Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Demosthenes vs Michael Fallon

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Demosthenes vs Michael Fallon

Article excerpt

Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon's claim that Ed Miliband, having practised on his brother, would also stab his country in the back by not renewing Trident has not gone down well. As a classicist, Mr Fallon should surely know there is a more effective rhetoric at hand.

When an ancient Greek wanted to attack a political opponent, two particular angles were popular: whose interests does he have uppermost in his mind -- his own or the city's? And has he any track record of being useful, (or as we might say, 'adding value'), to the city?

Both angles were superbly marshalled by the Athenian statesman Demosthenes in 330 bc. His policy of resisting King Philip of Macedon had been a total failure, but he still persuaded the Athenians to award him a gold crown for loyal service, against all the efforts of his bitter opponent, the pro-Macedonian Aeschines.

Aeschines, Demosthenes argued, could have used his oratory to support his city against the tyrant Philip; he had it in his power to help make Athens great and to deserve its greatness. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.