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Lives of the Ten Orators, tr. Bancroft


HE was the son of Atrometus--who, being banished by the Thirty Tyrants, was thereby a means of reducing the commonwealth to the government of the people--and of his wife Glaucothea; by birth a Cothocidian. He was neither nobly born nor rich; but in his youth, being strong and well set, he addicted himself to all sorts of bodily exercises; and afterwards, having a very clear voice, he took to playing of tragedies, and if we may credit Demosthenes, he was a petty clerk, and also served Aristodemus as a player of third parts at the Bacchanalian festivals, in his times of leisure rehearsing the ancient tragedies. When he was but a boy, he was assisting to his father in teaching little children their letters, and when he was grown up, he listed himself a private soldier. Some think he was brought up under Socrates and Plato; but Caecilius will have it that Leodamas was his master. Being concerned in the affairs of the commonwealth, he openly acted in opposition to Demosthenes and his faction; and was employed in several embassies, and especially in one to Philip, to treat about articles of peace. For which Demosthenes accused him for being the cause of the overthrow and ruin of the Phocians, and the inflamer of war; which part he would have him thought to have acted when the Amphictyons chose him one of their deputies to the Amphissians who were building up the harbor [of Crissa]. On which the Amphictyons put themselves under Philip's protection, who, being assisted by Aeschines, took the affair in hand, and soon conquered all Phocis.(1) But Aeschines, notwithstanding all that Demosthenes could do, being favored by Eubulus the son of Spintharus, a Probalisian, who pleaded in his behalf, carried his cause by thirty voices, and so was cleared. Though some tell us, that there were orations prepared by the orators, but the news of the conquest of Chaeronea put a stop to the present proceedings, and so the suit fell.

Some time after this, Philip being dead, and his son Alexander marching into Asia, Aeschines impeached Ctesiphon for acting against the laws, in passing a decree in favor of Demosthenes. But he having not the fifth part of the voices of the judges on his side, was forced to go in exile to Rhodes, because he would not pay his mulct of a thousand drachms. Others say, that he incurred disfranchisement also, because he would not depart the city, and that he went to Alexander at Ephesus. But upon the death of Alexander, when a tumult had been excited, he went to Rhodes, and there opened a school and taught. And on a time pronouncing the oration which he had formerly made against Ctesiphon, to pleasure the Rhodians, he did it with that grace, that they wondered how he could fail of carrying his cause if he pleaded so well for himself. But ye would not wonder, said he, that I was overthrown, if ye had heard Demosthenes pleading against me. He left a school behind him at Rhodes, which was afterwards called the Rhodian school. Thence he sailed to Samos, and there in a short time died. He had a very good voice, as both Demosthenes and Demochares testified of him.

Four orations bear his name, one of which was against Timarchus, another concerning false embassage, and a third against Ctesiphon, which three are really his own; but the fourth, called Deliaca, is none of his; for though he was named to plead the cause of the temple at Delos, yet Demosthenes tells us that Hyperides was chosen in his stead.(2) He says himself, that he had two brothers, Aphobetus and Philochares. He was the first that brought the Athenians the news of the victory obtained at Tamynae, for which he was crowned for the second time. Some report that Aeschines was never any man's scholar, but having passed his time chiefly in course of justice, he raised himself from the office of clerk to that of orator. His first public appearance was in a speech against Philip; with which the people being pleased, he was immediately chosen to go ambassador to the Arcadians; and being come thither, he excited the Ten Thousand against Philip. He indicted Timarchus for profligacy; who, fearing the issue, deserted his cause and hanged himself, as Demosthenes somewhere informs us. Being employed with Ctesiphon and Demosthenes in an embassage to Philip to treat of peace, he appeared the most accomplished of the three. Another time also he was one of ten men sent in embassage to conclude a peace; and being afterwards called to answer for it, he was acquitted, as we said.

1. The Greek text is corrupt; but it is evident that the author confounds the Phocian war, which ended in 346 B.C., with the Amphissian war of 339 B.C. The next sentence shows the same mistake. (G.)

2. See Demosthenes on the Crown, p. 271, 27.

Scanned by Agathon (RSB) from the University of Washington's copy of Plutarch's Lives and Writings, ed. by A.H. Clough and William W. Goodwin, with an introd. by Ralph Waldo Emerson. London, Simpkin, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd. [1914?], vol. 5.

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