Ancient History & Civilisation


Fourth-century Athenians

He is just the man to buy a little ladder for the pet jackdaw which he keeps indoors and to make a bronze shield which the jackdaw can carry as it hops on the ladder. When he has sacrificed an ox, he nails up the skull straight opposite the entrance to his house and ties it round with long ribbons so that people who go in can see that he has sacrificed an ox. And when he has processed with the cavalrymen, he gives everything else to his slave to take home, but throws back his cloak over his shoulder and walks round the agora in spurs. And when his little Maltese dog dies, he makes a monument for it and having put up a little grave-marker he inscribes on it, ‘[Barker (Kelados)], a Maltan…’

Theophrastus, caricaturing the Man of Petty Ambition with
Athenian detail, Characters 21 (c. 330–310 BC)

The nearest to an ideal state in the classical world was not the state of Plato or Aristotle: it was the Athenians’, their contemporaries. To us, it is far from ideal as it was still a slave-society, using perhaps some 80,000 fellow humans as objects. But the philosophers’ ideal states also took slavery for granted, although Plato in his Laws was the first to consider that the existence of slavery might corrupt slave-owning masters.

Nonetheless, fourth-century Athens has been severely misjudged. It has been seen as decadent, after the Periclean years of glory, apathetic, in the face of Macedon, and immoral, even, in its continuing attachment to power over other Greek city-states. For Jacob Burckhardt, it was the symptom of a wider political decline. ‘Everywhere,’ he wrote, ‘democracy nourished a tremendous degree of ill-will’; in his view, the results were visible in ‘private contempt’ for the public authorities, general mockery (Burckhardt disliked personalized comedy), lawbreaking, excessive praising of the glories of the past and the frequency with which the sons of prominent men turned out to be so much worse than their fathers.1

Certainly, there were fewer Athenians. The losses in the long war had reduced the citizenry by up to a half, perhaps to only 25,000 adult males by 403 BC. Numbers recovered to around 30,000 adult males in the fourth century, but were still far short of the 50,000 which we estimate for the 440s. Finances were greatly down, too. The biggest change in fourth-century Attica was that the revenues from the former Empire were gone: they had amounted to more than 1,000 talents a year in its later phases. The ‘contributions’ of the member-states of the Athenians’ revived Confederacy (from 377 BC onwards) were smaller and much less in total. So, too, the official valuation of the visible property of rich taxpayers in Attica had fallen. The working estimate had probably been around 10,000 talents by 430 BC. In 378 it was just below 6,000.

Nonetheless, the slimmed-down citizenry maintained an admirable stability in this age of surrounding civic violence and revolution. Fourth-century Athenians did not forget the two dreadful oligarchic coups in their state, briefly in 411 and again in 404/3 BC: grandfathers still passed stories of them on to the young in the 350s. Oligarchy became, in my view, nothing more than a theoretical possibility for a few, ignored theorists: twice bitten, Athenians were for ever shy, even those from upper-class families who would have favoured oligarchy in the fifth century. One reason why their proclaimed Confederacy was such a success, with over seventy members for its first twelve years or so, was that the Athenians were the true democrats, proven by nearly a hundred and fifty years. They were other democrats’ increasingly self-proclaimed friends.

The social and religious infrastructure of the city-state was still intact. The calendar of festivals continued undiminished, the setting for an Athenian’s social year: there was no ‘religious crisis’, least of all one provoked by Socrates’ scepticism. Citizenship still depended on a mother and father of pure citizen descent and exceptions for foreigners were still extremely rare. Even on their tombstones, the inscriptions for Attic citizens maintained a simple restraint. The phratries still received (and verified) the young male citizens; the demes maintained their local assemblies and festivals and linked citizens, as Cleisthenes intended, to one of the ten tribes. As the population changed irregularly, the numbers of yearly councillors each deme was to choose were adjusted to keep pace. What did not change was a family’s deme-membership (reflected in their name, their ‘demotic’): in the 330s BC it still reflected their ancestors’ place of enrolment back in 508 BC. The laws of family inheritance remained unaltered, just as Solon had first had them written down. The restraints on an Athenian ‘heiress’s’ free marriage were never relaxed, although comic dramatists made such fun in the later fourth century BC of the preposterous circumstances which extreme cases could bring about.

