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The earliest of the ten great Attic orators, born B.C. 480 at Rhamnus in Attica, son of the sophist Sophilus, to whom he owed his training. He was the founder of political eloquence as an art, which he taught with great applause in his own school of rhetoric; and he was the first who wrote out speeches for others to deliver in court, though he afterwards published them under his own name. He also played an active part in the politics of his time as a leading member of the oligarchical party, and the real author of the deathblow which was dealt to democracy in 411 B.C. by the establishment of the Council of Four Hundred. Then he went as ambassador to Sparta, to purchase peace at any price in the interest of the oligarchy. On the fall of the Four Hundred he was accused of high treason, and in spite of a masterly defence-the first speech he had ever made in public-was condemned to death B.C. 411. Of the sixty orations attributed to him, only fifteen are preserved, all on trials for murder; but only three of them are about real cases. The rest (named tetralogies, because every four are the first and second speeches of both plaintiff and defendant on the same subject) are mere exercises. Antiphon's speeches exhibit the art of oratory in its rudimentary stage as regards both substance and form.
Type: Standard
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