Talk:Demosthenes

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Featured articleDemosthenes is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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Article milestones
DateProcessResult
October 14, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
October 14, 2006Featured article candidatePromoted
Current status: Featured article
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Demosthenes:

Style

  • To expand the lead to conform with guidelines at WP:LEAD.
  • To improve photo captions.
  • To make sub-headings more informative.
  • To choose a consistent verb tense.

Copy-editing suggestions

  • To tighten the copy a little.
  • To direct the reader to daughter articles with more in-depth information on some topics.
  • To correct flowery language that's uncomfortably close to POV.
  • To take care of a number of terms which are unexplained.
  • To write or expand separate daughter articles on certain specific topics, and substantially shorten the sections on those topics in the Demosthenes articles.
  • To correct elegant variation — using pronouns, ellipses, and repetition when it's not tedious.

a noteworthy quote[edit]

Diogenes remarked of Demosthenes that he was "A Scythian in his speeches but a gentleman on the battlefied" (Davenport, 1995.) A2e1k 05:55, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

dated[edit]

This material is clearly dated, not identified to source (so we can't tell if it's copyrighted or not, though I suspect it's old enough not to be), and doesn't serve as a useful encyclopedia article. Someone might use some of this text to make a real article though, so I'll leave it here in talk. --Lee Daniel Crocker

other Demosthenes[edit]

Among the operations of the sixth summer of the Peloponnesian wars was a campaign which the Athenian commander Demosthenes conducted in Aetolia-successful at the outset, but terminating in disaster, which made the general afraid to return to Athens. He seized a chance, however, of recovering his credit by foiling a Lacedaemonian expedition against Naupactus; and in other ways he successfully established a high military reputation, so that he was no longer afraid to reappear at Athens. jhgjhj Next year, the Athenians dispatched a larger fleet, with Sicily for its objective. Demosthenes, however, who had a project of his own in view, was given an independent command. He was thus enabled to seize and fortify Pylos, a position on the south-west of Peloponnese, with a harbour sheltered by the isle of Sphacteria. The Spartans, in alarm, withdrew their invading force from Attica, and attempted to recover Pylos, landing over 400 of their best men on Sphacteria. The locality now became the scene of a desperate struggle, which finally resulted in the Spartans on Sphacteria being completely isolated.

So seriously did the Lacedaemonians regard this blow that they invited the Athenians to make peace virtually on terms of an equal alliance; but the Athenians were now so confident of a triumphant issue that they refused the terms--chiefly at the instigation of Cleon. Some supplies, however, were got into Sphacteria, owing to the high rewards offered by the Lacedaemonians for successful blockade-running.

At this moment, Cleon, the Athenian demagogue, having rashly declared that he could easily capture Sphacteria, was taken at his word and sent to do it. He had the wit, however, to choose Demosthenes for his colleague, and to take precisely the kind of troops Demosthenes wanted; with the result that within twenty days the Spartans found themselves with no other alternatives than annihilation or surrender. Their choice of the latter was an overwhelming blow to Lacedaemonian prestige.

(This material refers to Demosthenes the general, not to the orator. Flounderer 02:17, 29 September 2005 (UTC))

Two things are needed: A separate article on this other Demosthenes, and a disambiguation page. Das Baz 16:44, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Ender's Game[edit]

I don't see the point of the reference to the use of the name 'Demosthenes' in S.F. novels, and especially not of the addition of [[Category:Enderverse characters]]. The Demosthenes of this article isn't a character in the novels. It seems clear that the Category should be removed, but would anyone object to the removal of the reference to them? Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 23:30, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Ender's Game is rated High-Importance by WikiProject Novels, but I don't know if that has any meaning over here. In any case, Demosthenes (fictional character) should be referred to more explicitly. It took me a while to find the one sentence and 'see also' link. --Cheeesemonger 14:15, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Demosthenes and sex[edit]

" Demosthenes, like many prominent Greeks of his era, is said to have engaged in sex with men, and it was suggested that he may have engaged in the prostitution of youth (Aiskhines iii 162): "There is a certain Aristion, a Plataean..., who as a youth was oustandingly good-looking and lived for a long time in Demosthenes' house. Allegations about the part he was playing [lit., 'undergoing or doing what'] there vary, and it would be most unseemly for me to talk about it." (Dover, 1989) "


This material does not belong in the article, at least in this form. It might have relevance in an entry on Athenian political invective or Athenian sexuality, but is too insubstantial to form part of an account of D's life. Athenian politicians were free at hurling abuse at each, in particular charges that their opponent had once prostituted himself or accepted payment from older men for sex (similar but of stronger implication than the suggestion in the quote above that D. as an adult may have had receptive anal sex with a younger male) . This could be the basis of a serious charge since men who have prostituted themselves could be barred from addressing the assembly (death to a political career), but mostly they are just mouthing off at each other: the stuff is interesting culturally but it's just froth when it comes to writing a biographical note. Forgive the parody but a modern equivalent, might go like this: "LIke many modern western men, Ted Republican is said to have lied about his tax deductions. According to Bob Democrat, speaking in a noisy bar the other night, that big red SUV Ted claims as a work car is actually being driven by his daughter..." Flounderer 00:07, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

