Athenian ideology in Demosthenes’ deliberative oratory: hailing the dēmos

Bremner, Sarah Janet Alexandrina (2017). Athenian ideology in Demosthenes’ deliberative oratory: hailing the dēmos. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines Demosthenes’ rhetorical use of Athenian ideology in his deliberative speeches from 351-341 BCE. I argue that during this period of crisis, which is usually narrated in terms of conflict with Macedonia, Demosthenes confronts an internal crisis within the Assembly. While Demosthenes’ deliberative speeches have traditionally been defined as ‘Philippic’, this thesis argues that the speeches do not prioritise an ‘Anti- Macedonian’ agenda, but rather focus on confronting the corruption of the deliberative decision-making process. Due to an attitude of apathy and neglect, Demosthenes’ rhetoric suggests that their external problems are a direct product of this internal crisis, both of which are perpetuated by their failure to recognise how self-sabotaging practices undermine the polis from within. As he asserts in On the Chersonese and the Third Philippic, they cannot hope to deal with their external situation before they deal with their internal crisis. To address this, I argue that Demosthenes’ parrhēsia interweaves criticism of the dēmos with the praise of Athens, using social memory and past exempla both to recall and prescribe didactically the attitudes central to Athenian identity. As such, I propose that the deliberative speeches do not confront a ‘Macedonian Question’, but a fundamentally Athenian one.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: Other
Other Funders: College of Arts and Law Doctoral Scholarship
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DF Greece
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology


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