Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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In short, fellow citizens, for my part I am almost ready to say that we ought to pass a special law governing indictments for illegal motions, which shall forbid either accuser or defendant to call in advocates. For the question of right involved is not an indefinite one, but is defined by your own laws. For as in carpentry, when we wish to know what is straight and what is not, we apply the carpenters' rule, which serves as our standard,


so in indictments for illegal motions there lies ready to our hand as a rule of justice this tablet, containing the measure proposed and the laws which it transgresses. [Note] Show that these agree one with another, Ctesiphon, and then take your seat. Why need you call Demosthenes to your support? When you overleap the just defence and call forward a rascal and a rhetorician, you cheat the ears of the jury, you injure the city, you undermine the democracy.


How you may avert speeches of that sort, fellow citizens, I will tell you. When Ctesiphon comes forward here and recites to you that introduction which has of course been composed for him, [Note] and when he then tries to kill time, and makes no answer to the charge, suggest to him, quietly, that he take the tablet and read the laws and his resolution side by side. If he pretends that he does not hear you, then do you refuse to hear him. For you have not come here to listen to men who dodge an honest defence, but to those who are willing to defend themselves with justice.


But if he shall overleap the just defence and call Demosthenes to the platform, the best course for you is to refuse to receive a sophist, who expects to overthrow the laws with words. And when Ctesiphon asks you if he shall call Demosthenes, let no man of you consider that he is doing a meritorious thing in being the first to cry, “Aye, call him, call him.” Against yourself you are calling him, against the laws you are calling him, against the constitution you are calling him. But if after all you decide to listen, demand that Demosthenes make his defence in the same way in which I have made the accusation. In what way have I made the accusation? Let me recall it to you.


I did not at the beginning review the private life of Demosthenes, nor did I at the beginning call to mind a single one of his public crimes—though I certainly had great abundance of material, or else I must be the most helpless of mortals—but first I exhibited the laws which forbid crowning men who have not yet rendered their accounts, and then I convicted the orator of having moved to crown Demosthenes before he had rendered account, and that too without inserting the qualifying proviso, “When he shall have rendered account,” but in utter contempt of you and of your laws. And I told you what excuses they would offer for this, which I earnestly pray you to keep in mind.


Secondly, I recited to you the laws which govern proclamations, in which it is expressly forbidden that when one is crowned by the people the proclamation shall be made in any other place than in the assembly. But the politician who is the defendant in this case has not only transgressed the laws, but the time of proclamation, and the place of it; for he orders the proclamation to be made, not in the assembly, but in the theater, not when the Athenian assembly is in session, but when the tragedies are about to he performed. After saying this, I spoke briefly about his private life, but chiefly about his public crimes.


I insist, therefore, that you demand the same order of defence from Demosthenes; first, let him defend himself against the law of accountability, secondly, against the law which governs proclamations, and thirdly, and most important, let him show also that he is not unworthy of the reward. But if he asks you to indulge him as to the order of his speech, and solemnly promises that at the close of his defence he will clear away the matter of illegality, do not yield to him, and do not forget that this is an old trick of the court-room. For he would never of his own choice return to the defence against the illegality but because he has nothing to say which is just, he seeks by the insertion of extraneous matters to plunge you into forgetfulness of the charge.


As, therefore, in gymnastic contests you see the boxers contending with one another for position, so do you for the city's sake fight with him the whole day long for position as regards argument; and do not let him set his feet outside the bounds of the illegality charged, but watch him and lie in wait for him as you listen, drive him into discussion of the illegality, and look out for the twists and turns of his speech.


What, on the other hand, will surely be the result for you if you listen in the way that they propose, I ought now to forewarn you. For the defendant will call to his aid this juggler and cut-purse, a man who has torn the constitution to shreds. This man weeps more readily than other men laugh, and nothing is so easy for him as perjury. And I should not wonder if he should change his tactics and slander the listeners outside the bar, alleging that those whom truth herself has singled out and counted as oligarchs have come to the platform of the prosecution, but all the friends of the people to the platform of the defence. [Note]

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.193 Aeschin. 3.202 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.211

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