Abstract – A Reexamination of Demosthenes’ Opposition to the Macedonians

Demosthenes has often been heralded as a champion of Greek freedom against the Macedonian yoke: a true Panhellenist. But were his speeches true manifestations of a clear policy designed to suppress the northern barbarians? Is his fame as a Panhellenic proponent of Greek independence justified? In many ways, this image of Demosthenes has been exaggerated by the passage of time. By closely examining the words of Demosthenes himself, and framing within the context of contemporary political development, an entirely difference motivation for Demosthenes’ opposition to Philip and Macedon emerges. In actuality, Demosthenes’ opposition to Philip was not derived from a grandiose ideal of anti-Macedonian, pro-Greek sentiments. Demosthenes’ animosity was merely a logical reaction against the growth of Macedonian power. His rhetoric was formed in response to changing political dynamics in the Greek world, dynamics which threatened Athenian interests—not as a uniform opposition to Macedonia and call for Panhellenism. Demosthenes did not hold an unchanging stance toward the Macedonians; rather, his stance shifted in order to reconcile the policies of his individual polis with a political scene increasingly dominated by Macedonian ambitions.

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