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Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.

Demosthenes (Δημοσθένης) (384 BC322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens, generally considered the greatest of the Greek orators.


  • ὥσπερ γὰρ οἰκίας, οἶμαι, καὶ πλοίου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν τοιούτων τὰ κάτωθεν ἰσχυρότατ᾽ εἶναι δεῖ, οὕτω καὶ τῶν πράξεων τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ὑποθέσεις ἀληθεῖς καὶ δικαίας εἶναι προσήκει
    • For a house, I take it, or a ship or anything of that sort must have its chief strength in its substructure; and so too in affairs of state the principles and the foundations must be truth and justice.
      • Olytnhiac II, 10 [1]
  • The easiest thing in the world is self-deceit; for every man believes what he wishes, though the reality is often different.
    • Third Olynthiac, section 19 (349 BC), as translated by Charles Rann Kennedy (1852)
    • Variants:
    • A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true.
      • As quoted in The Routledge Dictionary of Quotations (1987) by Robert Andrews, p. 255
    • There is nothing easier than self-delusion. Since what man desires, is the first thing he believes.
  • Delivery, delivery, delivery.
    • Response when asked to name the three most important components of rhetoric, as quoted in Institutio Oratoria (c. 95) by Quintilian; also in Unspoken : A Rhetoric of Silence (2004) by Cheryl Glenn, p. 150
  • The readiest and surest way to get rid of censure, is to correct ourselves.
    • As quoted in The World's Laconics: Or, The Best Thoughts of the Best Authors (1853) by Everard Berkeley, p. 34
  • It is not possible to found a lasting power upon injustice, perjury, and treachery.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 455.
  • No man can tell what the future may bring forth, and small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.
    • Ad Leptinem 162, as quoted in Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897) by Thomas Benfield Harbottle, p. 511[2]
  • The man who has received a benefit ought always to remember it, but he who has granted it ought to forget the fact at once.
    • As quoted in Dictionary of foreign phrases and classical quotations (1908) by Hugh Percy Jones, p. 140
  • Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.
    • Olynthiacs; Philippics (1930) as translated by James Herbert Vince, p. 11
  • Whatever shall be to the advantage of all, may that prevail!
    • Speech against Philip II of Macedon (351 BC), in Olynthiacs; Philippics (1930) as translated by James Herbert Vince, p. 99
  • You cannot have a proud and chivalrous spirit if your conduct is mean and paltry; for whatever a man's actions are, such must be his spirit.
    • As quoted in Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 1‎ (1940), p. 472

Quotes about Demosthenes[edit]

  • Do you remember that in classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, "How well he spoke" but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, "Let us march."
    • Adlai Stevenson, introducing John F. Kennedy in 1960, as quoted in Adlai Stevenson and The World: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson‎ (1977) by John Bartlow Martin, p. 549

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