Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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For ambassadors from Thebes are here, ambassadors from Lacedaemonia have arrived, and here are we with a decree of the people in which it stands written, ‘The ambassadors shall also negotiate concerning any other good thing that may be within their power.’ All Hellas is watching to see what is going to happen. If now our people had thought it wise to speak out plainly to Philip, bidding him strip the Thebans of their insolence, and rebuild the walls of the Boeotian towns, [Note] they would have asked this of him in the decree. But as it is, by the obscurity of their language they left open a way of retreat for themselves, in case they should fail to persuade him, and they thought best to take the risk its our persons.


Men, therefore, who are ambitious to serve the state must not assume the function of other ambassadors whom the Athenians could have sent instead of us, and at the same time, on their own initiative, try to avoid stirring up the hostility of the Thebans. Epameinondas was a Theban, and he did not cower before the fame of the Athenians, but spoke right out in the Theban assembly, saying that they must remove the propylaea of the Acropolis of Athens and set it up at the entrance to the Cadmeia.”


As I was in the midst of these words, Demosthenes protested with a loud voice, as all our colleagues know, for on top of all his other crimes he is for the Boeotians. At any rate words like these came from him: “This fellow is full of quarrelsomeness and rashness. For myself, I confess that I am timid, that I fear danger from afar, but I protest against embroiling the cities one with another; I hold it to be the wise course that we ambassadors refrain from meddlesome conduct.


Philip is setting out for Thermopylae; I cover my eyes. No man is going to call me to account for the wars of Philip, but for what I say that I ought not to say, or what I do that I was not instructed to do.” The upshot of the matter was that the ambassadors, when asked for their opinion man by man, voted that each of us should say what he thought was to our interests. To show that I speak the truth, please call my colleagues and read their testimony.Testimony


Accordingly, fellow citizens, when the ambassadors were assembled at Pella, and Philip had arrived, and the herald called the ambassadors of the Athenians, we came forward, not in the order of age, as in the former embassy—a procedure which found favour with some, and which seemed to be in accord with the orderly way of our city [Note]—but in the way that was dictated by the effrontery of Demosthenes. For he said that he was the youngest of all, but declared that he could not yield the position of first speaker, and would not permit a certain person—hinting at me—to take possession of Philip's ears and leave the rest no chance to speak.


He began his speech with certain slanderous allusions to his colleagues, to the effect that not all of us had come with the same end in view, nor were we all of one mind; and then he proceeded to review his own previous services to Philip: first, his defence of Philocrates' motion, when Philocrates, having moved that Philip be permitted to send ambassadors to the Athenians to discuss peace, was defendant on the charge of having made an unconstitutional proposal; secondly, he read the motion of which Demosthenes himself was author, to grant safe conduct to the herald and ambassadors from Philip; and thirdly, the motion that restricted the people's discussion of peace to appointed days.


To the account he added a conclusion like this: that he had been the first to put a curb on those who were trying to block the peace; that he had done this, not by his words, but by fixing the dates. Then he brought up another motion, the one which provided that the people should discuss an alliance also; then, after that, the motion about assigning the front seats at the Dionysia to Philip's ambassadors.


He alluded also to the special attention he had shown them: the placing of cushions, and certain watchings and vigils of the night, caused by men who were jealous of him and wished to bring insult upon his honourable name! And that utterly absurd story, whereat his colleagues covered their faces for shame, how he gave a dinner to the ambassadors of Philip; and how when they set out for home he hired for them some teams of mules, and escorted them on horseback. For he did not hide in the dark, as certain others do, but made an exhibition of his fawning conduct.


And finally he carefully corrected those other statements: [Note]“I did not say that you are beautiful, for a woman is the most beautiful of all beings; nor that you are a wonderful drinker, for that is a compliment for a sponge, in my opinion; nor that you have a remarkable memory, for I think such praise belongs to the professional sophist.” But not to prolong the story, he said such things in the presence of the ambassadors from almost the whole of Hellas, that laughter arose such as you seldom hear.

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 2.99 Aeschin. 2.108 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 2.116

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