|Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].|
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You see, fellow citizens, how certain persons have been making their preparations for this case: how they have mustered their forces, and how they have gone begging up and down the market place, in the attempt to prevent the fair and orderly course of justice in the state. But I have come trusting first in the gods, then in the laws and in you, believing that with you no scheming preparation can override law and justice.
I could wish, indeed, fellow citizens, that the Senate of Five Hundred and the assemblies of the people were properly conducted by those who preside over them, and the laws enforced which Solon enacted to secure orderly conduct on the part of public speakers; for then it would be permitted to the oldest citizen, as the law prescribes, to come forward to the platform first, with dignity, and, uninterrupted by shouting and tumult, out of his experience to advise for the good of the state and it would then be permitted to all other citizens who wished, one by one in turn, in order of age, to express their opinion on every question; for so, I think, the state would be best governed, and least litigation would arise.
But now all our standards of orderly procedure have been set aside; there are men who do not hesitate to make illegal motions, and other men who are ready to put these motions to the vote—not men who have been chosen by right and lawful allotment to preside, but men who hold the position by trickery; and if any other senator does actually obtain the presidency by lot, and does honestly declare your votes, he is threatened with impeachment by men who no longer regard citizenship as a common right, but as their own private perquisite; men who are making slaves of the common people, and arrogating lordship to themselves;
men who have set aside the lawful processes of the courts, and carry their verdicts in the assembly by appeal to passion. [Note] The result of all this is that we have ceased to hear that wisest and most judicious of all the proclamations to which the city was once accustomed, “Who of the men above fifty years of age wishes to address the people,” and then who of the other Athenians in turn. The disorder of the public men can no longer be controlled by the laws, nor by the prytanes, nor by the presiding officers, nor by the presiding tribe, the tenth part of the city. [Note]
Under such circumstances, and in a political situation the gravity of which you yourselves understand, only one part of the constitution is left to us—if I too may lay claim to some discernment—the suits against illegal motions. But if you shall annul these also, or give way to those who are trying to annul them, I warn you that before you know it you will step by step have surrendered your rights to a faction.
There are, as you know, fellow-citizens, three forms of government in the world tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. Tyrannies and oligarchies are administered according to the tempers of their lords, but democratic states according to their own established laws. Let no man among you forget this, but let each bear distinctly in mind that when he enters a court-room to sit as juror in a suit against an illegal motion, on that day he is to cast his vote for or against his own freedom of speech. This is why the lawgiver placed first in the jurors' oath these words, “I will vote according to the laws.” For he well knew that if the laws are faithfully upheld for the state, the democracy also is preserved.
This you ought always to remember, and to hate those who make illegal motions, and to hold no such offence as trivial, but every one as serious indeed. And you ought to let no man rob you of this right of yours, whether through the intercession of the generals, who by their cooperation with certain public men have this long time been outraging the constitution, or through petitions of foreigners, whom some bring in here, and so escape the courts, when their whole political career has been in defiance of the laws. But as each man of you would be ashamed to desert the post to which he had been assigned in war, so now you should be ashamed to desert the post to which the laws have called you, sentinels, guarding the democracy this day.
And another thing you have to remember: today your fellow citizens as a body have put the city and the constitution into your hands as a solemn trust. Some of them are present, listening to this case; others are absent, busy with their personal affairs. Respect them therefore, and remember the oaths which you have sworn, and the laws; and if I convict
I hope now that what I have said is a sufficient introduction to my complaint as a whole but I wish to speak briefly about the laws themselves which govern the rendering of account by public officers, the laws which are in fact violated by
In former times certain men who held the highest offices and administered the revenues—yes, and betrayed their every trust for money—would attach to themselves the public speakers of the senate-house and the assembly, and thus anticipate their day of accounting long in advance, with votes of thanks and with proclamations. The result was that when the time came for them to render their account, those who had charges to prefer fell into very great embarrassment, and this was even more the case with the jurors.
For great numbers of those who were subject to audit, though they were caught in the very act of stealing the public funds, went out from the court-room acquitted. And no wonder! For the jurors were ashamed, I imagine, to see the same man in the same city one day proclaimed at the festival as crowned by the people with a golden crown because of his virtue and justice, and then a little later to see the same man come out of the auditors' court convicted of theft. And so the jurors were forced to render,
not the verdict that fitted the actual crime, but one that would avert the shame of the people.
Now some statesman who had observed this situation caused a law to be passed—and a most excellent law it is—which expressly forbids crowning men before they have passed their final accounting. And yet in spite of this wise provision of the framer of the law, forms of statement have been invented which circumvent the laws; and unless you are warned of them you will be taken unawares and deceived. For among those men who contrary to the laws crown officers who have not yet submitted their accounts, some, who at heart are orderly citizens—if any one is really orderly who proposes illegal measures—at any rate some do make an attempt to cloak their shame; for they add to their decrees the proviso that the man who is subject to audit shall be crowned “after he shall have rendered account and submitted to audit of his office.”
The injury to the state is indeed no less, for the hearings for accounting are prejudiced by previous votes of thanks and crowns; but the man who makes the motion does show to the bearers that while he has made an illegal motion, he is ashamed of the wrong thing that he has done. But
But, fellow citizens, in opposition to the statement of the case which I have just presented, they will urge a different argument; for they will say, forsooth, that whatever a man is called on to do under special enactment, this is not an “office,” but a sort of “commission” and “public service” and they will say that “offices” are those to which the Thesmothetae appoint men by lot in the Theseum, and those which are filled by popular election (the offices of general, cavalry commander, and associated offices); but that all others are “employment under special enactment.”
Well, to their arguments I will oppose your law, a law which you yourselves passed in the expectation of silencing such pretexts; for it expressly says “the elective offices,” including all in a single phrase, calling everything which is filled by popular election an “office,” and specifying “the superintendents of public works.” But Demosthenes is in charge of the construction of walls, superintendent of the greatest of the works; “and all who have charge of any business of the state for more than thirty days, and all to whom is given the presidency of a court”; but every superintendent of public works holds the presidency of a court. [Note]
What is it that the law commands these men to do? Not to “serve,” but “after approval by the court [Note] to hold office” (for even the officers who are selected by lot are not exempt from the scrutiny, but hold their office only after approval); “and to submit their accounts before the clerk and board of auditors,” precisely as other officers are required to do. As proof of the truth of my statement, the laws themselves shall be read to you.
When, therefore, fellow citizens, what the lawgiver names “offices,” they call “employments” and “commissions,” it is your duty to remember the law, and to set it against their shamelessness, and to remind them that you refuse to accept a rascally sophist, who expects to destroy the laws with phrases; but that when a man has made an illegal motion, the more cleverly he talks, the more angry will he find you. For by right, fellow citizens, the orator and the law ought to speak the same language; but when the law utters one voice and the orator another, you ought to give your vote to the just demand of the law, not to the shamelessness of the speaker.
But now to “the irrefutable argument,” as Demosthenes calls it, I wish to reply briefly in advance. For he will say, “I am in charge of the construction of walls; I admit it; but I have made a present of a hundred minas to the state, and I have carried out the work on a larger scale than was prescribed; what then is it that you want to audit? unless a man's patriotism is to be audited!” Now to this pretext hear my answer, true to the facts and beneficial to you.
In this city, so ancient and so great, no man is free from the audit who has held any public trust.
I will first cite cases where this would be least expected. For example, the law directs that priests and priestesses be subject to audit, all collectively, and each severally and individually—persons who receive perquisites only, and whose occupation is to pray to heaven for you; and they are made accountable not only separately, but whole priestly, families together, the Eumolpidae, the Ceryces, and all the rest.
Again, the law directs that the trierarchs be subject to audit, though they have had no public funds in their hands, and though they are not men who filch large sums from your treasury and pay out small ones, and not men who claim to be making donations when they are only paying back what is your own, but men who are acknowledged by all to have spent their family fortunes in their ambition to serve you.
Furthermore, not the trierarchs alone, but also the highest bodies in the state, come under the verdict of the courts of audit.
For, first, the Senate of the Areopagus is required by the law to file its accounts with the Board of Auditors and to submit to their examination; yes, even those men, who sit with solemn aspect yonder as the court of highest competence, are brought under your verdict. Shall the Senate of the Areopagus, then, receive no crown? They shall not, for such is not the tradition of our fathers. Have they, then, no love of honor? Indeed they have! They so love honor that they are not satisfied with merely keeping free from guilt, but they punish their members even for mistakes. But your politicians are pampered. Further, the lawgiver has made the Senate of Five Hundred subject to audit.
And so deep is his distrust of those who are subject to audit, that he says at the very beginning of the laws, “The officer who has not yet submitted his accounts shall not leave the country?” “Heracles !” some one may answer, “because I held an office may I not leave the country?” No, for fear you may make profit of the public money or the public acts, and then run away. Furthermore, the man who is subject to audit is not allowed to consecrate his property, or to make a votive offering, or to receive adoption, [Note] or to dispose of his property by will and he is under many other prohibitions. In a word, the lawgiver holds under attachment the property of all who are subject to audit, until their accounts shall have been audited.
“Yes, but there is a man who has received no public funds and spent none, but has simply had something to do with administrative matters.” He too is commanded to render account to the auditors. “And how shall the man who has received nothing and spent nothing render account to the state?” The law itself suggests and teaches what he is to write; for it commands him to file precisely this statement, “I have neither received nor spent any public funds.” There is nothing in all the state that is exempt from audit, investigation, and examination. As proof of what I say, hear the laws themselves.
So when Demosthenes at the height of his impudence shall say that because the money was a gift he is not subject to audit, suggest this to him: was it not, then, your duty, Demosthenes, to allow the herald of the Board of Auditors to make this proclamation, sanctioned by law and custom, “Who wishes to prefer charges?” Let any citizen who wishes have the opportunity to claim that you have given nothing, but that from the large sums under your control you have spent a mere trifle on the repair of the walls, whereas you have received ten talents from the city for this work. Do not grab honor; do not snatch the jurors' ballots from their hands; do not in your political career go before the laws, but follow them. For so is the democracy upheld.
As an answer then to the empty pretexts that they will bring forward, let what I have said suffice. But that Demosthenes was in fact subject to audit at the time when the defendant made his motion, since he held the office of Superintendent of the Theoric Fund [Note] as well as the office of Commissioner for the Repair of Walls, and at that time bad not rendered to you his account and reckoning for either office, this I will now try to show you from the public records. Read, if you please, in what archonship and in what month and on what day and in what assembly Demosthenes was elected a Superintendent of the Theoric Fund.
