Aeschines and Athenian Politics

Aeschines and Athenian Politics

Aeschines and Athenian Politics

Aeschines and Athenian Politics


Filling a major gap in scholarship, this is the first full-length study of the Athenian politician Aeschines. Along with Isocrates, Aeschines was one of the most prominent Athenian politicians who advocated friendly ties with the Macedonian king Philip II. Though overshadowed by his famous rival Demosthenes, Aeschines played a key role in the decisive events that marked the rise of Macedonian power in Greece and formed the transition from the Classical to the Hellenistic period. Three long speeches by Aeschines, all delivered in court battles with his opponent Demosthenes, have been preserved and provide us with valuable information about Athenian politics during a major turning point in Greek history. This study of Aeschines' political career examines the reliability of court speeches as historical evidence and shows how they help reveal how democratic institutions actually functioned in Athens when faced with the rise of Macedonian power.


This book has its origins in a Harvard dissertation entitled "The Political Career of Aeschines," which was submitted in the spring of 1983. Since then, it has been thoroughly revised with some parts completely rewritten. My main reasons for writing on Aeschines are that his speeches are a valuable source for a period that was a turning point in Greek history and that, aside from Ramming's brief dissertation, there has been no study devoted entirely to Aeschines' role in Athenian politics and diplomacy. I have therefore less to say about Aeschines' oratory except when it is relevant to his political career. There still remains much work to be done on Aeschines; I hope that this book will encourage others to study this relatively neglected author and to investigate those topics I have either passed over or not treated in sufficient depth.

One of the most pressing needs is for a new text of Aeschines' works. Schindel's recent Teubner edition is a reprint of Blass's 1908 edition, and the older Budé text of V. Martin and G. de Budé is inadequate. I am happy to report that my good friend and colleague Mervin Dilts, who recently edited the Aeschines scholia, will in the near future present a new edition of Aeschines' works based on a fresh reading of the primary manuscripts. in the absence of any more reliable edition, I had to rely for textual matters on the Arno reprint of F. Schultz Aeschinis Orationes (Leipzig 1865).

My approach to the transliteration of Greek names is eclectic. For the better known names I tend to employ the Anglicized version ("Aeschines," not "Aiskhines," and "Eubulus," not "Euboulos"), but use the Greek form for less familiar names.

I have received much assistance over the years while working on Aeschines, but my main debt is to my dissertation adviser, Ernst Badian. He first suggested to me in a graduate seminar that Aeschines' speeches might be a promising field of inquiry. He was a superb adviser, demanding and rigorous, yet also helpful and encouraging. Though he has not been involved closely with the revision of the dissertation, the training I received from him has proven invaluable. I would also like to thank Albert Henrichs and Thomas Martin, who served as readers on the dissertation committee. Mogens Hansen and Peter Rhodes read the dissertation after it was completed and offered many good suggestions for revision. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues at Brooklyn College--Dee Clayman and Roger Dunkle . . .

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