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memorizing made him ready and fluent in speech. Never trusting to facility in extemporaneous delivery, he carefully prepared all his orations, and then delivered them with the utmost force and effectiveness. They remain to-day models of oratory, closely studied by all who would excel in the art. “His style,” says Hume, “is rapid harmony exactly adjusted to the sense; it is vehement reasoning without any appearance of art; it is disdain, anger, boldness, freedom, involved in a continued stream of argument; and of all human productions his orations present the models which approach the nearest to perfection.” Fenelon says: “We think not of his words; we think only of the things he says. He lightens, he thunders, he is a torrent which sweeps everything before it. We can neither criticise nor admire, because we have not the command of our own faculties.” Lord Brougham says: “There is not any long or close train of reasoning in Demosthenes; still less any profound observations or ingenious allusions; but a constant succession of remarks bearing immediately upon the matter in hand, perfectly plain, and as readily admitted as easily understood. These are intermingled with most striking appeals: some to feelings which we are all conscious of and deeply agitated by, though ashamed to own ; some to sentiments, which every man was panting to utter, and delighted to hear thundered forth ; bursts of oratory, therefore, which either overwhelmed or delighted the audience. Such hits, if we may use a homely phrase, are the principal glory of the great combatant.”
PHILIP THE ENEMY OF ATHENS [As an example of the Philippics we offer the following brief extract, in which the orator strongly points out the position of Athens, as affected by the designs of its artful enemy.] There are persons among you, O Athenians, who think to confound a speaker by asking, “What, then, is to be done?'" To which I might answer: “Nothing that you are doing—everything that you leave undone !” And it would be a just and a true reply. But I will be more explicit ; and may these men, so ready to question, be equally ready to act In the first place, Athenians, admit the incontestable fact, that Philip has broken your treaties, that he has declared war against you. Let us have no more crimination and recrimination on this point | And, then, recognize the fact that he is the mortal enemy of Athens,—of its very soil, of all within its walls, ay, of those even who most flatter themselves that they are high in his good graces.
406 * DEMOST HENES
What Philip most dreads and abhors is our liberty, our Democratic system. For the destruction of that all his snares are laid, all his projects are shaped. And in this is he not consistent 2 He is well aware that, though he should subjugate all the rest of Greece, his conquest would be insecure while your Democracy stands. He knows that, should he experience one of those reverses to which the lot of humanity is so liable, it would be into your arms that all those nations, now forcibly held under his yoke, would rush. Is there a tyrant to be driven back 2–Athens is in the field ! Is there a people to be enfranchised ?–Lo, Athens, prompt to aid ' What wonder, then, that Philip should be impatient while Athenian liberty is a spy upon his evil days Be sure, O my countrymen, that he is your irreconcilable foe; that it is against Athens that he musters and disposes all his armaments; against Athens that all his schemes are laid.
What, then, ought you, as wise men, convinced of these truths, to do? You ought to shake off your fatal lethargy, contribute according to your means, summon your allies to contribute, and take measures to retain the troops already under arms; so that, if Philip has an army prepared to attack and subjugate all the Greeks, you may also have one ready to succor and to save them. Tell me not of the trouble and expense which this will involve. I grant it all. But consider the dangers that menace you, and how much you will be the gainers by engaging heartily, at once, in the general cause. Indeed, should some god assure you that, however inactive and unconcerned you might remain, yet, in the end, you should not be molested by Philip, still it would be ignominious, be witness, Heaven –it would be beneath you, beneath the dignity of your State, beneath the glory of your ancestors, to sacrifice, to your own selfish repose, the interest of all the rest of Greece.
Rather would I perish than recommend such a course ! Let some other man urge it upon you, if he will ; and listen to him, if you can. But, if my sentiments are yours; if you foresee, as I do, that the more we leave Philip to extend his conquests, the more we are fortifying an enemy, whom, sooner or later, we must cope with ; why do you hesitate 2 What necessity do you wait 2 Can there be a greater for freemen than the prospect of dishonor P Do you wait for that 2 It is here already ; it presses, it weighs on us now. Now, did I say ? Long since, long since, was it before us, face to face. True, there is still another necessity in reserve, the necessity of slaves, blows and stripes | Wait you for them? The gods forbid The very words, in this place, are an indignity
—(The most famous oration of Demosthenes was one that had a
personal origin, it being called forth by a controversy with Eschines,
an able rival orator who had been suborned by Philip, and was a bitter enemy of Demosthenes. We append below a selection from this celebrated speech.)— ON THE CROWN
[The occasion of this speech on the crown may be briefly stated. In 338 B.c., was fought the disastrous battle of Chaeronea, in which the Athenians met the Macedonians in arms and were decisively defeated. Among the fugitives from the field was Demosthenes, who had fought as well as talked against Philip. On his return to Athens he found himself the ruling power in the state, and Ctesiphon, one of his admirers, proposed that the people should reward him for his eminent services by a crown of gold.* The giving of this crown was opposed by AEschines in a speech of great power and vehemence. Demosthenes' answer was the supreme effort of his life, the most perfect masterpiece of oratory ever produced.]
