Demosthenes (Greek statesman)

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Demosthenes was a Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens who lived from 384 to 322 BC.

As a young man, Demosthenes had very weak lungs and could not speak loudly or clearly. He did not let this defeat him; to improve his voice, Demosthenes would go to the ocean, fill his mouth with pebbles, and practice speaking loudly enough for his voice to be heard over the waves. He went on to give powerful political speeches - known as the "Phillipics" - against Philip II of Macedon. These speeches once caused the crowd to shout, "Let us take up arms and march!" In spite of this, Philip completely conquered the Greeks in 338 BC at the Battle of Chaeronea. Demosthenes’ life later ended when he once again rallied Greece to throw off the Macedonian yolk after the death of Alexander the Great, but the resulting Lamian War was a horrible defeat for the Greeks. With the Macedonians occupying Athens, he took poison and killed himself.