Enumeration of the Days
If now I should prove nothing beyond this,
In earlier times, fellow citizens, the city used to elect a Comptroller of the Treasury, who every prytany made to the people a report of the revenues. But because of the trust which you placed in Eubulus, those who were elected Superintendents of the Theoric Fund held (until the law of Hegemon was passed) the office of Comptroller of the Treasury and the office of Receiver of Moneys; they also controlled the dockyards, had charge of the naval arsenal that was building, and were Superintendents of Streets; almost the whole administration of the state was in their hands.
I say this, not to accuse or blame them, but because I wish to show you this: that while the lawgiver, in case any one is subject to audit for a single office—though it be the least—does not permit him to be crowned until lie has rendered his account and submitted to audit,
Furthermore I will present to you Demosthenes himself as witness to the fact that at the time when
Yes, but he immediately tries to wriggle out of this by saying that it was not the people who elected him, or appointed him by lot, as Commissioner of Walls. On this point Demosthenes and
There are, fellow citizens, three classes of public officers. The first and most obvious class are all who are appointed by lot or by election; the second class are those who administer some public business for more than thirty days, and the Commissioners of Public Works; but third it stands written in the law that if any others receive presidencies of courts, [Note] they also shall “hold office on passing their scrutiny.”
Now when you subtract those officials who are chosen by popular election and those appointed by lot, there remain those whom the tribes, the trittyes, [Note] and the demes appoint from among their own number to administer public funds. This happens when, as in the present case, some work is assigned to the several tribes, like the digging of trenches or the building of triremes. That what I say is true, you shall learn from the laws themselves.
Recall now what has been said: the lawgiver directs that after approval in court [Note] those appointed by the tribes shall “hold office”; but the tribe Pandionis appointed Demosthenes an “officer,” a Builder of Walls; and he has received for this work from the general treasury nearly ten talents. Another law forbids crowning an official before he has rendered his accounts, and you have sworn to vote according to the laws; but yonder politician has moved to crown the man who has not yet rendered his accounts, and he has not added “when he shall have rendered account and submitted to audit” and I convict him of the unlawful act, bringing as my witnesses the laws, the decrees, and the defendants. How could one more clearly prove that a man has made an unlawful motion?
Furthermore, I will show you that the proclamation of the crown, as proposed in his decree, is to be made in an illegal manner. For the law expressly commands that if the Senate confer a crown, the crown shall be proclaimed in the senate-house, and if the people confer it, in the assembly, “and nowhere else.” Read me the law.
This, fellow citizens, is an excellent law. For it seems that it was the idea of the lawgiver that the public man ought not to be thinking of outsiders as he receives his honors, but to be well content with honor received in the city itself and from the people; and that he ought not to treat such proclamations as a source of revenue. So thought the lawgiver. But
You hear, fellow citizens, how the lawgiver commands that the man who is crowned by the people be proclaimed among the people, on the Pnyx, at a meeting of the assembly, “and nowhere else”; but
Having, then, made a motion that is so manifestly illegal, he will call Demosthenes as his ally and bring up the artifices of rhetoric for the assault on the laws. These tricks I will reveal and of these I will forewarn you, lest you be taken unawares and deceived.
They will not be able to deny that the laws forbid the man who is crowned by the people to be proclaimed outside the assembly, but they will present for their defence the Dionysiac law, and will use a certain portion of the law, cheating your ears.
For they will offer a law that has nothing to do with this case, and will say that the city has two laws governing proclamations: one, the law that I now offer in evidence, which expressly forbids the man who is crowned by the people to be proclaimed outside the assembly; but they will say that there is another law, contradictory to this, and that that law has given authority for the proclamation of the crown at the time of the tragedies in the theater, “if the people vote.” And so they will say that it is in accordance with that law that
Now against their tricks I will introduce your own laws as my advocates, as indeed I earnestly try to do throughout this whole prosecution. For if what they say is true, and such a custom has crept into your government that invalid laws stand written among the valid, and that there exist two laws concerning one and the same action, which contradict each other, how could any man longer call this a “government,” if in it the laws command to do and not to do one and the same thing?
But that is not the case. May you never reach the point where your laws are in such disorder as that! Nor was the lawgiver who established the democracy guilty of such neglect; he has expressly laid upon the Thesmothetae [Note] the duty of making an annual revision of the laws in the presence of the people, prescribing sharp investigation and examination, in order to determine whether any law stands written which contradicts another law, or an invalid law stands among the valid, or whether more laws than one stand written to govern each action.
And if they find such a thing, they are required to write it out and post it on bulletins in front of the Eponymi; [Note] and the prytanes are required to call a meeting of the assembly, writing at the head of the call, “For Nomothetae”; [Note] and the chairman of the presiding officers must submit to vote [Note] the question of the removal of one set of laws and the retention of the other, in order that for each action there may be one law and no more. Please read the laws.
If now, fellow citizens, what they assert were true, and two laws had been in force governing proclamations, I think the Thesmothetae would necessarily have searched them out, and the prytanes would have referred them to the Nomothetae, and one or the other of the two laws would have been repealed, either the law that gave authority for the proclamation, or the law that forbade it. But seeing that no such thing has been done, surely what they say is demonstrated to be, not only false, but absolutely impossible.
But I will show you where they get this false assertion. First, however, I will tell the reason why the laws governing the proclamations in the theater were enacted. It frequently happened that at the performance of the tragedies in the city proclamations were made without authorization of the people, now that this or that man was crowned by his tribe, now that others were crowned by the men of their deme, while other men by the voice of the herald manumitted their household slaves, and made all
and, most invidious of all, certain men who had secured positions as agents of foreign states managed to have proclaimed that they were crowned—it might be by the people of
The result of this practice was that the spectators, the choregi, and the actors alike were discommoded, and that those who were crowned in the theater received greater honors than those whom the people crowned. For the latter had a place prescribed where they must receive their crown, the assembly of the people, and proclamation “anywhere else” was forbidden; but the others were proclaimed in the presence of all the Hellenes; the one class with your consent, by your decree; the other, without decree.
Now some legislator, seeing this, caused a law to be enacted which has nothing to do with the law concerning those who are crowned by our people, and did not supersede it. For it was not the assembly that was being disturbed, but the theater; and he was not enacting a law contradictory to the previously existing laws, for that may not be done; but a law governing those who, without your decree, are crowned by their tribe or deme, and governing the freeing of slaves, and also the foreign crowns. He expressly forbids the manumission of a slave in the theater, or the proclamation of a crown by the tribe or deme, “or by any one else,” he says, “and the herald who disobeys shall lose his civic rights.”
When, therefore, the lawgiver designates, for those who are crowned by the senate, the senate-house as the place of proclamation, and, for those who are crowned by the people, the assembly, and when he forbids those who are crowned by the demes or tribes to be proclaimed at the tragedies—that no one may try to get spurious honor by begging crowns and proclamations, and when in the law he further forbids proclamation being made by any one else, senate, people, tribe, and deme being thus eliminated—when one takes these away, what is it that is left except the foreign crowns?
For the truth of my assertion I will show you a strong argument derived from the laws themselves. For the golden crown itself which is proclaimed in the city theater the law takes from the man who is crowned, and commands that it be dedicated to Athena. And yet who among you would dare to charge the Athenian people with such illiberality? For certainly no state, nay, not even a private person—not one—would be so mean as to proclaim a crown and at the same moment demand back the gift which he himself had made. But I think it is because the crown is the gift of foreigners that the dedication is made, lest any one set a higher value upon the gratitude of a foreign state than upon that of his own country, and so become corrupted.
But the other crown, the crown that is proclaimed in the assembly, no one dedicates, but he is permitted to keep it, that not only he, but also his descendants, having the memorial in their house, may never become disloyal to the democracy. And the reason why the lawgiver also forbade the proclamation of the foreign crown in the theater “unless the people vote,” is this: he would have the state that wishes to crown any one of your citizens send ambassadors and ask permission of the people, for so he who is proclaimed will be more grateful to you for permitting the proclamation than to those who confer the crown. But to show that my statements are true, hear the laws themselves.
When, therefore, they try to deceive you, and say that it is added in the law that the bestowal of the crown is permitted “if the people vote,” do not forget to suggest to them, Yes, if it is another state that is crowning you; but if it is the Athenian people, a place is designated for you where the ceremony must be performed; it is forbidden you to be crowned outside the assembly. For you may spend the whole day in explaining the meaning of the words “and nowhere else”; you will never show that his motion is lawful.
But that part of my accusation remains upon which I lay greatest stress: the pretext upon which he claims that the crown is deserved. It reads thus in his motion : “And the herald shall proclaim in the theater in the presence of the Hellenes that the Athenian people crown him for his merit and uprightness,” and that monstrous assertion, “because he continually speaks and does what is best for the people.”
You see how entirely simple the remainder of our argument becomes, and how easy for you, my hearers, to weigh. For it is obviously incumbent upon me, the complainant, to show this to you, that the praise given to Demosthenes is false, and that he never began to “speak what was best,” nor now “continues to do what is good for the people.” If I show this, then
The case is this: To review the private life of Demosthenes would, in my opinion, demand too long a speech. And why need I tell it all now? the story of what happened to him in the matter of the suit over the wound, when he summoned his own cousin, Demomeles of Paeania, before the Areopagus; [Note] and the cut on his head; or the story of the generalship of Cephisodotus, and the naval expedition to the
when Demosthenes as one of the trierarchs carried the general on his ship, and shared his table, his sacrifices, and his libations and how after he had been thus honored because the general was an old friend of his father's, he did not hesitate, when the general was impeached, and was on trial for his life, to become one of his accusers; or, again, that story about Meidias and the blow of the fist that Demosthenes got when he was choregus, in the orchestra, and how for thirty minas he sold both the insult to himself and the vote of censure that the people had passed against Meidias in the theater of Dionysus. [Note]
Now these incidents and all the others like them I think it is best to pass over; not that I would betray you, gentlemen of the jury, or politely yield this case to him, but because I fear that I shall encounter in you the feeling that, while all this is true, it is an old story, admitted by everybody. And yet,
But concerning the crimes of his public life I will try to speak more explicitly. For I understand that when the defence are given opportunity to speak, Demosthenes will enumerate to you four periods in the history of the city as the periods of his own political activity. [Note] One of them, and the first, as I hear, he reckons as the time of our war with Philip over
And he says that the second period was the time while we kept the peace, doubtless up to that day on which this same orator put an end to the existing peace, by himself introducing the motion for war; and the third period, the period of war, up to the events of
In order, then, that he may lose his confidence, and that you may be instructed in advance, and that I may reply, in the presence of the jury, Demosthenes, and of all the other citizens who are standing there outside the bar, and of all the other Greeks who have taken the trouble to listen to this case—and I see that not a few are here, more in fact than have ever attended a public trial within the memory of any man—I answer you that for all the four periods which you enumerate I accuse you.
