Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece

Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece

by Ian Worthington
     
 

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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

Overview

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 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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Informative and lively... Catchy chapter titles and subheadings elucidate and enhance this well-referenced explication of a complex historical period, as do the detailed chronology, catalogue of orations and comprehensive index... [A] masterful conversion of Demosthenes' convoluted rhetoric into a compelling narrative." —The Classical Journal

"'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, and author of Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

"This is a gripping story of Macedonian ascendance, Athenian retrenchment-and 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 age—ours especially—when 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, and author of The Other Greeks and A War Like No Other

"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, and author of Alexander's Veterans and the Early Wars of the Successors

"Ian Worthington has recently written a very fine introduction to Demosthenes' career...an erudite but readable biography. It is sober, balanced, and analytical." —Barry Strauss, The New Criterion

"A most welcome addition to the extensive scholarly literature on this subject... I would strongly recommend this well-balanced, accessible and thorough monograph to scholars and non-specialist readers." —Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199986941
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
12/03/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,010,599
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Ian Worthington is Curators' Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Missouri and author of By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire.

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