2 comments on “Demosthenes and the Simplicity of Athenian Politics

  1. I can’t help but wonder if modern political questions really are as cut and dried now as they were back in Demosthenes’ day, but all the background noise keeps us from seeing it. 2000 years from now, will people look back and say “The right answers to these questions were so clear; why did nobody stand up to advocate for the right and fight the wrong?”

    • That’s true. I could simply be following Demosthenes’ understanding of the issue, which always tended to be cut and dried. I think that the sole exception of this was when he argued for Athens to support a certain democracy against either King Philip or the Persians. (My memory is a bit hazy.) He urges this despite the fact that this country had stabbed Athens in the back several years ago. He basically thought that it would be easier to support this democracy than allow another nation to make it into an oligarchy or tyranny.

      In most of Demosthenes speeches, he seems to say that King Philip wishes to expand his power over all Greece and cannot be trusted because he frequently resorts to lies and deception. Therefore, Athens must act in order to preserve their liberty, rather than sit back and hope for a leopard to change its spots. History has proven Demosthenes quite right, yet it is possible that the issue was clouded back then

      At any rate, once you read Demosthenes’ speeches, you’ll wish that you could have been right in the ecclesia with him, both to listen to his delivery and cast your own vote to break Philip’s ambitions!

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