This is the thirteenth volume in the Oratory of Classical Greece. This series presents all of the surviving speeches from the late fifth and fourth centuries BC in new translations prepared by classical scholars who are at the forefront of the discipline. These translations are especially designed for the needs and interests of today's undergraduates, Greekless scholars in other disciplines, and the general public.
Classical oratory is an invaluable resource for the study of ancient Greek life and culture. The speeches offer evidence on Greek moral views, social and economic conditions, political and social ideology, law and legal procedure, and other aspects of Athenian culture that have recently been attracting particular interest: women and family life, slavery, and religion, to name just a few.
Demosthenes is regarded as the greatest orator of classical antiquity. This volume contains eleven law court speeches ascribed to Demosthenes, though modern scholars believe that only two or three of them are actually his. Most of the speeches here concern inheriting an estate, recovering debts owed to an estate, or exchanging someone else's estate for one's own. Adele Scafuro's supplementary material allows even non-specialists to follow the ins and outs of the legal arguments as she details what we know about the matters involved in each case, including marriage laws, adoptions, inheritances, and the financial obligations of the rich. While Athenian laws and family institutions (e.g., the marriages of heiresses) differ from ours in quite interesting ways, nevertheless the motives and strategies of the litigants often have a contemporary resonance.