Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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Consider, fellow citizens, the wisdom of this regulation. The lawgiver does not forget, I think, that the older men are at their best in the matter of judgment, but that courage is now beginning to fail them as a result of their experience of the vicissitudes of life. So, wishing to accustom those who are the wisest to speak on public affairs, and to make this obligatory upon them, since he cannot call on each one of them by name, he comprehends them all under the designation of the age-group as a whole, invites them to the platform, and urges them to address the people. At the same time he teaches the younger men to respect their elders, to yield precedence to them in every act, and to honor that old age to which we shall all come if our lives are spared.


And so decorous were those public men of old, Pericles, Themistocles, and Aristeides (who was called by a name most unlike that by which Timarchus here is called), that to speak with the arm outside the cloak, as we all do nowadays as a matter of course, was regarded then as an ill-mannered thing, and they carefully refrained from doing it. And I can point to a piece of evidence which seems to me very weighty and tangible. I am sure you have all sailed over to Salamis, and have seen the statue of Solon there. You can therefore yourselves bear witness that in the statue that is set up in the Salaminian market-place Solon stands with his arm inside his cloak. Now this is a reminiscence, fellow citizens, and an imitation of the posture of Solon, showing his customary bearing as he used to address the people of Athens. [Note]


See now, fellow citizens, how unlike to Timarchus were Solon and those men of old whom I mentioned a moment ago. They were too modest to speak with the arm outside the cloak, but this man not long ago, yes, only the other day, in an assembly of the people threw off his cloak and leaped about like a gymnast, half naked, his body so reduced and befouled through drunkenness and lewdness that right-minded men, at least, covered their eyes, being ashamed for the city, that we should let such men as he be our advisers.


It was with such conduct as this in view that the lawgiver expressly prescribed who were to address the assembly, and who were not to be permitted to speak before the people. He does not exclude from the platform the man whose ancestors have not held a general's office, nor even the man who earns his daily bread by working at a trade; nay, these men he most heartily welcomes, and for this reason he repeats again and again the invitation, “Who wishes to address the assembly?”


Who then are they who in the lawgiver's opinion are not to be permitted to speak? Those who have lived a shameful life; these men he forbids to address the people. Where does he show this? Under the heading “Scrutiny of public men” [Note]

he says, “If any one attempts to speak before the people who beats his father or mother, or fails to support them or to provide a home for them.” Such a man, then, he forbids to speak. And right he is, by Zeus, say I! Why? Because if a man is mean toward those whom he ought to honor as the gods, how, pray, he asks, will such a man treat the members of another household, and how will he treat the whole city? Whom did he, in the second place, forbid to speak?


“Or the man who has failed to perform all the military service demanded of him, or who has thrown away his shield.” And he is right. Why? Man, if you fail to take up arms in behalf of the state, or if you are such a coward that you are unable to defend her, you must not claim the right to advise her, either. Whom does he specify in the third place? “Or the man,” he says, “who has debauched or prostituted himself.” For the man who has made traffic of the shame of his own body, he thought would be ready to sell the common interests of the city also. But whom does he specify in the fourth place?


“Or the man,” he says, “who has squandered his patrimony or other inheritance.” For he believed that the man who has mismanaged his own household will handle the affairs of the city in like manner; and to the lawgiver it did not seem possible that the same man could be a rascal in private life, and in public life a good and useful citizen; and he believed that the public man who comes to the platform ought to come prepared, not merely in words, but, before all else, in life.


And he was of the opinion that the advice of a good and upright man, however simple and even awkward the words in which it is given, is profitable to the hearers; but the words of a shameless man, who has treated his own body with scorn and disgracefully squandered his patrimony—the words of such a man the lawgiver believed could never benefit the hearers, however eloquently they might be spoken.


These men, therefore, he debars from the speaker's platform, these he forbids to address the people. But if any one, in violation of these prohibitions, not only speaks, but is guilty of blackmail and wanton scurrility, and if the city is no longer able to put up with such a man, “Let any citizen who chooses,” he says, “and is competent thereto, [Note] challenge him to a suit of scrutiny;” and then he commands you [Note] to render decision on the case in a court of justice. This is the law under authority of which I now appear before you.

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 1.19 Aeschin. 1.26 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 1.35

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