Against Leptines

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Against Leptines was a speech given by Demosthenes in which he called for the repeal of a law sponsored by Leptines which denied anyone a special exemption from paying public charges (leitourgiai). It was probably delivered in the year 355/354 BC.[1] Unusually for Athenian law courts, though Demosthenes wrote the speech for Ktesippos, the son of Chabrias, he probably delivered it himself.[2] It is thus the first speech which Demosthenes delivered in a public case.[3]

Background[edit]

During the Social War, a number of measures were passed in Athens to increase public revenue, including a law proposed by Leptines in 356 which abolished exemptions from liturgies. The law made it illegal both for the people of Athens to grant exceptions to liturgies, and for anybody to request an exception.[4] The law was challenged by an Athenian called Bathippus, but he died before the case came to court; later, this case was taken up by his son, Apsephion.[5] Apsephion proposed that Leptines' law should be repealed, and that it should be replaced by a law that provided for a procedure to remove an illegally-obtained exemption from liturgies. The case came to court in 355/4 BC.[6]

History[edit]

This law had been proposed by a man named Leptines, so the speech came to be known as Against Leptines. Although Dio Chrysostom (31.128-9) says that Demosthenes won the case, his account has been dismissed as inaccurate. West says that "we do not know the verdict".[7]

An inscription shows that Ctesippus, son of Chabrias (whose inheritable exemption Demosthenes was arguing to preserve), performed a liturgy that "is unlikely to have been voluntary," and there is no evidence of any grants of exemption after the trial.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ West, William C. (1995). "The Decrees of Demosthenes' "Against Leptines"". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. 107: 238. 
  2. ^ West, William C. (1995). "The Decrees of Demosthenes' "Against Leptines"". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. 107: 239. 
  3. ^ Dorjahn, Alfred P. (1955). "A Fourth Study on Demosthenes' Ability to Speak Extemporaneously". Classical Philology. 50 (3): 191. 
  4. ^ Harris, Edward M. Demosthenes, Speeches 21–22. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 16. 
  5. ^ Harris, Edward M. Demosthenes, Speeches 21–22. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 16–17. 
  6. ^ Harris, Edward M. Demosthenes, Speeches 21–22. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 17. 
  7. ^ West, William C. (1995). "The Decrees of Demosthenes' "Against Leptines"". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. 107: 245. 
  8. ^ Ernst Badian. "The road to prominence," in Ian Worthington (ed.), Demosthenes: Statesman and Orator (Routledge, 2000), p. 28.

External links[edit]