Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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3.7

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.

3.8

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 Ctesiphon of having made a motion that is illegal, false, and injurious to the state, annul the illegal motion, fellow citizens; confirm the democratic government for our state; punish those whose policies are opposed to the laws and to your interests. If in this spirit you listen to the words which are about to be spoken, I am sure that your verdict will be just, faithful to your oath, and salutary alike to yourselves and to the commonwealth.

3.9

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 Ctesiphon's resolution.

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.

3.10

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,

3.11

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.”

3.12

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 Ctesiphon, fellow citizens, overleaping the law that governs those who are subject to audit, and not deigning to resort to the pretext of which I have just spoken, has moved that before the accounting, before the auditing, you crown Demosthenes—in the midst of his term of office.

3.13

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.”

3.14

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]



Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.1 Aeschin. 3.10 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.18

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