David Ryan (University of San Francisco)
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Vilified by the Peripatetics yet revered by the Alexandrians (particularly Didymus), Demosthenes was one of the most studied


to emerge from the combustive Athenian political life of 4th century BCE. Waging battle in the courts,


, and assembly, Demosthenes profoundly affected and influenced the domestic and foreign policies of Athens in its frequent confrontations with Macedon. His historical status as a shrewd statesman, influential orator, and gifted writer makes Demosthenes a compelling yet difficult figure to study.

Because the surviving slivers of his biography and character assessments were often crafted by his ideological opponents (such as Aeschines) as well as his partisan admirers, the historical record dedicated to Demosthenes is one of contrastive statements, for

2693 words

Citation: Ryan, David. "Demosthenes". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 January 2008 [, accessed 30 May 2024.]

1226 Demosthenes 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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