MESSRS. SIMCOX'S DEMOSTHENES AND .ISCHINES DE CORONA.*
Is is unfortunate that we have no contemporary history of the rise of the Macedonian power under Philip, and of its struggle with Athens. Such a history once existed, the work of Theo- pompus, in fifty-eight books ; it was known as the Philippica, and seems to have been a thoroughly exhaustive account of the twenty- four years of Philip's reign. The author was a man of ability, as well as of prodigious industry. Had the fruit of his labours been preserved, we should, no doubt, have as clear a picture of the father of Alexander, and of his age, as we have of the Pelo- ponnesian war in the pages of Thucydides. As it is, we are, for this period, at the mercy of the ex parte statements of the orators, the foremost of whom were the two great rivals, Demosthenes and /Eschines. Most of the speeches of the first have happily come down to us. For more reasons than one, we may con- gratulate ourselves on the possession of his Speech on the Crown.
Athens was at this time both politically and intellectually at the head of the Greek States. If the formidable growth of the Northern power was to be checked, it was for her to do it. But Athenian public opinion was divided. Some thought the thing hopeless and impracticable, others were really in sympathy with Philip. There was a Macedonian party at Athens, as there was in several other States. No doubt, many honest men belonged to this party, for there had long been an idea that it was for the interest of Athens not to come into colli- sion with Macedon. It was not a purely barbarous power; it had something of a Hellenic character, and its kings were anxious to be thought in all essential respects Greeks. So it was not very difficult for the scheming and ambitious Philip to persuade people
• The Orations of Demosthenes and zEsehines on the Crown. With Introductory Essays and Notes. By G. A. Simcox and W. H. Simeon Clarendon Press Series. London : Macmillan and Co.
into believing that he was no enemy to Greece and her old traditions. His partisans could say, in reply to those who distrusted and feared him, that such persons "did not give Philip a chance of being useful to the city." /Eschines led this party, Demosthenes opposed it. The contest between them culminated after Philip's death, in the year which saw the utter overthrow of Persia by his son. In that year the Macedonian party at Athens was stronger than ever, and it seemed to Demosthenes' enemies a good oppor- tunity for prosecuting a citizen to whom, six years before, they had proposed a vote of public honour. His old rival made a bitter speech for the prosecution, and taunted him with miserable half- heartedness and cowardice in that anti-Macedonian policy for which he took so much credit.
To this, the famous Speech for the Crown is a reply, and in Mr. Grote's opinion, a successful one. In it Demosthenes vindicates his whole political career. Our sympathies naturally go with him. He was, at least, under circumstances of peculiar difficulty, the champion of a noble cause, and he would seem to have done his best to recall Athens to a sense of her past greatness and her present responsibility. Athens was still the beat and truest representative of Greece. She could even yet rouse herself to great efforts, though too fitfully to be of much use in coping with so highly organised a power as that of Macedon. In culture she was unrivalled. She had failed in her struggle with the enemy of the liberties of Greece, but, as the orator says, she had no reason to be ashamed. She had shown a patriotism worthy of old times. " I cannot admit," he says, "that you made a blunder in undertaking a peril for the freedom and safety of all ; no, I swear it by your ancestors, who fought at Marathon, who stood in battle-array at Platma, and who conquered at Salamis." So Demosthenes, while defending himself, was, in fact, as Mr. Grote says, pronouncing the funeral oration of Athenian and Greek freedom. He had delivered the customary panegyric over those who had fallen on the disastrous field of Chmroneia. Unhappily, we have not that speech, but we may console ourselves with the reflection that in this Speech on the Crown he travels over much of the same ground.
The edition of Messrs. G. A. and W. H. Simcox will be found to contain much useful matter. The introductory essays particu- larly deserve attention, and are evidently the results of much painstaking research. The life of Demosthenes is a well-worn subject, but Messrs. Simcox have contrived to invest it with new interest, and we undertake to say that even thorough students of the histories of Grote and Thirlwall will learn something from it. We agree with them in thinking that Demosthenes, great as he was, was not perfect as an orator, that his eloquence rushes and does not flow, and that we look in vain for the repose of secure and confident exposition, of unembarassed narrative. He was not, in fact, so finished a speaker as some of his contempo- raries, and this seems to have been recognised by ancient critics. In this respect he was inferior to Cicero, while as a statesman, he on the whole contrasts favourably with him.
We ought not to pass over the essay on the Practice Politics of the Age of Demosthenes. In this are discussed the state of Athens, of Persia, and the general political attitude of both Macedon and Athens. It contains, too, some very interesting reflections on the arrest of the material development of Greece, the population and wealth of which had now come to a standstill. With the close of the period of colonisation, Greek society had ceased to advance and diffuse itself ; individual wealth de- pended less on enterprise than on accumulation ; the rich continued to get richer, while the poor got fewer, instead of poorer. Greece, too, became drained of all the men of spirit who had failed -in one revolution, or who were too impatient to wait for the next. There was also a moral stagnation, and a feebleness of public opinion which tolerated traitors and takers of bribes. There was a tendency for every one to do the best he could for himself, and there was a swarm of politicians resembling the sage in Plato's Republic, who stands under a wall to let the storm go by. There was, in fact, a base and selfish individualism, which was the curse of Greece, and there was no sufficiently strong sentiment to discourage it per- sistently and effectually.
We are inclined to think that Messrs. Simcox are a little too sparing of help in their notes. Even advanced students, we should suppose, would occasionally require rather more help than they have seen fit to give them. Of course it is a vexed question as to how much may be reasonably expected of an editor in the way of explanation. But we think that the famous passage in which Demosthenes insultingly describes his rival's ante- cedents and those of his parents, needs more elucidation than
is to be found ai the notes of this edition. It is full of diffi- culties, some of which are not so much as touched. But for the most part, we decidedly recommend this volume to all students of the Greek orators, and especially its introductory essays.