And if the gods permit, and the jurors give us an impartial hearing, and I am able to call to mind all that I know about you, I confidently expect to show to the jury that for the safety of the city it is the gods who are responsible, and the men who in the crisis have treated the city with humanity and moderation; [Note]
You could have made that former peace, [Note] fellow citizens, supported by the joint action of a congress of the Greek states, if certain men had allowed you to wait for the return of the embassies which at that crisis you had sent out among the Greeks, with the call to join you against Philip; and in the course of time the Greeks would of their own accord have accepted your hegemony again. Of this you were deprived, thanks to Demosthenes and Philocrates, and the bribes which they took in their conspiracy against the common weal.
But if such a statement as I have just made, falling suddenly on your ears, is too incredible to some of you, permit me to suggest how you ought to listen to the rest of my argument: When we take our seats to audit the accounts of expenditures which extend back a long time, it doubtless sometimes happens that we come from home with a false impression; nevertheless, when the accounts have been balanced, no man is so stubborn as to refuse, before he leaves the room, to assent to that conclusion, whatever it may be, which the figures themselves establish.
I ask you to give a similar hearing now. If some of you have come from home with the opinion, formed in the past, that of course Demosthenes has never in conspiracy with Philocrates said a word in Philip's interest—if any man of you is under such impression, let him decide nothing either way, aye or no, until he has heard; for that would not be fair. But if, as I briefly recall the dates, and cite the resolutions which Demosthenes moved in cooperation with Philocrates, the truthful audit of the facts shall convict Demosthenes of having moved more resolutions than Philocrates concerning the original peace and alliance,
and of having flattered Philip and his ambassadors with a shamelessness which was beyond measure, and of being responsible to the people for the failure to secure the concurrence of a general congress of the Greek states in the making of the peace, and of having betrayed to Philip Cersobleptes, king of
Philocrates made a motion [Note] that we permit Philip to send to us a herald and ambassadors to treat concerning peace. This motion was attacked in the courts as illegal. The time of the trial came. Lycinus, who had indicted him, spoke for the prosecution; Philocrates made answer for himself, and Demosthenes spoke in his behalf; [Note] Philocrates was cleared. After this came the archonship of Themistocles. [Note] Now Demosthenes came in as senator, not drawn by the lot either as a member of the senate or as a substitute, but through intrigue and bribery; the purpose of it was to enable him to support Philocrates in every way, by word and deed, as the event itself made evident.
For now Philocrates carries a second resolution, providing for the election of ten ambassadors, who shall go to Philip and ask him to send hither plenipotentiaries to negotiate peace. Of these ambassadors one was Demosthenes. On his return, Demosthenes was a eulogist of the peace, he agreed with the other ambassadors in their report, and he alone of the senators moved to give safe-conduct to Philip's herald and ambassadors; and in this motion he was in accord with Philocrates, for the one had given permission to send a herald and ambassadors hither, the other gave safe-conduct to the embassy.
As to what followed, I beg you now to pay especial attention. For negotiations were entered into—not with the other ambassadors, who were slandered again and again by Demosthenes after he had changed face, but with Philocrates and Demosthenes (naturally, for they were at once ambassadors and authors of the motions)—first, that you should not wait for the ambassadors whom you had sent out with your summons against Philip, for they wished you to make the peace, not together with the Greeks, but by yourselves;
secondly, that you should vote, not only for peace, but also for alliance with Philip, in order that any states which were taking note of what the Athenian democracy was doing might fall into utter discouragement on seeing that, while you were summoning them to war, you had at home voted to make both peace and an alliance; and thirdly, that Cersobleptes, king of
Now the man who was buying such services was doing no wrong, for before the oaths had been taken and the agreements entered into, he could not be blamed for negotiating to his own advantage; but the men who sold, who admitted Philip into partnership in the control of the strongholds of the state, were deserving of your great indignation. For the man who now shouts, “Down with Alexander!” and in those days, “Down with Philip!” the man who throws in my face the friendship of Alexander, this man Demosthenes,
stole away the opportunities of the city by making the motion that the prytanes call an assembly for the eighth day of Elaphebolion, the day of the sacrifice to Asclepius, and the introductory day of the festival [Note]—the sacred day—a thing that no man remembers ever to have been done before. And what was his pretext? “In order,” he says, “that if Philip's ambassadors shall by that time have arrived, the people may most speedily deliberate on their relations with Philip.” He thus appropriates the assembly for the ambassadors in advance, before their arrival, cutting short your time, and hurrying on the whole business; and this was in order that you might make the peace, not in cooperation with the other Greeks, on the return of your ambassadors, [Note] but alone.
After this, fellow citizens, Philip's ambassadors arrived [Note]
When now, fellow citizens, the Dionysia were past and the assemblies took place, in the first assembly a resolution of the synod of the allies was read, [Note]
by adding in their resolution that any Greek state that wished should be permitted within the space of three months to have its name inscribed with the Athenians on the same stone, and to share the oaths and agreements. In this way they were taking two precautions, and those of the greatest importance; for first, they provided the period of three months, a sufficient time for the ambassadors of the Greek states to arrive; and secondly, they sought to secure to the city the good-will of the Greeks, by the provision for a general congress, in order that in case the agreements should be violated, we might not enter upon the war unprepared and alone—the misfortune that actually came upon us, thanks to Demosthenes. Now that what I say is true, you shall learn by hearing the resolution itself
Resolution of the Allies
I acknowledge that I supported this resolution, as did all who spoke in the first of the two assemblies; and the people left the assembly with substantially this supposition, that peace would be made (that, however, it was better not to discuss an alliance, because of our summons to the Greeks), and that the peace would be shared by all the Greeks. Night intervened. We came the next day to the assembly. Then it was that Demosthenes, hastening to get possession of the platform, and leaving no other man an opportunity to speak, said that the propositions of yesterday were utterly useless unless Philip's ambassadors could be persuaded to assent to them. He further said that he could not conceive of peace without alliance.
For he said we must not—I remember the expression he used, for the word was as odious as the man—he said we must not “rip off” the alliance from the peace, nor wait for the slow decisions of the other Greeks, but we must either fight ourselves, or by ourselves make the peace. And finally he called Antipater [Note] to the platform, and proceeded to ask him a certain question—he had previously told him what he gas going to ask, and had instructed him what he was to answer, to the injury of the state. Finally this thing prevailed, Demosthenes forcing you to it by his talk, and Philocrates moving the resolution.
One thing remained now for them to do—to betray Cersobleptes and the Thracian coast. This they accomplished on the 25th of Elaphebolion, before Demosthenes set out on the second embassy, the embassy for the ratification of the oaths (for this orator of ours, this man who shouts “Down with Alexander!” and “Down with Philip!” has twice been an ambassador to
for Philocrates unobserved slipped this clause in among the provisions of his resolution, and Demosthenes put it to the vote, that “The members of the synod of the allies do on this day give their oaths to the ambassadors from Philip.” But no representative of Cersobleptes had a seat in the synod and so in providing that those who were sitting in the synod should give oath, he excluded Cersobleptes from the oaths, for he had no place in the synod. [Note]
As proof that I am speaking the truth, read, if you please, who it was that made this motion, and who it was that put it to vote.
An excellent thing, fellow citizens, an excellent thing is the preservation of the public acts. For the record remains undisturbed, and does not shift sides with political turncoats, but whenever the people desire, it gives them opportunity to discern who have been rascals of old, but have now changed face and claim to be honorable men.
It remains for me to describe his flattery. For Demosthenes, fellow citizens, was senator for a year, yet he will be found never to have invited any other embassy to the seat of honor [Note]—nay, that was the first and the only time; and he placed cushions and spread rugs; and at daybreak he came escorting the ambassadors into the theater, so that he was actually hissed for his unseemly flattery. And when they set out on their return journey, he hired for them three span of mules, and escorted the ambassadors as far as
Now this man it was, fellow citizens, this past master of flattery, who, when informed through scouts of Charidemus [Note]
Not that I reproach him for his misfortune, but I am probing his character. For the man who hates his child and is a bad father could never become a safe guide to the people; the man who does not cherish the persons who are nearest and dearest to him, will never care much about you, who are not his kinsmen; the man who is wicked in his private relations would never be found trustworthy in public affairs; and the man who is base at home was never a good and honorable man in
Now how it was that he came to reverse his policies (for this is the second period), [Note] and what is the reason that policies identical with those of Demosthenes led to the impeachment and exile of Philocrates, [Note] while Demosthenes suddenly stood forth as accuser of the rest, and how it is that the pestilential fellow has plunged you into misfortune, this you ought now especially to hear.
For as soon as Philip had come this side
and when it happened at the same time that Demosthenes and Philocrates had a falling out—you were able to guess the reasons without much difficulty—when all this disturbance had arisen, then Demosthenes proceeded to take counsel as to his future course, consulting his own innate corruption, his cowardice, and his jealousy of Philocrates' bribes; and he came to the conclusion that if he should step forward as the accuser of his colleagues on the embassy and of Philip, Philocrates would surely be ruined, his other colleagues would be put in jeopardy, and he himself would gain favour, and—scoundrel and traitor to his friends—would appear to be a faithful servant of the people.
