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one of the greatest orators of antiquity, was born Jan. 3, in the

, one of the greatest orators of antiquity, was born Jan. 3, in the 647th year of Rome, about 107 years before Christ. His mother, Helvia, was rich and well descended. His father’s family was ancient and honourable in that part of Italy in which it resided, and of equestrian rank, from its first admission to the freedom of Rome. The place of his birth was Arpinum, a city anciently of the Samnites, now part of the kingdom of Naples, and which produced two citizens, C. Marius and Cicero, who had, each in his turn, preserved Rome from ruin.

one of the greatest orators of antiquity, was born at Athens, in

, one of the greatest orators of antiquity, was born at Athens, in the second year of the 101st olympiad; or about 370 years before Christ. He was first placed under Plato and Euclid of Megara to study philosophy; but, observing with what applause Callistratus pleaded before the people, he applied to the study of oratory, under Isocrates and Isa3us. He was left fatherless when very young, and much neglected and defrauded by his guardians; on which account he pleaded against them at seventeen years of age, and with so much success, that they were condemned to pay him 30 talents; but, it is said, he forgave them. This was the first time that he distinguished himself by his eloquence, which at length he improved to such perfection, that Philip said “it was of more weight against him, than all the fleets and armies of the Athenians” and that “he had no enemy but Demosthenes” and Demetrius Phalereus and Eratosthenes said, “he actually appeared like one inspired.” He could present an object in any light he pleased, and give it whatever colouring best answered his purpose; and where he found it difficult to convince the judgment, he knew how to seduce the imagination. He was not perhaps so universal an orator as Cicero, not so powerful in panegyric, nor had he his turn for raillery; and Longinus says, whenever he attempted to jest, the laugh was sure to turn upon himself. But then he had a force of oratory, which, as Longinus observes, bore down, like a torrent, all before it. He opposed Philip of Macedon with his full strength, and Alexander after him. Alexander requested of the Athenians to have Demosthenes given up to him, but this was refused; yet when Antipater his successor made the same request afterwards, after his victory, these same Athenians, as the price of their pardon, were obliged to sacrifice Demosthenes and the orators of the same party. On the motion of Demades, a decree having passed condemning them to death, Demosthenes took sanctuary in the temple of Neptune at Calauria, but apprehending that attempts would be made to seize him, he provided himself with poison; and when taken by an emissary of Antipater, he retired to the interior part of the temple, and swallowed the dose. Immediately turning to Archias, the messenger of Antipater, who had been a player, he said, “Now you may perform the part of Creon as soon as you please, and cast out this carcase unburied.” Then turning to the altar, he exclaimed, “O gracious Neptune! I depart alive from thy temple without profaning it, which the Macedonians would have done by my murder.” Staggering as he attempted to retire, he fell by the altar, and expired at the age of fifty-nine, in the year B. C. 322. The Athenians not long after, erected his statue in brass, and decreed that the eldest of his family should be maintained at the public expence.