Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece

Ian Worthington*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Demosthenes' resolute and courageous defiance of Philip II of Macedonia earned for him a reputation as one of history's outstanding patriots. He also enjoyed a brilliant and lucrative career as a speechwriter, and is regarded as Greece's greatest orator, as proved by the rhetorical style of his surviving speeches. Yet he was a sickly child who suffered from several physical and speech impediments, had an interrupted education, and was swindled out of much of his family estate by unscrupulous guardians. His story is certainly one of triumph over adversity. Demosthenes has been lauded as Greece's greatest patriot and condemned as an opportunist who misjudged situations and contributed directly to the end of Greek freedom. This book aims to determine which of these two people he was: self-serving cynic or patriot-or both. The book discusses Demosthenes' troubled childhood and youth, the obstacles he faced in his public career, his successes and failures, and even his posthumous influence as a politician and orator. The book offers new insights into Demosthenes' motives and how he shaped his policy to achieve political power, set against the history of Greece and Macedonia. The book gives extensive quotations in translation from his speeches to sum up their main points and help to illustrate his rhetorical style, which the book also discusses.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages410
ISBN (Electronic)9780199980628
ISBN (Print)9780199931958
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Demosthenes
  • Athens
  • Philip II of Macedonia
  • Alexander the Great
  • Aeschines
  • Greek history
  • Greek oratory


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