Aeschines

"Aeschines" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Tuesday 26th April 2011

Aeschines

Biography
(390- 314 b.C) Athenian orator and a bitter political opponent of the statesman Demosthenes.

Aeschines was brought up in humble circumstances, and tried numerous professions (like tragic actor) before his political career had begun. In 346 b.C. he was a member of the embassies to Philip II that resulted in the peace of Philocrates between Athens and Macedonia. During the negotiations Aeschines had sought to reconcile the Athenians to Macedonia's expansion into Greece. Due to it and to the fact that Aeschines accepted the gift from the Philip, he was accused for treason by Demosthenes.

In 339, by provoking the council of the Amphictyonic League to declare a sacred war against the town of Amphissa, in Locris, Aeschines gave Philip a pretext on which to enter central Greece as the champion of the Amphictyonic forces. The eventual result was the establishment of Macedonian hegemony over central Greece (including Athens) after the Battle of Chaeronea (338).

As a result of another trial occurred in 330 and concluded with the defeat of Aeschines, mostly because of Demosthenes' brilliant speech for Ctesiphon ("On the Crown"), Aeschines was not able to pay the fine to which he was condemned, and so was forced to leave Athens for Rhodes, where he opened a school.

Works
1. in accusation of Timarchus (345);
2. against accuse of Demosthenes for his own conduct on the embassies to Philip (343);
3. in accusation of Ctesiphon (330) and Demosthenes for defeat at Chaeronea.
They show a tendency to forthright and forceful expression, free use of rhetorical figures, variety of sentence construction, fondness for poetical quotations, and ready wit. Traditionally, in comparison with Demosthenes, Aeschines was considered to be a politician with limited capacities, opportunist, and a brilliant, but superficial orator. This kind of judgement seem to be excessive, because the works of Aeschines reveal a big number of Greek ideas of the 4th century b.C.: awareness of the evils of the State and need of reforms, refuse of demagogy of the Democrates, conception of fatality and necessity of peace.

Art. Aeschines was best represented in full stand statue (pictured) preserved in National Museum of Naples ( a copy from Greek original, end of the 4th century b.C.).

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