Classics Demosthenes
Michael Gagarin
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 March 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0014


Demosthenes (b. 384–d. 322 BCE) was one of the leading public figures in Athens in the third quarter of the 4th century—a statesman who led the Athenians in their ultimately unsuccessful struggle against Philip of Macedon, as well as the greatest of ancient Greek orators. Judgments of his public career have ranged from declaring him the heroic defender of Greek freedom to a failed strategist and manipulator of the people. Much less controversial is the judgment, common since Antiquity, of his preeminence as an orator. All these subjects and more are treated in Gunther Martin’s extremely useful 2019 book, The Oxford Handbook of Demosthenes.


The most thorough review of work on Demosthenes, Jackson and Rowe 1969 is well organized and user-friendly. It is now dated, but its careful and balanced assessment of scholarship before 1965 is still very helpful. Schindel 1987 has a bibliography of works since 1965, but the bare list, without annotation, is much less useful. Hernández Muñoz 1999 also lacks annotation but is helpfully organized into categories. For bibliography since 1999, see chapter 1 of Martin 2019, “Demosthenic Scholarship” by Thomas Paulson (pp. 7–18), together with the individual bibliographies at the end of each chapter in this handbook.

  • Hernández Muñoz, Felipe G. 1999. Demóstenes, 1965–1997: Repertorio bibliográfico. Tempus 21:37–76.

    This update to Jackson and Rowe has no annotations but has a fairly complete list of works up to 1997 organized in two parts: works on specific speeches and more general works in seven categories (editions; influence; iconography; manuscripts; language and style; historical and political aspects; and legal, economic, social, and religious aspects). Brief introduction in Spanish will not hinder users with no Spanish, but the journal may be hard to obtain.

  • Jackson, Donald F., and Galen O. Rowe. 1969. Demosthenes, 1915–1965. Lustrum 14:5–109.

    Excellent review of work from this period, organized by topic, including texts and textual studies, the life of Demosthenes by periods, studies of individual works or groups of works, style, argument, and influence. Lists in each category are followed by substantial, well-organized discussions of general trends and the place of individual works within them. A model review of scholarship.

  • Martin, Gunther. 2019. The Oxford handbook of Demosthenes. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Thirty-five chapters divided into six parts: “General Matters,” “The Institutional Context of Oratory,” “The Political Context,” “The Social and Cultural Context,” “Demosthenes’ Life,” and “The Corpus Demosthenicum.”

  • Schindel, Ulrich, ed. 1987. Demosthenes. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

    A collection of previously published essays in German (essays originally in English translated into German). Bibliography lists mainly works published after 1965 (the cutoff date of Jackson and Rowe 1969), alphabetically by author. Includes a small group of editions and commentaries and a much longer list of monographs and articles. No annotation or discussion.

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