The Second Philippic

Author: Demosthenes  | Date: 344 BC


To the Second Philippic

THE Greeks thought it proper to confirm, or at least not to oppose, Philip’s admission into the council of Amphictyons, where he immediately assumed a despotic power. In every enterprise he armed himself with one of their decrees, and, under pretence of executing them, made a merit of oppressing several states of Greece.

The Thebans opened him an entrance into Peloponnesus, where, from their inveterate hatred to the Lacedaemonians, they were constantly fomenting divisions. They solicited Philip to join with them the Messenians and the Argians, to reduce the power of Lacedaemon, which, without any right but that of the strongest, had erected itself into a kind of sovereignty, to the prejudice of the neighboring states. Philip willingly listened to an overture which agreed so well with his own views. He proposed, or rather dictated, a decree to the Amphictyons, that the Lacedaemonians should suffer Argos and Messene to enjoy an absolute independence; and, under the pretence of supporting their authority, at the same time marched a great body of forces towards those parts.

The Lacedaemonians, justly alarmed, applied to Athens for succor, and strongly urged by their ambassadors the conclusion of a league which was necessary for their common safety. All the powers interested in crossing this league used their utmost diligence to that end. Philip, by his minsters, represented to the Athenians that they could not with justice declare against him; and that, if he had not come to a rupture with the Thebans, he had in this done nothing contrary to his treaty with Athens. And this, indeed, was true with respect to the public articles of the peace, whatever private assurances he might have given their ambassadors. The representatives of Thebes, Argos, and Messene pressed the Athenians on their part, and reproached them with having already too much favored the Lacedaemonians, those enemies of Thebes, and tyrants of Peloponnesus. The strength of those remonstrances somewhat staggered the Athenians. They were unwilling to break with Philip; and then, on the other hand, could not but see danger to themselves in the ruin of Lacedaemon. They were therefore in doubt what answer to give to the Lacedaemonian ambassadors: on which occasion Demosthenes pronounced the following oration.


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Chicago: Demosthenes, "Introduction," The Second Philippic, trans. Thomas Leland, D.D. Original Sources, accessed May 26, 2024,

MLA: Demosthenes. "Introduction." The Second Philippic, translted by Thomas Leland, D.D., Original Sources. 26 May. 2024.

Harvard: Demosthenes, 'Introduction' in The Second Philippic, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 26 May 2024, from