The Second Olynthiac Oration

Author: Demosthenes  | Date: 349 BC


To the Second Olynthiac Oration

TO remove the impression made on the minds of the Athenians by the preceding oration, Demades, and other popular leaders in the interest of Philip, rose up and opposed the propositions of Demosthenes with all their eloquence. Their opposition, however, proved ineffectual; for the assembly decreed that relief should be sent to the Olynthians, and thirty galleys and two thousand forces were accordingly despatched under the command of Chares. But these succors, consisting entirely of mercenaries, and commanded by a general of no great reputation, could not be of considerable service; and were besides suspected, and scarcely less dreaded by the Olynthians than the Macedonians themselves. In the mean time, the progress of Philip’s arms could meet with little interruption. He reduced several places in the region of Chalcis, razed the fortress of Zeira, and, having twice defeated the Olynthians in the field, at last shut them up in their city. In this emergency they again applied to the Athenians, and pressed for fresh and effectual succors. In the following oration Demosthenes endeavors to support this petition, and to prove that both the honor and the interest of the Athenians demanded their immediate compliance. As the expense of the armament was the great point of difficulty, he recommends the abrogation of such laws as prevented the proper settlement of the funds necessary for carrying on a war of such importance. The nature of these laws will come immediately to be explained.

It appears, from the beginning of this oration, that other speakers had risen before Demosthenes, and inveighed loudly against Philip. Full of the national prejudices, or disposed to flatter the Athenians in their notions of the dignity and importance of their state, they breathed nothing but indignation against the enemy, and possibly, with some contempt of his present enterprises, proposed to the Athenians to correct his arrogance by an invasion of his own kingdom. Demosthenes, on the contrary, insists on the necessity of self-defence, endeavors to rouse his hearers from their security by the terror of impending danger, and affects to consider the defence of Olynthus as the last and only means of preserving the very being of Athens.


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Chicago: Demosthenes, "Introduction," The Second Olynthiac Oration, trans. Thomas Leland, D.D. Original Sources, accessed February 20, 2020,

MLA: Demosthenes. "Introduction." The Second Olynthiac Oration, translted by Thomas Leland, D.D., Original Sources. 20 Feb. 2020.

Harvard: Demosthenes, 'Introduction' in The Second Olynthiac Oration, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 20 February 2020, from