Scanned text contains errors.
p. 844 j Diog. Laert. iii. 46 ; Cic. Brut. 31, Orat. 4 ; QuintiL xiii. 2. § 22, 10. § 24 ; Gelling, iii. 13.) It may be that Demosthenes knew and esteemed Plato, but it is more than doubtful whether he received his instruction ; and to make him, as some critics have done, a perfect Platonic, is certainly going too far. According to some accounts he was instructed in oratory by Isocrates (Plut. Vit. X Orat. p. 844 ; Phot. Bibl. p. 492), but this was a disputed point with the ancients themselves, some of whom stated, that he was not personally instructed by Isocrates, but only that he studied the Tex*"n pyTopiKT]., which Isocrates had written. (Plut. Vit. X Orat. p. 837, D&m. 5.) The tradition of Demosthenes having been a pupil of Iso-erates is, moreover, not supported by any evidence derived from the orations of Demosthenes himself, who speaks with contempt of the rhetorical school of Isocrates (c. Lacrin. pp. 928, 937), and an unbiassed reader of the works of the two orators cannot discover any direct influence of the elder upon the younger one, for certain words and phrases cannot assuredly be taken as proofs to the contrary. The account that Demosthenes was instructed in oratory by Isaeus (Plut. Dem. 5, Vit. X Orat. p. 844 ; Phot. BibL p. 492), lias much more probability ; for at that time Isaeus was the most eminent orator in matters connected with the laws of inheritance, the very thing which Demosthenes needed. This account is further supported by the fact, that the earliest orations of Demosthenes, viz. those against Aphobus and Onetor, bear so strong a resemblance to those of Isaeus, that the ancients themselves believed them to have been composed by Isaeus for Demosthenes, or that the latter had written them under the guidance of the former. (Plut. Vit. X Orat. p. 839 ; Liban. Vit. Dem. p. 3, Argum. ad Orat. c. Onet. p. 875.) We may suppose without much hesitation, that during the latter years of his minority Demosthenes privately prepared himself for the career of an orator, to which he was urged on by his peculiar circumstances no less than by the admiration he felt for the orators of his time, and that during the first years after his attaining the age of manhood he availed himself of the instruction of Isaeus.
Immediately after becoming of age in B. c. 366, Demosthenes called upon his guardians to render him an account of their administration of his property ; but by intrigues they contrived to defer the business for two years, which was perhaps less disagreeable to him, as he had to prepare himself and to acquire a certain legal knowledge and oratorical power before he could venture to come forward in his own cause with any hope of success. In the course of these two years, however, the matter was twice investigated by the diaetetae, and was decided each time in favour of Demosthenes. (Dem. c. Apliob. i. p. 828, c. Aphob. iii. p. 861.) At length, in the third year after his coming of age, in the archonship of Timocrates, b. c. 364 (Dem. c. Onet. p. 868), Demosthenes brought his accusation against Aphobus before the archon, reserving to himself the right to bring similar charges against Demophon and Therippides, which, however, he does not appear to have done (c. Aphob. i. p. 817; Plut. Vit. X Orat. p. 844; Zozim. Vit. Dem. p. 147). Aphobus was condemned to pay a fine of ten talents. This verdict was obtained bv Demosthenes in the face of all the
intrigues to which Aphobus had resorted for the
purpose of thwarting him and involving him in o series of other law-suits (c. Aphob. p. 862). The extant orations of Demosthenes against Aphobus, who endeavoured to -prevent his taking possession of his property, refer to these transactions. Demosthenes had thus gained a signal victory over his enemies, notwithstanding all the extraordinary disadvantages under which he laboured, for his physical constitution was weak, and his organ of speech deficient—whence, probably, he derived the nickname of jSaraAos, the delicate youth, or the stammerer,—and it was only owing to the most unwearied and persevering exertions that he succeeded in overcoming and removing the obstacles which nature had placed in his way. These exertions were probably made by him after he had arrived at the age of manhood. In this manner, and by speaking in various civil cases, he prepared himself for the career of a political orator and statesman. It is very doubtfol whether Demosthenes, like some of his predecessors-, engaged also in teaching rhetoric, as some of his Greek biographers assert.
The suit against Aphobas had made Meidias a formidable and implacable enemy of Demosthenes (Dem. c. Apliob. ii. p. 840, c. Meld. p. 539, &c.)9 and the danger to which he thus became exposed was the more fearful, since except his personal powers and virtues he had nothing to oppose to Meidias, who was the most active member of a coterie, which, although yet without any definite political tendenc}7", was preparing the ruin of the republic by violating its laws and sacrificing its resources to personal and selfish interests. The first acts of open hostility were committed in b. c. 361, when Meidias forced his way into the house of Demosthenes and insulted the members of his family. This led Demosthenes to bring against him the action of Kcutyyopia, and when Meidias after his condemnation did not fulfil his obligations, Demosthenes brought against him a 5i«7? e£ouA77s, (Dem. c. Meicl. p. 540, £c.) Meidias found mesms to prevent any decision being given far a period of eight years, and at length, in b. c. 354, lie had an opportunity to take revenge upon Demosthenes, who had in that year voluntarily undertaken the choregia. Meidias not only endeavoured in all possible ways to prevent Demosthenes from discharging his office in its proper form, but attacked him with open violence during the celebration of the great Dionysia. (Dem. c. Meid. p. 518.) Such an act committed before the eyes of the people demanded reparation, and Demosthenes brought an action against him. Public opinion condemned Meidias, and it was in vain that he made all possible efforts to intimidate Demosthenes, who remained firm in spite of all his enemy's machinations, until at length, when an amicable arrangement was proposed, Demosthenes accepted it, and withdrew his accusation. It is said that he received from Meidias the sum of thirty minae. (Plut. Dem. 12 ; Aeschin. c. Ctesiph. § 52.) The reason why Demosthenes withdrew his accusation was in all probability his fear of the powerful party of which Meidias was the leader; his accepting the sum of thirty minae, which, however, can scarcely be treated as an authentic fact (Isid. Epist. iv. 205), has been looked upon as an illegal act, and has been brought forward as a proof that Demosthenes was accessible to bribes. But the law which forbade the .dropping of a public accusation (Dem. c. Meid. p. 529)