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Going off on a rant.

Dear Editor:

Can you tell me why an angry speech is called a philippic? Does it have anything to do with the name Philip?

S. E.

Gila Bend, Arizona

Yes, indeed, it does have to do with the name Philip. The term is often used to refer to the series of four speeches in which Athenian orator and statesman Demosthenes (384-322 B.C.) urged his fellow Athenians to fight the growing threat from King Philip II of Macedon. Despite Demosthenes' exhortations, Philip proved unstoppable and conquered Greece.

Roman philosopher Cicero made similar orations against Mark Antony following the death of Julius Caesar. Because they were modeled after Demosthenes' speeches, they were also called Philippics.

In general vocabulary rather than in reference to the classical orations, a philippic is a long, bitter discourse full of condemnation.

BY THE EDITORS OF MERRIAM-WEBSTER

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Title Annotation:WORDNOOK: BY THE EDITORS OF MERRIAM-WEBSTER
Publication:BookPage
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Nov 1, 2014
Words:156
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