancestors or put up with talk of trophies and sea battles but should enact and inscribe a law forbidding you from aiding any Greeks who had not previously aided you” (19.15–16). [30] This same assertion appears two more times near the end of the speech (19.307, 311), connecting Aeschines’ behavior before the Embassy, when he had urged the Athenians to help their allies, with his abrupt reversal of policy following his return from Macedonia. Demosthenes claims that Aeschines’ sudden desire for the Athenians to completely forget their glorious past, the lessons from home that once led the ancestors to help their allies, should be considered evidence of his involvement in anti-Athenian conspiracies in Macedonia. For Demosthenes, this rejection of the ancestral inheritance constitutes damning evidence of Aeschines’ treachery.
A consideration of Aeschines’ own words, however, shows that his conception of the ideal relationship between the household and the city differed not only from Demosthenes’ idealized ancestral inheritance, but also from the isolationist political philosophy and utter rejection of historical precedent that Demosthenes attributed to him. While Demosthenes’ speeches conceptualize his fellow citizens as heirs to their ancestors’ greatness, Aeschines offers a more ambivalent treatment of the ancestors’ accomplishments and identifies the individual, private household as the source of the city’s strength. According to Aeschines, the glorious accomplishments of the ancestors that had obtained the arkhē for the Athenians were tempered by a rashness induced by their victories, which ultimately led to the loss of the arkhē and the present state of the polis. Aeschines models a different kind of relationship between the past and the present, somewhere between Demosthenes’ ancestor-emulating interventionism and the ahistorical isolationism that Demosthenes had attributed to him; a relationship not so much motivated by the idea of a generic, citywide inheritance as based on specific relationships between present-day Athenians and their own immediate ancestors.

In his defense speech, Aeschines counters Demosthenes’ accusations and displays his own interpretation of the ideal relationship between oikos and polis, his own “lessons from home.” [31] As Demosthenes’ criticism indicated, Aeschines’ words during the debate over the peace centered on the action of the Athenians during the time of the arkhē and gave reasons why Athenians of the present day should not imitate everything that their ancestors had done. During the debate over the Peace, Aeschines, speaking in support, had offered an ambivalent portrayal of the past that contrasted strikingly with the propagandistic rhetoric of the opponents to the Peace. A long passage in his Embassy speech summarizes what he said during the debate, laying out his nuanced understanding of the relationship between the present and historical exempla. [32] He first criticizes the opponents to the Peace, who used patriotic nostalgia to sway the Assembly (2.74):

And the public speakers acting in unison stood up and made no attempt to offer measures for the city’s rescue but urged you to look to the Propylaea of the Acropolis and remember the naval battle against the Persians at Salamis and the tombs and trophies of our ancestors. [33]

Just like Demosthenes in the Third Olynthiac, these anti-Peace speakers used the Propylaea, the extravagant entrance onto the Periclean Acropolis, as metonym linking the Athenian victories against the Persians to the wealth that Athens accumulated under Pericles. [34] These speakers summoned the glory of the arkhē, manifest in the architectural achievements of the previous century, and the bravery of the ancestors who defeated the Persians at Salamis, ushering in the age of empire. According to Aeschines, they had dissolved various symbols of the previous 150 years—the Propylaea, Salamis, graves and trophies—into a single, timeless, patriotic amalgam rather than giving useful guidance for the present day. Collapsing a century of Athenian policy into a single rhetorical flourish may have made the listeners feel the warm glow of nostalgia, but, as Aeschines asserts, provided no real solutions to the present situation.

In contrast to the generalized references to the excellence of the ancestors that the opponents to the Peace made, Aeschines used specific examples from the Athenian past to inspire a concrete plan of action for the present. He disrupted the timeless narrative, separating the actions worthy of emulation from those that should serve as cautionary tales. His description of his words during the negotiation over the Peace continues: “For my part, I said that, while you should remember all this, you should imitate our ancestors’ wisdom but avoid their errors and their ill-timed ambition” (§75). [35] Like the orators whose behavior he intended to correct, Aeschines began with the Athenian victories during the Persian war, the victories that became the justification for the creation of the Athenian arkhē over the course of the fifth century. But he continued with a summary of cautionary tales, urging the Athenians to learn from the Sicilian Expedition and the occupation of Dekeleia, and concluding with the desperate circumstances that led to the oligarchy of the Thirty in 404–403. He draws particular attention to what he refers to as the Athenians’ “final act of folly”—when the Spartans had the upper hand and were offering to make peace, the Athenians “refused all of this but determined on a war they could not fight … And finally they reduced the city to a condition where the people were grateful to conclude a peace under which they gave up everything” (§§76–77). [36] Aeschines’ speech focuses on a different period of history from the glories of empire that the opponents of the Peace had rhapsodized about. The victories of the Persian Wars were generations in the past; over time, the Athenians became less brave, more greedy, and careless. Aeschines moves from the praiseworthy accomplishments of the ancestors to their lowest moments near the end of the Peloponnesian War. As Guy Westwood notes, “it is precisely the period of the empire, and its proponents, whose mistakes—the result of overreaching pride encouraging unwise decision-making … —Aeschines criticizes … Imperial pride, then, is Aeschines’ chosen keynote, and specifically its dark side.” [37] Aeschines’ focus on the “dark side” of empire counters the idealized vision of the past that the opponents of the Peace had talked about. He presents this double-sided interpretation of the past to a populace accustomed to hearing their history spoken of in only the most illustrious terms, a risky prospect and one that made him vulnerable to Demosthenes’ accusations of disloyalty and sedition.
The ancestors that Demosthenes had extolled unconditionally for ruling a willing empire and accumulating vast resources and many trophies are shown in Aeschines’ speech to represent only part of the story; in other respects, the Athenian ancestors could be flawed, prideful, and greedy. By drawing his audience’s attention to these discreditable moments in the history of Athens, Aeschines positions himself as the voice of moderation and tries to temper the bombastic patriotism of the speakers who opposed the Peace and gestured to the timeless glories of the Athenian past. If the Athenians receive this inheritance unquestioningly, they risk making the same mistakes the ancestors did. It is only by judicious selection from what the ancestors have to offer that the Athenians of Aeschines’ time can save the city. Aeschines’ speech reveals that what Demosthenes had characterized as an alarmingly seditious rejection of the ancestors (“he said you should not recall your ancestors or put up with talk of trophies and sea battles”) was merely an exhortation to learn from both the successes and the mistakes of the past (cf. n. 30).