It's also false, as sex with men was no more usual than it is now, and deprecated (romantic and sexual relationships with boys was another matter). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:20, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

K. J. Dover raises the topic of D's relationship with Aristarchus, whose erastes he seems to have been. One argument brought up (by Aiskhines) is not that D is "bad" for having been the erastes, but for having been a bad erastes and not followed the principles of proper eros by not being sufficiently altruistic. I do not see how this can be left out of the article in the section about his personal life, as well as other material bearing on this aspect of his life and personality. Haiduc 10:50, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I donot think that homosexuality (in the sense of παιδικός έρως=relation between a εραστής and a ερωμένος) is such a big issue, since it was part of everyday life in the life of men in ancient Greece. And why Demosthenes alleged relation with Aristarchus is an important issue for Demosthenes' biography? And how can we introduce such an issue to the article? Anyway... I donot know the book, but if you want to edit, do it, mention your sources and we'll see ...--Yannismarou 07:09, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Statue date[edit]

The caption of the picture of the statue showing an adult Demosthenes states that the original dates from 380 BC, when Demosthenes would have been four years old. I'm not a Greek scholar or anything, but there's something there that just doesn't quite fit. Can't put my finger on it. Kai 04:21, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

References and/or Further Reading[edit]

Where is the difference between "References" and "Further Reading"? If there is non (as I assume), why are there two different sections? --Bender235 00:36, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

There is an obvious difference. The referenced bibliography is inline citated within the articles (See Citation). The further reading biography is not used or citated within the article, but it is suggested for further reading, in case somebody wants to learn more things. This is not the only article where there is a clear distinction between Ref and Further Reading.--Yannismarou 07:07, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
Does it make any sense to recommend a let's say comprehensive biography of Demosthenes for further reading, but not using it in citations? Anyway, if that's the current method, I don't care. --Bender235 12:23, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Some comments[edit]

As requested by Yannismarou, I have had a good look through the article. It is clearly well written, but I will point out a couple of things which I think could use improvement:

  • I don't remember reading in the article how we modern people know about his orations. Did he write them down himself, did someone else write them down for him, are there original manuscripts available or later copies?
  • Done. I also created a sub-page with more details.--Yannismarou 15:04, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
  • In a couple of places you have "but probably" (and perhaps similar words) with a citation link at the end of the sentence. But you should really mention who thinks it's probably, or if it's a popular opinion with historians state that it's a popular opinion. Probably is not certainty, but if you just keep saying "probably" in the article yourself without anything futher it may seem like you're supporting some single historian's view, or some disputed view. Just giving a reference is not enough to clarify this, if you can't explain it in-line with the text maybe add a note explaining it.
Tried to resolve that.--Yannismarou 13:51, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
  • You mention a lot of names usually without giving much explanation on who the people are. They are usually wikilinked, but for the figures on which you talk quite a bit about you should mention who they are - it is impossible for a reader to follow and read all the wikilinks. This applies to both cited historians and to historical figures.
  • Tried to resolve that.--Yannismarou 13:51, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
  • The second image from the top Image:Demosthenes_statue.jpg has had no source since 1st of April, so it could be deleted instantly by any admin. Needs to be removed and replaced.
  • Removed and replaced.--Yannismarou 10:16, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
  • I realise that this is my fault for using a different browser (Opera), and increased font sizes, but the quote boxes are not the same as they would be in Firefox and don't resize dynamically as you change the window size. So if I read from a decreased window size, the boxes tend to take up the full width.
  • A slightly different issue with the quote boxes, with the current background colour the text tends to be quite hard to read on some LCD monitors for some reason. A lighter tone would be helpful.

I hope this helps.--Konstable 13:24, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

GA granted[edit]

2 minor points can be changed in a jiffy for style improvement :

  • "lex orandi" and underscored that "inter omnes unus excellat." is some wonderful latin though having it in english would help the reader.
  • Some people come into action within the life of Demosthenes and almost no background information is given or why they are mentioned. See Curtius for example. There are a few others scattered through the text. Lincher 00:33, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Tried to resolve that.--Yannismarou 13:50, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
    • Thanks. Both your suggestions and those of Konstable are very useful and I intend to implement them.--Yannismarou 06:45, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
      • No problem, come to my talk page for more info or go straight to FA for further insight in what could be missing (beware of the FA gorillas, their tough ;) Lincher 01:44, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Wow! Great article[edit]

