Demosthenes, Speeches 27-38 (Oratory of Classical Greece)

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And, whoever wrote them, are they accurate records of what was actually said in court?


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Neither question can be answered with absolute certainty. We can only estimate the probabilities. On the first question, whether Demosthenes wrote all these speeches, we have to bear in mind several considerations which point in different directions.

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One is that, if a man with little or no experience in public speaking found that he had to make a speech because he had become involved in a legal case, it was quite common to ask an expert speaker to compose a speech for him; thus Demosthenes in the course of his life may well have written many speeches for other men to deliver.

But a second consideration is that in Hellenistic or Roman times librarians and booksellers, on finding a copy of a fourth-century Attic speech with no author's name attached, might easily, but wrongly, assume that it was the work of the most famous orator of that period. There is also the possibility that in the days of the Roman empire, when rhetoric was a standard part of higher education, some pastiches of Demosthenes written by teachers or students may have been so convincing that they were mistakenly believed to be the real thing.

It is sometimes possible to detect a spurious text by anachronisms or other statements which could not have been written in the circumstances to which it purports to belong.

Speeches from Athenian Law

But that does not apply to any of the twelve speeches in this volume. None of them can be dismissed on grounds of historical inaccuracy. The only other criterion we can use is the style of writing. Since the nineteenth century, scholars have formed their impressions of Demosthenes' style on the basis of those speeches of which the authenticity has never been doubted and have then tried to judge which of the disputed texts are in the same style.

Perhaps the greatest expert in this field was the German scholar Friedrich Blass, and his judgments have been widely accepted, though they remain subjective. More recently, an attempt has been made to compile statistics of the frequency of various features of style, but not all stylistic features lend themselves to arithmetical measurement.

It may anyway be unsafe to assume that an author's style never varies.

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The problem cannot be fully discussed here, and so I simply state my personal opinion: of the twelve speeches in this volume, there is none which could not have been written by Demosthenes, but the ones about which I like Blass and others have some doubts are those against Apaturius, Phormion, and Lacritus Orations Even those, however, are surely genuine texts of the fourth century BC and can safely be used as evidence for the social and legal conditions of that time.

As for the other question, whether the extant texts record what was actually said in court, we must try to imagine how the texts are likely to have been used. In most cases, what we have is probably passed on through successive copies for more than two thousand years the draft which the writer whether Demosthenes or someone else wrote out beforehand in preparation for the trial.

The speaker whether this was the same man as the writer or not will then have tried to memorize the draft, so as to make a speech which would seem spontaneous in the court. But he would be unlikely to remember every word of it exactly, and he might depart from it quite substantially, either because he forgot parts of it, or because he misjudged the length and ran out of time, or because he suddenly thought of further points which he wished to add. Thus the text we have may be regarded as being what the speaker intended to say, but not necessarily what he actually said.

Sometimes, however, especially if the speaker won the case, he or the writer, if that was someone different may have been so pleased with his speech that he decided to make copies of it for distribution to friends or purchasers after the trial. If so, he may have revised the text so as to include points which he had made in court extemporaneously or to improve it in other ways. This may be indicated by a passage referring to something which the opposing speaker has said in the course of the trial; on the face of it, that could not have been written before the trial but must have been added afterwards.

Greco-Roman Law - Classics - Subject & Course Guides at Ohio University

Such passages occur in the second speeches against Aphobus and Onetor Yet perhaps it was easy to guess in advance what Aphobus and Onetor would say; for example, Demosthenes knew that Aphobus was likely to allude to his grandfather's debt, which had already been mentioned at the arbitration, and so he may have planned beforehand what he would say in reply if that matter came up Likewise, although he claims to have been taken by surprise when Aphobus raised the matter of his guardianship again at the trial of Phanus On balance, therefore, I think it likely that what we have are the drafts written before the trials for all these twelve speeches.

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    MacDowell Against Aphobus I Against Aphobus II Against Aphobus for Phanus Lycurgus was one of the leading politicians in Athens during the reign of Alexander the Great and put Athenian public finances on a more secure footing. He was also a deeply religious man, who tried to revive Athenian patriotism after the crushing defeat at Chaeronea.

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    In winkelwagen Op verlanglijstje. Gratis verzending 30 dagen bedenktijd en gratis retourneren Ophalen bij een bol. Anderen bekeken ook. Demosthenes Demosthenes, Speeches 23, Chris Carey Aeschines 31, These translations are especially designed for the needs and interests of today's undergraduates, Greekless scholars in other disciplines, and the general public. Classical oratory is an invaluable resource for the study of ancient Greek life and culture. The speeches offer evidence on Greek moral views, social and economic conditions, political and social ideology, law and legal procedure, and other aspects of Athenian culture that have recently been attracting particular interest: women and family life, slavery, and religion, to name just a few.

    Demosthenes is regarded as the greatest orator of classical antiquity. This volume contains five speeches written for lawsuits in which Demosthenes sought to recover his inheritance, which he claimed was fraudulently misappropriated and squandered by the trustees of the estate. These speeches shed light on Athenian systems of inheritance, marriage, and dowry.

    The volume also contains seven speeches illustrating the legal procedure known as paragraphe, or "counter-indictment.