The Public Orations of Demosthenes
The translations included in this volume were written at various times during the last ten years for use in connexion with College Lectures, and a long holiday, for which I have to thank the Trustees of the Balliol College Endowment Fund, as well as the Master and Fellows of Balliol College, has enabled me to revise them and to furnish them with brief introductions and notes. Only those speeches are included which are generally admitted to be the work of Demosthenes, and the spurious documents contained in the MSS. of the Speech on the Crown are omitted. The speeches are arranged in chronological order, and the several introductions to them are intended to supply an outline of the history of the period, sufficient to provide a proper setting for the speeches, but not more detailed than was necessary for this purpose. No discussion of conflicting evidence has been introduced, and the views which are expressed on the character and work of Demosthenes must necessarily seem somewhat dogmatic, when given without the reasons for them. I hope, however, before long to treat the life of Demosthenes more fully in another form. The estimate here given of his character as a politician falls midway between the extreme views of Grote and Schäfer on the one hand, and Beloch and Holm on the other.
I have tried to render the speeches into such English as a political orator of the present day might use, without attempting to impart to them any antique colouring, such as the best-known English translations either had from the first or have acquired by lapse of time. It is of the essence of political oratory that it is addressed to contemporaries, and the translation of it should therefore be into contemporary English; though the necessity of retaining some of the modes of expression which are peculiar to Greek oratory and political life makes it impossible to produce completely the appearance of an English orator's work. The qualities of Demosthenes' eloquence sometimes suggest rather the oratory of the pulpit than that of the hustings or that of Parliament and of the law-courts. I cannot hope to have wholly succeeded in my task; but it seemed to be worth undertaking, and I hope that the work will not prove to have been altogether useless.
I have made very little use of other translations; but I must acknowledge a debt to Lord Brougham's version of the Speeches on the Chersonese and on the Crown, which, though often defective from the point of view of scholarship and based on faulty texts, are (together with his notes) very inspiring. I have also, at one time or another, consulted most of the standard German, French, and English editions of Demosthenes. I cannot now distinguish how much I owe to each; but I am conscious of a special debt to the editions of the late Professor Henri Weil, and of Sir J.E. Sandys, and (in the Speech on the Crown) to that of Professor W.W. Goodwin. I also owe a few phrases in the earliest speeches to Professor W.R. Hardie, whose lectures on Demosthenes I attended twenty years ago. My special thanks are due to my friend Mr. P.E. Matheson of New College, for his kindness in reading the proof-sheets, and making a number of suggestions, which have been of great assistance to me.
The text employed has been throughout that of the late Mr. S.H. Butcher in the Bibliotheca Classica Oxoniensis. Any deviations from this are noted in their place.