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Chapter Fifteen Oratorical Practice

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Chapter Summary

It was long received wisdom among modern historians that the defeat of Athens and Thebes by Philip of Macedonia at Chaeronea in 338 BC marked the end of Greek liberty and accordingly the decline and fall of the polis. But this interpretation has been superseded in recent studies: the documentation now available to us in particular epigraphic documents suggests that, on the contrary, the polis remained a vital form of political organization in the Greek world in the Hellenistic Age. The polis continued to exist, and so did the oratorical practices associated with its functioning. Thus the corresponding received wisdom that Greek eloquence vanished, or lost its importance, after Demosthenes has to be revised. Public life in Republican Rome offered various possibilities for the display of eloquence. Institutional speech making took place primarily in front of two types of audience, the Senate and the people.

Keywords: Athens; Greek liberty; Hellenistic Age; oratorical practices; Philip of Macedonia; Thebes



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