Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.141 Aeschin. 3.150 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.158


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 Amphissa, against the mercenaries, and thus close his hand upon the Greeks already discouraged by so great a disaster? And Demosthenes, who is responsible for such misfortunes as that, is not content with escaping punishment, but is miserable unless he shall he crowned with a golden crown! Nor is he satisfied that the crown shall be announced in your presence, but if it is not to he proclaimed before the Hellenes, he is miserable over that. So true it seems to be that a wicked nature, when it has laid hold on great license, works out public disaster.


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 Thebes also were frightened at the impending danger—naturally, for they had no run-away orator and deserter to advise them, but the ten years' Phocian war had taught them a lesson not to be forgotten.


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 Thebes would pay no attention to him, but even turned your soldiers back again when they had marched out, for they wished to give you an opportunity to deliberate concerning peace,


then indeed he became frantic, and went forward to the platform and stigmatized the Boeotarchs as traitors to Hellas, and declared that he would move a decree—he, who never looked on the face of an enemy in arms !—that you should send ambassadors to Thebes to ask them to give you free passage through their country for the march against Philip. But the officials in Thebes, ashamed lest they should seem in reality to be traitors to Hellas, turned from the thought of peace, and threw themselves into the war.


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] O man of all mankind most useless for great and serious deeds, but for boldness of words most wonderful, will you presently undertake to look this jury in the face and say that over the disasters of the city you must be crowned? And, gentlemen, if he does, will you endure it? Are we to believe that you and your memory are to die with the dead?


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.”

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.141 Aeschin. 3.150 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.158

Powered by PhiloLogic