Demosthenes of Athens. (Ken Welsh/Design Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Things Worth Remembering: ‘You Must Punish the Foes Within Your Gates’

In the fourth century BC, the great orator Demosthenes gave a speech about democracy that still holds true today.

Welcome to Douglas Murray’s column, Things Worth Remembering, in which he presents great speeches from famous orators we should commit to heart. To listen to Douglas read from Demosthenes’ speech “On the Chersonese,” scroll to the end of this piece.

This week we turn to Demosthenes, who, like Pericles and Cicero, is one of those speakers who resound through the ages. Consider, for a moment, how rare that is—a statesman who died 300 years before Christ speaking to us across the millennia. Most speakers these days seem barely able to speak across a day or week.

Demosthenes became one of the greatest orators in Athens in the fourth century BC by, among other things, studying those who came before him, talking with pebbles in his mouth, and running while reciting verse.

He also grasped the importance of speaking simply and striking an emotional chord—both of which shine through in the speech I want to focus on this week, “On the Chersonese.”

The historical context here is complicated, so I will mention it in brief.

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