The best-known fourth-century Athenian gives us a sense, indirectly, of this cohesive society and its values. Apollodorus (born c. 394 BC) was the son of the immigrant metic Pasion, an ex-slave who had won the very rare gift of Athenian citizenship for his role as a banker to many of the big names in fourth-century Athens, and above all for his great benefactions to the state. To his contemporaries, Apollodorus remained preposterous, as a whole cluster of Athenian speeches for and against him testify. They show the Athenians’ sensitivity to Greek when spoken with an accent, to boastfulness, to arrivistes who were publicly too prominent. A whole industry of ‘winding up’ the litigious Apollodorus developed, as he took on lawsuit after lawsuit in the manner of a newcomer who is touchy about his newly gained status. In reply, there were fellow Athenians who never left him alone. ‘The mouse has tasted pitch,’ they even joked about him, alluding to the story of a mouse who fell into a wine jar but found the contents (like Apollodorus’ citizenship) less palatable than expected.2

The Athenians of his era were not a ‘face-to-face’ society where almost everyone knew each other: 30,000 adult males were far too many for that. But what they all liked to hear were praises of themselves as special, a ‘cut above’. In the orators’ speeches to juries and assemblies, the male citizens as a whole attract the language once used of the noble aristocrats. They are now the ‘fine and fair’.3 The one self-made politician whom we know in his own words, the orator Aeschines, is notably careful to associate his family with noble pursuits, the cavalry and so forth, before an Athenian jury. In such company, Apollodorus, the son of an ex-slave, was a hilarious figure of fun.

For there was no popular culture, breaking through with the loss of empire and destroying the cultural forms of the fifth century’s golden years. Rather, most of that culture had begun with the nobles and filtered downwards, gaining comedy (the one non-noble extra) and tragedy (it so happened) on the way. The great athletic contests were still prized in Attica and were watched during the nobles’ invention, the festival of the Panathenaia (founded by them in the 560s BC). All classes enjoyed cock-fighting and it is probably only by chance that we now hear less about the noble sport of hunting hares and boar. Fine drinking-parties persisted, the stylish symposia, in houses with a smart ‘men’s room’ in which to hold them. It was only for want of space and money that poorer Athenians drank in bars and drinking-shops around the town.

Culturally, nonetheless, where are the great names in the theatre and the arts? The question is a misleading one, because so much already existed and what continued is mostly lost to us. Fourth-century Athenians lived, as some of us still do, in the happy shadow of great architecture: they were not therefore ‘shadows’ themselves. The city-state still had its superb classical temples and statues on the Acropolis and outside in Attica. The place had not been sacked, nor (despite the Thebans) ploughed up. If Athenian religious building falls away, one good reason is that the Athenians already had the finest temples in the world. Stylish houses certainly did not die out, as archaeologists increasingly emphasize. In the 380s painted pottery in the old style does die out, but the result is not an artistic collapse: the terracottas of women, the famous ‘Tanagras’, then begin at Athens, where the genre possibly originated. In the late 370s we first know of a sculptor who copies a fifth-century statue (Cephisodotus’ Peace, copying aspects of a work by the great Pheidias), but there was nothing dead about a tradition which could then produce the great Praxiteles (Cephisodotus’ son). The fifth century BC had produced the ‘ideal type’ of male nude beauty; in the fourth century Praxiteles produced what became the ‘ideal type’ of the female nude: small breasts, wide hips, an oval face and in general, a body-type which was well covered and not a skinny modern aberration. Praxiteles’ most famous work in this style was the naked Aphrodite which he sculpted for Cnidus, so erotically beautiful, it was said, that male spectators tried to make love to it. Hadrian had a replica of it in his garden, in an outlying temple where it occupied a similar circular shrine.

Below the Acropolis, the Theatre of Dionysus was still unscathed and even in the years of extreme financial shortage the payments for theatre tickets continued for every Athenian citizen. In 386 BC an older tragedy was indeed put on again by the tragic actors at the Dionysia festival, and in the 330s the three great fifth-century tragedians were honoured with statues in a refurbishment of the Athenian theatre. Great plays from the fifth century are freely quoted to juries by the orators of the 350s onwards. But revivals did not mean a new age of sterility. The same people who quoted the classics still longed for the honour of a chorus-provider’s prize. The most conspicuous such monuments survive in Athens from the 320s, just before these liturgies’ abolition.

