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Demosthenes

brought him a large dowry. By her he had two daughters, whom he subsequently sent with ample means to Athens. In Athens both of them found husbands. One wedded Demochares, and the other Demosthenes, the father of the orator, in defiance, Aeschines states, of the law whereby marriage with an alien entailed illegitimacy upon the children born of such a union. Aeschines therefore calls Demosthenes “a Scythian on his mother’s side, a barbarian, Greek only in speech” (τὰ ἀπὸ τῆς μητρὸς Σκύθης, βάρβαρος ἑλληνίζων τῇ φωνῇ).

In weighing these statements we must remember the vicious habit of vilification so often indulged in by the Attic orators, and the glaring disregard of facts which often accompanied it. That Demosthenes was in truth an alien it is impossible to believe. Aeschines himself and the other enemies of the orator would surely have made capital out of such a charge, could it have been substantiated. It is easy to assume that Gylon wedded a Greek woman—the whole of the region about the Bosporus was studded with Greek settlements—or the orator’s mother may have been born before 403 b.c., the date when the law to which Aeschines alludes was enacted.

The charge, too, that Gylon was condemned to death for treason may also be a distortion of the truth. As to it Plutarch (Demos. iv.) was as much in the dark as we. It seems clear that it would have in any case been impossible for Athens to maintain her control over outlying stations, such as Nymphaeum, and to surrender it, not to “the enemy” but to a friendly power before it was forcibly taken by the Peloponnesians, may have seemed a venial offence, if not a stroke of wise policy. For his act

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Demosthenes

Gylon may have been fined, or, if the harsher sentence was imposed, it may have been commuted. Otherwise Gylon would hardly have sent his daughters to reside in Athens. Aphobus makes no more serious charge than that Gylon was, or had been, a state-debtor; which suggests a fine.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.demosthenes-orations_xxviii_aphobus.ii.1936