Now when the men who are always the foes of public tranquillity caught sight of him, they were delighted, and repeatedly called him to the platform, and named him our sole and only incorruptible citizen; and he as often came forward and furnished them with the sources of disturbance and war. He it is, fellow citizens, who first discovered Serrhium-Teichus and Doriscus and Ergisca and Myrtisca and Ganus and Ganias; [Note] for before that we did not even know the names of these places. And he put such forced and perverse interpretation upon what was done, that, if Philip did not send ambassadors, Demosthenes said that Philip was treating the city with contempt; and if he did send them, that he was sending spies, not ambassadors;
and if Philip was willing to refer our differences to some state as an equal and impartial arbiter, he said that between Philip and us there was no impartial arbiter. Philip offered to give us Halonnesus; Demosthenes forbade us to accept it if he “gave it,” instead of “giving it back,” quarrelling over syllables. [Note] And finally, by bestowing crowns of honor on the embassy which Aristodemus led to
Yes, but with walls of brass and steel, as he himself says, he fortified our land, by the alliance with
You, fellow citizens, had suffered many serious injuries at the hands of Mnesarchus of
After receiving such benefits at your hands, the Chalcidians did not requite you with like treatment, but as soon as you had crossed over to
seeing the troops of our city shut up in a place which was difficult and dangerous, from which there was no withdrawal unless we could win a battle, and where there was no hope of succor from land or sea, collected troops from all
And had not, in the first place, some god saved the army, and had not then your soldiers, horse and foot, showed themselves brave men, and conquered the enemy in a pitched battle by the hippodrome at
But yet, even after such treatment as that, you became reconciled to them again; and Callias of
soon made haste to return to his natural disposition, and tried ostensibly to assemble a Euboean congress at
But having wronged Philip and run away from thence, he made haste to throw himself at the feet of the Thebans. Then abandoning them also, and making more twists and turns than the Euripus, by whose shores he used to live, he falls between the hatred of the Thebans and of Philip. At his wits' end what to do, when an expedition had already been called out against him, he saw one gleam of hope for safety left—to get the Athenian people solemnly bound, under the name of allies, to aid him if any one should attack, a thing that was sure to happen unless you should prevent it.
With this plan in view Callias sent ambassadors hither, [Note] Glaucetes, Empedon, and Diodorus the long distance runner, who brought to the people empty hopes, but silver to Demosthenes and his following. And he was buying three things at once: first, to be assured of your alliance, for he had no alternative if the people, remembering his past crimes, should refuse the alliance, since one of two things was sure, that he would be banished from
and Demosthenes, the tyrant-hater, as he pretends to be, who,
but the membership in the synod and the contributions of money, the sources of strength for the coming war, he sold completely, in fairest words proposing most shameful deeds, and leading you on by his talk, telling how our city must first furnish aid to any Greeks who might need it from time to time, but provide for their alliance afterward, after giving them aid. But that you may be sure that I am speaking the truth, please take the motion for the alliance proposed for the benefit of Callias. Read the resolution.
But this was only the beginning of outrage—this actual selling of such opportunities and accessions to the league and contributions of money for that which I am about to relate was far worse, as you shall see. For Callias was led on to such a pitch of insolence and arrogance, and Demosthenes—whom Ctesiphon praises—to such a pitch of rapacity for bribes, that, while you still had life and sight and senses, they succeeded in stealing away from you the contributions of Oreus and
Callias, depending no longer on messengers, came himself to you, [Note] and coming forward in your assembly repeated a speech that Demosthenes had prepared for him. He said that he had just come from the
From this fund he said we could be sure of forces by land and sea, adding that there were many other Greeks who wished to share in contributing, so that there would be no lack of money or men. So much was openly told; but he said that he had also conducted other negotiations in secret, and that certain of our citizens were witnesses of them; finally he called on Demosthenes by name and bade him confirm his statements.
Demosthenes came forward with a most solemn air, praised Callias above measure, and pretended to know the secret business; but he said that he wished to report to you his own recent mission to the
and that in addition to these forces the citizen troops would be ready, from the
other deceivers, when they are lying, try to speak in vague and ambiguous terms, afraid of being convicted; but Demosthenes, when he is cheating you, first adds an oath to his lie, calling down destruction on himself; and secondly, predicting an event that he knows will never happen, he dares to tell the date of it; and he tells the names of men, when he has never so much as seen their faces, deceiving your ears and imitating men who tell the truth. And this is, indeed, another reason why he richly deserves your hatred, that he is not only a scoundrel himself, but destroys your faith even in the signs and symbols of honesty.
But now when he had said this, he gave the clerk a resolution to read, longer than the Iliad, but more empty than the speeches that he is accustomed to deliver and the life that he has lived. Empty did I say? Nay, full of hopes that were not to be realized and of armies that were never to be assembled. And leading you off out of sight of his fraud, and suspending you on hopes, at last he gathers all up in a motion that you choose ambassadors to go to
Here again, in this resolution, you see how entirely absorbed he is in his thievery, for he also moves that your ambassadors ask the people of Oreus to give their five talents, not to you, but to Callias. But to prove that I am speaking the truth, read—leave out the grandiloquence and the triremes and the pretence, and come to the trick worked on us by the vile and wicked man, who, according to
So then the triremes and the land forces and the full moon and the congress were so much talk for your ears, but the contributions of the allies, those ten talents, were very real, and you lost them.
It remains for me to say that Demosthenes was paid three talents for making this motion: a talent from
But he replied to Gnosidemus that the last thing that he was in need of was bronze, and he tried to collect the talent through Callias. Now the people of Oreus, pressed for payment and without means, mortgaged to him the public revenues as security for the talent, and paid Demosthenes interest on the fruit of his bribery at the rate of a drachma per month on the mina, [Note] until they paid off the principal.
This was done by vote of the people. To prove that what I am telling you is true, please take the decree of the people of Oreus.
This is the decree, fellow citizens, a disgrace to our city, no slight exposure of Demosthenes' policies, and a clear accusation against
I come now to the third period, or rather to that bitterest period of all, in which Demosthenes brought ruin upon our state and upon all
There is, fellow citizens, a plain, called the plain of
The Pythia replied that they must fight against the Cirrhaeans and the Cragalidae day and night, bitterly ravage their country, enslave the inhabitants, and dedicate the land to the Pythian Apollo and Artemis and Leto and Athena Pronaea, [Note]
Now when they had received this oracle, the Amphictyons voted, on motion of Solon of
Collecting a great force of the Amphictyons, they enslaved the men, destroyed their harbor and city, and dedicated their land, as the oracle had commanded. Moreover they swore a mighty oath, that they would not themselves till the sacred land nor let another till it, but that they would go to the aid of the god and the sacred land with hand and foot and voice, and all their might.
They were not content with taking this oath, but they added an imprecation and a mighty curse concerning this; for it stands thus written in the curse : “If any one should violate this,” it says, “whether city or private man, or tribe, let them be under the curse,” it says, “of Apollo and Artemis and Leto and Athena Pronaea.”
The curse goes on: That their land bear no fruit; that their wives bear children not like those who begat them, but monsters; that their flocks yield not their natural increase; that defeat await them in camp and court and market-place, and that they perish utterly, themselves, their houses, their whole race; “And never,” it says, “may they offer pure sacrifice unto Apollo, nor to Artemis, nor to Leto, nor to Athena Pronaea, and may the gods refuse to accept their offerings.”
As a proof of this, let the oracle of the god be read; hear the curse; call to mind the oaths that your fathers swore together with all the other Amphictyons.
[Ye may not hope to capture town nor tower,Paus. 10.7.6
Till dark-eyed Amphitrite's waves shall break
And roar against Apollo's sacred shore.] [Note]
This curse, these oaths, and this oracle stand recorded to this day; yet the Locrians of
For after he had been elected your deputy, [Note] he received two thousand drachmas from the Amphissians, in return for which he was to see that no mention of them should he made in the assembly of the Amphictyons. And it was agreed with him that thereafter twenty minas of the accursed and abominable money should he sent to
Now behold how providence and fortune triumphed over the impiety of the Amphissians. It was in the archonship of Theophrastus; [Note] Diognetus of Anaphlystus was our hieromnemon; as pylagori [Note] you elected Meidias of Anagyrus, whom you all remember—I wish for many reasons he were still living [Note]—and Thrasycles of Oeum; I was the third. But it happened that we were no sooner come to
The other Amphictyons took their seats. Now it was reported to us by one and another who wished to show friendship to our city, that the Amphissians, who were at that time dominated by the Thebans and were their abject servants, were in the act of bringing in a resolution against our city, to the effect that the people of
The hieromnemon sent for me and asked me to go into the council and speak to the Amphictyons in behalf of our city—indeed I had already determined of myself so to do.
When I had entered the council, perhaps a little too impetuously—the other pylagori had withdrawn [Note]—and when I was just beginning to speak, one of the Amphissians, a scurrilous fellow, and, as I plainly saw, a man of no education whatever, but perhaps also led on to folly by some divine visitation, cried out, “O Greeks, if you were in your right mind, you would not have so much as named the name of the people of
And at the same time he reminded them of your alliance with the Phocians, proposed by that man whom we used to call “Top-knot”; [Note] and he went through a long list of vexatious charges against our city, which angered me almost beyond endurance as I listened to them then, and which it is no pleasure to recall now. For as I listened, I was exasperated as never before in my life.
I will pass over the rest of what I said, but this occurred to me, to call attention to the impiety of the Amphissians in relation to the sacred land; and from the very spot where I was standing I pointed it out to the Amphictyons for the plain of
“You see,” I said, “O Amphictyons, the plain yonder tilled by the Amphissians, and pottery works and farm buildings erected there. You see with your own eyes the dedicated and accursed harbor walled again. You know of your own knowledge, and have no need of other witness, how these men have farmed out port-dues, and how they are making money from the sacred harbor.” At the same time I called for the reading of the oracle of the god, the oath of our fathers, and the curse that was proclaimed. And I made this declaration:
“I, in behalf of the people of
Consider then with what voice, with what spirit, with what countenance, possessed of what effrontery, you will make your supplications, if you let go unpunished these men, who stand under the ban of the curse. For not in riddles, but plainly is written the penalty to be suffered by those who have been guilty of impiety, and for those who have permitted it; and the curse closes with these words: ‘May they who fail to punish them never offer pure sacrifice unto Apollo, nor to Artemis, nor to Leto, nor to Athena Pronaea, and may the gods refuse to accept their offerings.’”
These words I spoke, and many more. And when now I had finished and gone out from the council, there was great outcry and excitement among the Amphictyons, and nothing more was said about the shields that we had dedicated, but from now on the subject was the punishment of the Amphissians. As it was already late in the day, the herald came forward and made proclamation that all the men of
The next morning we came to the designated spot, and descended to the Cirrhaean plain. And when we had despoiled the harbor and burned down the houses, we set out to return. But meanwhile the Locrians of Amphissa, who lived sixty stadia from
Now on the next day Cottyphus, the presiding officer, called an “assembly” of the Amphictyons (they call it an “assembly” when not only the pylagori and hieromnemons are called together,but with them those who are sacrificing and consulting the god). Then immediately one charge after another was brought against the Amphissians, and our city was much praised. As the outcome of all that was said,they voted that before the next Pylaea [Note]
Now when we had reported this decree to our senate, and then to the assembly, and when the people had approved our acts, and the whole city was ready to choose the righteous course, and when Demosthenes had spoken in opposition—he was earning his retaining-fee from Amphissa—and when I had clearly convicted him in your presence, thereupon the fellow, unable to frustrate the city by open means, goes into the senate chamber, expels all listeners, and from the secret session brings out a bill to the assembly, taking advantage of the inexperience of the man who made the motion. [Note]
And he managed to have this same bill put to vote in the assembly and passed by the people, at the moment when the assembly was on the point of adjourning, when I had already left the place—for I would never have allowed it—and when most of the people had dispersed. Now the substance of the bill was this: “The hieromnemon of the Athenians,” it says, “and the pylagori who are at the time in office, shall go to
Again in the same decree he writes much more explicitly and malignantly; “The hieromnemon of the Athenians,” he says, “and the pylagori who are at the time in office, shall take no part with those assembled there, in word or deed or decree, or in any act whatsoever.” But what does it mean to “take no part”? Shall I tell you the truth, or what is most agreeable for your ears? I will tell you the truth, for it is the universal habit of speaking to please you that has brought the city to such a pass. It means that you are forbidden to remember the oaths which our fathers swore, or the curse, or the oracle of the god.
