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Demosthenes, marble statue, detail of a Roman copy of a Greek original of c. 280 BCE; in the —Courtesy of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
(born 384 BC, Athensdied Oct. 12, 322, Calauria, Argolis) Athenian statesman known as the greatest orator of ancient Greece. According to Plutarch, he was a stutterer in his youth and improved his speech by placing pebbles in his mouth and practicing before a mirror. His talents were recognized early, and powerful clients engaged him as a speechwriter. Throughout his life he espoused democratic principles. He roused Athens against Philip II by his great Philippics, and later against Philip's son Alexander the Great. In so doing he incurred the enmity of Aeschines, who argued that Philip's intentions were peaceable; Demosthenes succeeded in having Aeschines ostracized (330), but he was himself later forced into exile (324). Recalled after Alexander's death (323), he fled Alexander's successor and committed suicide.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Demosthenes, visit Britannica.com.