Against Meidias (Greek: Κατὰ Μειδίου) is one of the most famous judicial orations of the prominent Athenian stateman and orator Demosthenes.

    Historical Background

    Meidias, a wealthy Athenian, publicly slapped Demosthenes, who was at the time a choregos at the Greater Dionysia. Meidias was a friend of Eubulus and supporter of the unsuccessful excursion in Euboea.[1] He also was an old enemy of the orator, who broke violently into the house of Demosthenes in 361 BC, with his brother Thrasylochus, to take possession of it.

    The oration

    Demosthenes made no resistance to Meidias' violation of the place and occasion, but after the festival, when a special meeting of the Assembly, he entered a complaint against Meidias. The orator wrote the judicial speech Against Meidias, but he probably never pronounced it. He retired his accusation probably for political reasons[2] although Aeschines maintained that Demosthenes received money to drop the case.[3]

    Against Meidias is regarded as one of the most intriguing forensic speeches to survive. It gives valuable information about Athenian law and festivals, and especially about the Greek concept of hybris(aggravated assault), which was regarded as a crime not only against the city but against society as a whole.[4] As Galen O. Rowe points out, "the single most important recurrence in the speech is the root of hybris in its various grammatical forms and parts of speech. In fact hybris, to use the noun for every manifestation of the root, occurs in the speech 131 times, as opposed to 274 times in the entire Demosthenic corpus and 170 times in all the other Greek orators".[5] This speech also gives valuable information about Athenian law.[4] The orator underscores that a democratic state perishes, if the law is undermined by wealthy and unscrupulous men, and asserts that the citizens acquire power and authority in all state-affairs due "to the strength of the laws".[6]

    J. H. Vince asserts that the speech is indisputably authentic, but it seems improbable that it was published by Demosthenes himself.[7] According to the same scholar, "the speech is notable as being the earliest in which the Demosthenic note of δεινότης (terrible earnestness) is heard, but it leaves an unpleasant impression. In the pathetic passages we remember the trivial occasion of the action, nor can the victim's indignation hide the fact that he accepted a compromise".[7]


    Demosthenes, Against Meidias (in both Greek text and English translation, at Perseus)


    1. ^ Demosthenes, On the Peace, 5.
    2. ^ H. Weil, Bioraphy of Demothenes, 28.
    3. ^ Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, 52.
    4. ^ a b H. Yunis, The Rhetoric of Law in 4th Century Athens, 206.
    5. ^ G.O. Rowe, The Many Facets of Hybris in Demosthenes' against Meidias, 397-406.
    6. ^ Demosthenes, Against Meidias, 223.
    7. ^ a b J. H. Vince, Demosthenes against Meidias, Androtion Aristocrates, Timocrates Aristogeiton, 4

    Demosthenes' orations

    Political orations Olynthiacs 1-2-3 | First Philippic | On the Peace | Second Philippic | On the Halonnesus | On the Chersonese | Third Philippic | Fourth Philippic | Reply to Philip | Philip | On Organisation | On the Navy | For the Megalopolitans | On the Liberty of the Rhodians | On the Accession of Alexander

    Judicial orations On the Crown | On the False Embassy | Against Leptines | Against Meidias | Against Androtion | Against Aristocrates | Against Timocrates | Against Aristogiton 1-2 | Against Aphobus 1-2-3 | Against Ontenor 1-2 | Against Zenothemis | Against Apatourius | Against Phormio | Against Lacritus | For Phormio | Against Pantaenetus | Against Nausimachus and Xenopeithes | Against Boeotus 1-2 | Against Spudias | Against Phaenippus | Against Macartatus | Against Leochares | Against Stephanus 1-2 | Against Evergus and Mnesibulus | Against Olympiodorus | Against Timotheus | Against Polycles | On the Trierarcic Crown | Against Callipus | Against Nicostratus | Against Conon | Against Callicles | Against Dionysodorus | Against Eubulides | Against Theocrines | Against Naeara

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