Demetrius Phalereus - Encyclopedia

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DEMETRIUS PHALEREUS (c. 345-283 B.C.), Attic orator, statesman and philosopher, born at Phalerum, was a pupil of Theophrastus and an adherent of the Peripatetic school. He governed the city of Athens as representative of Cassander for ten years from 317. It is said that he so won the hearts of the people that 360 statues were erected in his honour; but opinions are divided as to the character of his rule. On the restoration of the old democracy by Demetrius Poliorcetes, he was condemned to death by the fickle Athenians and obliged to leave the city. He escaped to Egypt, where he was protected by Ptolemy Lagus, to whom he is said to have suggested the foundation of the Alexandrian library. Having incurred the displeasure of Lagus's successor Philadelphus, Demetrius was banished to Upper Egypt, where he died (according to some, voluntarily) from the bite of an asp. Demetrius composed a large number of works on poetry, history, politics, rhetoric and accounts of embassies, all of which are lost.

The treatise Ilea 'Ep,unpetas (on rhetorical expression), which is often ascribed to him, is probably the work of a later Alexandrian (1st century A. D.) of the same name; it has been edited by L. Radermacher (1901) and W. Rhys Roberts (1902), the last-named providing English translation, introduction, notes, glossary and complete bibliography. Fragments in C. Muller, Frag. Hist. Graec. ii. p. 362. See A. Holm, History of Greece (Eng. trans.), iv. 60.

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