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THE DEATH OF DEMOSTHENES.
Demosthenes, by his eloquence, roused the Grecian empire against Philip, and, upon all occasions, attacked, with considerable asperity, the ambition of Alexander; but these princes triumphed, in the end, over the obstacles that he opposed to their designs, without causing him to experience any act of personal resentment.. Matters assumed a different appearance when Antipater, after the death of Alexander, divided the kingdom of Macedonia. Demosthenes, desirous that his country should regain its liberties, declaimed against the tyranny of the Macedonians i—but Athens had lost all its. energy; and the Athenians, summoned by Antipater to deliver Demosthenes into his power, were on the point. of acceding to his threats, when Demosthenes, apprised. of his commands, resolved to secure himself by flight, and preserve his countrymen from guilt. They did not, however, hesitate to condemn him to death, in obedience to the orders of his oppressor.
This illustrious orator secreted himself in the island of Calauria, where he was pursued by Archias, one of Antipater's officers. Demosthenes, under the protection of Neptune, whose temple served him as an asylum, resisted the perfidious insinuations of Archias, who at first had recourse to stratagem to induce him to go and justify himself before Antipater; but finding that he could overcome his resistance only by force, ordered the Macedonian troops to drag him from the altar which he embraced. "Hold," cried Demosthenes, "profane not this sacred asylum. I am disposed to follow you; but let me first address a prayer to Neptune." Falling on his knees he covered himself with his mantle, and swallowed poison, which he carried about him in a quill.
When he began to experience its effect, he unfolded his mantle, and proceeded to follow the Macedonians; but he had scarcely reached the door of the temple than his powers forsook him, and he said to Archias :—" Thou mayest convey this body to Antipater, but thou wilt never convey thither Demosthenes."
The instant in which Demosthenes uncovers his face, is that which has been chosen by the artist for the subject of his picture. His composition is judicious; the expression of Demosthenes well delineated; and the group of warriors is remarkable for the propriety of their attitudes.