Friday, April 01, 2011

Demosthenes, Philip and the "Third Philippic"

The statement found in Demosthenes  3rd Philippic has been used time and time again by our beloved Northern neighbors, in an attempt to indicate that the Makedones were not considered Hellenes..
It is actually this quote that has been used:

Demosthenes3rd Philippic 31
But if some slave or superstitious bastard had wasted and squandered what he had no right to, heavens! how much more monstrous and exasperating all would have called it! Yet they have no such qualms about Philip and his present conduct, though he is not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks, but not even a barbarian from any place that can be named with honor, but a pestilent knave from Macedonia, whence it was never yet possible to buy a decent slave.

But did Demosthenes and the rest of the Hellinic world actually consider Philip and thus the Makedones as 'foreigners' which some strive to support based on the use of the term 'barbarian' ?
Demosthenes clarifies this for us in a different text.. titled, "On the False Embassy".. there we read:

Demosthenes, On the False Embassy 304-306

[304] Was it not Aeschines? Who persuaded you to send embassies almost as far as the Red Sea, declaring that Greece was the object of Philip's designs, and that it was your duty to anticipate the danger and not be disloyal to the Hellenic cause? Was it not Eubulus who proposed the decree, and the defendant Aeschines who went as ambassador to the Peloponnesus? What he said there after his arrival, either in conversation or in public speeches, is best known to himself: what he reported on his return I am sure you have not forgotten.

[305] For he made a speech in which he repeatedly called Philip a barbarian and a man of blood. He told you that the Arcadians were delighted to hear that Athens was really waking up and attending to business.
He related an incident which, he said, had filled him with deep indignation.
On his journey home he had met Atrestidas travelling from Philip's court with some thirty women and children in his train. He was astonished, and inquired of one of the travellers who the man and his throng of followers were;

[306] and when he was told that they were Olynthian captives whom Atrestidas was bringing away with him as a present from Philip, he thought it a terrible business, and burst into tears. Greece, he sorrowfully reflected, is in evil plight indeed, if she permits such cruelties to pass unchecked. He counselled you to send envoys to Arcadia to denounce the persons who were intriguing for Philip; for, he said, he had been informed that, if only Athens would give attention to the matter and send ambassadors, the intriguers would promptly be brought to justice.

Here we learn that Aeschines, Philip's major supporter and the man that was accused of having been bribed by Philip for this very support.. had actually previously given him the title 'barbarian'..

But what was the reason, was it actually his origin or was there a totally different reason ???
The texts again provide...

Demosthenes, On the False Embassy

[308] And as for Philip,—why, good Heavens, he was a Greek of the Greeks, the finest orator and the most thorough—going friend of Athens you could find in the whole world.

And yet there were some queer, ill-conditioned fellows in Athens who did not blush to abuse him, and even to call him a barbarian!

[309] Is it, then, conceivable that the man who made the earlier of those speeches should also have made the later unless he had been corrupted? Is it possible that the same man who was then inflamed with abhorrence of Atrestidas on account of those Olynthian women and children, should now be content to cooperate with Philocrates, who brought free-born Olynthian ladies to this city for their dishonor?

This quote gives us very interesting information...

1) Demosthenes ' sarcastic comment leaves us no doubts that the ironic statement of Philip being a Greek among Greeks, which some queer, ill-conditioned fellows abused him by calling him a barbarian ..(which includes both himself, Hyperides and the rest of those tht formed the group against Philip but also Aeschines that was in the other group in favor of Philip) had little to do with his bloodline but with his actions and what the Atheneans perceived as cultural inferiority in general.
We already know from Isokrates' Panegyricus that the Atheneans took such great pride in their accomplishments that they actually went as far as to state that thanks to them, the denomination Hellenes had become synonymous to their accomplishments, intelligence and culture and not strictly an indication of their race.

Isocrates Panegyrikos 50
"And so far has our city distanced the rest of mankind in thought and in speech that her pupils have become the teachers of the rest of the world; and she has brought it about that the name Hellenes suggests no longer a race but an intelligence, and that the title Hellenes is applied to those who share our culture than to those who share a common blood.

Hence why Demosthenes makes the sarcastic reference to Philip's "exquisite" skills in orations and the obvious political statement related to his "friendship" towards Athens.

2) The enslavement and dishonoring of the Olynthian women and children made Aeschines inflamed with abhorrence and burst into tears..
But what was the reason Aeschines, Demosthenes  or any other Athenian would even care about some Olynthian women and children when we know that Olynthos had previously revolted against Athens and formed a 'league' of its own(Chalcidic League) ?

The answer is once again provided from Demosthenes and his speech titled "Against Meidias"

Demosthenes, "Against Meidias" 47

If anyone assaults any child or woman or man, whether free or slave, or commits any unlawful act against anyone of these, any Athenian citizen who desires so to do, being qualified, may indict him before the Judges; and the Judges shall bring the case before the Heliastic Court within thirty days from the date of the indictment, unless some public business prevents, in which case it shall be brought on the earliest possible date. Whomsoever the Court shall condemn, it shall at once assess the punishment or the fine which he is considered to deserve. In all cases where an indictment is entered, as the law directs, if anyone fails to prosecute, or after prosecution fails to obtain one fifth of the votes of the jury, he shall pay a thousand drachmas to the Treasury. If he is fined for the assault, he shall be imprisoned until the fine is paid, provided that the offence was committed against a freeman.

While the use of the word "assault" in the translation may not be clear, in the original the terminology is.. 'hubristai' from 'hubrizw' = wax wanton, run riot, in the use of superior strength or power in sensual indulgence.
We easily come to the conclusion that Philip was titled barbarian NOT due to his 'foreign' origin, but just as we had previously seen in the face of Archelaos II... due to his actions, actions which the Athenians considered so immoral, so vulgar, so brutal that they had strict laws to prevent such activities from taking place in their city.

By Phalanx(Orphic_Hymn)

No comments:

Post a Comment