I was just working on an article about one of Demosthenes' contemporaries and came here for some background info. I was going to nominiate it for FA, but since this is apparently somebody else's baby, I'll let them do the honors.--*Kat* 07:02, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Thanks! I intend to nominate it soon, but there are still some pendent issues and I want them resolved, before I go to the demanding proceedure of FA. Mainly, tweaks and minor stuff, but I don't want bad surprises, when I am in FAC.--Yannismarou 07:11, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
  • By the way, if you need any help with the article you're writing, just tell me.--Yannismarou 07:13, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, I may take you up on that. --*Kat* 04:28, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Mary Renault on Demosthenes[edit]

Demosthenes is the villain in Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault. He appears as a lustful creep and arrogant lout who tries to sexually abuse the very young Alexander but gets a humiliating comeuppance. Thus Renault explains two historical mysteries: Why Demosthenes had such passionate hatred for a very young boy, and why the talented orator was left totally speechless and unable to deliver his prepared speech before King Phillip. Das Baz 16:51, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

I know, my friend. See Demosthenes (fictional character) and you'll see I've mentioned all these things.--Yannismarou 09:44, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Thank you, Yannismarou. I thought the information had all been deleted. I did not realize that the article (which I originally created) had been recreated. Such vindication is so excellent. Das Baz 17:12, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Minor Sentence Flow Change[edit]

In the Rhetorical legacy section, the sentence "For his part, Nietzsche was often composing his sentences according to the paradigms he found in Demosthenes, whose style he admired." has inelegant tense usage and possessive usage. It was changed to "For his part, Nietzsche often composed his sentences according to the paradigms of Demosthenes, whose style he admired."

Alexander's demands regarding Demosthenes in 335 BC[edit]

The article use to say that, following the razing of Thebes in 335 BC, Alexander,

… demanded the exile of all anti-Macedonian politicians, Demosthenes first of all, a request turned down by the ecclesia.

I've now changed this to:

… demanded the exile of all anti-Macedonian politicians, Demosthenes first of all. According to Plutarch, a special Athenian embassy led by Phocion, an opponent of the anti-Macedonian faction, was able to persuade Alexander to relent.

I've based this change solely on the cited reference, Plutarch, Phocion 17. Does anyone have sources which say that the request was simply "turned down by the ecclesia"?

Paul August 18:49, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Our sources are the same, but I agree that your wording is more accurate.--Yannismarou 17:22, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
OK, thanks for the response. Paul August 19:06, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree; see Arrian i. 10, that I resumed at Talk:Alexander the Great.--Aldux 20:56, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Incomplete article displayed[edit]

Why does my web browser only show the article up to Confronting Alexander and delivering On the Crown? The contents even do not list anything after this section. I am disappointed because I want to read the remaining part of the article. 211.28.237.149 08:20, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

A user, trying to copy-edit the article, created this mess; the article is now restored.--Yannismarou 08:34, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Inheritance[edit]

The value listed in US dollars is 400,000, and I can't help but wonder if that is in 1952 dollars as that is when the source was written. If it was, the current value would be around 3 million of todays dollars. Could someone check on this?74.130.23.77 21:55, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Pederasty in the life of Demosthenes[edit]

Yannismarou, thank you for reminding me of that old conversation. I had utterly forgotten about it, and it certainly sweetens the pot, so to speak. It seems to me quite clear that in ancient Greece a man's relations with his eromenoi were a lot more important politically than those with his wife. Men mattered, women less so. So by that measure, favoring here a discussion of his marriage while deleting all mentions of his pederastic affairs is nothing other than an ethnocentric imposition on a personage from a culture with values different from those being imposed on him now. In effect you are modernizing and westernizing Demosthenes. Is that a reasonable thing to do? AND, if some scholar or other asserts that a given statement about his relations is a "slur" then that too needs to be included in the article, first because slurs are part of his history and important to our understanding of his life and the forces at work within it, and second, because it is one man's opinion and it may be contradicted by the next scholar to express himself on this topic.

Furthermore, it is particularly significant that Demosthenes is associated with a number of different eromenoi. I count three at the present. All the more reason that readers have access to this information. Haiduc 23:09, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Haiduc, the particular erastes-eromenos relationship you included is of no political interest. Who cares if Demosthenes had an extra-marital relationship, and if his wife slept with this man in order to take revenge?! These are gossips; not encyclopedical material. It is the same thing, if we write that Jacques Chirac cheated on his wife with three women and two men, and then she had a hysteria because of that! This not encyclopedic material! Besides the fact that Athenaeus is used in mixing truth with gossips. This is my problem; neither "ethnocentricity" nor "westernization". And the only thing I say about his personal life is that he was married, and that he had a daughter, whose death and the subsequent attitude of Demosthenes became a political issue because of Aeschines. This is encyclopedic material; not his extra-marital affair (presented again inaccurately by you as a famous erastes-eromenos relationship of antiquity in another article?!!!) with some guy, called Cnosion, having 55 links in Google and even less in Google Book! I'm sorry, but this is just not notable!--Yannismarou 08:18, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Yannismarou, I will not insist on documenting his aspect of Demosthenes' life if you are so opposed to it, but let me at least point out a number of inconsistencies (with project practices) in your last message.

