By Andrew J. Bayliss
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Additional info for After Demosthenes: The Politics of Early Hellenistic Athens
Each act is lamentable, but there are mitigating circumstances. In the cases of Socrates and the Arginusae generals, religious scruples are to blame. In the case of Phocion, rather than a leader who rightly criticizes the excesses of democracy, he is a traitor who betrays Athens to the Macedonians. 40 Thus, while Thirlwall (1835–44, vol. 7, p. 256) sees the trial as ‘renewing the foulest iniquity of the proceedings which followed the battle of Arginusæ’, he makes it clear that Phocion was to blame for his own death, betraying Athens by losing faith in the ability of his fellow citizens to maintain their liberty at a time of crisis: Had he lived in an earlier period, he might have served his country, like Nicias, with unsullied honour.
This chapter entitled ‘Disturbances in Athens – Demosthenes and Phocion – Demetrius Phalereus’ (1779, pp. 321–9) outlines the failures and crimes of the Hellenistic Athenians, and sets the tone for his account of the Hellenistic period as a time of ‘crimes of ambition’ and ‘the horrors of war’ (1779, p. 332). Albeit no admirer of Demosthenes, Millot (1779, p. 324) describes his death as coinciding with ‘the ruin of that Republic’, goes on (1779, p. 326) to call the execution of Phocion as ‘a most enormous act of injustice’, and expresses dismay (1779, pp.
The Reception of Hellenistic Athens 41 Their speech was certainly Grecian, their manners were Grecian, their religion was Grecian; with differences, as far as they are reported to us, not greater than existed among the different republics. Eighteenth-century writers even allow the Seleucids and Ptolemies Greek status. Robertson (1793, p. 36) justifies extending his Greek history to the Roman conquest by claiming that for other writers, ‘the end of the history of Greece is . . extended to the period of the extinction of the government of the Seleucidae in Asia by Pompey the Great .
After Demosthenes: The Politics of Early Hellenistic Athens by Andrew J. Bayliss