What obscures our view is that all the continuing flood of new tragedies has been lost: they did not pass into the small canon which was later imposed in Alexandria. There were surely some excellent new pieces, as Aristotle certainly thought, quoting two now lost to us, the Lynceus and the Alcmeon. The guiding force was probably Euripides, but the influence of Plato and especially Aristotle may have been important from the 350s on. One of the most admired tragedians was Theodectes, a migrant to Athens who was friendly with the philosophers; surely his treatment of character and moralizing speeches will have shown their effects. There were even a few history dramas, not just for living patrons outside Athens, but also within the city if (as I believe) Moschion wrote for the fourth-century stage. His works include a Themistocles and a tragedy about the death of Thessaly’s best-known tyrant, Jason. This event in 370 BC would be a very odd choice for a dramatist of a much later era.

The ‘decline of tragedy’, then, is only a fact about our lack of evidence. In comedy, the usual view of a lull of about sixty years (380–320 BC) is also mistaken. Already at the end of Aristophanes’ long career, the comic chorus was on the way out; not all of his comedy was still robustly personalized, but the genre was in no way shutting down. Scores of comedies went on being composed, although they are known to us only in fragments. Comedy’s re-emergence with Menander in the late 320s is only apparent. Two long-lived authors, among others, refute it: Antiphanes (active c. 385–c. 332 BC) and Alexis (active c. 355–275 BC) were each credited with more than two hundred and forty plays, and the latter was admired into Roman times. It is simply that we have none of them nowadays. Their younger heir, Menander, then becomes the master of unpolitical ‘situation’ comedy with a pleasant feeling for character and dramatic settings. His comedies are evidence, among much else, that young Athenian males and females of citizen families would fall romantically in love and decide to marry even without their parents’ encouragement. In his comedies, unlike Aristophanes’, there are no homoerotic jokes or affairs. In my view, this ‘good taste’ reflects Menander’s own Athenian friendships and political inclination: Menander became linked with Aristotle’s pupil, Theophrastus, and then with the oligarchic Demetrius in whose dominance (317–307 BC) his plays flourished. There was no lasting ban on personalized political comedy, but these ‘enlightened’ superior people disliked it (like Jacob Burckhardt). So Menander was more tasteful (homoerotic affairs continued, of course, but jokes about them and sodomy were simply too coarse). One contemporary, Timocles, did continue to write personalized political jokes, but he seems to have supported the Macedonians’ dominance, and so the targets of his jokes were acceptable to the governing class.

The fourth-century democracy was not at all in retreat, until the Macedonians ended it forcibly in 322 BC. After the awful oligarchic coups in the late fifth century, the people voted to entrench it even further. Pay for attending the assembly (some forty days a year) was introduced for all citizens, even in the dark financial days of the mid-390s; the pay for jurymen and council-service continued unassailably (though unlike assembly-pay neither was increased). The total pay for state service probably came to about a hundred talents by the 340s, a sum spread widely among participants rather than supporting a small group of professional civil servants. There was also a democratic concern about the methods of adopting new laws. Eventually, the agreed procedure was to appoint a panel of ‘law commissioners’ to make a recommendation on a particular topic. But their recommendations came back to the people’s assembly and had to be voted on to have any force. There was no loss of ‘popular sovereignty’. After the brusque malpractice of the reforming oligarchs, there was a sharpened awareness of the difference between a ‘law’ and a mere ‘decree’ as resolved at a public meeting. This awareness could be exploited against political enemies. The older political check of ostracism had disappeared since c.417 BC (when Alcibiades had artfully distorted the result of one), and instead, orators’ proposals were increasingly exposed to lawsuits for ‘illegality’. However, the procedure for such suits had existed in the late fifth century, and once again they were not a surrender of popular ‘sovereignty’. These cases were heard in the popular courts by random panels of citizen-jurors. They were not the objects of a separate Supreme Court.

In the end, the people of Attica were still the only sovereign body, meeting in their assembly in the belief that ‘the people can do whatever seems good to it’. Their meetings were not ignorant occasions. Practice increased a citizen’s political discernment, and to judge from surviving orators’ speeches, or references to them, a whole body of complex foreign diplomacy would be brought to the assembly for a decision. There was no ‘government’, no continuing group who ‘ran’ the place: the councillors still changed yearly, and their ‘recommendations’ had to be voted in by all the people. Since the death of Pericles a division had already become apparent between the military generals and the most prominent political orators. In the fourth century this division becomes even clearer, as does the Athenians’ propensity to prosecute generals who failed them on expeditions abroad. The people were highly suspicious of malpractice, and so their generals realized that they were well advised to work with a political orator who would champion them at home.

