Story 68: The Eloquent Orator

Demosthenes was a renowned politician and great orator of ancient Greece. His birthday coincided with that of the death of Aristotle in the same year. He was able to deliver speeches from a very young age, at beginning of his adolescence. However, he was not interested in becoming a good orator or a teacher of ethics, nor in making political and social speeches during important events, nor in becoming a great defense attorney. Rather he wanted to bring legal action against his father’s executioners, and his own tutors, who had usurped a considerable amount of wealth which was his rightful inheritance.

He devoted himself to this work for some time, but gained nothing of his father’s property. Nevertheless, he became an expert in oration and decided to make speeches in public assemblies. In the beginning his eloquence was not well received. The flaws in his speeches, either in its natural aspects, relating to his voice, accent, and consistency of his breathing, or in its technical aspects, regarding composition and expression, became evident. However, with the encouragement and exhortation of his friends, he put an end to all his flaws with a valiant effort.

Sitting in his cellar, all alone, he began practicing his discourse. In order to improve his pronunciation, he put sand in his mouth and began reciting poems aloud. To improve his breathing, he ran up a hill or recited long poems in one breath. He gave speeches before a mirror so as to observe his facial expressions and to develop his articulation and bearing. He trained hard until he became one of the greatest orators of his time in the entire world.1

  • 1. Ayen Sakhbouri, v. 2, p. 5-6.