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Title: History and the making of the orator in Demosthenes and Aeschines
Author: Westwood, Guy A. C. M.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis aims to contribute to the study of the role of the civic past in the public discourse of fourth-century Athens. It does so by close examination of the surviving public speeches of Demosthenes and Aeschines, arguing that presentation of the city’s history in front of mass audiences held singular persuasive potential for public speakers, allowing them to furnish with a more meaningful ethical context both the discussion of issues addressed in the Assembly and the arguments advanced in public trials. Deploying the past convincingly in such settings redounded to speakers’ personal credibility and authority, and Demosthenes and Aeschines – who offer rare examples of paired opposing speeches from the same trials – are selected as ‘case-study’ orators in order to illustrate: i) the importance of the invoking of Athenian historical models, both distant and recent, to Demosthenes’ self-fashioning as a politician; and ii) the extent to which orators made the very question of how to cite the past in public a stake in their wider struggle for political pre-eminence, seeking to be recognized as the ‘true’ and authoritative mediator of this material. These interests are reflected in the organization of the thesis. After an Introduction which discusses key preliminaries, Chapter One argues for Demosthenes’ early recognition of the potential of historical illustration for wider self-presentation, honed over the course of his Assembly career (Chapter Two) to become essential to his self-casting as Athens’s leading statesman. Chapter Three compares Demosthenic and Aeschinean approaches to citing the past in court, in two prosecutions from the mid-340s, and Chapters Four and Five – focusing on the high-profile Embassy and Crown trials – move to argue the importance of each politician’s contestation of the other’s versions of history to their battle over the reputations arising from their careers to date. The Conclusion summarizes, and reflects on some methodological aspects with a view to further work.
Supervisor: Pelling, Christopher; Martin, Gunther Sponsor: Domus Scholarship, Merton College
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; Greek oratory ; Greek rhetoric ; Athenian politics ; Demosthenes ; Aeschines