The concept of philanthropia is often associated with that of compassion and characterizes,
ideally, the relations between the powerful and those who are found to be in a situation of
fragility and impotence. The intention of this study is to show how, in the Lives of Demosthenes
and Cicero, this notion of philanthropia takes on a tragic tone, one which is reinforced by the
allusions to Sophocles’s Antigone, a play which seems to serve as an ethical frame of reference
for the evaluation of the protagonists’ ethos in crucial moments of their lives.