Demosthenes’ Philippics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the speeches that became a byword for fierce attacks on political opponents. It was in the 4th century BC, in Athens, that Demosthenes delivered these speeches against the tyrant Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, when Philip appeared a growing threat to Athens and its allies and Demosthenes feared his fellow citizens were set on appeasement. In what became known as The Philippics, Demosthenes tried to persuade Athenians to act against Macedon before it was too late; eventually he succeeded in stirring them, even if the Macedonians later prevailed. For these speeches prompting resistance, Demosthenes became famous as one of the Athenian democracy’s greatest freedom fighters. Later, in Rome, Cicero’s attacks on Mark Antony were styled on Demosthenes and these too became known as Philippics.

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  • Paul Cartledge 21 episodes
    A. G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge
  • Kathryn Tempest No other episodes
    Reader in Latin Literature and Roman History at the University of Roehampton
  • Jon Hesk No other episodes
    Reader in Greek and Classical Studies at the University of St Andrews

Reading list

  • Selected Political Speeches
    Demosthenes (ed. J. Herrman) (Cambridge University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • Demosthenes' Selected Speeches
    Demosthenes (trans. Robin Waterfield) (Oxford University Press, 2014) Google Books →
  • On The Crown
    Demosthenes (ed. H. Yunis) (Cambridge University Press, 2001) Google Books →
  • Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes
    Mogens Herman Hansen (Bristol Classical Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • War, Peace, and Alliance in Demosthenes' Athens
    Peter Hunt (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • Interstate Relations in Classical Greece: Morality and Power
    Polly Low (Cambridge University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • Demosthenes the Orator
    Douglas M. MacDowell (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Foresight, Hindsight, and the Rhetoric of Self-Fashioning in Demosthenes' Philippic Cycle
    Gottfried Mader (Rhetorica 1, November 2007)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Demosthenes
    Gunther Martin (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • Athens and Athenian Democracy
    Robin Osborne (Cambridge University Press, 2014) Google Books →
  • Hellenistic Lives
    Plutarch (trans. R. Waterfield) (Oxford University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • Demosthenes and Cicero
    Plutarch (trans. Andrew Lintott) (Oxford University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Demosthenes, Speeches 1-17. The Oratory of Classical Greece
    Jeremy Trevett (University of Texas Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece
    Ian Worthington (Oxford University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Demosthenes: Statesman and Orator
    Ian Worthington (ed.) (Routledge, 2000) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in the 4th century BC in Athens, Demosthenes delivered speeches so powerful that he became famous as one of that democracy's greatest freedom fighters.