Skip to main content

While important work continues to be done on male sexuality in Aeschines 1, scholars have also begun to think more about the techniques employed that made it successful in court (Fisher 2001: 55-67). Giulia Sissa (1999) and Susan Lape (2006) consider the representation of the body in particular, what Lape terms Aeschines’ “physiognomic strategy” (2006: 141). Aeschines’ speech is also rich in its use of place as an effective tactic. Yet while the ‘spatial turn’ has begun to penetrate Greek cultural studies (Gilhuly and Worman 2014), it is less in evidence in Greek oratory. Blanshard (2014) has successfully shown how orators crafted a unique place for their audiences and manipulated aspects of the physical environment surrounding them to their advantage, but they also exploited concepts of place in their narratives. Speakers develop complex topographies depending on their audience’s knowledge of the city as well as assigning new meaning to such spaces. At times the speakers draw on their audiences’ conceptions of a place, like the household, but more frequently they exploit the instability of ideas of place to produce anxiety in their listeners. It matters where people are located. Their presence or absence suggests specific identities, but can also highlight social violations more broadly (Davidson 2011).

Using Creswell’s theory of anachorism, the use of place in the production of outsiders (2004), I argue that place plays a prominent role in Aeschines 1 Against Timarchos. Aeschines, for example, moves his audience through civic space (assembly, the agora, gymnasia), residential space (oikiai, sunoikiai), spaces of leisure (gambling dens, brothels), and even secluded areas around the Pnyx. His text arguably presents the most colourful picture of an urban landscape extant for classical Athens. But his detailed cityscape focuses on Timarchos’ presence or absence and, through the body of Timarchos, highlights the place of the male citizen within that landscape. Place also becomes tied to particular civic and social virtues, eukosmia and sōphrosynē (1.22-23), like people. Aeschines, furthermore, employs place as an important strategy in marginalizing Timarchos despite his prominence as a public speaker at Athens.

At the time of the trial, Timarchos was an established politician who had played an important role on council, participated in important embassies, proposed more than 100 decrees, and commonly served as a prosecutor in the courts. He was an active citizen well-known to the jurors. Near the start of the speech, however, Aeschines conjures an image of Timarchos speaking at a recent assembly only to mark his location there as out of place. In addition to contrasting Timarchos’ performance with past speakers like Solon, Themistokles, Aristeides, and Perikles, he comments that sōphrones citizens covered their eyes at the sight of him (1.26). This gesture effectively foreshadows Timarchos’ displacement from the democratic polis and anticipates the jurors’ reception of him.

Despite Timarchos’ public presence, and thus the jurors’ knowledge of his activities, Aeschines’ speech disrupts Timarchos’ position of prominence within democratic Athens. His common location in the assembly and public life contrasts with the places he occupies in Aeschines’ narrative: he is associated with oikia no less than 22 times and spends his time moving between obscure locations within the urban landscape. Notably, he occupies the oikoi of various men (over his paternal oikos), spends time in a sunoikia, in gambling dens, and lurking around the Pnyx. He is also associated with the oikēmata of sex labourers. Aeschines even suggests that Timarchos is homeless, having sold all his property (1.105). Although Aeschines begins with Timarchos in the assembly (a common sight), his absences (notably from his own oikia and the gymnasia) combined with his frequent movements between places, like oikiai and obscurer locations, mark his activities and networks as transgressive and untrustworthy, and compel his displacement from the polis more generally. Through his narrative on Timarchos, Aeschines reveals a self-awareness in his construction and manipulation of place.