And so, fellow citizens, we stayed at home because of this decree, while the other Amphictyons assembled at Thermopylae—all but one city, whose name I would not mention; I pray that misfortune like unto hers may come upon no city of
Now when they had come through the pass [Note]
But did not the gods forewarn us, did they not admonish us, to be on our guard, all but speaking with human voice? No city have I ever seen offered more constant protection by the gods, but more inevitably ruined by certain of its politicians. Was not that portent sufficient which appeared at the Mysteries—the death of the celebrants? [Note]
And did he not at last from smouldering and ill-omened sacrifices send forth our troops into manifest danger? And yet it was but yesterday that he dared to assert that the reason why Philip did not advance against our country [Note]
Wherefore what is there, strange and unexpected, that has not happened in our time! [Note]
And our city, the common refuge of the Greeks, to which in former days used to come the embassies of all
for this is the reason, I think, that in our childhood we commit to memory the sentiments of the poets, that when we are men we may make use of them:
Ofttimes whole peoples suffer from one man,Hes. WD 240
Whose deeds are sinful, and whose purpose base.
From heaven Cromon launches on their heads
Dire woe of plague and famine joined; and all
The people waste away. Or else he smites
Their wide-camped host, or wall. Or wrath of Zeus
Far-thundering wrecks their ships upon the sea.
If you disregard the poet's meter and examine only his thought, I think this will seem to you to be, not a poem of Hesiod, but an oracle directed against the politics of Demosthenes. For by his politics army and navy and peoples have been utterly destroyed.
I think that not Phrynondas and not Eurybatus, nor any other of the traitors of ancient times ever proved himself such a juggler and cheat as this man, who, oh earth and heaven, oh ye gods and men—if any men of you will listen to the truth—dares to look you in the face and say that
And yet in other days many men who had stood in the closest relations with the Thebans had gone on missions to them; first, Thrasymachus of Collytus, a man trusted in
Leodamas of Acharnae, a speaker no less able than Demosthenes, and more to my taste; Archedemus of Pelekes, a powerful speaker, and one who had met many political dangers for the sake of the Thebans; Aristophon of Azenia, who had long been subject to the charge of having gone over to the Boeotians; Pyrrhandrus of Anaphlystus, who is still living. Yet no one of these was ever able to persuade them to be friends with you. And I know the reason, but because of the present misfortune of
But, I think, when Philip had taken
What brought you into
For in this whole affair Demosthenes is responsible to you for three most serious mistakes. The first was this: when Philip was nominally making war against you, but really was far more the enemy of
first he persuaded the people to give up all consideration of the terms of the alliance, and to count themselves fortunate if only it were made; and when he had gained this point he betrayed all
and, secondly, he laid two thirds of the costs of the war upon you, whose danger was more remote, and only one third on the Thebans (in all this acting for bribes); and the leadership by sea he caused to be shared equally by both; but all the expenditure he laid upon you and the leadership by land, if we are not to talk nonsense, he carried away bodily and handed it over to
And it is not true that in this I alone accuse, while others are silent; nay, I speak, all men blame him, you know the facts—and are not angry! For this is your experience as regards Demosthenes: you have so long been accustomed to hear of his crimes that they no longer surprise you. But it ought not so to be; you ought to be indignant, and to punish him, if the city is to prosper in the future.
But he was guilty of a second and far greater crime; for he stole the senate-house of the city and the democracy outright and carried them off to
and, treating your magistrates as his slaves, and teaching them to raise no word of opposition against him, he declared that if any of the generals should oppose him, [Note] he would bring suit to settle the claims of the speakers' platform as against those of the war office; for he said you owed more benefits to him from the platform than to the generals from the war office. And by drawing pay for empty places in the mercenary force, [Note] by stealing the pay of the troops, and by hiring out those ten thousand mercenaries to the Amphissians [Note]
What, think you, would Philip have prayed for at that crisis? Would it not have been that he might in one place fight against the city's forces, and in another, in
But the third and greatest of the crimes that I have mentioned is that which I am about to describe. Philip did not despise the Greeks, and he was well aware (for he was not without understanding) that he was about to contend in a little fraction of a day for all that he possessed; for that reason he wished to make peace, and was on the point of sending envoys. The officials at
Now when Demosthenes saw that such was the situation, suspecting that the Boeotarchs were about to conclude a separate peace and get gold from Philip without his being in it, and thinking that life was not worth living if he was to be left out of any act of bribery, he jumped up in the assembly, when no man was saying a word either in favour of making peace with Philip or against it; and with the idea of serving a sort of notice on the Boeotarchs that they must turn over to him his share of the gain, he swore by Athena
(whose statue, it seems, Pheidias wrought expressly that Demosthenes might have it to perjure himself by and to make profit of) that if any one should say that we ought to make peace with Philip, he would seize him by the hair and drag him to prison—in this imitating the politics of Cleophon, who, they tell us, in the time of the war against the Lacedaemonians, brought ruin to the state. But when the officials in
then indeed he became frantic, and went forward to the platform and stigmatized the Boeotarchs as traitors to
Here indeed it is fitting that we should pay the tribute of memory to those brave men whom he, regardless of the smouldering and ill-omened sacrifices, sent forth into manifest danger—he who, when they had fallen, dared to set his cowardly and runaway feet upon their tomb and eulogize the valor of the dead. [Note]
I ask you to imagine for a little time that you are not in the court-room, but in the theater, and to imagine that you see the herald coming forward to make the proclamation under the decree; consider whether you believe the relatives of the dead will shed more tears over the tragedies and the sufferings of the heroes soon afterward to be presented on the stage, or over the blindness of the city.
For what Greek, nurtured in freedom, would not mourn as he sat in the theater and recalled this, if nothing more, that once on this day, when as now the tragedies were about to be performed, in a time when the city had better customs and followed better leaders, the herald would come forward and place before you the orphans whose fathers had died in battle, young men clad in the panoply of war; and he would utter that proclamation so honorable and so incentive to valor; “These young men, whose fathers showed themselves brave men and died in war, have been supported by the state until they have come of age and now, clad thus in full armour by their fellow citizens, they are sent out with the prayers of the city, to go each his way and they are invited to seats of honor in the theater.”
This was the proclamation then, but not today. For when the herald has led forward the man who is responsible for making the children orphans, what will he proclaim? What words will he utter? For if he shall recite the mere dictates of the decree, yet the truth, ashamed, will refuse to be silent, and we shall seem to hear it crying out in words which contradict the voice of the herald, “This man, if man he can be called, the Athenian people crown, the basest— ‘for his virtue’ and ‘for his nobility‘—the coward and deserter.”
No! by Zeus and the gods, do not, my fellow citizens, do not, I beseech you, set up in the orchestra of Dionysus a memorial of your own defeat; do not in the presence of the Greeks convict the Athenian people of having lost their reason; do not remind the poor Thebans of their incurable and irreparable disasters, men who, exiled through Demosthenes' acts, found refuge with you, when their shrines and children and tombs had been destroyed by Demosthenes' taking of bribes and by the Persian gold. [Note]
But since you were not present in person, yet in imagination behold their disaster; imagine that you see their city taken, the razing of their walls, the burning of their homes; their women and children led into captivity; their old men, their aged matrons, late in life learning to forget what freedom means; weeping, supplicating you, angry not so much at those who are taking vengeance upon them, as at the men who are responsible for it all and calling on you by no means to crown the curse of
For there is no city, there is no private man—not one—that has ever come off safe after following Demosthenes' counsel. You have passed a law, fellow citizens, governing the men who steer the boats across the strait to
But that I may speak concerning the fourth period also, and the present situation, I wish to remind you of this fact, that Demosthenes not only deserted his post in the army, but his post in the city also; for he took possession of one of your triremes and levied money upon the Greeks. [Note]
But when Philip was dead and Alexander had come to the throne, Demosthenes again put on prodigious airs and caused a shrine to he dedicated to Pausanias [Note] and involved the senate in the charge of having offered sacrifice of thanksgiving as for good news. And he nicknamed Alexander “Margites”; [Note]
But when now the Thessalians had voted to march against our city, and the young Alexander was at first bitterly angry—naturally [Note]
For, as the people of the Paralus say, [Note] and those who have been ambassadors to Alexander—and the story is sufficiently credible—there is one Aristion, a man of Plataean status, [Note]
But see from the following how the facts tally with the charge. For if Demosthenes had been bent on war with Alexander, as he claims to have been, or had any thought of it, three of the best opportunities in the world have been offered to him, and, as you see, he has not seized one of them. One, the first, was when Alexander, newly come to the throne, and not yet fairly settled in his personal affairs, crossed into
But when Darius was come down to the coast [Note]
But I will pass over all this, and speak of the most recent events. The Lacedaemonians and their mercenary force had been successful in battle and had destroyed the forces of Corrhagus; [Note]
You are silent. I can well understand your embarrassment. But what you said then, I myself will tell now. Do you not remember, gentlemen, his disgusting and incredible words? Ye men of iron, how had you ever the endurance to listen to them! When he came forward and said, “Certain men are pruning the city, certain men have trimmed off the tendrils of the people, the sinews of the state have been cut, we are being matted and sewed up, certain men are first drawing us like needles into tight places.”
What are these things, you beast? Are they words or monstrosities? And again when you whirled around in a circle on the platform and said, pretending that you were working against Alexander, “I admit that I organized the Laconian uprising, I admit that I am bringing about the revolt of the Thessalians and the Perrhaebi.” You cause a revolt of the Thessalians? What! Could you cause the revolt of a village? Would you actually approach—let us talk not about a city—would you actually approach a house, where there was danger? But if money is being paid out anywhere, you will lay siege to the place; a man's deed you will never do. If any good-fortune come of itself, you will lay claim to it, and sign your name to the thing after it has been done; but if any danger approach, you will run away; and then if we regain confidence, you will call for rewards and crowns of gold.
