Chapter 14 The Peek-a-Boo Presence of Aeschines in Plutarch’s Demosthenes

In: Plutarch’s Unexpected Silences
Author: Craig Cooper

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At Demosthenes 15.5 Plutarch calls into question Idomeneus’ claim that Aeschines was acquitted by 30 votes in the trial over his actions on the Second Embassy to Philip. Plutarch states, however, that it is unclear whether Demosthenes’ speech (D. 19) on the false embassy was ever delivered. He draws this conclusion based, it would seem, on his own reading of Aeschines and Demosthenes: “But it would seem to hold no truth, if one must judge by the speeches on the crown (D. 18; Aeschin. 3) written by each man, for neither of them has distinctly and clearly mentioned the suit as actually coming to trial.” Plutarch’s words suggest familiarity on his part with these two speeches, which not only serve as important sources for the Demosthenes but are, I argue, the only speeches directly used for biographical information. In the case of Aeschines, his presence looms large in the first twenty-four chapters of the Life until his voluntary exile to Rhodes, the result of failing to receive one-fifth of the vote in his suit against Ctesiphon. Plutarch references Aeschines several times in these first chapters as a source, but ignores at times important details that Aeschines provides about Demosthenes. In this chapter I also explore why Plutarch includes what he does, and at times excludes or at least is silent on certain other details from Aeschines 3.

Plutarch’s Unexpected Silences

Suppression and Selection in the Lives and Moralia



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