  1. "no political interest" is not, to my knowledge, sufficient reason for exclusion of information - our readers' need to know may well extend beyond what you or I consider political interest.
  2. "who cares" We do not know who cares about this or that aspect of a historical figure's life, but we are not here to guess at that. Somebody may choose to compile a list of great men wearing purple togas, so if that information was forthcoming we would be doing a service to include it as long as space allowed, as is the case here.
  3. "gossisps" For personages about which we know so little, every tidbit, gossip or not, is precious and tells us a bit more about them and their culture, if properly presented.
  4. "mixing up truth" Material which is thought to be unreliable needs to be introduced as such. We are not here to make those decisions for others but to put before them what is known. Will future historians delete from the Wikipedia most of George Bush's statements because they are described by some as being unreliable?
  5. "famous" I am not looking for famous, I am looking for historical, which is self-explanatory.
  6. "55 links" I did not know there was a Google standard for inclusion in Wikipedia, but it does not surprise me - they have their finger in SO many pies! So what is the magic number?

Again, I will not press this further as it is no fun to tread on people's toes, but it does seem a pity to remove this little bit of color from the article - Demosthenes would only be enriched by it, to say nothing of the additional light it throws on the Kata Timarkhos episode. Regards, Haiduc 12:13, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

I have thought of a way to perhaps satisfy your wishes as well as mine. I have been gathering all the material I could find on Demosthenes, and there is quite a bit, all of it raunchy and very opinionated, as you would imagine. What do you say we create a category listing "Accusations against Demosthenes" without necessarily giving them any credence, but only for their historical value? You will see much of what I have come up with at the Historical pederastic couples article. Haiduc 22:51, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

The cases of Aristarchus and Aristion seem to include interesting biographical elements connected with his public life. Initially, I did not include them (I acknowledge I knew the cases), because they were not connected with Demosthenes' major "purpose of life": the struggle against Philip, and the subsequent rivalry with Aeschines. But if you want to include them, I cannot impede you. Instead of adding a new section, maybe you could add them in one of the existing sections. Anyway ... Make your edits, and then I'll comment on them; finding the correct structure is I suppose something that we'll manage to work. Maybe you could then also create a seperate article per WP:SS, and elaborate on them. Maybe, it is also an opportunity to create articles for some more of Demosthenes' speeches - I worked on some of them for some time, but then I was distracted by other articles and issues (mainly the WP:GREECE).--Yannismarou 07:59, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Done. Let me know what you think. As for spinning off a dedicated article - there is not really enough material, in my opinion. At this point, with this stuff in two separate places already, I think it is enough. Haiduc 01:15, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
It reads better now, a couple of comments: I would keep the bit about Aeschines having had lovers himself, since it sharpens the focus of the discussion - this is one pederast discussing another pederast. As for Packard's comment, is he alone in this? I have not read him, but I would imagine that what is being questioned is not Demosthenes pederasty but his alleged irresponsibility. Can you bring in some relevant quotes from Packard? Haiduc 10:42, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

PS Oh, and I would definitely keep in the part about him pretending to be in love with Aristarchus, it is a key element - it was not just the pretense that he could teach him to be an orator. Haiduc 10:45, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Hi all. If I can add my opinion, we should be careful not to extend further the piece on Demosthenes' personal life, as we risk 1) forgetting that Demosthenes is a politician and an orator, not a guy who fucked x 2) the article is already becoming pretty longish, and me must maintain the blance between the sections. 3) More specifically, the proposal regarding the insertion of Aeschines seems hardly relevant to me.--Aldux 13:12, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
You mean the whole new section? I also am against any further expansion, but do you suggest to trim a bit more this new section, and possibly add it to one of the current sections? Not to add it at all, and leave the article as it was before?--Yannismarou 15:38, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Since I regard this issue as very important (we speak about a FA whose status should be preserved), and since as the main contributor to this article I cannot be as objective as I would like, I decided to invite to this discussion some of the most prominent classicists of Wikipedia: User:Aldux (he already offered a first comment), User:Robth, User:Paul August, User:Akhilleus, and User:Mel Etitis. I think that their input we'll help us to take the best decisions here.--Yannismarou 15:58, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

External view[edit]

I haven't yet read through everything carefully, but there's a real problem with sources for this section. Even the occasional reference is obscure ("Dover op. cit." is unhelpful when Dover is mentioned nowehere else in the article, for example). --Mel Etitis (Talk) 16:48, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

