389-322 BC

Aeschines was a Greek statesman and orator in Ancient Greece. He was designated as one of the 10 greatest Attic orators of his time and best known as the arch-enemy of Demosthenes. Aeschines was born in Athens of a poor family. He first became a soldier, and actor, and a clerk before embarking on a public career.

One of the great issues for a politician in Athens during this period was to decide what to do about Philip II of Macedonia, who was a threat to the independence of Greece. At first, Aechines argued for fighting Philip and prevent him from encroaching on Greek territory. Later he advised the Greek embassy to negotiate a peace with Philip. In 346 he joined with others in the Greek embassy, against the wishes of his fellow statesman and orator Demosthenes, to form a peace agreement with Philip.

Aeschines and Demosthenes fought viciously with one another over the years. In 343 Demosthenes worked to have Aeschines tried for treason and in 330 Aeschines tried to prevent Demosthenes from being given an award for his services to Athens.

After failing to block Demosthenes’s award, Aeschines went to Rhodes in exile, where he established a school of oratory. One day after having read Demosthenes' oration in which defended himself against Aechines, his students applauded enthusiastically. Aeschines then praised Demosthenes and defended his loss to his students by saying: What would you not have said had you heard him thunder out the words himself?

Writings about Aeschines

Worman, Nancy (2004). Insult and oral excess in the disputes between Aeschines and Demosthenes. American Journal of Philology, 125, 1-25.