A lot of people hear the name Demosthenes, and they are awestruck. A chorus full of "Wow!" and/or "That's cool!" soon follows. Then suddenly, any number of things pop into people's heads that pertain to the name. For whatever reason, people feel compelled to try and flaunt their knowledge of ancient Greece, and look for validation. 7 out of 10 times, they are incorrect.
Let's dispel some incorrect myths surrounding the historical figure that is... Demosthenes
Myth 1) The Sword of Demosthenes
Demosthenes of ancient Greece never wielded a sword, though D-mo has been known to on occassion. What people are shooting for is the "Sword of Damocles."
Who was Damocles? Pronounced "Dam-o-clees," he was born in 370 BC (maybe) and was the Courtier of Dionysius the Elder, who was tyrant of the Greek city of Syracuse in Sicily.
So how does the sword come into play? According to a legend recounted by the Roman writers Horace and Cicero, Damocles on one occasion commented to his sovereign on the grandeur and happiness of rulers.
Dionysius soon thereafter invited his courtier to a luxurious banquet, where Damocles enjoyed the delights of the table until his attention was directed upward and he saw a sharp sword hanging above him by a single horsehair. By this device Dionysius made Damocles realize that insecurity might threaten those who appeared to be the most fortunate.
Myth 2) Demosthenes searching for an honest man.
Some think that Demosthenes was the man that, while carrying a lantern, was searching for an honest man. Demosthenes never did that. That feat belongs to chap named Diogenes of Sinope.
Who was Diogenes? Pronounced "Dee-ahh-ja-knees," he was a Greek philosopher, perhaps the most noted of the Cynics. He pursued the Cynic ideal of self-sufficiency: a life that was natural and not dependent upon the nonessential luxuries of civilization.
The legend is that Diogenes walked through the marketplace of Athens, in broad daylight, with a lit lantern, looking for an honest man; he claimed he could only find rascals and scoundrels.
Myth 3) The Greek God Demosthenes
When people hear a Greek name, they instinctually think it was the name of a Greek God. Sadly, that is incorrect. No mythological figure in Greek history had the name Demosthenes. He was a real person.
For cheap laughs though, D-mo has been known to tell people that Demosthenes is the Greek God of Comedy.
Myth 4) Demosthenes: Spartan warrior
Despite the flashiness of the film 300, there was no Spartan of note named Demosthenes.
However, there was an Athenian general named Demosthenes who fought against the Spartans. And to be fair, he does appear in history before the more famous Demosthenes, yet no one seems to remember him.
If you want to educate yourself about the Demosthenes not living in the 21st century, check DMO: The Legend.