Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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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.Epigram “These men, noble of heart, hath the ancient Athenian people
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 Ctesiphon now places great confidence.


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 Phyle; and he convicted him and though his services were recent, the jurors did not take them into account; for they thought that, just as Thrasybulus had brought them back from exile then, so now when they had been restored, by making a motion which was against the laws he was driving them into exile again.


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.

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.185 Aeschin. 3.193 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.202

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