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Against Olympiodorus

Introduction

The plaintiff, Callistratus, brings this suit against his brother-in-law, Olympiodorus, to recover from him half of the property left by Comon, of Halae. We are told that the plaintiff, who claims to be nearest of kin to the deceased, had entered into an agreement with Olympiodorus—it should perhaps rather be called a conspiracy—that they should get control of the estate to the exclusion of other claimants, and should then divide everything equally between themselves.

Their plan seemed to be succeeding, although the plaintiff charges that Olympiodorus withheld from him his due share of the sum of seventy minae which Olympiodorus had recovered from a slave, who under torture had confessed the theft of that amount from his late master, Comon; but other claimants appeared, among them Callippus, the half-brother of the plaintiff, who filed a claim to half the estate. Just as the case was about to be heard Olympiodorus went abroad to Acarnania on military service, and the plaintiff sought to have the case delayed. The jury held, however, that this was but a specious plea, the claim of Olympiodorus was stricken out, and the plaintiff, as he declares, felt in duty bound to withdraw his claim also. Under these circumstances the property was awarded to their adversaries.

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Against Olympiodorus

When Olympiodorus returned, he and the plaintiff renewed their claims—Olympiodorus for the whole estate and the plaintiff for one-half, inasmuch as his half-brother was entering a similar claim. Olympiodorus won the case, but refused to share the estate with the plaintiff; hence the suit.

As the speech is to be dated in the year 343 or 342 b.c. scholars are virtually unanimous in refusing to believe that Demosthenes, then at the height of his political career, would have stooped to handle so unsavoury a matter for an unimportant personage.

Reference may be made to Schaefer, iii. pp. 236 ff., and Blass, iii. pp. 557 ff.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.demosthenes-orations_xlviii_callistratus_olympiodorus_action_damages.1939