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


But when at last he stopped and there was silence, I was forced to speak—after such an exhibition of ill-breeding and such excess of shameful flattery. Necessarily, by way of preface, I made a brief reply to his insinuations against his colleagues, saying that the Athenians had sent us as ambassadors, not to offer apologies in Macedonia for ourselves, but as men adjudged by our life at home to be worthy of our city.


Then after speaking briefly on the subject of the oaths for which we had come, I reviewed the other matters that you had entrusted to us. For the eminent Demosthenes, for all his exceeding eloquence, had not mentioned a single essential point. And in particular I spoke about the expedition to Thermopylae, and about the holy places, and Delphi, and the Amphictyons. I called on Philip to settle matters there, preferably not with arms, but with vote and verdict; but if that should be impossible (it was already evident that it was, for the army was collected and on the spot), I said that he who was on the point of deciding the fate of the holy places of our nation ought to give careful thought to the question of piety, and to give attention to those who undertook to give instruction as to our traditions.


At the same time I reviewed from the beginning the story of the founding of the shrine, and of the first synod of the Amphictyons that was ever held; and I read their oaths, in which the men of ancient times swore that they would raze no city of the Amphictyonic states, nor shut them off from flowing water either in war or in peace; that if anyone should violate this oath, they would march against such an one and raze his cities; [Note] and if any one should violate the shrine of the god or be accessory to such violation, or make any plot against the holy places, they would punish him with hand and foot and voice, and all their power. To the oath was added a mighty curse.

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