I thought I had removed that for the reason you mention. Am I wrong? Is it still there and I just miss it?--Yannismarou 17:02, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I got distracted by other things; it was still there, but that's irrelevant now. --Mel Etitis (Talk) 09:23, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

The question for me is to what extent this has been treated as significant/believable by modern commentators. Unsubstantiated character assassination was a standard in most ancient orators' toolkits, and lord knows we wouldn't include (for instance) the stuff Cicero said about some of his opponents in their articles. (I haven't had time to research this, obviously, but from what I'm seeing it appears that our source for all of this is accusations levelled by Aeschines, and picked up as such by later biographers--correct me if I'm wrong.) My suggestion is that, if the attacks are particularly important or relevant, they be placed in the context of the conflict in which they occurred--i.e., treated as political rather than biographical material, which it seems that they were. If they're just run of the mill mudslinging, leave 'em out. As for the relationships themselves (as opposed to the claims of inadequacy or robbery), if those are well substantiated or widely accepted by modern commentators, they would probably merit a line under biography. --RobthTalk 22:30, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

In reverse order of appearance:
  1. Robth, this could get involved, but I will try to be breif. In the early to middle twentieth century historians avoided peering too closely into their subjects' love life, all the more if it was of an illicit color. More recently, with the advent of gender studies, such material has become a legitimate topic of study. Unless and until this article is titled "The Political Life of Demosthenes" this material belongs here and is of historical importance, and it belongs as placed. As for the relationships being well substantiated - Aeschines will do. Please realize that Aeschines is NOT accusing D of keeping boys. He is accusing him of misusing the boys he keeps. It is of no benefit to him to "accuse" D of keeping boys. It would be like me "accusing" you of being married.
  2. Mel, I agree with your observation, especially in light of the dense footnoting of this article. There is more work to be done here, though I would add that those citations are secondary (like Nicodemus' lawsuit and murder, or Aeschines accusing D of profiting from his boys. The Dover cite was an oversight, not a fatal flaw I assume.
  3. Aldux, I see your point about the article being overlong. I would not be adverse if the entire Personal life section is spun off into its own article. I would also retitle this article to indicate its specialization. Haiduc 23:30, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

I just took a quick look at this in response to Yannismarou's request, and I don't have a problem with the material as written. However, as Robth points out, it looks like all the accusations originate in speeches of Aeschines--so I think it would be better to cover this material in the section on Demosthenes' political career, as part of the rivalry of D. And Aeschines. I agree, too, that it would be good to investigate modern assessments of these claims, to see whether anyone thinks there's any truth in what Aeschines was saying. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:53, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

It looks much better now; some good work. --Mel Etitis (Talk) 09:23, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Any objections to including the article in Category:Pederasty in ancient Greece? Haiduc 11:36, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

I don't really see the point (though I don't see the point of the category either, to be honest). --Mel Etitis (Talk) 20:25, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

"Live to Fight Another Day" remark[edit]

According to [1], Demosthenes is said to be the originator of the saying "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day," after the defeat at Chaeronea. Seems to attribute it to a reliable source. Would it be worth adding to the article? Pegasus «C¦ 15:35, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Pronunciation?[edit]

How is "Demosthenes" pronounced? I think it should be added to the article - it doesn't seem obvious to me. --Aseld talk 20:55, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Date of death[edit]

Some sites say he died 12 October 322 BC. Does thsi date have any validity? -- JackofOz (talk) 14:39, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

I do not know how they calculate this date. Do we have any other verifiable and reliable sources?--Yannismarou (talk) 12:41, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't know how they calculate the date, either, but it seems good enough for the Greek WP article. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 22:27, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
"Demosthenes" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed. (1878), dates it to October in one of their margin notes. Don't think they mention the 12 (the page is cut off) but it would be from converting the Greek calendar. — LlywelynII 09:34, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

ancient vs classical Athens[edit]

I am correcting 'ancient Athens' for 'classical Athens' as Demosthenes' historical background. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Laocoont (talkcontribs) 09:29, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Perseus sources[edit]

The sources for this article that are from the Perseus database, such as #150[2] are no longer valid links, and must be replaced to maintain the citation. EriktheRed53 (talk) 01:17, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Changes to a Feature Article[edit]

It's a fine article and fully deserved its FA status at the time but there are some gaps that need to be filled. Example - almost nothing established the political and legal background to D's career, and his career as a logographer is hardly mentioned at all, and there seems to be no mention of his role as a synegoros, no mention of his Greek etc. In making a few changes, I find it necessary to restructure the headings a little. However, I am not making widespread changes to the article and I hope nobody will panic and start pressing revert buttons. I'm just adding the lipstick to a good-looking girl who was beginning to look a bit tawdry. McCronion (talk) 03:47, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

