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(ĕ`skĭnēz), c.390–314? B.C., Athenian orator, rival of DemosthenesDemosthenes
, 384?–322 B.C., Greek orator, generally considered the greatest of the Greek orators. He was a pupil of Isaeus, and—although the story of his putting pebbles in his mouth to improve his voice is only a legend—he seems to have been forced to
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. Aeschines rose from humble circumstances and became powerful in politics because of his oratorical gifts. At first he opposed Philip II of Macedon, then later changed sides, arguing that resistance to Macedonian power was useless. Both he and Demosthenes were members of the embassy to Philip in 348 B.C., and afterward Demosthenes bitterly and baselessly accused Aeschines of accepting Macedonian bribes. He was to have been joined in his action by Timarchus, but Aeschines prevented this by his oration Against Timarchus (345 B.C.). Aeschines defended himself well in his oration On the False Legation (342 B.C.)—a title also used by Demosthenes in his accusatory oration. The trouble between the orators grew and culminated in a dispute over a gold crown that the orator Ctesiphon proposed should be given Demosthenes in 330 B.C. Aeschines brought suit with Against Ctesiphon. Demosthenes replied with his sturdy defense On the Crown. Aeschines lost and was fined, and retired to Asia Minor where, according to Plutarch, he lived as a professional Sophist.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Born circa 390 B.C.; died 314 B.C. Athenian political figure and orator. A leader of the supporters of Macedonia.

Along with Demosthenes, Aeschines was a member of the delegation that concluded the peace of Philocrates with Macedonia in 346 B.C.; the terms of the treaty were extremely harsh and disadvantageous for Athens. A bitter dispute arose between Demosthenes and Aeschines concerning the aims of the treaty, and Demosthenes charged Aeschines with treason. In 345 and 343, Aeschines defended himself against the charges; the first two of his three extant speeches are part of this defense.

After Macedonia had established hegemony over the Greek city-states, Aeschines in turn brought a number of serious charges against Demosthenes; the third of his extant speeches related to these charges. Demosthenes successfully defended himself, however, and Aeschines went into exile in order to avoid paying a heavy fine; he thereafter spent most of his time in Rhodes, where he taught rhetoric.


Discours, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1927–28.
The Speeches of Aeschines. Cambridge, Mass., 1948.
In Russian translation:
“Grecheskie oratory.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1962, nos. 3–4.


Ramming, G. Die politische Ziele und Wege des Aischines. Erlangen-Nuremburg, 1965. (Dissertation.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.