The moderation that characterizes Aeschines’ relationship with the past is closely tied to his interpretation of the role of the oikos in political thought. Aware of the controversial nature of his historical exempla, Aeschines claims that his narration of the past is legitimate, in fact preferable to the glorified version of Demosthenes and the anti-Peace politicians, because his information comes not from a stranger but from his most intimate relative—his father (§§77–78):

I learned of these events not from outsiders but from my closest relative (oikeiotatou) of all. Our father Atrometus, the man you insult though you do not know him and never saw the man he was in his youth—despite the fact, Demosthenes, that you’re descended from Scythian nomads on your mother’s side—who went into exile under the Thirty and participated in the restoration of democracy … So the city’s misfortunes are well-known family stories (oikeia) I have heard often. [38]

Aeschines’ historical knowledge is legitimate and home-sourced, thus irreproachable (I return to the snide remark about Demosthenes’ ancestry later in this section). As Rosalind Thomas describes it, Aeschines “defends this remarkable harangue [at §§74–77] by the fact that the misfortunes of Athens were in his blood … The oral family testimony is his bulwark for dangerous criticism of the Athenians’ previous actions.” [39] Aeschines’ repetition of forms of the adjective oikeios in this passage—describing his father with the superlative oikeiotatou and the city’s misfortunes as oikeia—recalls Demosthenes’ references to oikeia paradeigmata. Unlike Demosthenes’ appeal to the “lessons from home” inherited from a generic collective ancestry, Aeschines’ interpretation of the ideal relationship between Athenian civic identity and the household emphasizes the closeness and loyalty of the immediate family. According to this model, the excellence of a citizen can be better determined by his personal relationships than by patriotic appeals to the distant ancestors. The most meaningful lessons from home come not from the distant past, the longed-for glory days, but from right now, from the family. Aeschines implicitly invites his fellow citizens, if they are able, to learn similar lessons from their own households.

To emphasize the importance of the love and loyalty that derives from the household unit, Aeschines refers to his own family repeatedly throughout his speech, detailing the heroic actions of his father, uncle, and brother, and even bringing his family onto the platform with him. As he displays his piteous family, Aeschines asks the judges if they really believe he could be capable of betraying the city (§152):

I ask you, men of Athens: do you think I would have betrayed to Philip not just my country (patridi), the friends with whom I associate, and my right to share the temples and graves of our ancestors, but these, the ones I love most of all the people in the world, that I would have set more store by his friendship than their safety? [40]

The source of Aeschines’ patriotism is not the acquisitions of the ancient Athenians; rather his loyalty to his country derives from his love for his own private household, his friends, and his immediate ancestors. The language Aeschines uses here acknowledges the ideology of autochthony—the word patris evokes, through its genealogical etymology, the notion that the Athenians were born from the earth itself—but places his loyalty to the patris as integrally intertwined with, and in fact dependent upon his love for his family. [41] For Aeschines, the lessons from home are the things that come from the intimacy of the family living in their private house rather than from a celebration of the acquisition of trophies and hegemonic sway.

As indicated by the passage (§§77–78) quoted earlier, in contrast to the bona fides of his own family, Aeschines repeatedly draws attention to his opponent’s dubious ancestry, calling into question Demosthenes’ legitimacy as a member of the very city-as-household that he promotes. He makes several defamatory references to Demosthenes’ alleged Scythian ancestry (§§78, 280). [42] Responding to Demosthenes’ accusations that he had told the people to forget their ancestors, he slips in a sarcastic aside: “Nor do I prevent you from imitating Demosthenes’ ancestors (he hasn’t any) but call on you to emulate those policies that are honorable and protect the city” (§171). [43] Questioning the legitimacy of Demosthenes’ citizenship is more than a personal attack; it also alleges that Demosthenes does not belong to the civic family, that he should be banned from public speaking and advising the dēmos. [44] This allegation is a pointed attack on the very heart of Demosthenes’ domestic ideology, the idea (derived from or at least resonant with the myth of autochthony) of a unified Athenian kinship group.
In the Embassy speeches, each orator stakes out his own interpretation of the ideal relationship between the oikos and the polis, revealing important differences between how they see the role of the past in shaping the future. Demosthenes urges complete adherence to the ways of the ancestors, which won Athens great success and leadership over the rest of the Greeks whom they once (aggressively) helped. Aeschines concedes that the Athenian ancestors in the time of the arkhē achieved great things, but he notes that they also made mistakes: they have both positive and negative lessons to impart. He suggests that the Athenians should derive their lessons in excellence not just from the generic ancestors that Demosthenes praised, but also from their individual households, from the real affection and accountability felt among members of the private oikos. This is both a counter to the grandiose but vague patriotic rhetoric of Demosthenes and other orators, and an attack on Demosthenes’ personal genealogy, upon which Aeschines expands in his speech for the Crown trial. The two speeches of the Embassy trial lay the groundwork for the final confrontation between the two orators, in which their competing domestic ideologies most explicitly mark potential paths forward after the Battle of Chaeronea.

