Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Chapter 21 examines religion in classical Athens based on Demosthenes’ speeches. Some ancient commentators view the reading of oratory as a near religious experience. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, taken with Demosthenes’ exquisite rhetoric, felt ‘exactly like those who perform the rites of the Mother and Corybantic rituals’. The orator himself could be swept away by the occasion. Drawing on Eratosthenes and on Demetrius of Phaleron, Plutarch reports that in his unprepared speeches Demosthenes’ style was bacchant-esque, including poetic oaths delivered as if under divine influence. The article considers Demosthenes as a source for Athenian religion, oaths in the courtroom as a frequent feature of Attic oratory, and how the gods appear in Demosthenes’ rhetoric. It also discusses appeals to religious authority in the Demosthenic corpus and how Demosthenes in his speeches describes the way in which civic identities and institutions are articulated by sacrifices and other religious rituals.

Keywords: religion, Athens, Demosthenes, speeches, rhetoric, oaths, gods, religious authority, sacrifices, religious rituals

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.