Demetrius Phalereus

, a peripatetic philosopher, and an illustrious ornament of that school, lived in the time of Alexander the Great, and was a scholar of Theophrastus. He is represented as a flowery, rather than a persuasive speaker, and as one who aimed at grace rather than manner. Cicero says he amused the Athenians rather than warmed them; yet such was the influence of his harangues, that at Athens he was almost absolute for ten years. Three hundred and sixty statues were erected in his honour; and not undeservedly, since he is said to have augmented the revenues of it, as well as to have improved and polished its buildings. But envy at length conspiring against him, his statues were pulled down, and himself threatened with death; but he escaped into Egypt, and was protected by Ptolemy Soter. This king, it is said, asked his advice concerning the succession of his children to the throne, viz. whether he ought to prefer those he had by Eurydice to Ptolemy Philadelphus, whom he had by Berenice; and Demetrius advised him to leave his crown | to the former. This displeased Philadelphia so much, that, his father being dead, he banished Demetrius, who, unable to support the repeated misfortunes he had met with, put an end to his life, by the bite of an asp. Demetrius composed more works in prose and verse, than any other peripatetic of his time; and his writings consisted of poetry, history, politics, rhetoric, harangues, and embassies. None of his works are extant for as to the piece “De Interpretatione,” which goes under his name, and is usually printed with the “Rhetores Selecti,” there are several internal marks, which shew that it is probably of a later date. He is supposed to be the same with him that collected together 200,000 volumes into the library of Ptolemy Philadelphus, who, to make it complete, caused that translation of the Bible out of Hebrew into Greek to be made, which is commonly called the Septuagint. And if it should be objected, that Demetrius could not possibly be the manager of this affair, since he was banished by Philadelphus as soon as he came to the crown, it has generally been thought sufficient to say, that these books were collected, and this translation made, while Ptolemy Philadelphus reigned with his father Ptolemy Soter. But this story is now generally discredited, and the Septuagint is ascribed to the private labour of the Jews, who were at this time resident in Egypt. When Demetrius was born, and when he died, we know not; but his disgrace at Athens is said to have happened about the year of Rome 436, that is, somewhat about 300 years before Christ. 1