The Crown Trial

The situation with Philip deteriorated. During the eight years between the Embassy trial and Chaeronea, Demosthenes urged the people to make war with Philip, while Aeschines called on them to make peace. Although Aeschines had narrowly won the Embassy case, over the next several years as Demosthenes rose more and more in prominence, Aeschines was less and less able to have a role in politics. [45] In 338, a coalition of Greek states met Philip at the battle of Chaeronea; the Greeks lost and became subject allies of Macedonia.
Demosthenes had been one of the leading proponents of the policy that led the Athenians to go to war with Macedon; after the Battle of Chaeronea, there were several attempts to prosecute him but none was successful. [46] When a citizen named Ctesiphon made the proposal that Demosthenes be honored with a golden crown because of his services to the city, Aeschines decided to challenge the legal basis of this proposal, using this trial as an excuse to launch a much larger case against Demosthenes’ entire life and career.
By the time the Crown trial came to court in 330, the political circumstances in the city were significantly transformed: although, as Demosthenes repeatedly insists in his defense speech, Chaeronea was less devastating to Athens than it could have been, Athens was now a subordinate ally to Macedonia. Aeschines held Demosthenes responsible for the loss because he was the most forceful proponent of the pro-war policy. Aeschines, in contrast, had hoped to maintain a permanent peace with Philip, knowing the devastating outcome that a war with Macedon would bring. The two speeches that survive from the Crown case continue to illustrate each orator’s domestic ideology as seen in the earlier speeches: Demosthenes’ conception of the citizen body as a large-scale oikos, and Aeschines’ emphasis of the individual oikos over the generic collective. The arkhē once again recurs as a symbol for the material prize of the ancestral inheritance (according to Demosthenes) or for the height from which the Athenians had fallen thanks to Demosthenes’ policies (according to Aeschines).
Aeschines’ prosecution speech, Against Ctesiphon (Oration 3), is a thorough condemnation of Demosthenes’ entire character and career. [47] Aeschines describes his rival as a bad democrat, a bad citizen, and a bad father—a disgrace to the ancestors that Demosthenes is so fond of referencing as though they were his own. He also uses historical examples to show how these ancestors, as great as they were, are irrevocably severed from the present day. [48]

Aeschines argues that the ability to lead the city well comes from one’s own private household. As evidence of Demosthenes’ inability to be a good leader, he draws vivid attention to his poor behavior as a family man. Aeschines relates that when King Philip died in 336, Demosthenes appeared in public wearing a crown, dressed in white, and conducted celebratory sacrifices, even though his only child, a daughter, had died just a week earlier. Aeschines savages Demosthenes for neglecting his daughter’s funeral rituals (3.78):

[A] bad father who hates his children could never be a good public leader; and a man who does not love his nearest and dearest (oikeiotata) will never feel concern for outsiders like yourselves; nor could a man who is evil in his private life be of use in public life; [49] and a man who is worthless at home can never have been a man of honor as envoy in Macedonia—he changed his position, not his disposition. [50]

Demosthenes failed to show an appropriate degree of mourning for his daughter, but instead ostentatiously and publicly celebrated the death of Philip. The adjective oikeios, appearing in its superlative form here, means “one’s own,” or “connected to the home”—in this instance, it refers to the daughter as someone who should be closer to him than anyone else because of her most intimate familial connection to him. The adjective oikeios appeared in significant locations in the speeches discussed above, each time evoking each orator’s distinct understanding of the oikospolis relationship: for Demosthenes, in connection with his ideal of the citywide oikos and the continuity of kinship through time, the phrase oikeia paradeigmata referred to the lessons of the ancestors, while Aeschines, who identifies the individual household as a source of civic patriotism, used the superlative oikeiotatos to describe his father, from whom he learned the positive and negative lessons about the past, and the positive oikeia to characterize these lessons as “from home.” In Against Ctesiphon, Aeschines uses the superlative adjective to reveal that Demosthenes lacks the basic emotional capacity that a good leader requires—the sense of love and loyalty that comes from the individual home. Aeschines firmly places the blame for the loss at Chaeronea on Demosthenes’ character, identifying a lack of feeling at the concentric heart of his private household that radiated outward.

