SPEAKING before the Athenian Assembly, whether on the Pnyx or in the theatre of Dionysus, was not a task to be undertaken lightly by an inexperienced speaker. Plutarch tells the story of Demosthenes' failure at his first attempt and the advice given him by friendly critics who found him discouraged and disheartened. He had been unable to hold the attention of his audience because they could not follow his argument through his confused long sentences; in addition, his voice lacked carrying power, his articulation was poor, and he ran short of breath. 1 Plutarch's information came from Demetrius of Phalerurn, who told the story of his subsequent practice with pebbles in his mouth, supposing that this was a means of improving his articulation and making his speech more distinct.! But Cicero shows the better practical judgment when he tells us that it was a device to improve his breath control! (he could not take a deep breath for fear of swallowing the pebbles), and in the Lives of 'he Ten Orators it is recorded that he paid the actor Neoptolemus a substantial sum to teach him how to speak long sentences without taking breath." Actors who played in the open air certainly had to develop great powers of breath control, and an untrained orator, who had not taught himself to breathe properly, could not hope to make himself understood on the Pnyx, unless he spoke in the briefest of sentences, divided into very short phrases.