Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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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] was that the omens were not favorable to him. What punishment, then, do you deserve, you curse of Hellas! For if the conqueror refrained from entering the land of the conquered because the omens were not favorable to him, whereas you, ignorant of the future, sent out our troops before the omens were propitious, ought you to be receiving a crown for the misfortunes of the city, or to have been thrust already beyond her borders?


Wherefore what is there, strange and unexpected, that has not happened in our time! [Note] For it is not the life of men we have lived, but we were born to be a tale of wonder to posterity. Is not the king of the Persians—he who channelled Athos, he who bridged the Hellespont, he who demanded earth and water of the Greeks, he who dared to write in his letters that he was lord of all men from the rising of the sun unto its setting—is he not struggling now, no longer for lordship over others, but already for his life? [Note] And do we not see this glory and the leadership against the Persians bestowed on the same men who liberated the temple of Delphi?


But Thebes! Thebes, our neighbor, has in one day been swept from the midst of Hellas—even though justly, for her main policy was wrong, yet possessed by an infatuate blindness and folly that were not of men, but a divine visitation. And the wretched Lacedaemonians, who barely touched these acts at their beginning in connection with the seizure of the temple, [Note] they who once claimed the right to lead the Greeks, are now about to be sent to Alexander to serve as hostages, and to make an exhibition of their misfortunes [Note]—destined, themselves and their country, to suffer whatever may please him; their fate dependent on the mercy of the man who has conquered them after receiving unprovoked injury at their hands.


And our city, the common refuge of the Greeks, to which in former days used to come the embassies of all Hellas, each city in turn to find safety with us, our city is now no longer contending for the leadership of Hellas, but from this time on for the soil of the fatherland. And this has come upon us from the time when Demosthenes came into political leadership. Well does the poet Hesiod speak concerning such men; for he says somewhere, instructing the people and advising the cities not to take to themselves corrupt politicians—but I will myself recite the verses;


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,
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.
Hes. WD 240


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 Thebes actually made the alliance with you, not because of the crisis, not because of the fear that was impending over them, not because of your reputation, but because of Demosthenes' declamations!


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 Thebes as no other ever was; again, Thrason of Erchia, proxenus of the Thebans;

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