This example of Demosthenes’ home behavior provides further evidence for Aeschines’ argument that Demosthenes is a bad citizen, but this failure lies not just in his behavior, but in his genealogy. As in Aeschines’ speech for the Embassy trial, he repeats his accusation that Demosthenes has Scythian ancestry: “on his mother’s side he is a Scythian barbarian who speaks Greek. Hence his dishonesty, too, is of foreign extraction” (§172). [51] Far from belonging to a citywide kinship group and inheriting the ancestors’ excellence, Aeschines asserts that Demosthenes has inherited only perfidy from his imposter family. In contrast, Aeschines once again cites his father, a true Athenian citizen as a source for knowledge about legal practices around the time of the restoration of the democracy (§§191–192).

As these negative examples about Demosthenes’ private household, and positive references to Aeschines’ own, demonstrate, Aeschines’ speech insists that now, more than ever, the source of Athenian excellence must be the individual household, not a dream of ancestral inheritance. He urges the Athenians not to give in to Demosthenes’ soothing fiction that the Athenians continued to be poised, eternally, on the brink of regaining their empire. Giving in to this fiction and granting the crown to Demosthenes, argues Aeschines, would mean setting up a trophy memorializing their defeat in the theater of Dionysus (3.156). Aeschines calls on them to acknowledge the reality of their situation (3.134):

Our city, the universal refuge of the Greeks, which previously received embassies from the rest of Greece, each looking to find protection for their individual cities from us, now no longer competes for the leadership of Greece but is already struggling for our country’s (gen.: patridos) soil. [52]

The days when Athens came to the aid of its neighbors as a grounds or pretext to build its empire are irrevocably gone. Now, the crisis is over the land itself, the soil of the patris. The glories of the ancestors have no place in this debate, except to look on in judgment (§§257–259): Aeschines does not talk of inheritance from the past, but of the urgent now.

Aeschines’ prosecution speech articulates the importance in the present political moment of centering the individual household, the source of true affection and loyalty, not depending on a promised inheritance from a generic collective ancestry. Demosthenes, however, continues to use historical examples to show a continuity, not a disjuncture. In response to Aeschines’ pessimistic but realistic appraisal of the current political situation, Demosthenes’ defense speech On the Crown returns again and again to his idealized vision of the past. [53] For Demosthenes, the continuity between the past and the present, the family unit of the homeland in all its ancestral excellence, remains an ideal always almost in reach.
In On the Crown, Demosthenes places the lessons from home—the character and behavior that, generations prior, made the Athenian ancestors the leader of the Greeks and that comprise the inheritance shared by all Athenians, merited not by action but by birth—at the emotional center of his argument. Far from Athens losing its identity after Chaeronea, he argues that Chaeronea confirmed, even epitomized, the excellence inherited from the ancestors. He claims that if the Athenians had not fought at Chaeronea, it would have been “like erasing the noble and just achievements of our forebears” (18.63). [54] This collective selflessness at the expense of human lives was a timeless characteristic of the Athenian ethos: throughout its history, Athens had always contributed more money and men to the common good than any the other Greek state contributed to its own defense (§66). Demosthenes ties this selflessness to the empire that Athens once controlled and the glories of the ancestral city; through such acts of generosity, they were able to obtain all they did. He mentions the monuments that attest to the forefathers’ accomplishments (§68), connecting these to the land and sea expeditions that the Athenians undertook for the freedom and safety of all of Greece (§100), and the city’s former status as the leader of the rest of the Greeks (§200). In engaging with Philip at Chaeronea, the Athenians were doing nothing more or less than taking up the role bequeathed to them by their ancestral inheritance.
Demosthenes’ portrayal of the excellence that the ancestors modeled exemplifies his vision for the present. Through these repeated reminders of the legacy of the Athenian ancestors, Demosthenes draws a line of continuity between the past and the present, situating Chaeronea as equivalent to Marathon, Plataea, and Salamis. The outcome of the battle is irrelevant: what matters is that the Athenians acted consistently with the behaviors that allowed their ancestors to become preeminent among the Greeks. By linking the outcome of Chaeronea to the Athenians’ long-term foreign policy, Demosthenes simultaneously praises the Athenians for choosing to fight Philip and suppresses his own responsibility for leading them into disaster. He implies that it was his policy and the ensuing battle that allowed the Athenians to truly receive the reputation inherited from the ancestors and to carry it into the future.

It was in this context that Demosthenes brings the concept of the polis as a household to bear on the defense of his crown and his career. He asserts that the ancestors believed themselves to be children of the patris, a term that, by its genealogical etymology, emphasizes the idea of the homeland as a family, heirs to the reputation of the ancestors, poised eternally on the brink of excellence (18.205):

Each one of them saw himself as the child not only of his father and mother but of his country (dat.: patridi) as well. What does that matter? He who considers himself born to his parents alone awaits the natural death allotted him by fate, but he who considers himself born to his country (dat.: patridi) too will prefer to die than to see it enslaved. He will regard the insults and humiliations that one must bear when his city is enslaved as more terrible than death. [55]

By claiming that the Athenian ancestors considered themselves to be children of the land itself, Demosthenes evokes the idea of civic inheritance, connecting the ancestors genealogically with both the earth and the present day, justifying and even mandating the deaths at Chaeronea. Even in the face of reality—a thousand Athenians died at Chaeronea—Demosthenes admits to no difference in the city’s status. He sees the dead at Chaeronea as no different from the heroes of Marathon, Salamis, or Artemisium: what matters is not winning or losing, but that they accomplished what was necessary for the greater good of the polis.

