Third Philippic

Third Philippic

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The Third Philippic was delivered by the prominent Athenian statesman and orator, Demosthenes
Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by...

, in 341 BC
341 BC
Year 341 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Venno and Privernas...

. It constitutes the third of the four philippic
A philippic is a fiery, damning speech, or tirade, delivered to condemn a particular political actor. The term originates with Demosthenes, who delivered several attacks on Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC....


Historical background

In 343 BC
343 BC
Year 343 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Corvus and Arvina...

, the Macedonian arms were carried across Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

 and a year later Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

 turned his military activities towards Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. When the Macedonian army approached Chersonese
Thracian Chersonese
The Thracian Chersonese was the ancient name of the Gallipoli peninsula, in the part of historic Thrace that is now part of modern Turkey.The peninsula runs in a south-westerly direction into the Aegean Sea, between the Hellespont and the bay of Melas . Near Agora it was protected by a wall...

, the Athenians got anxious about the future of their colony. An Athenian general, Diopeithes
Diopeithes was an Athenian general, probably father of the poet Menander, who was sent out to the Thracian Chersonese about 343 BC, at the head of a body of Athenian settlers or κληρoυχoι...

, 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
Cardia (Thrace)
Cardia , anciently the chief town of the Thracian Chersonese , was situated at the head of the gulf of Melas...

, which was occupied by the Macedonian army. Because of this turbulence, the assembly convened and Demosthenes delivered On the Chersonese
On the Chersonese
On the Chersonese is a political oration delivered by the Athenian statesman and orator Demosthenes in 341 BC. A short time later Demosthenes delivered one of his most famous speeches, the Third Philippic.-Historical background:...

, 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
Peace of Philocrates
Peace of Philocrates is the name given to the peace treaty concluded in 346 BC between Athens and Macedon under Philip II. Philocrates was the name of the main Athenian negotiator of the Treaty.-Background:...

 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
Aeschines was a Greek statesman and one of the ten Attic orators.-Life:Although it is known he was born in Athens, the records regarding his parentage and early life are conflicting; but it seems probable that his parents, though poor, were respectable. Aeschines' father was Atrometus, an...

. In the Third Philippic, the unchallengeable and passionate leader of the anti-Macedonian faction gives the signal for the Athenian uprising against Philip.

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