These political orators owed their pre-eminence to speaking and persuading. ‘Those who engage in politics’ begin to be referred to as an identifiable group, but they were not paid to do so by the state. They would take ‘gifts’ for their services, a difficult line to sustain when the accepting of ‘gifts against the interests of the state’ could be prosecuted as bribery. Some of them became known for particular specialities. Demosthenes, for instance, for his views on policy towards Macedon and the North: he maintained contacts and sources of information up in these areas which kept him well informed.4 Some speakers made particular sense about finance or the West or the corn-imports, but the crucial skill remained the same: to be persuasive in the assembly and to establish credibility for what was proposed as one’s own decree. It was necessary for orators to have active friends and contacts, not least on each year’s council, as the council set the assembly’s agenda. It could also help, surely, to have good contacts with deme officials locally who might encourage citizens to come and vote. But without good speaking and a record of successful persuasion, an orator was soon a nobody. There was no new expertise, no specialized technology which only ‘those in politics’ had mastered. They sometimes had more information, but above all, they were the ones who spoke with success.

This talent prevailed even though financial circumstances marked the biggest change from Pericles’ days. In the fifth century BC no need had been felt for a budget each year: the imperial revenues were usually more than enough. In the fourth century a yearly division of revenues was introduced, and authorized by law; under it, particular funds received moneys for particular purposes, ‘military’ or ‘festival’ (from the mid-350s the latter was voted by law to be the recipient of any yearly surplus too). After this law of the mid-350s supervisors of this ‘theoric fund’ did have particular importance, and in the 330s the fund was to be headed by a commissioner, elected for five years: the Athenians thus came near to having a financial Chancellor.5

Without previous levels of tribute, particular value attached to the income from rents on state property (including mines), indirect taxes (including taxes on imports and resident foreigners) and fines (always a temptation). These sums covered the state’s basic running costs, but in a time of continuing wars capital levies became more common on the defined group of richer citizens who were liable for them: they fell on ‘visible property’ and had to be paid in cash, nonetheless. Even if they were imposed at only 5 per cent of a citizen’s assets and were not imposed annually, they still had to be funded, and after several such years they would certainly stretch a payer’s resources. The full range of liturgies continued too and were met by the rich: excluding the variable number of military liturgies, there were between 100 and 120 such ‘services’ to be met in a year.6 There was no income tax, let alone surtax, but the richer Athenians were not given an easy time, especially in the difficult decades of the 390s, 380s, 360s and 350s. In 378, the collection of the capital levies was reformed, with the introduction of syndicates whose richer members had to pay up in advance. Pre-payment was quite a burden for them, as was the need to recoup the sums from the less rich members. Nonetheless, the military crises of the 350s and 340s saw a conspicuous number of ‘voluntary donations’, too, made over and above the levies of tax. Proposed in assemblies, they were met by voluntary ‘donors’ who gained honour before their fellow citizens by volunteering.7The civic spirit of the richer Athenians was certainly not dead, and they cannot be ‘blamed’ for Athens’ failure to defeat Macedon.

The social profile of the citizenry was not drastically changed, either: ‘bourgeois’ or ‘middle-class’ are still quite inappropriate terms for it. There was still a rich upper class, whether we assess it by the 800–1,000 men who were capable of serving as cavalrymen, or by those sufficient to put forward 1,200 members a year for the considerable cost of ‘commanding’ a trireme. Those liable for the capital levies were not, in my view, as few as these groups: the net was thrown wider, catching perhaps 3,000–4,000 people, including the estates of orphans.8 To judge from the imposed oligarchies of 322 and 317 BC, there were another 8,000–9,000 citizens with enough land and property to rank as hoplite-soldiers, owning anything from about fifteen acres down to the minimal ‘seven acres and two cows’. In 403 BC, at the end of the war, 5,000 Athenians were believed to be without any land at all. Probably the number of the landless did reduce as the city-state recovered, but what did not change was the general pattern of land-holdings in Attica. Small freeholdings (to our modern eyes, very small ones) remained the rule. The biggest known fourth-century estates are still only about 70–100 acres, although a rich man might own several such farms at once.