The language in this passage is conspicuously similar to the sentiments typically expressed in a funeral oration, and in fact On the Crown is, in a way, the reprise of the funeral oration Demosthenes was chosen to deliver after Chaeronea. [56] The funeral speech belonging to the Demosthenic corpus (Demosthenes 60) praises the dead by deriving their nobility of birth (eugeneia) from their autochthonous ancestors: “for alone of all people, they inhabited this land from which they were born, and they bequeathed it to those born from them” (60.4). [57] As is typical of the genre, praise of the ancestors comes first, while sympathy for the dead is kept to a minimum. The living relatives deserve pity; the dead are blessed (60.32). As Max Goldman argues, Demosthenes used the conventions of the funeral oration as a means “not only to help his community come to terms with the defeat, but more obliquely to situate himself in relation to that defeat.” [58] On the Crown, with its generic minimizing of the suffering of the dead, resembles the funeral oration in its ostentatious reluctance to mention the painful consequences of war—in this case, Demosthenes’ own pro-war policies.

Demosthenes’ only mention of the suffering caused by those who died in the battle comes when he is explaining why he was chosen to deliver the funeral oration, in a context where he rhetorically displaces the individual family with the, to him, superior civic family. He claims that the people chose him not only to deliver the funeral address after Chaeronea but also to host the funeral meal, rather than a father or brother of one of the deceased, because of his civic kinship with those who died in the battle (18.288):

When the funeral meal needed to be held at the house of the closest relative (oikeiotatōi) of the dead, as is the custom, they held it at my house. Rightly so. Though each of them had a closer familial tie to his own dead kinsman than I, no one had a closer public bond to all the dead. For the person to whom their safety and success mattered most had the greatest share of grief for all of them when they suffered what I wish they never had. [59]

Demosthenes asserts that he was chosen to deliver the funeral oration because he was considered oikeiotatos to those who died in the battle, closer kin than their actual relatives. Because it was his policy that led to their deaths, his grief is greater than any individual relative, and, therefore, he is more closely related to all the deceased. Rather than any of the actual kin of the deceased, the Athenians chose Demosthenes. This assertion of the citywide oikos, inheritors not only of the greatness but also of the sometimes tragic obligation bequeathed by the ancestors, is a manifestation of the assertion that all Athenians are born from the land itself, a genealogy as important, if not more, than their individual families.

In On the Crown, Demosthenes constructs a timeless simulacrum where the Athenians are perpetually on the verge of regaining the arkhē. Their loss at Chaeronea confirmed their excellence: they acted consistently with the ancestors’ ambitions, the lessons from home that kept Athens always on the brink of greatness. The two orators presented the judges with conflicting interpretations of the homeland—Demosthenes’ collectivist domestic policy and glorification of the ancestral inheritance versus Aeschines’ prioritization of the individual household and acknowledgment that the age of Athenian arkhē was long past. In this instance, Demosthenes’ arguments proved stronger: he carried the day by a landslide and Aeschines went into exile in disgrace. It is no consolation to Aeschines that he was right, that there was no inheritance, that the great and glorious empire belonged irrevocably to the past.


I have argued that Demosthenes and Aeschines presented the Athenian people with conflicting interpretations of “lessons from home,” both of them using the arkhē as an exemplum for guiding present-day decisions. The arkhē as the height of Athenian glory, wealth, and influence made for a striking paradigm of both positive and negative behaviors. The orators’ use of the arkhē as a source for lessons from home drew on the emotional impact of the past, the sense of civic nostalgia and belatedness that was prevalent in fourth-century oratory. [60] Despite their differences, both orators were engaging in ideology and propaganda to advance their own policies and crush their opponent’s. Demosthenes promotes the conception of the collective family and ancestral inheritance, and he castigates Aeschines for his negative evocation of the past. An examination of these rhetorical techniques gives a sense of the role of the household and civic nostalgia in discourses about identity formation during this crucial time in history, and may provide a cautionary tale to people today about the rhetorical use of ethno-nationalist rhetoric and the promises of a glorious past.