Yes, but he is a friend of the people! If now you attend only to the plausible sound of his words, you will be deceived as in the past; but if you look at his character and the truth, you will not be deceived. Call him to account in this way: with your help I will reckon up what ought to be the inborn qualities of the “friend of the people” and the orderly citizen; and over against them I will set down what manner of man one would expect the oligarch and the worthless man to be. And I ask you to compare the two and to see to which class he belongs—not by his professions, but by his life.
I think you would all acknowledge that the following qualities ought to he found in the “friend of the people”: in the first place, he should be free-born, on both his father's and his mother's side, lest because of misfortune of birth he be disloyal to the laws that preserve the democracy. In the second place, he should have as a legacy from his ancestors some service which they have done to the democracy, or at the very least there must he no inherited enmity against it, lest in the attempt to avenge the misfortunes of his family he undertake to injure the city.
Thirdly, he ought to be temperate and self-restrained in his daily life, lest to support his wanton extravagance he take bribes against the people. Fourthly, he ought to be a man of good judgment and an able speaker; for it is well that his discernment choose the wisest course, and his training in rhetoric and his eloquence persuade the hearers; but if he cannot have both, good judgment is always to be preferred to eloquence of speech. Fifthly, he ought to be a man of brave heart, that in danger and peril he may not desert the people. But the oligarch we should expect to have all the opposite qualities; why need I go over them again? Examine, then, and see what one of these qualities belongs to Demosthenes. And let the reckoning be made with all fairness.
His father was Demosthenes of Paeania, a free man, for there is no need of lying. But how the case stands as to his inheritance from his mother and his maternal grandfather, I will tell you. There was a certain Gylon of Cerameis. This man betrayed
Here he married a woman who was rich, I grant you, and brought him a big dowry, but a Scythian by blood. This wife bore him two daughters, whom he sent hither with plenty of money. One he married to a man whom I will not name—for I do not care to incur the enmity of many persons,—the other, in contempt of the laws of the city, [Note] Demosthenes of Paeania took to wife. She it was who bore your busy-body and informer. From his grandfather, therefore, he would inherit enmity toward the people, for you condemned his ancestors to death and by his mother's blood he would be a Scythian, a Greek-tongued barbarian—so that his knavery, too, is no product of our soil.
But in daily life what is he? From being a trierarch he suddenly came forward as a hired writer of speeches, [Note] when he had disreputably squandered his patrimony. But when he had lost his reputation even in this profession, for he disclosed his clients' arguments to their opponents, he vaulted on to the political platform. And though he made enormous profits out of politics, he laid up next to nothing. It is true that just now the Persian's gold has floated his extravagance, but even that will not suffice, for no wealth ever yet kept up with a debauched character. And to sum it all up, he supplies his wants, not from his private income, but from your perils.
But as regards good judgment and power of speech, how does it stand with him? Eloquent of speech, infamous of life! For so licentious has been his treatment of his own body that I prefer not to describe his conduct; for before now I have seen people hated who recount too exactly the sins of their neighbors. Then again, what is the outcome for the city? His words are fine, his acts worthless.
But as concerns his bravery little remains for me to say. For if he denied that he is a coward, or if you did not know it as well as he does himself, the account of it would have detained me. But since he admits it himself in the assembly, and you are perfectly aware of it, it remains only to remind you of the laws as to this matter. For Solon, the ancient lawgiver, thought it necessary to apply the same penalties to the coward as to the man who failed to take the field or the man who deserted his post. For there are such things as indictments for cowardice. Some of you may indeed be surprised to know that there are indictments for inborn defects. There are. To what end? In order that each man of us, fearing the punishment of the laws more than he fears the enemy, may become a better champion of his country.
Therefore the man who fails to take the field, and the coward, and the man who has deserted his post are excluded by the lawgiver from the purified precincts of the Agora, and may not be crowned, nor take part in the sacred rites of the people. But you,
But that I may not lead you away from the subject, remember this when he says that he is the “friend of the people”; examine, not his speech, but his life; and consider, not who he says he is, but who he is.
I have mentioned crowns and rewards. Let me, fellow citizens, while I still have the matter in mind, warn you that unless you put a stop to these prodigal gifts and these crowns thoughtlessly bestowed, neither those who receive honors from you will be grateful, nor will the prosperity of the city be restored. For you will never in the world reform those who are bad, and the good you will plunge into extreme discouragement. But I will present proofs which I think will convince you that what I say is true.
If any one should ask you whether our city seems to you more glorious in our own time or in the time of our fathers, you would all agree, in the time of our fathers. And were there better men then than now? Then, eminent men; but now, far inferior. But rewards and crowns and proclamations, and maintenance in the Prytaneum—were these things more common then than now? Then, honors were rare among us, and the name of virtue was itself an honor. But now the custom is already completely faded out, and you do the crowning as a matter of habit, not deliberately.
Are you not therefore surprised, when you look at it in this light, that the rewards are now more numerous, but the city was then more prosperous? And that the men are now inferior, but were better then? I will try to explain this to you. Do you think, fellow citizens, that any man would ever have been willing to train for the pancratium or any other of the harder contests in the Olympic games, or any of the other games that confer a crown, if the crown were given, not to the best man, but to the man who had successfully intrigued for it? No man would ever have been willing.
But as it is, because the reward is rare, I believe, and because of the competition and the honor, and the undying fame that victory brings, men are willing to risk their bodies, and at the cost of the most severe discipline to carry the struggle to the end. Imagine, therefore, that you yourselves are the officials presiding over a contest in political virtue, and consider this, that if you give the prizes to few men and worthy, and in obedience to the laws, you will find many men to compete in virtue's struggle; but if your gifts are compliments to any man who seeks them and to those who intrigue for them, you will corrupt even honest minds.
How true this is, I wish to teach you a little more explicitly. Does it seem to you that Themistocles, who was general when you conquered the Persian in the battle of
But, by the Olympian gods, I think one ought not to name those men on the same day with this monster! Now let Demosthenes show if anywhere stands written an order to crown any one of those men. Was the democracy, then, ungrateful? No, but noble-minded, and those men were worthy of their city. For they thought that their honor should be conferred, not in written words, but in the memory of those whom they had served; and from that time until this day it abides, immortal. But what rewards they did receive, it is well to recall.
There were certain men in those days, fellow citizens, who endured much toil and underwent great dangers at the river Strymon, and conquered the Medes in battle. When they came home they asked the people for a reward, and the democracy gave them great honor, as it was then esteemed—permission to set up three stone Hermae in the Stoa of the Hermae, but on condition that they should not inscribe their own names upon them, in order that the inscription might not seem to be in honor of the generals, but of the people.
That this is true, you shall learn from the verses themselves; for on the first of the Hermae stands written:
“Brave men and daring were they who once by the city of unknown>
Far off by Strymon's flood, fought with the sons of the Medes.
Fiery famine they made their ally, and Ares on-rushing;
So they found helpless a foe stranger till then to defeat.”
“This, the reward of their labour, has unknown
Token of duty well done, honor to valor supreme.
Whoso in years yet to be shall read these Ls in the marble,
Gladly will toil in his turn, giving his life for the state.”
And on the third of the Hermae stands written:
“Once from this city Menestheus, summoned to join the Atreidae,unknown
Led forth an army to
Homer has sung of his fame, and has said that of all the mailed chieftains
None could so shrewdly as he marshal the ranks for the fight.
Fittingly then shall the people of
Marshals and leaders of war, heroes in combat of arms.”
And now pass on in imagination to the Stoa Poecile [Note]; for the memorials of all our noble deeds stand dedicated in the Agora. What is it then, fellow citizens, to which I refer? The battle of Marathon is pictured there. Who then was the general? If you were asked this question you would all answer, “Miltiades.” But his name is not written there. Why? Did he not ask for this reward? He did ask, but the people refused it; and instead of his name they permitted that he should be painted in the front rank, urging on his men.
Again, in the Metroön you may see the reward that you gave to the band from
Resolution as to the Reward of the Band from Phyle
Now over against this read the resolution which
By this resolution the reward of those who restored the democracy is annulled. If this resolution is good, the other was bad. If they were worthily honored, this man is unworthy of the crown that is proposed.
And yet I am told that he intends to say that I am unfair in holding up his deeds for comparison with those of our fathers. For he will say that Philammon the boxer was crowned at
But lest I lead you away from the subject, the clerk shall read to you the epigram that is inscribed in honor of the band from Phyle, who restored the democracy.
“These men, noble of heart, hath the ancient Athenian peopleunknown
Crowned with an olive crown. First were they to oppose
Tyrants who knew not the laws, whose rule was the rule of injustice.
Danger they met unafraid, pledging their lives to the cause.”
Because they put down those who ruled unlawfully, for this cause the poet says they were honored. For then it was still in the ears of all men that the democracy was overthrown only after certain men had put out of the way the provision for the indictment of men who propose illegal measures. Yes, as I have heard my own father say, [Note] for he lived to be ninety-five years old, and had shared all the toils of the city, which he often described to me in his leisure hours—well, he said that in the early days of the re-established democracy, if any indictment for an illegal motion came into court, the word was as good as the deed. [Note] For what is more wicked than the man who speaks and does what is unlawful?
And in those days, so my father said, they gave no such hearing as is given now, but the jurors were far more severe toward the authors of illegal motions than was the accuser himself; and it frequently happened that they made the clerk stop, and told him to read to them the laws and the motion a second time; and they convicted a man of making an illegal motion, not in case he had overleaped all the laws together, but if one syllable only was contravened. But the process as it is conducted nowadays is ridiculous. The clerk reads the statement of the illegality which is charged, and the jurors, as though hearing an incantation, or some matter which is no concern of theirs, are attending to something else.
