The Third Philippic
was delivered by the prominent Athenian statesman and orator, Demosthenes
, in 341 BC. It constitutes the third of the four philippics
In 343 BC, the Macedonian arms were carried across Epirus
and a year later Philip II of Macedon
turned his military activities towards Thrace
When the Macedonian army approached Chersonese
, the Athenians got anxious about the future of their colony. An Athenian general, Diopeithes
, ravaged the maritime district of Thrace, an offensive resulting in Philip’s rage. The king sent a letter of remonstrance to Athens, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Athenian troops from Cardia
, which was occupied by the Macedonian army.
Because of this turbulence, the assembly convened and Demosthenes delivered On the Chersonese
, convincing the Athenians, who would not recall Diopeithes.
Content of the speech
Within the same year, Demosthenes delivered the Third Philippic
. Putting forth all the power of his eloquence, he demanded resolute action against Philip and called for a burst of energy from the Athenian people. Macedon and Athens were already de facto belligerent parties, since the Athenians were financing Diopeithes,
who was launching attacks against allied cities. Most importantly, Philip was the first who violated the terms of the Peace of Philocrates
and Athens was just defending its legitimate rights.
The Third Philippic
is considered the best of Demosthenes’ political orations,
because of its passionate and evocative style.
From the moment he delivered the Third Philippic
, Demosthenes imposed himself as the most influential politician of Athens and the suzerain of the Athenian political arena. He takes the offensive and devitalizes the “pacific” and pro-Macedonian faction of Aeschines
. In the Third Philippic
, the unchallengeable and passionate leader of the anti-Macedonian faction gives the signal for the Athenian uprising against Philip.
Demosthenes. Demosthenes with an English translation by J. H. Vince, M.A. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1930.
Many speeches are delivered, men of Athens
, at almost every meeting of the Assembly, about the wrongs that Philip has been committing, ever since the conclusion of peace, not only against you but also against the other states, and all the speakers would, I am sure, admit in theory, though they do not put it in practice, that the object both of our words and deeds must be to check and chastise his arrogance; yet I perceive that all our interests have been so completely betrayed and sacrificed, that—I am afraid it is an ominous thing to say, but yet the truth—even if all who address you had wanted to propose, and all of you had wanted to pass, measures that were bound to bring our affairs into the worst possible plight, I do not think they could have been in a worse condition than they are today.