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David D. Phillips, with K. Kapparis, edition of March 27, 2003

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· Antiphon ·

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Plutarch (Plut. Mor).
Thucydides (Thuc.).

Antiphon son of Sophilus of the deme Rhamnous (ca. 480-411) is the first of the canonical Attic orators. He was the first Athenian to compose and publish speeches written for delivery by others. Antiphon appears not to have taken an active role in Athenian politics until 411, when he masterminded the oligarchic revolution resulting in the brief reign of the Four Hundred. When the Four Hundred were removed from power, Antiphon was tried for treason and condemned to death ([Plut.] Moralia 834a-b) despite delivering the best defense speech in a capital case which Thucydides had ever heard (Thuc. 8.68; for fragments of the speech see Gagarin fr. 1).

Read about the evidence
Antiphon (Antiph. 1).
Antiphon (Antiph. 5).
Antiphon (Antiph. 6).
Antiphon (Antiph. 2).
Antiphon (Antiph. 3).
Antiphon (Antiph. 4).

Antiphon’s surviving works include three forensic speeches (1, 5, 6) and three Tetralogies (2, 3, 4), all dealing with homicide. The Tetralogies, perhaps composed as early as the 440s, are sets of model speeches in hypothetical homicide cases; each consists of two speeches for the prosecution and two for the defense. Antiphon’s forensic speeches, written for litigants in actual Athenian homicide trials, can be dated to the decade preceding his death. Although the aforementioned works all concern homicide, the surviving fragments of Antiphon deal with a number of issues, from the tribute of Athenian allies (fr. A1-2 Maidment) to a lawsuit regarding peacocks (fr. B12 Maidment). In addition, “Antiphon the sophist,” the author of the works On Truth and On Concord, is probably to be identified with Antiphon the orator. (See also Oratory.)

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