I have yet to add the Greek section but otherwise my revisions are just about finished. I've removed almost no material - only a quote from On The Crown, in the section on Assessment, which I replaced with a more appropriate self-assessment by Demosthenes - and I have added material that was much needed. However, before I started my edit, the ratings box scored this article as almost perfect and I don't expect that to be repeated. I hope my efforts aren't going to be judged by that nonsense! Ratings are good if the statistical sample is large but those ratings are erased after just 30 edits, when there is no opportunity for a large sample of opinions - I can't think what such ratings will ever achieve, apart from self-obsolescence! McCronion (talk) 08:23, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

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recent reversion of latest edits[edit]

I notice that there has been a substantial rollback of recent edits of this article, including the removal of secondary sources, as indicated here. Much of the deleted material was intended to set the historical scene, regarding the kind of judicial and political system that D was working within, and without which the reader can't really appreciate his work at all. If you don't explain the nature of Athenian legal institutions you can't explain why his legal speeches rely so much on slander and speculation about motives, and thus you can't really explain the events behind the speeches either. If you don't explain how his speeches relate to the events of his life then what is the article about? If you don't explain the political situation, you can't explain D's response to Philip. In fact there been a removal of a statement about D's demonising of Philip as a monster of Athens' own making. The statement was removed on the basis that it amounts to a POV with support only from primary sources. Here's a secondary source, if one is needed:

Throughout, Demosthenes' problem is to arouse Athenian alarm at Philip's actions, and thus to induce counteractions, without suggesting that it is too late, or that Philip is irresistable, or that Athens has sunk too far into decline to be able to meet the challenge...(Philip) emerges (from D's speeches) as a figure of incredible energy and ambition, driven on by hubris, like some kind of aberrant disaster of nature, who can however be stopped once and for all when his opponents realize how shallow is his base and how slender his support." ('George Kennedy, 'Oratory' in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, 1985, pages 519-20.)

I made most of the recent edits that have been rolled back but I won't bother to reinstate them. I edited under my former user name User:McCronion. I always try to work around exisiting sources. Otherwise I would have taken an axe to this article and completely rewritten it. But I can't argue with ratings and the original edit was rated near perfect. End of argument. If WP would get rid of the absurd rating system maybe it would be easier to give articles the treatment they deserve. Eyeless in Gaza (talk) 07:55, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

What secondary sources were removed Eyeless? NO secondary source was removed, when I say NONE I mean NONE. What I did was restructuring. Yes, I removed some (not all of) the material "setting the historical and judicial scene", because in such a huge article with already enormous information, you don't have the luxury to fatigue the reader even more. If somebody wants to learn more about the historical or judicial scene, he/she can go to the respective articles. That's why there are the wikilinks. I read carefully both your edits and your comments; you said that you added the "lipstick" to a lady who had started to look less nice. Probably you were right (about how the lady looked), but I am afraid that you did not just add "lipstick"; you made the lady fat!
I definitely did not roll back, and I did not delete your material. The core of your work is there. And I appreciate this work. Look, I am actually retired for more than a year, but yesterday I looked again an article I had worked my ass on it, and I decided to do what I thought best so as to remove the "fat" and keep the substance. Soon, I will return to retirement, and you can start "feeding" the article again. But, be careful, I am afraid that most of your edits move the article closer to losing its star. And if this happen, you are going to be the only responsible. As regards the "monster" text, when there is no source there is no source! You now provide one! But when I deleted it there was none, and it was flirting with OR.
And by the way, when you speak about secondary sources you added, you refer to sources of the 30s and the 70s in most cases! I don't ignore their importance, but ... something more ... recent? And, please, whan adding sources or citations, do not, do not disregard MoS rules (e.g. dashes or books'ISBNs). Yes, it seems trivia and boring, but it is vatal for FA status. Happy new year by the way!Yannismarou (talk) 12:47, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

OK. In this particular case, my name 'Eyeless' indicates that I didn't look. You deleted some sourced material but not the sources. The edit accusing me of a POV blinded me at that time. Yes, you've done great work at WP, all unpaid. But I still disagree about the amount of scene-setting needed in this article. I covered the territory in a few paragraphs and I don't think that was overdone. The phrasing wasn't yours (yours is the dominant phrasing in the article and very good phrasing too!) and maybe that's why it seems overdone or out of place to you. By all means rephrase it if you like. The article is superbly presented but I think there are holes in the historical narrative that need to be addressed and, quite honestly, I don't think it deserves FA status at the moment. Sorry if I have offended you and I hope you continue editing for many years to come. Battling in other articles has made me more undiplomatic or uncivil than I usually am and I apologize for that too. Eyeless in Gaza (talk) 00:26, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

As I said, I haven't been using my eyes, otherwise I would have checked out your talk page. If you check out mine, you'll see that I don't like the way gangs have taken over large tracts of WPolis, where an innocent user can't go about his business conscientiously without getting mugged by some gang or other. You seem to be part of a Greek gang and that would explain much that seems mysterious here. I have a gang of my own and it's not Greek or anything like that, in spite of appearances.