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[ back ] 1. Rhodes 2012:113.
[ back ] 2. Badian 1995:96–97, but cf. Rhodes 2012:125–126.
[ back ] 3. Nevett 1999:162–163.
[ back ] 4. Nagle 2006:6.
[ back ] 5. Patterson 1998:185–225; Hutchinson 2011:48–49.
[ back ] 6. Republic 457d, 464c–d.
[ back ] 7. Politics 1261a–1262b; Saxonhouse 1982:203; Nagle 2006:177–202.
[ back ] 8. On the Athenian myth of autochthony, see Rosivach 1987; Loraux 1993; Connor 1994; Blok 2009; Lape 2010:17–19; Forsdyke 2012.
[ back ] 9. Cf. Lape 2010:35.
[ back ] 10. Patterson 2005:281.
[ back ] 11. See Brock 2013:25–42 for a comprehensive analysis of oikos-polis imagery in Greek political thought.
[ back ] 12. On the Olynthiacs, see Trevett 2011:27–56; Worthington 2013:132–144; Herrman 2019.
[ back ] 13. A very similar passage is found in Demosthenes 13 On Organization, whose authenticity is questionable but may have been delivered a few years prior to the Olynthiacs. See Lehmann 2019 for a fuller discussion of the significance of the analogy on the size of houses in this and other speeches.
[ back ] 14. Ferrucci 2011:401–402.
[ back ] 15. καίτοι σκέψασθ’, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, ἅ τις ἂν κεφάλαι’ εἰπεῖν ἔχοι τῶν τ’ ἐπὶ τῶν προγόνων ἔργων καὶ τῶν ἐφ’ ὑμῶν. ἔσται δὲ βραχὺς καὶ γνώριμος ὑμῖν ὁ λόγος· οὐ γὰρ ἀλλοτρίοις ὑμῖν χρωμένοις παραδείγμασιν, ἀλλ’ οἰκείοις, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, εὐδαίμοσιν ἔξεστι γενέσθαι. Greek text is from the TLG; translations of the Olynthiacs are from Trevett 2011.
[ back ] 16. The phrase oikeia paradeigmata also appears twice in Isocrates’ works (at 9.77 and 5.113). In these contexts, the domestic connotations are even more overt; Isocrates uses this phrase to contrast the individual households of Evagoras and Philip, respectively, with other family lineages. Cf. Race (1987:149–153), who translates oikeia paradeigmata/oikeion paradeigma variously as “examples … at home,” “home example,” and “examples … from your own house” (151).
[ back ] 17. The primary definitions of oikeios are “in or of the house, of or for household affairs, domestic” (LSJ A) or “of the same household, family, or kin, related” (LSJ II). By extension, it can mean “one’s own, personal, private” (LSJ III.2). The masculine of the adjective is often used as a substantive meaning “relative,” that is “someone connected to the oikos” (e.g. Demosthenes 27.1), while the neuter plural may indicate “household goods,” e.g. Lysias 13.41.
[ back ] 18. πέντε μὲν καὶ τετταράκοντ’ ἔτη τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἦρξαν ἑκόντων, πλείω δ’ ἢ μύρια τάλαντ’ εἰς τὴν ἀκρόπολιν ἀνήγαγον, ὑπήκουε δ’ ὁ ταύτην τὴν χώραν ἔχων αὐτοῖς βασιλεύς, ὥσπερ ἐστὶ προσῆκον βάρβαρον Ἕλλησι, πολλὰ δὲ καὶ καλὰ καὶ πεζῇ καὶ ναυμαχοῦντες ἔστησαν τρόπαι’ αὐτοὶ στρατευόμενοι, μόνοι δ’ ἀνθρώπων κρείττω τὴν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἔργοις δόξαν τῶν φθονούντων κατέλιπον. Tr. Trevett 2011.
[ back ] 19. References to the extraordinariness of the Athenian ancestors—mostly focusing on the Persian Wars—appear again and again in political oratory of the fourth century. There is an extensive bibliography on the orators’ use of historical exempla, including classic works by Pearson (1941), Perlman (1961), and Nouhaud (1982), and the more recent studies by Steinbock (2013a, 2013b) and Westwood (2020).
[ back ] 20. Thomas 1989:202.
[ back ] 21. The verb is commonly used in inheritance cases (LSJ A2 “bequeath”); for example, forms of καταλείπω appear thirty times in Demosthenes 27 Against Aphobos and more than a hundred times in Isaeus’ 11 inheritance cases.
[ back ] 22. ὑμᾶς ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν ἀξιῶ πράττειν ταῦτ’ ἐφ’ οἷς ἑτέρους τιμᾶτε, καὶ μὴ παραχωρεῖν, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, τῆς τάξεως, ἣν ὑμῖν οἱ πρόγονοι τῆς ἀρετῆς μετὰ πολλῶν καὶ καλῶν κινδύνων κτησάμενοι κατέλιπον. Tr. Trevett 2011, lightly modified (Trevett translates katelipon as passive). In On Organization, Demosthenes (or [Demosthenes]) emphasizes the theme of inheritance even more explicitly, using the verb klēronomein to describe how powerful individual politicians are depriving the citizens of their rightful inheritance, the ability to make decisions as a collective.
