Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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But, Demosthenes, you fail to ask yourself in turn what kind of a statesman he would be who, having the power to cajole the people, should sell the opportunities for saving the city, and by his calumnies prevent patriots from giving advice; and when he had run away from danger and had entangled the city in misfortunes from which there was no escape, should demand that he be crowned for his virtue, when he had done nothing that was good, but was himself responsible for all the disasters; and should then ask those who had been driven out of public life by his slanders in those critical days when there was still a chance of safety, why they had not prevented his wrong doing;


and should conceal the final fact of all, that after the battle we had no time to attend to punishing you, but were engrossed in negotiations for the safety of the city. But when, not content with having escaped punishment, you were actually calling for rewards, making the city an object of ridicule in the eyes of all Hellas, then I interposed and brought my indictment.


And, by the Olympian gods, of all the things which I understand Demosthenes is going to say, I am most indignant at what I am now about to tell you. For he likens me in natural endowment to the Sirens, saying that it was not charm that the Sirens brought to those who listened to them, but destruction, and that therefore the Siren-song has no good repute; and that in like manner the smooth flow of my speech and my natural ability have proved the ruin of those who have listened to me. [Note] And yet I think no man in the world is justified in making such a statement about me. It is a shame to accuse a man and not to be able to show the ground for the accusation.


But if the charge really had to be made, it was not for Demosthenes to make it, but for some general who, although he had rendered distinguished services to the state, was not gifted with the power of speech, and for that reason was envious of the natural endowments of his opponents in court, because he knew that he had not the ability to describe one of all the things he had accomplished, but saw in his accuser a man able to set forth to the hearers in all detail how he had himself administered things which had not been done by him at all. But when a man who is made up of words, and those words bitter words and useless—when such a man takes refuge in “simplicity” and “the facts,” who could have patience with him? If you treat him as you might a clarinet, and take out his tongue, you have nothing left!


But for my part I am surprised at you, fellow citizens, and I ask under what possible consideration you could refuse to sustain this indictment. On the ground that Ctesiphon's motion is lawful? Never was a more unlawful motion made. On the ground that he who moved the decree is not the sort of man to be punished? You give up the possibility of calling any man to account for his manner of life, if you let this man go. And is it not vexatious that whereas in former times the orchestra was piled with golden crowns with which the state was honored by the Hellenes, [Note] today in consequence of the policies of Demosthenes you the people go uncrowned and unproclaimed, but he is to be honored by the voice of the herald?


If any one of the tragic poets who are to bring on their plays after the crowning should in a tragedy represent Thersites as crowned by the Greeks, no one of you would tolerate it, for Homer says he was a coward and a slanderer; but when you yourselves crown such a man as this, think you not that you would be hissed by the voice of Hellas? Your fathers were wont to attribute to the people such deeds as were glorious and brilliant, but mean and unworthy acts they threw upon the incompetent politicians. But Ctesiphon thinks that you ought to take off from Demosthenes his ill-fame, and crown the people with it.


And while you assert that you are favorites of fortune—as indeed you are, thank heaven—will you declare by public resolution that you have been abandoned by fortune, but blessed by Demosthenes? And—strangest of all—in the same court-rooms do you disfranchise those who are convicted of receiving bribes, and then yourselves propose to crown a man who, to your own knowledge, has always been in politics for pay? If the judges at the Dionysiac festival are not honest in their award of the prize to the cyclic choruses, you punish them; but do you yourselves, who are sitting as judges, not of cyclic choruses, but of the laws and of integrity in public life, do you propose to bestow your rewards, not according to the laws, and not upon the rare and deserving, but upon the successful intriguer?


Furthermore, a juror who so acts will go out from the court-room responsible for having made himself weak and the politician strong. For in a democracy the private citizen is a king by virtue of the constitution and his own vote; but when he hands these over to another man, he has by his own act dethroned himself. Still further, the oath that he has sworn before taking his seat haunts him and troubles him, for it was his oath, I think, that made his act a sin; and his service is unknown to the man whom he was trying to please, for the vote is cast in secret.

Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.221 Aeschin. 3.229 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.237

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