This article could soon be another McRap Project project! Eyeless in Gaza (talk) 23:02, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

I am member of no gang I can't lead! I was not offended by what you said. After all (Christmas is a great time for second thoughts), you may be correct about many things you said about the article (that's why I reconsidered some of my edits). I don't know! After all, I am a bit "rusty" after a more of a year of inertia. By the way, I don't feel that I'll edit for a long time here; I already don't edit "much"! Feel free to edit the article after my second "circle" of edits; revert me; whatever. After all, I am just a visitor here. Oh! By the way, what is this damn rating system you are talking all the time? Did I miss something while I was away?--Yannismarou (talk) 20:28, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Although I reinstated much of this paragraph, I continue to have serious questions, doubts and even disagreements with its content. Maybe, all these reasons "subconsciously" made me to initially erase it:

In Demosthenes' Athens there were no political parties or advocacy groups. Different political goals developed around 
personalities, such as Demosthenes himself. Instead of electioneering, Athenian politicians used litigation and defamation to
remove rivals from government processes. Often they indicted each other for breaches of the constitution (γραφη παρανόμων), but
accusations of bribery and corruption were ubiquitous in all cases, being part of the political dialogue. The rancorous   
accusations, satirized by Old Comedy, were sustained by innuendo, inferences about motives, and a complete absence of proof: "there
was no room for chivalry in Athenian political life".[48] Such rivalry enabled the 'demos' or citizen-body to reign supreme as
judge, jury and executioner.[49] Demosthenes was to become fully engaged in this kind of litigation and he was also to be
instrumental in developing the power of the Areopagus to indict individuals for treason, invoked in the Ecclesia by a process
called απόφασις[50] and yet his political speeches in the Ecclesia were to become "the artistic exposition of reasoned views",
avoiding recriminations against other Athenians.[51]"
  • "In Demosthenes' Athens there were no political parties or advocacy groups". Really? I thought that this is a hotly debated issue (even for Demosthenes' time) — see the citation I added. For sure, there were factions, and, yes, political parties is a modern concept. But why can't we apply it for Demosthenes' Athens as well? For sure, some historians do it. Maybe not the one you used for your source, but what about others? The problem is that the term is modern? The term "constitution" is also modern, but, contrary to the term "parties", you (wrongly IMO — see below) use it in relation with "graphe paranomon". Was there any "constitution" in Athens? Why can't we talk about "parties" but we can speak about "constitution"? I think that with the aforementioned phrase you present as a "fact" something which is actually the opinion of only a part of the modern scholarship.
  • "Often they indicted each other for breaches of the constitution". Which "constitution"? With the paragraph in question you try indeed to give the general framework of the Athenian political system in Demosthenes' time, but I am afraid that with phrases like this you "open the gate" for more questions and possible explanations: You speak about a "constitution". What was this constitution in Athens? In any case, as regards "graphe paranomon", I think that your explanation (or your source's explanation) is wrong. Graphe paranomon was not a legal means to impeach somebody for "breaches of the constitution" but for breaches of the "law" (much broader field), namely when a citizen proposed a law which was against the existing legislation.
  • "[...] yet his political speeches in the Ecclesia were to become "the artistic exposition of reasoned views", avoiding recriminations against other Athenians.[51]" For me, this phrase belongs to his evaluation as an orator, and that is where I tried to incorporate it.
  • In general, I don't understand why the whole paragraph has to be in the main text and not as a note next to the word "party". If this was a personal article, that's what I would have done. Structurally, IMO it does not fit in the main text! But I am not alone here, and maybe I am wrong. I don't know ...Yannismarou (talk) 22:24, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the changes to the article. There is still a bit of disjoin between these additions and your original edit but that's not a bad thing. In fact your style includes some disjoin, a touch of Demosthenes even, the way you combine formal and informal elements. A bit of disjoin always helps keep the reader on task. Keeping the reader on task also means establishing a context for them, in this case outlining the legal and political culture in Athens, which is not succinctly covered in linking articles. This article here is the right place to cover the role of a significant individual within that culture, so the culture has to be outlined. Also, many readers come to this article without any understanding of Athenian politics and law and they are likely to think of D as somehow like Winston Churchill unless they are made aware of the differences between modern and Athenian democracy.