[ back ] 23. The same language recurs in Alcibiades’ speech before the Sicilian expedition: “this is how empire is obtained, by us and all others who have held it: enthusiastic support, always, for either foreigners or Greeks seeking help” (6.18.2, my translation of both Thucydides passages quoted). See Low 2007 (next note).
[ back ] 24. Low 2007:175.
[ back ] 25. For discussions of this period of time, see Cawkwell 1962, Ryder 2000.
[ back ] 26. Since the evidence for the events that occurred during the embassies and the debate over the peace treaty comes primarily from Demosthenes’ and Aeschines’ speeches, which are full of exaggerations and inconsistencies, the exact details are unclear. See Harris 1995:63–78, Buckler 2000, Efstathiou 2004, and MacDowell 2009:315–342 for plausible reconstructions of who said what when.
[ back ] 27. On Aeschines 1 Against Timarchos, see Carey 2000:18–87, Fisher 2001.
[ back ] 28. On this speech, see MacDowell 2000, Yunis 2005:114–215.
[ back ] 29. ἔστι δ’ ὑμῖν, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, περὶ τούτων μόνοις τῶν πάντων ἀνθρώπων οἰκείοις χρῆσθαι παραδείγμασι, καὶ τοὺς προγόνους, οὓς ἐπαινεῖτε δικαίως, ἔργῳ μιμεῖσθαι. Tr. Yunis 2005, lightly modified (Yunis has “you alone can look to your own past as a guide in these circumstances”). See n. 17 above on the definition of oikeios.
[ back ] 30. ὡς οὔτε τῶν προγόνων ὑμᾶς μεμνῆσθαι δέοι οὔτε τῶν τὰ τρόπαια καὶ τὰς ναυμαχίας λεγόντων ἀνέχεσθαι, νόμον τε θήσειν καὶ γράψειν μηδενὶ τῶν Ἑλλήνων ὑμᾶς βοηθεῖν, ὃς ἂν μὴ πρότερος βεβοηθηκὼς ὑμῖν ᾖ. καὶ ταῦθ’ ὁ σχέτλιος καὶ ἀναιδὴς οὗτος ἐτόλμα λέγειν ἐφεστηκότων τῶν πρέσβεων καὶ ἀκουόντων, οὓς ἀπὸ τῶν Ἑλλήνων μετεπέμψασθε ὑπὸ τούτου πεισθέντες. Tr. Yunis 2005.
[ back ] 31. On this speech (Aeschines 2 On the Embassy), see Carey 2000:88–158.
[ back ] 32. See Steinbock 2013a for a detailed examination of Aeschines’ use of historical exempla in this speech.
[ back ] 33. ἀνιστάμενοι δὲ οἱ συντεταγμένοι ῥήτορες, περὶ μὲν τῆς σωτηρίας τῆς πόλεως οὐδ᾽ ἐνεχείρουν λέγειν, ἀποβλέπειν δὲ εἰς τὰ προπύλαια τῆς ἀκροπόλεως ἐκέλευον ὑμᾶς, καὶ τῆς ἐν Σαλαμῖνι πρὸς τὸν Πέρσην ναυμαχίας μεμνῆσθαι, καὶ τῶν τάφων τῶν προγόνων καὶ τῶν τροπαίων. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 34. Westwood 2000:256. As Westwood points out, Aeschines claims later in this speech (2.105) that Epaminondas, too, used the Propylaea to refer metonymically to Athens as a whole.
[ back ] 35. Ἐγὼ δὲ ἁπάντων μὲν τούτων ἔφην δεῖν μεμνῆσθαι, μιμεῖσθαι μέντοι τὰς τῶν προγόνων εὐβουλίας. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 36. τούτων μὲν οὐδὲν ἤθελον ποιεῖν, πολεμεῖν δὲ προῃροῦντο οὐ δυνάμενοι … τελευτῶντες δὲ εἰς τοῦτο τὴν πόλιν προήγαγον ὥστε ἀγαπητῶς τὴν εἰρήνην ποιήσασθαι. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 37. Westwood 2020:256, 258.
[ back ] 38. Οὐ γὰρ παρὰ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων, ἀλλὰ παρὰ τοῦ πάντων οἰκειοτάτου ταῦτα ἐπυνθανόμην. Ἀτρόμητος γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὁ ἡμέτερος, ὃν σὺ λοιδορεῖς οὔτ᾽ εἰδὼς οὔτ᾽ ἐπιδὼν τῆς ἑαυτοῦ ἡλικίας ὅστις ἦν, καὶ ταῦτα, ὦ Δημόσθενες, ἐκ τῶν νομάδων Σκυθῶν τὸ πρὸς μητρὸς ὢν γένος, ἔφυγε μὲν ἐπὶ τῶν τριάκοντα, συγκατήγαγε δὲ τὸν δῆμον … ὥστε οἰκεῖά μοι καὶ συνήθη τὰ τῆς πόλεως ἀτυχήματα εἶναι τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκούειν. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 39. Thomas 1989:101. In the footnote to this passage, Thomas describes Aeschines’ defense as a “characteristically original and extreme inversion of many of the conventional topoi and accepted views of Athenian history.”
[ back ] 40. Ἐρωτῶ γάρ, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, εἰ δοκῶ ἂν ὑμῖν πρὸς τῇ πατρίδι καὶ τῇ τῶν φίλων συνηθείᾳ καὶ ἱερῶν καὶ τάφων πατρῴων μετουσίᾳ τουτουσὶ τοὺς πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἐμοὶ φιλτάτους προδοῦναι Φιλίππῳ, καὶ περὶ πλείονος τὴν ἐκείνου φιλίαν τῆς τούτων σωτηρίας ποιήσασθαι. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 41. Loraux 1993:49–52; Nielsen 2004:69.
