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

3.15

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.Laws

3.16

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.



Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.1 Aeschin. 3.12 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.21

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