And already as a result of the tricks of Demosthenes you have admitted a shameful custom into your courts; for you have allowed your legal procedure to become perverted: the accuser is on the defensive, and the defendant plays the part of accuser; and the jurors sometimes forget what they are to judge, and are forced to bring in a verdict on matters which were never committed to their decision; while the defendant, if by any chance he does touch on the question at issue, pleads, not that his motion was lawful, but that on some past occasion another man has made an equally unlawful motion and been acquitted; a plea in which I hear
Once the famous Aristophon of Azenia dared in your presence to boast that he had been acquitted seventy-five times on charge of making illegal motions. Not so the venerable Cephalus, famous as the truest representative of democracy—not so, but he took pride in the very opposite fact, saying that although he had been the author of more measures than any other man, he had never once been indicted for an illegal motion; an honorable pride, I think. For indictments for illegal motions were in those times brought, not only by political rivals against one another, but by friend against friend, if one was responsible for any error toward the state. Yes, the following shall serve as an illustration:
Archinus of Coele brought an indictment for an illegal motion against Thrasybulus of Steiria, one of his own companions in the return from
But it is not so today; the very opposite is done. For your worthy generals, and some of those who have received maintenance in the Prytaneum, beg men off who have been indicted for illegal motions. [Note] But you ought to regard them as ungrateful. For if any man who has been honored in a democracy, a government which owes its safety to the gods and to the laws, dares to aid men who make illegal motions, he is undermining the government from which he received his honors.
But I will tell you what plea is in order from the honest advocate. When an indictment for an illegal motion is tried in court, the day is divided into three parts. The first water is poured in [Note] for the accuser, the laws, and the democracy the second water, for the defendant and those who speak on the question at issue; but when the question of illegality has been decided by the first ballot, [Note] then the third water is poured in for the question of the penalty and the extent of your anger.
Whoever therefore in the discussion on the penalty asks for your vote, [Note] is begging you to mitigate your anger; but he who in the first speech asks for your vote is asking you to surrender your oath, to surrender the law, to surrender the democratic constitution things which no man has a right to ask you to surrender, nor any man to grant another for his asking. Bid them, therefore, to allow you to cast your first ballot according to the laws, before they plead on the question of penalty.
In short, fellow citizens, for my part I am almost ready to say that we ought to pass a special law governing indictments for illegal motions, which shall forbid either accuser or defendant to call in advocates. For the question of right involved is not an indefinite one, but is defined by your own laws. For as in carpentry, when we wish to know what is straight and what is not, we apply the carpenters' rule, which serves as our standard,
so in indictments for illegal motions there lies ready to our hand as a rule of justice this tablet, containing the measure proposed and the laws which it transgresses. [Note] Show that these agree one with another,
How you may avert speeches of that sort, fellow citizens, I will tell you. When
But if he shall overleap the just defence and call Demosthenes to the platform, the best course for you is to refuse to receive a sophist, who expects to overthrow the laws with words. And when
I did not at the beginning review the private life of Demosthenes, nor did I at the beginning call to mind a single one of his public crimes—though I certainly had great abundance of material, or else I must be the most helpless of mortals—but first I exhibited the laws which forbid crowning men who have not yet rendered their accounts, and then I convicted the orator of having moved to crown Demosthenes before he had rendered account, and that too without inserting the qualifying proviso, “When he shall have rendered account,” but in utter contempt of you and of your laws. And I told you what excuses they would offer for this, which I earnestly pray you to keep in mind.
Secondly, I recited to you the laws which govern proclamations, in which it is expressly forbidden that when one is crowned by the people the proclamation shall be made in any other place than in the assembly. But the politician who is the defendant in this case has not only transgressed the laws, but the time of proclamation, and the place of it; for he orders the proclamation to be made, not in the assembly, but in the theater, not when the Athenian assembly is in session, but when the tragedies are about to he performed. After saying this, I spoke briefly about his private life, but chiefly about his public crimes.
I insist, therefore, that you demand the same order of defence from Demosthenes; first, let him defend himself against the law of accountability, secondly, against the law which governs proclamations, and thirdly, and most important, let him show also that he is not unworthy of the reward. But if he asks you to indulge him as to the order of his speech, and solemnly promises that at the close of his defence he will clear away the matter of illegality, do not yield to him, and do not forget that this is an old trick of the court-room. For he would never of his own choice return to the defence against the illegality but because he has nothing to say which is just, he seeks by the insertion of extraneous matters to plunge you into forgetfulness of the charge.
As, therefore, in gymnastic contests you see the boxers contending with one another for position, so do you for the city's sake fight with him the whole day long for position as regards argument; and do not let him set his feet outside the bounds of the illegality charged, but watch him and lie in wait for him as you listen, drive him into discussion of the illegality, and look out for the twists and turns of his speech.
What, on the other hand, will surely be the result for you if you listen in the way that they propose, I ought now to forewarn you. For the defendant will call to his aid this juggler and cut-purse, a man who has torn the constitution to shreds. This man weeps more readily than other men laugh, and nothing is so easy for him as perjury. And I should not wonder if he should change his tactics and slander the listeners outside the bar, alleging that those whom truth herself has singled out and counted as oligarchs have come to the platform of the prosecution, but all the friends of the people to the platform of the defence. [Note]
Now when he talks like that, in answer to such appeals to faction, make this suggestion to him: “Demosthenes, if the men of Phyle, who brought back the people from exile, had been like you, never had the democracy been reestablished. But as it was, they saved the city out of great disasters, and gave utterance to those words which are the fairest product of enlightened minds, ‘Forgive and forget.’ But as for you, you tear open old sores, and you care more for the words of the moment than for the safety of the state.”
But when, perjurer that he is, he takes refuge in the confidence which you place in oaths, remind him of this, that when a man repeatedly perjures himself, and yet is continually demanding to be believed because of his oaths, one of two things ought to be true, either the gods ought to be new gods, or the hearers not the same.
But in answer to his tears and the straining of his voice when he asks you, “Whither shall I flee, fellow citizens? You have compassed me about, I have not whither to take wings,” suggest to him, “But the Athenian people, Demosthenes, whither shall they flee? What allies have been made ready to receive them? What resources are prepared? What bulwark have you thrown up before the people by your policies? For we all see what provision you have made for yourself. You have left the upper city and the Peiraeus, as it seems, is not so much your home, as an anchorage for you, off the city's coast. And you have provided as means for your cowardly flight, the King's gold and the fruits of your political bribery.”
But, after all, why these tears? Why all this noise? Why this straining of the voice? Is it not
Nay, but if the people gone mad, or forgetful of the existing situation, had actually wished to crown him at a time so unfitting, he ought to have come before the assembly and said, “Fellow citizens, I accept the crown, but I do not approve the time at which the proclamation is to be made. For events which have caused our city to shear her head in mourning are no fitting occasion for my head to receive a crown.” This I think a man would say whose life had been one of genuine virtue.
But the words which you, Demosthenes, will speak, are the natural expression of a worthless scoundrel, with whom virtue is a pretence. One thing at any rate is sure, by Heracles; no one of you will feel any anxiety lest Demosthenes, a man high-spirited and distinguished in war, will, if he fails to receive the meed of valor, go back home and make away with himself—he who so despises honor in your eyes that on this pestilential and accountable [Note] head of his upon which
Now I wish to speak briefly about
I wish also to caution you in a few words as to the slanders which they will utter against me. For I learn that Demosthenes will say that the city has been greatly benefited by him, but damaged by me and he will bring up against me Philip and Alexander, and the charges connected with them. And he is, as it seems, such a master-craftsman of words that he is not content to bring charges against whatever part I have taken in your political action, or whatever speeches I have delivered,
but he actually attacks the very quietness of my life, and makes my silence an accusation, in order that no topic may be left untouched by his slanders. And he censures my frequenting of the gymnasia with the younger men. [Note] And at the very beginning of his speech he demurs against this legal process, saying that I instituted the suit, not in behalf of the city, but as a manifesto to Alexander because he hates Demosthenes. [Note]
And, by Zeus, I understand that he proposes to ask me why I denounce his policy as a whole, but did not try to thwart it in detail, and did not prefer charges in the courts: and why I have brought suit at this late day without having steadily attacked his policy. But I have never in the past emulated the habits of Demosthenes, nor am I ashamed of my own, nor would I wish unsaid the words which I have spoken in your presence, nor would I care to live had my public speeches been like his.
As to my silence, Demosthenes, it has been caused by the moderation of my life. For a little money suffices me, and I have no shameful lust for more. Both my silence and my speech are therefore the result of deliberation, not of the impulse of a spendthrift nature. But you, I think, are silent when you have gotten, and bawl aloud after you have spent; and you speak, not when your judgment approves, and not what you wish to speak, but whenever your pay-masters so order. And you are not ashamed of impostures in which you are instantly convicted of falsehood.
For my suit against this motion, which you say I instituted, not in the city's behalf, but as a manifesto to Alexander, was instituted while Philip was still alive, before Alexander had come to the throne, before ever you had had that dream of yours about Pausanias, or ever had conversed with Athena and Hera in the night. [Note] How then could I have been already making a manifesto to Alexander? Unless, indeed, I and Demosthenes had the same dream!
And you blame me if I come before the people, not constantly, but only at intervals. And you imagine that your bearers fail to detect you in thus making a demand which is no outgrowth of democracy, but borrowed from another form of government. For in oligarchies it is not he who wishes, but he who is in authority, that addresses the people; whereas in democracies he speaks who chooses, and whenever it seems to him good. And the fact that a man speaks only at intervals marks him as a man who takes part in politics because of the call of the hour, and for the common good; whereas to leave no day without its speech, is the mark of a man who is making a trade of it, and talking for pay.
But as to your never having been brought to trial by me, and never having been punished for your crimes—when you take refuge in assertions like that, either you think that your bearers are forgetful, or you are deceiving yourself.
Your impiety in the case of the Amphissians [Note] and your corruption in the Euboean affair, [Note] of which you were clearly convicted by me, perhaps you hope the people have forgotten in the lapse of time;
but what length of time could conceal your acts of plunder in the case of the triremes and the trierarchs? For when you had carried constitutional amendments as to the Three Hundred, [Note] and had persuaded the Athenians to make you Commissioner of the Navy, you were convicted by me of having stolen away trierarchs from sixty-five swift ships, [Note]
And by your recriminations you so blocked the punishment which was your due that the danger came, not upon you, the wrong-doer, but upon those who attempted to proceed against you; for in your charges you everlastingly brought forward Alexander and Philip, and complained that certain persons were fettering the opportunities of the city—you who always ruin the opportunity of to-day, and guarantee that of to-morrow. And when at last you were on the point of being impeached by me, did you not contrive the arrest of Anaxinus of Oreus, who was making purchases for Olympias? [Note]
And you twice put to the torture with your own hand and moved to punish with death the same man in whose house you had been entertained at Oreus. The man with whom at the same table you had eaten and drunken and poured libations, the man with whom you had clasped hands in token of friendship and hospitality, that man you put to death! When I convicted you of this in the presence of all
I say nothing of forged letters and the arrest of spies, and torture applied on groundless charges, on your assertion that I with certain persons was seeking a revolution.