I agree that there is some slippage in the way modern scholars use political terms but that's because it's natural to think in metaphors. We all think in metaphors all the time (eg, to call both D and WC 'orators' or even 'men' is to ignore an enormous amount of detail that separates them). So modern practices become metaphors for ancient ones and it's not always easy to know whether or not the metaphor is taken too far. There were no political parties as we know them but some scholars use 'party' to identify groups, and there was no constitution as we know it yet Athens had something like one, as in their requirement that a statute law could never be repealed but only replaced (where did I read that?). Anyway, here are some relevant quotes from Harvey Yunis, On the Crown, pages 8-9

"......the graphe paranomon enabled the court to examine a decree or motion for its compatibility with the existing code of statute laws, in regard to both procedure and substance. A decree or motion that the court found to be paranomon, that is, in conflict with one or more statutes, was nullified and its proposer liable to punishment...Given this breadth of argument, it does not surprise that the graphe paranomon became one of the chief judicial processes through which Athenian politicians attacked each other in the incessant, ruthless pursuit of advantage. Ultimately such contests aimed at eliminating one's opponent from the political arena...Athenian democracy also possessed very little in the way of political parties or advocacy groups. Since policies were identified with the particular politicians who advanced them, choosing and discarding those politicians was in itself a primary means of establishing policy."

The practices described here make the Athenian court look something like supreme court judges deciding the constitutionality of a law, even if they didn't have the equivalent of a modern 'constitution' (in fact there are also many modern states that don't have constitutions but which behave as if they did). I hope you continue editing for years to come, even if you are a Greek gangster! :) Eyeless in Gaza (talk) 02:16, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

My recent edits[edit]

Today, I finished a two-months period of editing in the article, which aimed to correct a series of defeciencies and to align Demosthenes with Wikipedia's and my current standards about how a high quality encyclopedic article should be. The backbone of the article remained the same and I made no significant additions (e.g. new sections or extensive rewriting of existing sections). However, I corrected inaccuracies I had missed in the past and I now found out, studying additional secondary sources, and not just the ones I used when I first (re)wrote (about five years ago? Is it already that much?!) the article. For instance, I added more scholarship backround to the Meidias case (where I previously relied only to Weil), and more information about the "theorika" spending and Eubulus role (who was inaccurately presented as completely anti-interventionist).

These were my most important edits, but I also worked on MoS, citations (e.g. backing primary with secondary sources, wherever I thought it was necessary), disambiguations, and, of course, links (many of which were dead). I even did some corrections to the timeline. All this sounds trivia, but, believe me, it was both necessary and tiring, and took me the most of the time I devoted. If you check the history of the aricle, you can check out the exact extent of my edits.

My goal was to make the article more "shiny", while keeping intact all these elements that made it FA with a broad consensus in the first place. I don't know how well I did the job, but I do believe that, at least, we still a very good encyclopedic article. I do not deny that there is always room for improvement. For instance, Eyeless in Gaza may be right when they argue that the article needs a section on Demosthenes' Greek, although I am always reluctant to any edits that might lead to an extremely big article, which risks to lose its coherence.

After all these extensive edits and work, which lasted (with some breaks) for two months, Ι think it's time to withdraw from the article for some time, as I had done before the edits. I think this is the best both for me (to distance myself from Demosthenes for some time, in order to gradually achieve once again a clearer approach towards him) and for the article (to relieve it from my possible bias and to open room for other editors with fresher ideas). I hope that, in the meantime, skilled editors, who in the past had actively shown their interest in the article — such as Eyeless in Gaza, whom I honestly thank for his valuable edits and I apoligize for being rude towards him — will keep a look at it, in order to preserve and, even more, further upgrade its quality.--Yannismarou (talk) 20:12, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

I only just noticed this summary. I don't think the division into speeches is the best way to proceed, since we have articles for those speeches. However I think the FA status is deserved and the main editor has been very conscientious. I don't agree that he was rude to Eyeless. Eyeless works in Gaza, at the mill, with slaves, so a bit of jostling doesn't worry him. Anyhow, he's passed on. Thanks for your efforts to improve the article. Sir Gawain McGarson (talk) 10:05, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Misunderstood quote in the article[edit]

Had you for Greece been strong, as wise you were, The Macedonian would not have conquered her.

Am I wrong to think that this really means "You were not strong, yet you were not wrong." or "Might does not make Right." ?

71.35.218.87 (talk) 05:09, 8 August 2013 (UTC) LoneIndividual

Read WP:OR, genius. What are you, some Skull & Bones maggot?--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 18:08, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Factual error?[edit]

I may be completely misunderstanding this, but this seems to me just wrong:

Ten drachmas is considerably more than two obols (seeing as there were six obols to the drachma, making it the smaller measurement), or am I just missing the point? Ten drachma would certainly have been considerably over the average pay for an unskilled labourer. Brigade Piron (talk) 22:06, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Good catch. The First Philippic 28 says 10 drachma per month - so 2 obols per day. Another error with numbers: "According to Tsatsos, the trials against the guardians lasted until Demosthenes was twenty four.[162] Nietzsche reduces the time of the judicial disputes to five years" But (a) five is not a reduction from four and (b) Nietzsche predates Tsatsos by many years, so "reduce" is thoroughly the wrong word.Furius (talk) 01:16, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

I reader33333 came across this same error - which was noted years ago. No one changed it. So I am going to do it now.

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