Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ § 1 (Dem. 1).
Craig Gibson, trans., edition of April 30, 2003
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(1) Olynthus was a city in Thrace, but the people who inhabited it were Greeks from Chalcis in Euboea, which was an Athenian colony. (2) Olynthus had many notable wars. For it had fought the Athenians long ago, back when they ruled over the Greeks. Later, it made war on the Spartans. In time it became very powerful and surpassed its kinsmen’s cities. (There were a lot of Chalcidians in Thrace). (3) The Olynthians made an alliance with Philip, king of Macedon, initially fought alongside him against the Athenians, and from him received Anthemous (a city that was disputed by the Macedonians and Olynthians), as well as Potidaea; this latter city Philip forced to surrender, despite the fact that the Athenians held it at the time, and handed over to the Olynthians. But later the Olynthians began to be suspicious of the king, seeing how swiftly and greatly his power grew and believing his intentions to be untrustworthy. (4) Waiting for him to go abroad, they sent envoys to Athens and broke off the war against them, contrary to their treaty with Philip. (Their treaty stated that they would do everything jointly, whether fighting the Athenians or making treaties about other things that seemed best to them.) (5) Philip had long lacked an excuse to attack Olynthus, but he took this action as one and brought war against them for breaking the treaty and concluding a treaty of friendship with his enemy. They sent ambassadors to Athens to ask for help. Demosthenes speaks on their behalf, urging the people to help the Olynthians. (6) He says that rescuing the Olynthians means security for Athens; for if the Olynthians are rescued (he says), Philip will never move against Attica; rather, the Athenians will be able to sail against Macedon and fight him there. But if this city should come under Philip’s power (he says), the road to Athens will be wide open for the king. By way of encouraging the Athenians against him, Demosthenes says that Philip is not as difficult to defeat as has been assumed. (7) He also discusses the public moneys, advising the people to make them available for military purposes instead of for the Theoric Fund. It is necessary to clarify the custom that the Athenians practiced, since it has not been done previously. (8) Back when they did not have a stone theater but had only wooden platforms fastened together, and everyone would hurry to find a seat, blows and wounds would occur now and then. In an attempt to prevent this, the Athenian leaders sold seats, and everyone had to pay two obols for a seat. In order that the poor might not seem overly burdened by the expense, it was arranged for each person to receive the two obols from the treasury. (9) This is how the custom originated, but it progressed to such a point that people not only received money for theater seats, but divided up all the public moneys among themselves. As a result, they became hesitant to commit to military expeditions. Traditionally, they would receive pay from the city for serving in the army, but at that time they were remaining at home amidst games and festivals and dividing up the money among themselves. (10) So they were no longer willing to go out and risk danger; rather, they even went so far as to make a law about the Theoric Fund, which threatened death to anyone who proposed to revert to the old system and let that money be used for military purposes. (11) Therefore, Demosthenes cautiously enters into deliberation about this subject by posing a question to himself: “Are you proposing that this money be used for military purposes?” He responds: “No, by Zeus, I am not.” So much for the Theoric Fund. (12) The orator also talks about the city’s military forces, demanding that the people serve in the army themselves and not employ the assistance of foreign mercenaries, as they were accustomed to do. For it is this (he says) that is responsible for the current sad state of affairs.
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