Furthermore, he intends, as I learn, to ask me what kind of a physician he would be who should give no advice to his patient in the course of his illness, but after his death should come to the funeral and tell over to the relatives by what course of treatment the man might have been cured.
But, Demosthenes, you fail to ask yourself in turn what kind of a statesman he would be who, having the power to cajole the people, should sell the opportunities for saving the city, and by his calumnies prevent patriots from giving advice; and when he had run away from danger and had entangled the city in misfortunes from which there was no escape, should demand that he be crowned for his virtue, when he had done nothing that was good, but was himself responsible for all the disasters; and should then ask those who had been driven out of public life by his slanders in those critical days when there was still a chance of safety, why they had not prevented his wrong doing;
and should conceal the final fact of all, that after the battle we had no time to attend to punishing you, but were engrossed in negotiations for the safety of the city. But when, not content with having escaped punishment, you were actually calling for rewards, making the city an object of ridicule in the eyes of all
And, by the Olympian gods, of all the things which I understand Demosthenes is going to say, I am most indignant at what I am now about to tell you. For he likens me in natural endowment to the Sirens, saying that it was not charm that the Sirens brought to those who listened to them, but destruction, and that therefore the Siren-song has no good repute; and that in like manner the smooth flow of my speech and my natural ability have proved the ruin of those who have listened to me. [Note] And yet I think no man in the world is justified in making such a statement about me. It is a shame to accuse a man and not to be able to show the ground for the accusation.
But if the charge really had to be made, it was not for Demosthenes to make it, but for some general who, although he had rendered distinguished services to the state, was not gifted with the power of speech, and for that reason was envious of the natural endowments of his opponents in court, because he knew that he had not the ability to describe one of all the things he had accomplished, but saw in his accuser a man able to set forth to the hearers in all detail how he had himself administered things which had not been done by him at all. But when a man who is made up of words, and those words bitter words and useless—when such a man takes refuge in “simplicity” and “the facts,” who could have patience with him? If you treat him as you might a clarinet, and take out his tongue, you have nothing left!
But for my part I am surprised at you, fellow citizens, and I ask under what possible consideration you could refuse to sustain this indictment. On the ground that
If any one of the tragic poets who are to bring on their plays after the crowning should in a tragedy represent Thersites as crowned by the Greeks, no one of you would tolerate it, for Homer says he was a coward and a slanderer; but when you yourselves crown such a man as this, think you not that you would be hissed by the voice of
And while you assert that you are favorites of fortune—as indeed you are, thank heaven—will you declare by public resolution that you have been abandoned by fortune, but blessed by Demosthenes? And—strangest of all—in the same court-rooms do you disfranchise those who are convicted of receiving bribes, and then yourselves propose to crown a man who, to your own knowledge, has always been in politics for pay? If the judges at the Dionysiac festival are not honest in their award of the prize to the cyclic choruses, you punish them; but do you yourselves, who are sitting as judges, not of cyclic choruses, but of the laws and of integrity in public life, do you propose to bestow your rewards, not according to the laws, and not upon the rare and deserving, but upon the successful intriguer?
Furthermore, a juror who so acts will go out from the court-room responsible for having made himself weak and the politician strong. For in a democracy the private citizen is a king by virtue of the constitution and his own vote; but when he hands these over to another man, he has by his own act dethroned himself. Still further, the oath that he has sworn before taking his seat haunts him and troubles him, for it was his oath, I think, that made his act a sin; and his service is unknown to the man whom he was trying to please, for the vote is cast in secret.
But it seems to me, fellow citizens, that the political situation, while fortunate, is also perilous; for we are not wise. The fact that at the present time you, the people, give over the mainstays of the democracy to the few is to be deplored; but the fact that there has not sprung up to our hurt a crop of politicians both corrupt and daring is a gift of fortune. For in former times the state did bring forth such characters, and they made short work of putting down the democracy. For the people loved to be flattered, and in consequence were overthrown, not by the men whom they feared, but by those in whose hands they had placed themselves.
And some of them actually joined the Thirty, who killed more than fifteen hundred of the citizens without trial, before they had even heard the charges on which they were to be put to death, and who would not even allow the relatives to be present at the burial of the dead. Will you not hold the politicians under your control? Will you not humble and dismiss those who are now exultant? Will you not bear in mind that in the past no one has ever attempted the overthrow of the democracy until he has made himself stronger than the courts?
But I would like to reckon up in your presence, fellow citizens, with the author of this motion, the benefactions for which he calls on you to crown Demosthenes. For if,
But if you turn to the second part of your decree, in which you have had the effrontery to write that he is a good man, and “constantly speaks and does what is best for the Athenian people,” omit the pretence and the bombast of your decree, and take hold of the facts, and show us what you mean. I pass by his corruption in the case of the Amphissians and Euboeans; but when you give Demosthenes the credit for the alliance with
How great is this imposture, I will try to show you by a signal proof. Not long before Alexander crossed over into
But this same man, overtaken by the dangers which are now upon him, [Note] sent, not at the request of the Athenians, but of his own accord, three hundred talents to the people, which they were wise enough to refuse. Now what brought the gold was the crisis, and his fear, and his need of allies. And this same thing it was that brought about the alliance with
Was it not for lack of money, nay, for lack of five talents, that the mercenaries failed to deliver up the citadel to the Thebans? [Note]
But we may well consider their lack of good breeding also. For if
From such shameless business as that,
Or is the man whom you have moved to crown so obscure a man as not to be known by those whom he has served, unless some one shall help you to describe him? Pray ask the jury whether they knew Chabrias and Iphicrates and Timotheus, and inquire why they gave them those rewards and set up their statues. All will answer with one voice, that they honored Chabrias for the battle of
But ask them why Demosthenes is to be honored. Because he is a taker of bribes? Because he is a coward? Because he deserted his post? And will you in reality be honoring him, or leaving unavenged yourselves and those who died for you in the battle? In imagination see them expostulating against the crowning of this man. When sticks and stones and iron, voiceless and senseless things, fall on any one and kill him, we cast them beyond the borders, [Note] and when a man kills himself, the hand that did the deed is buried apart from the body;
how outrageous, then, fellow citizens, if Demosthenes, who made the motion for that final campaign, and then betrayed the soldiers, is to receive honor from you! So are the dead insulted, and the living are disheartened, when they see that death is the prize of valor, while the memory of it fades away. And, most important of all, the younger men inquire of you after what example they ought to shape their lives.
For be assured, fellow citizens, it is not our wrestling halls or the schools or our system of liberal studies alone that educate the young, but far more our public proclamations. It is proclaimed in the theater that one is crowned for virtue and nobility and patriotism, a man whose life is shameful and loathsome; a younger man, at sight of that, is corrupted. A man has been punished who is a rascal and libertine—like
Cast your vote, then, not only as men who are rendering a verdict, but also as men who are in the public eye, to be called to account by the citizens who, though they are not now present, will nevertheless ask you what your verdict was. For be assured, fellow citizens, men will hold the city to be of like character with the man who is proclaimed. And it is a reproach for you to be likened, not to your fathers, but to the cowardice of Demosthenes.
How then could you escape such disgrace?
By guarding against those who arrogate to themselves the name of “patriot” and “benefactor,” but are untrustworthy in character. For loyalty and the name of friend of the people are prizes which are offered to us all, but for the most part those persons are the first to take refuge in them in speech who are farthest from them in conduct.
When, therefore, you find a politician coveting crowns and proclamations in the presence of the Greeks, bid him bring his argument back to the proof of a worthy life and a sound character, precisely as the law commands a man to give security for property. [Note] But if he has no testimony to this, do not confirm to him the praises which he seeks let your thought be for the democracy, which is already slipping through your hands.
Does it not seem to you to be an outrage if the senate-house and the people are coming to be ignored, while the letters and ambassadors come to private houses, sent hither not by ordinary men, but by the first men of
But the people, discouraged by what they have experienced, as though in very dotage or declared of unsound mind, lay claim only to the name of democracy, and have surrendered the substance to others. And so you go home from the meetings of your assembly, not as from a deliberative session, but as from some picnic, where you have been given the leavings as your share.
To prove that this is not mere talk, consider my statement in the light of the following facts: There came—it pains me to call it to mind repeatedly—there came a certain disaster to the city. At that time a certain private citizen who merely undertook to sail to
Now with that let us compare what is taking place today. A politician, the man who is responsible for all our disasters, deserted his post in the field, and then ran away from the city: [Note] this man is calling for a crown, and he thinks he must be proclaimed. Away with the fellow, the curse of all
And mark well the occasion on which you are casting your vote. A few days hence the Pythian games are to be celebrated and the synod of
Deliberate, therefore, not as for some foreign state, but as for your own; treat your honors, not as favours to be bestowed, but as rewards of merit; reserve your crowns for better heads and more worthy men. Deliberate, not with the help of your ears alone, but with your eyes as well, looking sharply among yourselves to see who of your number they are who propose to aid Demosthenes; whether they are comrades of his youth in the hunting-field, or companions in the gymnasium—but no, by the Olympian Zeus, that cannot be, for his time has been spent, not in hunting wild boars, and not in cultivating vigor of body, but in practising his art of hunting down men of property.
Yes, look at his imposture when he says that by his services as envoy he dragged
But when at last at the close of his speech he calls forward to support his cause the men who have shared his bribes, imagine that on the platform where now I am standing as I speak, you see, drawn up in array against the lawlessness of these men, the benefactors of the state: Solon, who equipped the democracy with the best of laws, a philosopher and a good lawgiver, begging you soberly, as he naturally would, by no means to hold the words of Demosthenes as more weighty than your oaths and the laws;
and that man who assessed the tribute of the Greeks, and whose daughters our people dowered after his death, Aristeides, expressing his indignation at this mockery of justice, and asking you if you are not ashamed that whereas, when Arthmius of Zeleia transported the gold of the Medes into
you now propose to crown with a golden crown Demosthenes, a man who has not indeed “transported” the gold of the Medes, but has received it as a bribe, and keeps it to this day. Think you not that Themistocles and those who died at Marathon and at
Be ye my witnesses, O Earth and Sun, and virtue and Conscience, and Education, by which we distinguish the honorable and the base, that I have heard my country's call, and have spoken. If I have presented the accusations well and in a manner commensurate with the crime, I have spoken according to my desire; if insufficiently, according to my ability. It remains for you, fellow citizens, in view both of what has been spoken and what is left unsaid, yourselves to give the verdict that is just and for the city's good.
|Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].|
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