Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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Now I naturally have had no conversation with Alexander, because of his youth, but Philip I do praise now because of his auspicious words, and if in what he does toward us in the future he shall fulfil the promise of what he now says, he will make praise of him a safe and easy thing. I did, indeed, rebuke Demosthenes in the senate-chamber, not because I was counting the favor of the boy, but because I felt that if you should listen to such words as his, the city would show itself as ill-behaved as the speaker.


But, fellow citizens, I beg you not to accept their irrelevant pleas at all, in the first place for the sake of the oaths which you have sworn, in the second place that you may not be misled by a fellow who makes a trade of the manipulation of words. But I will go back a little way for your instruction. Demosthenes, after he had spent his patrimony, went up and down the city, hunting rich young fellows whose fathers were dead, and whose mothers were administering their property. I will omit many instances, and will mention only one of those who were outrageously treated.


he discovered a household that was rich and ill-managed, the head of which was a woman, proud and of poor judgment. A fatherless young man, half crazy, was managing the estate, Aristarchus, son of Moschus. Demosthenes, pretending to be a lover of his, invited the young man to this intimacy, filling him up with empty hopes, assuring him that without any delay whatever he should become the foremost man in public life, and he showed him a list of names. [Note] So he became prompter and teacher of the young man in conduct which has made Aristarchus an exile from his fatherland,


while Demosthenes, getting hold of the money that was to support him in in his banishment, has cheated him out of three talents, and, at the hands of Aristarchus, Nicodemus of Aphidna has met a violent death, poor man! after having had both eyes knocked out, and that tongue cut off with which he had been wont to speak out freely, trusting in the laws and in you. [Note]


Did you put to death Socrates the sophist, fellow citizens, because he was shown to have been the teacher of Critias, one of the Thirty who put down the democracy, and after that, shall Demosthenes succeed in snatching companions of his own out of your hands, Demosthenes, who takes such vengeance on private citizens and friends of the people for their freedom of speech? At his invitation some of his pupils are here in court to listen to him. For with an eye to business at your expense, [Note] he promises them, as I understand, that he will juggle the issue and cheat your ears, and you will never know it;


assuring them that, as soon as he shall come forward to speak, the situation shall be reversed, the defendant filled with confidence, the plaintiff confounded, frightened for his own safety; and that he will lug in my speeches, and find fault with the peace which was brought about through Philocrates and myself, until he shall call out such bursts of applause from the jurors that I will not even face him in the court-room to defend myself when I render account of my service on the embassy, but will consider myself lucky if I get off with a moderate fine instead of being punished with death.


So I do beg you by all means not to furnish this sophist with laughter and patronage at your expense. Imagine that you see him when he gets home from the court-room, putting on airs in his lectures to his young men, and telling how successfully he stole the case away from the jury. “I carried the jurors off bodily from the charges brought against Timarchus, and set them on the accuser, and Philip, and the Phocians, and I suspended such terrors before the eyes of the hearers that the defendant began to be the accuser, and the accuser to be on trial; and the jurors forgot what they were to judge; and what they were not to judge, to that they listened.”


But it is your business to take your stand against this sort of thing, and following close on his every step, to let him at no point turn aside nor persist in irrelevant talk; on the contrary, act as you do in a horse-race, make him keep to the track—of the matter at issue. If you do that, you will not fail of respect, and you will have the same sentiments when you are called to enforce laws that you had when you made them; but if you do otherwise, it will appear that when crimes are about to be committed, you foresee them and are angry, but after they have been committed, you no longer care.


To sum it all up, if you punish the wrongdoers, your laws will be good and valid; but if you let them go, good laws, indeed, but valid no longer. And I shall not hesitate to speak out and tell you why I say this. I will explain by means of an illustration. Why do you suppose it is, fellow citizens, that the existing laws are good, but that the decrees of the city are inferior to them, [Note] and that the verdicts rendered in the courts are sometimes open to censure?


I will explain to you the reason. It is because you enact the laws with no other object than justice, not moved by unrighteous gain, or by either partiality or animosity, looking solely to what is just and for the common good. And because you are, as I think, naturally, more clever than other men, it is not surprising that you pass most excellent laws. But in the meetings of the assembly and in the courts, you oftentimes lose all hold of the discussion of the matter in hand, and are led away by deceit and trickery; and you admit into your cases at law a custom that is utterly unjust, for you allow the defendants to bring counter accusations against the complainants.

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 1.164 Aeschin. 1.173 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 1.182

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