Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
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3.228

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.

3.229

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!

3.230

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?

3.231

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.

3.232

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?

3.233

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.

3.234

But it seems to me, fellow citizens, that the political situation, while fortunate, is also perilous; for we are not wise. The fact that at the present time you, the people, give over the mainstays of the democracy to the few is to be deplored; but the fact that there has not sprung up to our hurt a crop of politicians both corrupt and daring is a gift of fortune. For in former times the state did bring forth such characters, and they made short work of putting down the democracy. For the people loved to be flattered, and in consequence were overthrown, not by the men whom they feared, but by those in whose hands they had placed themselves.

3.235

And some of them actually joined the Thirty, who killed more than fifteen hundred of the citizens without trial, before they had even heard the charges on which they were to be put to death, and who would not even allow the relatives to be present at the burial of the dead. Will you not hold the politicians under your control? Will you not humble and dismiss those who are now exultant? Will you not bear in mind that in the past no one has ever attempted the overthrow of the democracy until he has made himself stronger than the courts?



Aeschines, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Aeschin.].
<<Aeschin. 3.223 Aeschin. 3.231 (Greek) >>Aeschin. 3.239

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