Andocides Analysis


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Andocides (an-DAHS-uh-deez) came from an old family known as the Kerykes (Heralds), whose roots were in Eleusis. His life was, in scholar H. J. Rose’s description, “one long series of adventures and disgraces.” In 415 b.c.e. during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 b.c.e.), he was among those accused of mutilating the herms (statues of Hermes) the night before the Athenian fleet departed for Sicily. He saved his life by turning state’s evidence. After punishment by loss of civic rights, he went into exile and became a successful trader. His attempts to regain full citizenship in 411 and 410 b.c.e. failed, but he returned under Athenian general Thrasybulus in 403 b.c.e. and victoriously defended himself against the charge of impiety. Then after a brief time among those envoys negotiating peace during the Corinthian War (395-386 b.c.e.), he went into exile again in 392/391 b.c.e. when their treaty was rejected in Athens and Callistratus began prosecution of the peace team. Nothing further is known about him.


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

The surviving orations pertain to Andocides’ personal affairs. There is no evidence that he ever wrote for others. Their tone is fresh and eager, and their style is natural, without evidence of seasoned rhetoric. In addition to fragments from four speeches, four speeches are extant, one of which is thought to be a forgery.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Furley, William D. Andocides and the Hermes: A Study of Crisis in Fifth Century Athenian Religion. London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1996.

Missiou, Anna. The Subversive Oratory of Andocides. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1992.