Vol. lxxviii] Demosthenes' Ability to Speak Extemporaneously 69

V.-On Demosthenes' Ability to Speak Extemporaneously


There exists a fairly strong tradition that Demosthenes could not speak publicly without preparation. Plutarch' relates that Demosthenes would not heed the call of the people in the assembly, that he come forward to speak, unless he had given thought to the question and prepared himself to speak on it . Also, according to Plutarch," Demosthenes himself admitted that his speeches were "neither entirely unwritten, nor wholly written out." Further, it is recorded' that Demades frequently spoke extemporaneously in support of Demosthenes, when the latter was interrupted and shouted down by the people, but that Demosthenes never performed a similar service for Demades. The implication appears to be that Demosthenes did not possess the ability to do so.