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Against Timarchus


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Against Timarchus [346 BCE]
translated by Charles Darwin Adams, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1919).

Aeschine's speech Against Timarchus of 346 BCE is one of the most valuable sources we have about Athenian attitudes to homosexuality. Unlike Plato, whose views were highly distinctive and not necessarily shared by his fellow Athenians, Aeschines was appealing directly to the members of an Athenian jury, and so it may be expected that he was appealing to current popular opinion. It is by far the longest text addressing homosexual behavior we have from the Classical Greek world.

The circumstance of the speech are complex. Basically it was an attempt to save the lives of the Athenian envoys to Philip II of Macedon. Demosthenes had lead an attack on them, and, it seems, Timarchus, one of Demosthenes' allies, was to lead the prosecution. The beleaguered envoys, facing death, responded by prosecuting Timarchus, charging that under Athenian law he could hold not public office. The prosecution was successful. Timarchus was excluded from office [Dem. Xix. 284] (until he had the charges reversed three years later) and Demosthenes suffered a major setback in his resistance to Philip II.

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