The Ancient Library

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On this page: Demos – Demosthenes



by Demeter, when, in her search for Perse­phone, she came to Eleusis in the form of an old woman. Demeter found comfort in the care of the child, and wished to confer immortality on him by anointing him with ambrosia and holding him at night over the fire. The interference of the mother, how­ever, prevented the fulfilment of her design (see demeter). Triptolemus in some ver­sions takes the place of Demophoon (see triptolemus).

(2) Son of Theseus and Phaedra. With his brother Acamas he was committed by Theseus to Elepheuor, prince of the Abantes in Eubcea. This was at the time when Theseus, on his return from the lower regions, found Menestheus in possession of the sovereignty of Attica, and was anxious to emigrate to Scyros. In the post-Homeric story Demophoon and Acamas march to Troy with their protector Elephenor. After the conquest of the city they liberate their grandmother jEthra, and take possession again of their father's kingdom, as Menes­theus, who in Homer is the chief of the Athenians before Troy, had fallen there (see jETHRA). When Diflmedes was thrown upon the coast of Attica on his return from Troy, and began to plunder it in ignorance of where he was, Demophoon took the Palladium from him. Subsequently he protected the children of Heracles against the persecutions of Eurystheus, and killed the latter in battle. On his return from Troy he had betrothed himself to Phyllis, daughter of the king of Thrace. On the day appointed for the marriage he did not appear, and Phyllis hanged herself and was changed into a tree.

Demds. A Greek word meaning: (1) the people, either in contrast with a despot or the nobility, or as the depository of ] supreme power. (2) a district or region. Thus in the Athenian state the denies were the hundred administrative districts formed by Cllsthenes, of which ten were contained in each of the ten tribes or phylcK. The demes were named after the small towns and hamlets, and sometimes from distinguished families living there and owning property at the time of the division. In course of time the number of the demes increased through extension and division, so that in the age of Augustus it amounted to 174. According to the original arrangement all persons who belonged to a deme lived in its precincts. The descend­ants belonged to the same demes as their ancestors, even though they neither lived

nor owned property there. To pass from one deme to another was only possible by adoption. To own property in a strange deme it was necessary to pay a special tax to it. As every citizen was obliged to belong to a deme, the complete official de­scription of him included the name of his deme as well as of his father. Every deme had certain common religious rites, presided over by special priests. The demtitce, or members of a deme, had also a common property, a common chest for receiving the rents and taxes, common officers with a demarchus at their head, and common meetings for the discussion of common interests, elections, and so forth. At these meetings the names of the young citizens of eighteen years old were written in the registers of the deme, and after two years were enrolled in the lists of persons quali­fied to take part in the meetings. It was also at these assemblies that the regular revision of the lists of Athenian citizens took place.

Demosthenes. The greatest orator of antiquity, born in 384 b.c., in the Attic deme Pseania. His father, who bore the same name, was the wealthy owner of a manufactory of arms. He died before his son was seven years old, and the young Demos­thenes grew up under the tender care of his mother. The boy's ambition was excited by the brilliant successes of the orator Callistratus, and he was eager at the same time to bring to justice his dishonest guardiars for the wrong done to him and his sisters. He therefore devoted himself to the study of oratory under the special instruction of Isseus. The influence of this master is very evident in his speeches delivered in 364 against one of his guar­dians, Aphobus, with his brother-in-law Onetor. Demosthenes won his case, but did not succeed in getting either from Aphobus or from his other guardians any adequate compensation for the loss of nearly thirteen talents (some £2,600) which he had sus­tained. To support himself and his rela­tions, he took up the lucrative business of writing speeches for others, as well as appearing in person as an advocate in the courts. His two first attempts at address­ing the assembled people were, partly owing to the unwieldiness of his style, partly from a faulty delivery, complete failures. But Demosthenes, so far from being daunted, made superhuman efforts to overcome the defects entailed by a weak chest and a stammering tongue, and to perfect himself

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