A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

2. An eminent Athenian orator and demagogue of the Colyttean demus, who flourished at and after the time of the Thirty Tyrants, in effecting whose overthrow he appears to have borne a leading part. He is placed by Clinton at B. C. 402, on the authority of Deinarchus c. Demosth. p. 100. 4, ed. Steph., compare p. 95. 7-8.) This date is confirmed by Demosthenes, who mentions him in connexion with Callistratus, Aristophon the Azenian, and Thrasybulus. (De Coron. p. 301.) He is summoned by Andocides to plead for him at the end of the oration De Mysteriis. (B. C. 400.) He flourished at least thirty years longer. Aeschines (who calls him ὁ παλαιὸς ἐκεῖνος ὁ δοκῶν δημοτικώτατος γεγονέναι) relates, that, on one occasion, when he was opposed to Aristophon the Azenian, the latter boasted that he had been acquitted seventy-five times of accusations against his public conduct, but Cephalus replied, that during his long public life he had never been accused. (c. Ctesiph. p. 81. 39, ed. Steph.; see the answer of Dem. de Coron. pp. 310-11.) He had a daughter named Oea, who was married to Cherops. (Suid. s.v. Harpocrat. s. v. Οἰῆθεν.) Tzetzes (Chil. vi. Hist. 34) confounds this Cephalus with the father of Lysias. In spite of the coincidence on the point of never having been accused, they must have been different persons, at least if the date given above for the death of Lysias's father be correct.

The Scholiast on Aristophanes asserts, that the Cephalus whom the poet mentions (Eccles.248) as a scurrilous and low-born demagogue, but powerful in the Ecclesia, was not the same person as the orator mentioned by Demosthenes. This is perhaps a mistake, into which the Scholiast was led by the high respect with which Cephalus is referred to by Demosthenes, as well as by Aeschines and Deinarchus. The attacks of an Athenian comic poet are no certain evidence of a public man's worthlessness.

According to Suidas (s. v.), Cephalus was the first orator who composed προοίμια and ἐπιλόγοι. A small fragment from him is preserved in the Etymologicon Magnum (s. v. Ἐπιτιμία). Athenaeus (xiii. p. 592c.) states, that he wrote an ἐγκώμιον on the celebrated courtezan Lagis (or Lais), the mistress of Lysias. Ruhnken (Hist. Crit. Orat. Graec. § 5) supposes, that the writer mentioned by Athenaeus was a different person from the orator, but his only reason for this opinion is, that such an ἐγκώμιον is unworthy of a distinguished orator.