Within the richest group, there was the usual fastidiousness and interest in visible distinctions, and we know most about them because orators and comedies make such fun of them. A man might travel in a smart chariot pulled by white horses, groom himself too fussily or even keep an Ethiopian slave and a pet monkey. Smart drinking-parties still went on, where one or two self-important people now had their ‘personal assistants’ or ‘parasites’ (parasitos meant a man ‘beside you at table’).9 In the late fourth century comic poets made great fun of these obsequious attendants who smoothed and flattered their way to a living but were surely an amusing exception. There was also a continuing polemic against ‘luxuries’, against the eating of rare fish, the search for the best imported fruit, the use of the smartest metal drinking-cups. This polemic slipped into polemics about dissipation, about spending too much on scent, or on the city’s demanding courtesans, or on gambling. This sort of selfishness and lack of control could then be used against the credibility of a political orator.

On a wider view, the behaviour is not a very pronounced sort of luxury, least of all when compared with the new age of Macedonian conquerors or the stories of the various kings on Cyprus. Even so, how did the richer Athenians assure their rather limited riches? Land-holdings, though often scattered, were the main source of it, in a state where there was no inheritance tax, no income tax and no worrying inflation. As the liturgies and capital levies had to be paid for in cash, this land would need to be farmed quite intensively with crops which could be sold for coin. There was no ‘subsistence farming’, and at all social levels coinage was in widespread use.10 At busy seasons hired labour would be brought in to back up the owners’ basic workforce, the ever-present slaves. For there was no retreat from slave-owning in fourth-century Attica and, as before, most of the slaves were foreign imports. Manufacturing was also based on slaves, who were almost always working in small units. It is not that the Athenian economy was suffering from foreign ‘copies’ of Athenian goods, like Far Eastern copies of modern European luxuries. That impression is misleadingly given by archaeology’s great survivor, painted pottery. Attic styles are indeed copied, but painted pottery was of marginal importance to the Athenian economy.

What mattered, above all, was the mining of silver and the export of olive oil. The silver-mines were the state’s property, but citizens took on leases and then worked them for profit, usually with wretched slaves. By the early 360s the number of known mining leases had fallen away somewhat, a sign, perhaps, of temporary economic caution among Athenian lessors, but the fall was then reversed in the next three decades (to the benefit of the state, which received payments for the leases). What never fell was the export of olive oil, a main Athenian item of exchange for the wheat which shippers (not all of them Athenian) brought in bulk from Egypt and especially from the Crimea (which also sent hides for leather and shoe-making). The soil of Attica was good for growing poor barley, but very seldom good for wheat. This big import trade was largely paid for by exports of olive oil (olive trees could not grow round most of the northern Black Sea) and probably by raw silver too, exported as bullion from the mines.

Richer Athenians did rent out property too, and their income from rents remained an important element in their yearly revenues, not least because the resident foreigners, or metics, could not own land or houses in Attica and had to rent where they lived. The rich did also engage in moneylending, although most of their fellow Athenians’ borrowing was small-scale and short-term. Above all, many of them took on the bigger risks of maritime loans which were made to a shipper or trader so as to finance his cargo or his ship. Returns here could be very high, at least 30 per cent for the duration of a voyage, but so were the risks: if the ship sank, the lenders lost everything. These loans were not a new Athenian speciality: surely they went back by origin into the archaic age. But they were important for many rich Athenians’ revenues. Any one ship or cargo might be the security for a number of different loans, advanced by different individuals. They were a genuine speculation on commerce which enabled the shippers and traders to pass on risk and increase their scale of operation. They have nothing to do with ‘insurance’ as we understand it: there was no concept of a premium in them, to be paid in advance to insure a bigger loss. Like many modern investors, the lenders were taking part of a total risk in the hope of a big return. In my view, there were links between most of the prominent Athenians and characters from the port, the Piraeus, and its ‘shipping world’. But it was bad form for a citizen to boast about them socially and so the evidence is very oblique.11

Without the Empire’s tribute and the services which the days of Empire encouraged, how did the city as a whole and the poorer majority survive without discontent? From the mid-360s the main answer was simple: once again, Athenian citizens had taken over land in another city-state. In the mid-360s they had begun by expelling pro-Persian ‘traitors’ off the Aegean island of Samos; they then returned, here and elsewhere, to take yet more of the farmland for Athenian citizens. The beneficiaries could either reside on this new bonus or rent it out. By the mid-340s the ‘Athenians on Samos’, as we know from a recently found inscription, maintained a half-sized rotating council of 250, implying that the populace there numbered many thousands.12 In the 350s orators back home had said in the city’s assembly that ‘they recognize what is just as much as any other man, but owing to the poverty of the masses they are compelled to be rather more unjust in their treatment of the city-states’.13 Samos was an example.

