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The paper examines one of the fi nest speeches from the Demosthenic corpus – the speech Against Conon for assault. This work by the Athenian orator allows us to reconstruct the court proceedings regarding a private claim. The dating of the claim against Conon has instigated a discussion in historiography, and the main viewpoints are presented in the paper. The version of the confl ict presented by Ariston the complainant is examined, and its vulnerable point, namely, the lack of the pot entail main eyewitness’s testimony, is determined. The speech in question is of interest also from the point of view of the description of the challenge to the slave’s evidence under torture in Athens, which has been predictable rejected by Ariston. Using this specifi c and vivid example, we can observe how judicial scrutiny proceeded in Athens, with all of its main components presented in the speech: the behavior of the litigants, their arguments; witnesses and false witnesses; arbitration court; slave’s evidence under torture; mentions of numerous historic realities (clepsydra, court secretary, an echinos urn, a stone where oaths were taken, etc.). Judging by the behavior of the court proceedings’ participants and the topoi that they use, we can understand what the dikastes based their judgment on in adjudication. The content of speech LIV is not limited to the summary of Ariston’s claim and the details of adjudication. Lovely sketches of Athenian life add a special charm – garrison life, city dwellers’ amusements, street violence, treatment of wounds and traumas, oath-taking customs, youth clubs and their pastimes, which were reprehensible, and sometimes threatened social order and founding principles of the polis. The outcome of the court proceedings is unknown. However, judging by how fascinating the storyline created by Demosthenes is, how artfully he had utilized all the possible gimmicks used by the quarreler, how masterfully he had compromised the opponent, amused the dikastes and touched all the right strings in their souls – it is very likely that Ariston had won the case.


Classical Athens, Demosthenes, Athenian courts, “Against Conon” oration, litigants.

Tatyana V. Kudryavtseva

State Pedagogical University; Saint Petersburg, Russia

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