Antiphon, On the Choreutes

LCL 308: 234-235

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On the Choreutes

Introduction

There has been a considerable divergence of opinion as to the date of the Choreutes. It is clear from internal evidence that it was delivered one autumn, following the impeachment of a certain Philinus in the previous April (§ 12 et pass.); but the year within which the two speeches fell has been, and still is, a matter for dispute. On the one side we have a fragment of the Κατὰ Φιλίνου, also the work of Antiphon, which consists of the words “to make all the Thetes hoplites ” (τούς τε θῆτας ἅπαντας ὁπλίτας ποιῆσαι); and it has been urged that such a measure could have been suggested only during the period of domestic demoralization which followed the Athenian defeat in Sicily in 413 b.c. Hence the Philinus is to be assigned to April, 412, and the Choreutes to the closing months of the same year. Confirmation of this date is sought in the political colouring of the Choreutes itself; the man who delivered it, it is argued, is clearly someone of oligarchic sympathies who is being attacked by his political enemies in revenge for his having exposed some months previously the corruption and jobbery rife among the officials of the popular government; and such attempts as his to discredit democrats and democracy fall most naturally within the twelve months which preceded the oligarchic revolution of 411. These

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On the Choreutes

arguments are not entirely convincing, however. In the first place, the evidence of the Philinus fragment is by no means conclusive. Apart from the fact that we are completely ignorant of the context in which the words which survive occurred, Thucydides in his account of the situation at the close of 413 and the beginning of 412 implies very clearly that the scarcity felt was not one of heavy infantry but of rowers for the navya; and it is not easy to believe that at such a moment it can have been proposed to train as hoplites the one class of citizens who were traditionally the source of man-power for the fleet. Nor again can overmuch weight be attached to the argument from the political situation of 412. Oligarchs were never slow to seize an opportunity of discrediting their opponents, and there is no reason to presume that the incidents referred to in the Choreutes could not have taken place at any time during the last half of the fifth century. More suggestive perhaps of a date somewhere in the region of 412 is the style of the speech itself, which is far less stiff than that of the Herodes and in which the artificialities of Gorgias and the older generation of rhetoricians are far less apparent. Recently, however, attention has been called to evidence of date of a rather different kind.b The Choreutes contains certain references to the Athenian calendar, which, when related to what is otherwise known of the system of intercalation in use in the last quarter of the fifth century, suggest that the speech must have been delivered in 419 b.c., i.e. before the Herodes.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.antiphon-choeutes.1941