Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece

Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece

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Regarded as ancient Greece's greatest orator, Demosthenes lived through and helped shape one of the most eventful epochs in antiquity. His political career spanned three decades, during which time Greece fell victim to Macedonian control, first under Philip II and then Alexander the Great. Demosthenes' resolute and courageous defiance of Philip earned for him a reputation as one of history's outstanding patriots. He also enjoyed a brilliant and lucrative career as a speechwriter, and his rhetorical skills are still emulated today by students and politicians alike. Yet he was a sickly child with an embarrassing speech impediment, who was swindled out of much of his family's estate by unscrupulous guardians after the death of his father. His story is one of triumph over adversity. Modern studies of his life and career take one of two different approaches: he is either lauded as Greece's greatest patriot or condemned as an opportunist who misjudged situations and contributed directly to the end of Greek freedom. This new biography, the first ever written in English for a popular audience, aims to determine which of these two people he was: self-serving cynic or patriot - or even a combination of both. Its chronological arrangement brings Demosthenes vividly to life, discussing his troubled childhood and youth, the obstacles he faced in his public career, his fierce rivalries with other Athenian politicians, his successes and failures, and even his posthumous influence as a politician and orator. It offers new insights into Demosthenes' motives and how he shaped his policy to achieve political power, all set against the rich backdrop of late classical Greece and Macedonia.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 162.56 x 236.22 x 33.02mm | 680.39g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 17 illus., 4 maps
  • 019993195X
  • 9780199931958
  • 775,586

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Review quote

This is a gripping story of Macedonian ascendance, Athenian retrenchmentand the efforts of a gifted, but flawed Demosthenes to reverse the course of history. In both accessible and erudite fashion, Ian Worthington guides us through the labyrinth of Greek and Macedonian politics, and the result is not only first-rate history, but lessons for any ageours especiallywhen the fear of civilizational decline, and its supposed remedies, become near obsessions. Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow, Classics and Military History, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University Demosthenes life is a powerful case study of the conflict between democracy and monarchy, and this book will be welcomed by both scholars and non-specialist readers because it is highly accessible, fair in its treatment of controversial issues, yet not afraid to state an opinion. A must-read for anyone interested in ancient politics and rhetoric. Joseph Roisman, Professor of Classics, Colby College 'Look to the end', went the ancient Greek motto, and the suicidal end of Professor Worthington's subject was far from ignoble, like much of his actively democratic political life, which is here thoroughly investigated, persuasively estimated, and ultimately celebrated as that of one who stood bravely against tyranny. Paul Cartledge, A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, Cambridge University Ian Worthington ... is one of the leading Demosthenes experts and this impressive monograph is the fruit of well over a quarter of a century's hard graft. Few scholars are as well equipped as he to take us through Demosthenes' voluminous surviving writings. Paul Cartledge, History Today This is a useful volume, with much to recommend it: good coverage of the detail, good analysis of the changing priorities behind Demosthenes' intentions and actions over time, good notes and suggestions for further reading, handy maps and timelines, lists of relevant speeches and appendices of ancient money and months of the year. Michael Scott, The Anglo-Hellenic Review

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About Ian Worthington

Ian Worthington is Professor of History and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Missouri.

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