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. Of Paeania in Attica, a son of Demosthenes's sister. He inherited the true patriotic sentiments of his great uncle, though it cannot perhaps be denied, that in his mode of acting and speaking he transgressed the boundaries of a proper freedom and carried it to the verge of impudence. Timaeus in his history calumniated his personal character, but Demochares has found an able defender in Polybius. (12.13.) After the death of Demosthenes, he was one of the chief supporters of the anti-Macedonian party at Athens, and distinguished himself as a man of the greatest energy both in words and deeds. (Athen. 13.593; Plut. Demetr. 24; Aelian, Ael. VH 3.7, 8.12.) His political merits are detailed in the psephisma which is preserved in Plutarch (Vit. X Orat. p. 851), and which was carried on the proposal of his son Laches. There are considerable difficulties in restoring the chronological order of the leading events of his life, and we shall confine ourselves here to giving an outline of them, as they have been made out by Droysen in the works cited below. After the restoration of the Athenian democracy in B. C. 307 by Demetrius Poliorcetes, Demochares was at the head of the patriotic party, and remained in that position till B. C. 303, when he was compelled by the hostility of Stratocles to flee from Athens. (Plut. Demetr. 24.) He returned to Athens in B. C. 298, and in the beginning of the war which lasted for four years, from B. C. 297 to 294, and in which Demetrius Poliorcetes recovered the influence in Greece, which he had lost at the battle of Ipsus, Demochares fortified Athens by repairing its walls, and provided the city with ammunition and provision. In the second year of that war (a. 100.296) he was sent as ambassador, first to Philip (Seneca, de Ira, 3.23), and afterwards to Antipater, the son of Cassander. (Polyb. l.c.) In the same year he concluded a treaty with the Boeotians, in consequence of which he was expelled soon after by the antidemocratic party, probably through the influence of Lachares. In the archonship of Diodes, B. C. 287 or 286, however, he again returned to Athens, and distinguished himself in the administration of the public finances, especially by reducing the expenditure. About B. C. 282 he was sent as ambassador to Lysimachus, from whom he obtained at first thirty, and afterwards one hundred talents. At the same time he proposed an embassy to the king of Egypt, from which the Athenians gained the sum of fifty talents. The last act of his life of which we have any record, is that, in B. C. 280, in the archonship of Gorgias, he proposed and carried the decree in honour of his uncle Demosthenes. (Plut. Vit. X Orat. pp. 847, 850.)

Demochares developed his talents and principles in all probability under the direction of Demosthenes, and he came forward as a public orator as early as B. C. 322, when Antipater demanded of the Athenians to deliver up to him the leaders of the popular party. (Plut. Vit. X Orat. p. 847.) Some time after the restoration of the democracy he supported Sophocles, who proposed a decree that no philosopher should establish a school without the sanction of the senate and people, and that any one acting contrary to this law should be punished with death. (D. L. 5.38; Athen. v. pp. 187, 215, xi. p. 508, xiii. p. 610; Pollux, 9.42 ; Euseb. Praep. Evang. 15.2. Comp. SOPHOCLES.) Demochares left behind him not only several orations (a fragment of one of them is preserved in Rutilius Lupus [p. 7, &c.], but also an extensive historical work, in which he related the history of his own time, but which, as Cicero says, was written in an oratorical rather than an historical style. (Cic. Brut. 83, de Orat. 2.23.) The twenty-first book of it is quoted by Athenaeus (vi. p. 252, &c. Comp. Plut. Dem. 30 ; Lucian, Macrob. 10.) With the exception of a few fragments, his orations as well as his history are lost. (Droysen, Gesch. der Nachfolger Alexand. p. 497, &c., and more especially his essay in the Zeitschrift für die Alterthumswissenschaft for 1836, Nos. 20 and 21; Westermann, Gesch. der Griech. Beredts. § 53, notes 12 and 13.72, note 1).