chapter  5
85 Pages

CASES CONCERNING CITIZENSHIP

This trial arose from the political infighting at Athens in the shadow of the rise of Macedon. By 346 Athenian attempts to assemble a Greek coalition against Macedon had achieved nothing. In response to signals from Philip the Athenians sent ten envoys (including Aischines and Demosthenes) to Macedon to negotiate a peace deal on the first of a succession of diplomatic missions. For some such as Aischines (who had previously favoured a more vigorous response to Macedon) a lasting peace with Macedon seemed the best way of securing Athens’ long-term interests. For others such as Demosthenes peace offered a tactical pause to allow Athens to look for ways to thwart Philip. The latter group began working against the peace from the start. All Athenian officials had to submit to an examination on the expiry of their term of office. When Aischines submitted to this process after the second embassy to Macedonia of 346, he was accused of misconduct by Demosthenes and an associate of his named Timarchos. Aischines responded by launching a brutally effective counter-attack. The procedure he used was called ‘Scrutiny of public speakers’ (dokimasia rhetoron). It was open to any citizen to bring this action against someone addressing the Assembly who had forfeited the right because of past behaviour. The terminology (dokimasia) assimilates the action to the regular scrutiny of all office bearers on appointment to test their eligibility for office; but the procedure was a trial before a jury panel. The penalty on conviction was forfeiture of citizen rights (loss of the right to hold office, address or attend the Assembly, serve on a jury, or enter the public temples or the agora.