Aeschines ĕ´skĭnēz [key], c.390–314? BC, Athenian orator, rival of Demosthenes. Aeschines rose from humble circumstances and became powerful in politics because of his oratorical gifts. At first he opposed Philip II of Macedon, then later changed sides, arguing that resistance to Macedonian power was useless. Both he and Demosthenes were members of the embassy to Philip in 348 BC, and afterward Demosthenes bitterly and baselessly accused Aeschines of accepting Macedonian bribes. He was to have been joined in his action by Timarchus, but Aeschines prevented this by his oration Against Timarchus (345 BC). Aeschines defended himself well in his oration On the False Legation (342 BC)—a title also used by Demosthenes in his accusatory oration. The trouble between the orators grew and culminated in a dispute over a gold crown that the orator Ctesiphon proposed should be given Demosthenes in 330 BC Aeschines brought suit with Against Ctesiphon. Demosthenes replied with his sturdy defense On the Crown. Aeschines lost and was fined, and retired to Asia Minor where, according to Plutarch, he lived as a professional Sophist.
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