Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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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.


Now these regulations of the law have long been in force; but you went further and added a new law, after that charming gymnastic exhibition which Timarchus gave in an assembly of the people [Note]; for you were exceedingly ashamed of the affair. By the new law, for every meeting of the assembly one tribe is to be chosen by lot to have charge of the speaker's platform, and to preside. [Note] And what did the proposer of the law prescribe? That the members of the tribe should sit as defenders of the laws and of the democracy; for he believed that unless we should summon help from some quarter against men who have lived such a life, we should not be able even to deliberate on matters of supreme importance.


For there is no use in attempting, fellow citizens, to drive such men from the platform by shouting at them, for they have no sense of shame. We must try, rather, to break them of their habits by pains and penalties; for so only can they be made endurable.

The clerk shall therefore read to you the laws that are in force to secure orderly conduct [Note] on the part of our public men. For the law that introduced the presidency of a tribe [Note] has been attacked in the courts by Timarchus here, in conspiracy with other men like himself, as being inexpedient, their object being to have license to speak, as well as to behave, as they choose.

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 1.21 Aeschin. 1.29 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 1.38

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