Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ian Worthington's "Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece"

Ian Worthington is Professor of History at the University of Missouri and author of Alexander the Great: Man and God and Philip II of Macedonia.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece, and reported the following:
Page 99 of the book oddly enough is a turning point for both its central character, Demosthenes, and his bitterest adversary, King Philip II of Macedonia. Demosthenes came to be the most powerful politician of ancient Athens and Greece's greatest orator. His earlier political career, however, was undistinguished, and his first political speeches of the mid 350s were failures. It was not until Philip II began to threaten Greek independence in the same decade that Demosthenes shot to power on a platform of resisting Philip at all costs before it was too late.

The Athenians were at war with Philip from 357 to 346 BC, although neither side faced the other in battle. Philip had inherited a kingdom in 359 when he became king that was a political, social, military, and economic backwater, but during the years he was at war with Athens he had reshaped Macedonia, stimulated its economy, created an unstoppable army, and made formidable inroads in Greece. His legacy allowed his son Alexander the Great to achieve his spectacular successes in Asia. As a stepping-stone to establishing a power base in Greece, Philip had exploited a "sacred war" waged by several Greek states to liberate the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi from the clutches of another state and a large band of mercenaries. Both of these wars ended in 346. Page 99 of my book talks of the strength of Philip at the end of his war with Athens and the death throes of the sacred war, which propelled Philip to influence central Greek affairs until his assassination a decade later. The same page also speaks of the Athenian resolution to continue resisting Philip, and thus sets the scene for Demosthenes' rise to prominence. His anti-Macedonian policy of the later 340s and early 330s BC would become that of Athens, but ultimately it resulted in failure when Philip defeated the Greeks at the famous Battle of Chaeronea in 338 and imposed Macedonian hegemony over them.
Learn more about Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece.

--Marshal Zeringue