Phocion, an Athenian general, born about 402 B. 0., put to death in 317. He studied under Plato and Xenocrates, and first distinguished himself in the naval victory gained at Naxos in 376 by the Athenians. Sent into Euboea about 350 at the head of a small force to assist Plutarch, tyrant of Eretria, he was betrayed by the latter; but he finally gained a complete victory at Tamynae over the party of Philip of Macedon. In 340 he was sent with a fleet to the relief of Byzantium, then closely besieged by the Macedonians, and forced Philip to retire from the Chersonese. Phocion was, however, an advocate of the temporizing policy of the peace party, and thus stood in opposition to Demosthenes. "When Thebes, on the reported death of Alexander, declared itself independent of Macedon, the Athenians were prevented by his influence from giving them assistance and occupying the pass of Thermopylae. A little later he advised compliance with the demand of Alexander that the ten leaders of the anti-Macedonian party should be given up, which proposition was indignantly rejected; but he nevertheless headed the second embassy, by the agency of which the demand was waived.
After the death of Alexander, he was one of the envoys sent to Antipater, and only succeeded in concluding a treaty most unfavorable to the Athenians. He was now at the head of the Macedonian party in Athens. On the return of the Athenian exiles, and the restoration of the democratic government, he fled to Polysperchon in Pho-cis, by whom he was sent back to Athens for trial. With four others he was condemned to drink the hemlock. He charged his son not to hold evil memory of the Athenians, and it is said was called upon to pay for his own execution, the poison having been exhausted and the jailer refusing to procure any more without compensation. Shortly after Cassander obtained possession of the city the oligarchical party regained power, and celebrated Pho-cion's funeral obsequies at the public expense, erected a statue in his honor, and punished his accusers. Phocion was a man of great courage, a good general, and above all free from the least suspicion of personal corruption. He was elected the unparalleled number of 45 times to the office of general.
Although he was not a professed orator, his brief and powerful speeches and his sarcastic manner exerted so great an influence, that Demosthenes, on seeing him rise, once said: " Here comes the cleaver of my harangues".