For their allies (the Samians perhaps not being one), those same Athenians had forsworn in 377 BC the taking of land for settlements abroad. In the kaleidoscopic foreign politics of the fourth century Athenians had had to make hard choices: in the 390s they had to make alliances with hated Thebes and Corinth and then, after the Thebans’ victories, an alliance in 369 BC with the Spartans, the old enemy. In 357 BC the Athenians’ own confederate allies would rebel against them too. But the origins of this rebellion are not recoverable (was much of it provoked by dissident oligarchs in allied states?) and even after peace returned the Athenians’ Confederacy did not fall apart. Once the Spartan menace of the 370s had been tamed, the Confederacy’s main aim had been satisfied. But it continued to exist, and the wrongs were certainly not all on the Athenian side. In the mid-360s the Thebans took the crucial harbour-town of Oropus on Attica’s borders. Justifiably, the Athenians appealed for allied help under their treaty so as to recover it. None came, and it was left to Philip to restore the place to them after his victory in 338 BC.

In difficult years, the Athenian citizenry thus retained stability and their own democratic system. In what survives from the Athenian orators, there is only one text which addresses the citizens as if the rich and the poor have differing sources of discontent: it occurs in Demosthenes’ Fourth Philippic (probably composed c. 340 BC), but it concentrates on the rich’s discontent against payments to maintain the poor and their (justified) dislike of attempts to divert their property for the poorer citizens’ use.14 The latter, it seems, is a grumble against vexatious prosecutors, the hated ‘sycophants’ in Attica who would denounce a fellow citizen in the hope of receiving part of his property if their case was proved. But ‘sycophants’ had been hated in the Periclean age, too; they were not a new phenomenon (there was no public prosecution service in Attica), and in the fourth century they were still checked by the risk of penalties if the cases which they brought were heavily defeated in court.

The good Athenian, meanwhile, was expected to arbitrate any disputes put to him by his fellow citizens: arbitration was often informally sought and carried out, and it was an accepted way to keep a dispute out of a law court. If a citizen was rich enough, he was also expected to contribute to liturgies, to voluntary ‘donations’ and to collections in a time of need for other fellow citizens. Orators dramatised exceptional cases, and their speeches should not mislead us about the solid backbone of thoughtfulness, co-operation and civic spirit which made fourth-century Athenians as ‘classical’ as their much-praised ancestors.

What has most blotted their reputation is an undeserved charge of apathy, even of cowardice. Again, it derives from surviving speeches of the orators, which so often castigate their hearers and exhort them to war, to the point where we might think the hearers had lost their previous spirit. They had not; war and finance, rather, had changed. Distant naval campaigns were needed to safeguard Athenian interests, but there was not the money to pay Athenian crews properly. For long absences, hired mercenaries were preferred anyway, to be funded by whatever means their generals abroad could contrive. At critical points, nonetheless, Athenian soldiers would still turn out to risk their lives, in 359 BC in Macedon, in spring 352 against Philip at Thermopylae, in 348 in Euboea and in the north and in 338 against Philip (almost successfully) for the vital battle of Chaeronea. These expeditions are not directly the subject of major surviving speeches on foreign policy, but they are proofs of Athenians’ civic commitment.

Among these speeches, the masterpieces are by Demosthenes, the greatest of Athenian orators. Though slow to wake up to Philip’s menace, Demosthenes was then his most effective Athenian opponent, from c. 350 BC to his own brave death in 322. At intervals, the situation was better suited to peace and compromise, as Demosthenes well realized. But the best option (as, arguably, he had long recognized) was for Athenians and Thebans to stand together against the encroaching Macedonians. When this alliance eventually came, Demosthenes’ oratory continued, we may be sure, to inspire it. Philip won, but Demosthenes’ speeches on the need to defend freedom against a king whom, increasingly, he saw as the enemy of democracy, were a victory too. Philip’s biography was never written in antiquity, but for more than a thousand years Demosthenes’ speeches were to be the texts which men imitated, copied and knew by heart.

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