This oration was delivered in defence of a certain Phanus, whom Aphobus had charged with giving false testimony, hoping doubtless for a reversal of the adverse judgement given against himself.
The facts lying behind the charge are these:
Aphobus, before the suit was decided against him, had called upon Demosthenes to surrender Milyas, who had been foreman of the sword-factory (see Oration XXVII. § 19), to be examined by torture. This Demosthenes refused to do, stating that Milyas was no longer a slave, having been set free by the elder Demosthenes on his death-bed. Moreover he called upon Phanus, Philip, and Aesius, brother of Aphobus, to prove that, when questioned by the official arbitrator, Aphobus had admitted that Milyas was a freeman. Aphobus then brought suit against Phanus and Philip for giving this testimony, alleging that it was false.
Demosthenes naturally took up the defence of Phanus, for a judgement against him might have seemed to invalidate the decision of the court in his own suit against Aphobus, and have necessitated a new trial. He argues, therefore, that the testimony of Phanus was true, and claims that, even if it had been false, the fact should not prejudice his own case, for any testimony Milyas might have given would
have had little bearing on the question of Aphobus’s guilt or innocence.
On this speech see Schaefer, iii.2 pp. 82 ff., and Blass, iii. pp. 232 ff. It is also discussed by Professor G. M. Calhoun in the Transactions of the American Philological Association for 1934, pp. 80 ff. This scholar shows how far from compelling are the arguments advanced against its authenticity.