Let me begin, Men of Athens, by imploring of all the Heavenly Powers, that the same kindly sentiments which I have, throughout my public life, cherished towards this country and each of you, may now by you be shown towards me in the present contest ! In two respects my adversary plainly has the advantage of me. First, we have not the same interests at stake; it is by no means the same thing for me to forfeit your esteem, and for AEschines, an unprovoked volunteer, to fail in his impeachment. My other disadvantage is, the natural proneness of men to lend a pleased attention to invective and accusation, but to give little heed to him whose theme is his own vindication. . A wicked thing, Athenians, a wicked thing is a calumniator, ever ;querulous and industrious in seeking pretense of complaint. But this creature is despicable by nature, and incapable of any trace of generous and noble deeds; ape of a tragedian, third-rate actor, spurious orator | For what, Æschines, does your eloquence profit the country 2 You now descant upon what is past and gone—as if a physician, when called to patients in a sinking state, should give no advice, nor prescribe any course by which the disease might be cured ; but, after one of them had died, and the last officers were performing to his remains, should follow him to the grave, and expound how the poor man never would have died had such and such things only been done. Lunatic l is it now that at length you too speak out 2. As to the defeat, that incident in which you so exult (wretch who should rather mourn for it), -look through my whole conduct, and you shall find nothing there that brought down this calamity on my country. Consider only, Athenians: Never, from any embassy upon which you * The crown here indicated (Latin, corona) was a wreath, garland, or any ornamental fillet encircl
ing the head, bestowed as a reward for distinguished public services.—Here, probably, a laurel wreath of gold is indicated.
sent me, did I come off worsted by Philip's ambassadors; not from Thessaly, not from Ambracia, not from Illyria, not from the Thracian kings, not from the Byzantians, nor from any other quarter whatever, nor finally, of late, from Thebes. But wheresoever his negotiators were overcome in debate, thither Philip marched, and carried the day by his arms. Do you, then, exact this of me, and are you not ashamed, at the moment you are upbraiding me for weakness, to require that I should defy him single-handed, and by force of words alone ! For what other weapons had I? Certainly not the lives of men, nor the fortune of warriors, nor the military operations of which you are so blundering as to demand an account at my hands. But whatever a minister can be accountable for, make of that the strictest scrutiny, and I do not object. What, then, falls within this description ? To descry events in their first beginnings, to cast his look forward, and to warn others of their approach. All this I have done. Then, to confine within the narrowest bounds all delays, and backwardness, and ignorance, and contentiousness, faults which are inherent and unavoidable in all States; and, on the other hand, to promote unanimity, and friendly dispositions, and zeal in the performance of public duty :— and all these things I likewise did, nor can any man point out any of them that, so far as depended on me, was left undone. If, then, it should be asked by what means Philip for the most part succeeded in his operations, every one would answer, By his army, by his largesses, by corrupting those at the head of affairs. Well, then, I neither had armies, nor did I command them ; and therefore the argument respecting military operations cannot touch me. Nay, in so far as I was inaccessible to bribes, there I conquered Philip ! For, as he who purchases any one overcomes him who has received the price and sold himself, so he who will not take the money, nor consent to be bribed, has fairly conquered the bidder. Thus, as far as I am concerned, this country stands unconquered. . Under what circumstances, O Athenians ought the strenuous and patriotic orator to appear 2 When the State is in jeopardy, when the people are at issue with the enemy, then it is that his vehemence is timely. But now, when I stand clear on all hands,--by prescription, by judgments repeatedly pronounced, by my never having been convicted before the people of any offense, and when more or less of glory has of necessity resulted to the public from my course—now it is that Æschines turns up, and attempts to wrest from me the honors which you propose to bestow ! Personal spite and envy are at the bottom of all his trumped-up charges, my fellow-citizens; and I proclaim him no true man.
DEMOST HENES 409
Consider, Æschines, whether you are not in reality the country's enemy, while you pretend to be only mine. Let us look at the acts of the orator rather than at the speech. He who pays his court to the enemies of the State does not cast anchor in the same roadstead with the people. He looks elsewhere than to them for his security. Such a man—mark me ! am not I. I have always made common cause with the people, nor have I shaped my public course for my individual benefit. Can you say as much Can you? You, who, instantly after the battle, repaired as ambassador to Philip, the author of all our calamities; and this after you had declared loudly, on previous occasions, against engaging in any such commission, as all these citizens can testify What worse charge can anyone bring against an orator than that his words and his deeds do not tally 2 Yet you have been discovered to be such a man ; and you still lift your voice and dare to look this assembly in the face | Think you they do not know you for what you are 2 or that such a slumber and oblivion have come over them all as to make them forget the speeches in which, with oaths and imprecations, you disclaimed all dealings with Philip, and declared that I falsely brought this charge against you from personal enmity ? And yet, no sooner was the advice received of that fatal–O! that fatal—battle, than your asseverations were forgotten, your connection publicly avowed | You affected to have been Philip's friend and guest. Such were the titles by which you sought to dignify your prostitution. But read here the epitaph inscribed by the State upon the monument of the slain, that you may see yourself in it, Æschines, unjust, calumnious, and profligate. Read “These were the brave, unknowing how to yield, Who, terrible in valor, kept the field Against the foe; and, higher than life's breath Prizing their honor, met the doom of death, Our common doom—that Greece unyoked might stand, Nor shuddering crouch beneath a tyrant's hand. Such was the will of Jove; and now they rest Peaceful enfolded in their country's breast.
The immortal gods alone are ever great,
Do you hear, Æschines 2 It pertains only to the gods to control fortune and command success. To them the power of assuring victory to armies is ascribed,—not to the statesman, but to the gods. Wherefore, then, execrable wretch, wherefore upbraid me with what has happened 2
Why denounce against me what the just gods reserve for the heads of you and yours ?