Date of this Version
A certain view of fourth century Greek politics is familiar. We mean what may be called the Demosthenic theory in which nearly all English and American readers of history have agreed. It assumes Athens to have been a real democracy, a government of freedom, the great bulwark of liberty for the entire Greek world at the time. It sets down Philip of Macedon as a barbarian. It maintains that his conquest of Greece before it was completed was of right feared as the death of Greek liberty, just as when executed it actually killed Greek liberty and buried it out of sight. Demosthenes in opposing first Philip and then Alexander, so runs the well-known contention, was not only a hearty patriot but an altogether wise patriot, those who favoured the Macedonian being deficient in true Greek spirit, except perhaps Phocion and a few others whose character stands so high that no one can impugn it. Over these it is the fashion to heave a sigh. They were misguided, very likely wishing well to their country, but too ignorant to know what was for its best good.