The Orations of Demosthenes

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Chapter XII Demosthenes and the Struggle Against Philip



The Third Philippic


That Philip from a mean and humble origin has grown mighty, that the Greeks are jealous and quarreling among themselves, that it was far more wonderful for him to rise from that insignificance, than it would now be, after so many acquisitions, to conquer what is left; these and similar matters, which I might dwell upon, I pass over. But I observe that all people, beginning with you, have conceded to him a right, which in former times has been the subject of contest in every Greek war. And what is this? The right of doing what he pleases, openly fleecing and pillaging the Greeks, one after another, attacking and enslaving their cities. You were at the head of the Greeks for seventy-three1 years, the Spartans for twenty-nine,2 and the Thebans had some power in these latter times after the battle of Leuctra. Yet neither you, my countrymen, nor Spartans nor Thebans, were licensed by the Greeks to act as you pleased; far otherwise. When you, or rather the Athenians of that time, appeared to be dealing harshly with certain people, all the rest, even such as had no complaint against Athens, thought proper to side with the injured parties in a war against her. So, when the Spartans became masters and succeeded to your empire, on their attempting to encroach and make oppressive innovations, a general war was declared against them, even by such as had no cause of complaint. . . .

Yet all the faults committed by the Spartans in those thirty years and by our ancestors in the seventy are less, men of Athens, than the wrongs which Philip in thirteen incomplete years has inflicted on the Greeks. Nay, they are scarcely a fraction of these, as may easily be shown in a few words. Olynthus1 and Methone1 and Apollonia,1 and thirty-two cities on the borders of Thrace, I pass over. All these he has so cruelly destroyed, that a visitor could hardly tell if they were ever inhabited. Of the Phocians, so considerable a people exterminated,2 I say nothing. But what is the condition of Thessaly? Has he not taken away her constitutions and her cities? . . . . Are not the Eubœan states governed now by despots, and that in an island near to Thebes and Athens? Does he not expressly write in his epistles, "I am at peace with those who are willing to obey me?" Nor does he write so and not act accordingly. He is gone to the Hellespont; he marched formerly against Ambracia; Elis, such an important city in the Peloponnesus, he possesses; he plotted lately to get Megara: neither Greek nor barbarian land contains the man’s ambition.

And we the Greek community, seeing and hearing this, instead of sending embassies to one another about it and expressing indignation, are in such a miserable state, so intrenched in our separate towns, that to this day we can attempt nothing that interest or necessity requires. We cannot combine or form any association for succor and alliance. We look unconcernedly on the man’s growing power, each resolving to enjoy the interval that another is destroyed in, not caring or striving for the salvation of Greece. Yet none can be ignorant that Philip, like some attack of fever or other disease, is coming even on those that yet seem very far removed. And you must be aware that whatever wrong the Greeks sustained from Spartans or from us, was at least inflicted by genuine people of Greece. . . . In regard to Philip and his conduct they feel not this, for he is no Greek and in no way akin to Greeks. . . . He is, in fact, a vile fellow of Macedonia from which a respectable slave could not be purchased formerly.1

1 , translated by C. R. Kennedy. 5 vols. London, 1876–1878. George Bell and Sons.

2 Demosthenes, Philippics, iii, 27–40.

1 From the conclusion of the Persian invasions to the end of the Peloponnesian War.

2 Reckoning from the battle of Ægospotami, 405 B. C., to the battle of Naxos, 376 B. C.

1 The cities of Chalcidice.

2 In the Second Sacred War.

1 Allowance for oratorical exaggeration must be made here. Philip was a Greek, and no barbarian.

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Chicago: C. R. Kennedy, trans., The Orations of Demosthenes in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 130–132. Original Sources, accessed March 24, 2023,

MLA: . The Orations of Demosthenes, translted by C. R. Kennedy, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 130–132. Original Sources. 24 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: (trans.), The Orations of Demosthenes. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.130–132. Original Sources, retrieved 24 March 2023, from