[ back ] 42. On Demosthenes’ alleged Scythian ancestry, see Badian 2000:13, Lape 2010:82–85.
[ back ] 43. οὐδὲ τοὺς Δημοσθένους ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἐῶν προγόνους μιμεῖσθαι, οὐ γὰρ εἰσίν, ἀλλὰ τῶν καλῶν καὶ τῇ πόλει σωτηρίων βουλευμάτων ζηλωτὰς εἶναι παρακαλῶν. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 44. Aeschines expands on his accusations in Against Ctesiphon, on which see below. Demosthenes’ maternal grandmother was apparently Scythian. It is most likely that if this is the case she married his grandfather during the period of time near the end of the fifth century when Pericles’ citizenship law was suspended, so Demosthenes’ citizenship would not actually have been under question. Demosthenes in turn scathingly criticizes Aeschines’ family, referring to his father as a slave (18.129). Through this accusation, Demosthenes, too, implies that Aeschines’ inherited citizenship is illegitimate. This line of attack was rhetorical, not legally significant for either orator.
[ back ] 45. Harris 1995:136–137; Buckler 2000:140–143.
[ back ] 46. Yunis 2005:25.
[ back ] 47. On this speech, see Harris 1995:141–148; Carey 2000:159–251.
[ back ] 48. On Aeschines’ use of historical anecdotes in this speech, see Hobden 2007, Westwood 2020:275–327.
[ back ] 49. Aeschines makes a nearly identical statement in his first speech (1.30).
[ back ] 50. Ὁ γὰρ μισότεκνος καὶ πατὴρ πονηρὸς οὐκ ἄν ποτε γένοιτο δημαγωγὸς χρηστός, οὐδὲ ὁ τὰ φίλτατα καὶ οἰκειότατα σώματα μὴ στέργων οὐδέποθ’ ὑμᾶς περὶ πολλοῦ ποιήσεται τοὺς ἀλλοτρίους, οὐδέ γε ὁ ἰδίᾳ πονηρὸς οὐκ ἂν γένοιτο δημοσίᾳ χρηστός, οὐδ’ ὅστις ἐστὶν οἴκοι φαῦλος, οὐδέποτ’ ἦν ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ καλὸς κἀγαθός· οὐ γὰρ τὸν τρόπον, ἀλλὰ τὸν τόπον μετήλλαξεν. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 51. ἀπὸ τῆς μητρὸς Σκύθης, βάρβαρος ἑλληνίζων τῇ φωνῇ: ὅθεν καὶ τὴν πονηρίαν οὐκ ἐπιχώριός ἐστι. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 52. Ἡ δ’ ἡμετέρα πόλις, ἡ κοινὴ καταφυγὴ τῶν Ἑλλήνων, πρὸς ἣν ἀφικνοῦντο πρότερον ἐκ τῆς Ἑλλάδος αἱ πρεσβεῖαι, κατὰ πόλεις ἕκαστοι παρ’ ἡμῶν τὴν σωτηρίαν εὑρησόμενοι, νῦν οὐκέτι περὶ τῆς τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἡγεμονίας ἀγωνίζεται, ἀλλ’ ἤδη περὶ τοῦ τῆς πατρίδος ἐδάφους. Tr. Carey 2000.
[ back ] 53. On this speech, see Yunis 2001, Yunis 2005:23–113; MacDowell 2009:382–397; Worthington 2013:294–306.
[ back ] 54. τὰ τῶν προγόνων καλὰ καὶ δίκαι᾽ ἀναιρεῖν. Tr. Yunis 2005.
[ back ] 55. ἡγεῖτο γὰρ αὐτῶν ἕκαστος οὐχὶ τῷ πατρὶ καὶ τῇ μητρὶ μόνον γεγενῆσθαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῇ πατρίδι. διαφέρει δὲ τί; ὅτι ὁ μὲν τοῖς γονεῦσι μόνον γεγενῆσθαι νομίζων τὸν τῆς εἱμαρμένης καὶ τὸν αὐτόματον θάνατον περιμένει, ὁ δὲ καὶ τῇ πατρίδι, ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ ταύτην ἐπιδεῖν δουλεύουσαν ἀποθνῄσκειν ἐθελήσει, καὶ φοβερωτέρας ἡγήσεται τὰς ὕβρεις καὶ τὰς ἀτιμίας, ἃς ἐν δουλευούσῃ τῇ πόλει φέρειν ἀνάγκη, τοῦ θανάτου. Tr. Yunis 2005.
[ back ] 56. On the speech, see Worthington 2006:21–37, Goldman 2018.
[ back ] 57. μόνοι γὰρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων, ἐξ ἧσπερ ἔφυσαν, ταύτην ᾤκησαν καὶ τοῖς ἐξ αὑτῶν παρέδωκαν. Trans. Worthington 2006. Demosthenes 60 engages with the tropes of autochthony and exceptionalism in a way that is both entirely generic and entirely Demosthenic. While Dionysius doubted its authenticity, it is now frequently accepted as the work of Demosthenes.
[ back ] 58. Goldman 2018:124.
[ back ] 59. δέον ποιεῖν αὐτοὺς τὸ περίδειπνον ὡς παρ᾽ οἰκειοτάτῳ τῶν τετελευτηκότων, ὥσπερ τἄλλ᾽ εἴωθε γίγνεσθαι, τοῦτ᾽ ἐποίησαν παρ᾽ ἐμοί. εἰκότως.γένει μὲν γὰρ ἕκαστος ἑκάστῳ μᾶλλον οἰκεῖος ἦν ἐμοῦ, κοινῇ δὲ πᾶσιν οὐδεὶς ἐγγυτέρω.ᾧ γὰρ ἐκείνους σωθῆναι καὶ κατορθῶσαι μάλιστα διέφερεν, οὗτος καὶ παθόντων ἃ μήποτ᾽ ὤφελον τῆς ὑπὲρ ἁπάντων λύπης πλεῖστον μετεῖχεν. Tr. Yunis 2005.
[ back ] 60. Rhodes 2012:126.