The Oration on Peace

Author: Demosthenes  | Date: 346 BC


To the Oration on the Peace

THE Athenians sent those succors to Olynthus which were recommended in the preceding oration (The Third Olynthiac Oration). But they could not defend that state against its domestic enemies; for, the year following, two of its citizens, Lasthenes and Euthycrates, betrayed the city to Philip. He razed it, threw part of the inhabitants in chains, sold another part, and distinguished the two traitors only by the cruelty of their death. His two brothers, who had been harbored in Olynthus, he also sacrificed to his jealousy and revenge.

These events, no less than the repeated instances of Demosthenes, prevailed on the Athenians to declare war against Philip in form. Hitherto he had kept some measures with them, and had sought various pretences for glossing over his hostilities; but now he fell with the utmost fury on all their tributary states, and obliged Demosthenes to appear once more in the assembly, to persuade the Athenians to defend the islanders and their colonies which lay on the Hellespont. But scarcely had the war been declared, when the vigor of their enemy, and their own fickleness and indolence, made them weary of it. Ctesiphon and Phrynon were sent to sound Philip’s dispositions towards a separate peace. This was as he could wish. The Phocian War was at present the object of his views; and his arts had just regained the Thessalians over to the confederacy, who had been prevailed on to stand neutral. To the Athenian ministers, therefore, he made such professions, that Demosthenes and nine others were sent to negotiate the peace; who proceeded as far as they were authorized, and returned with Antipater, Parmenio, and Eurylochus, on the part of Philip. Ambassadors were sent soon after from Athens, with full powers to conclude the treaty. In the first of these embassies Demosthenes had met with some Athenian prisoners in Macedon, whom he promised to redeem at his own expense, and took this opportunity to perform it; while his colleagues, in the mean time, were to proceed with all expedition, in order to conclude with Philip. Three months elapsed, however, before they came to an audience with the king, who was all this time making himself master of those places in Thrace which the Athenians claimed as their right. At last the terms of the treaty were agreed to; but by affected delays, and by corrupting the ambassadors, he found means to defer the execution of it until he had advanced his troops into Thessaly, in order to proceed against the Phocians. He then conducted the peace; and, on their return, the ambassadors who had conducted the treaty (and Aeschines in particular) expatiated on his candor and sincerity. They declared at the very time when he was giving Thebes the most solemn assurances that he would exterminate the Phocians, that his sole views were to screen this people from the fury of their enemies, and to control the insolence of the Thebans. They also vouched for his performing several things in favor of the state, not formally stipulated in the treaty. Thus were the Athenians amused, and Philip suffered to pass the straits of Thermopylae, and to pursue his march into Phocis.

His reputation and approach struck such a terror into the Phocians, that, although they received a reinforcement of a thousand Spartans, they yet sent to treat, or rather to submit. He allowed Phalecus, with eight thousand mercenaries, to retire into Peloponnesus; but the rest, who were inhabitants of Phocis, were left at his mercy. The disposal of these he referred to the Amphictyons, from an affected regard to the authority of an assembly composed of the representatives of the states of Greece. They thundered out the severest decrees against this wretched people. Among other things, it was enacted that they should lose their seat in the Amphictyonic council, and that the double voice which they had enjoyed in it should be transferred to Philip, who, by the same resolution, gained the superintendency of the Pythian games, which the Corinthians forfeited by taking part with the Phocians.

The Athenians had not been present at Philip’s election into this council; and probably, to avoid all opposition, he had assembled only such Amphictyons as were devoted to his interest. He thought it proper however, to send circular letters to the absent states, inviting them to assemble at Delphos, and to ratify his election.

Athens, among others, received the invitation; and as Philip’s ambitious designs could be no longer concealed, many were for violent measures. The proposal raised a ferment in the assembly, which seems to have breathed nothing but indignation and opposition. On this occasion Demosthenes thought it his duty to moderate their heat; and in the following oration endeavors to prevent their being betrayed into any rash and imprudent measures.


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Chicago: Demosthenes, "Introduction," The Oration on Peace, trans. Thomas Leland, D.D. Original Sources, accessed January 20, 2020,

MLA: Demosthenes. "Introduction." The Oration on Peace, translted by Thomas Leland, D.D., Original Sources. 20 Jan. 2020.

Harvard: Demosthenes, 'Introduction' in The Oration on Peace, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 20 January 2020, from