Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
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On the Chersonese

8.1It should be the duty of all speakers, men of Athens, to give no expression to their hatred or their partiality, but to put forward just what each thinks the best counsel, especially when you are debating a question of urgent public importance. But since there are speakers who are impelled to address you, either as partisans or from some other motive, whatever it may be, you citizens who form the majority ought to dismiss all else from your minds, and vote and act in such a way as you think will best serve our city. 8.2The really serious problem is the state of the Chersonese and Philip's Thracian campaign, now in its eleventh month; yet most of the speeches have been confined to what Diopithes is doing or what he is going to do. For my part, when charges are brought against any of those whom you can legally punish whenever you like, I hold that it is open to you either to deal with their case at once or to postpone it; and it is quite unnecessary for me or anyone else to take a strong line on the subject of such charges. 8.3But when our national enemy, with a strong force, is trying to forestall us in the neighborhood of the Hellespont, and when, if we are once too late, we shall never again be able to save the situation, then I think it is to our interest to complete our plans and preparations as quickly as we can, and not be diverted from our purpose by clamorous accusations about extraneous matters.

8.4I often wonder at the sort of speeches that are delivered here, but nothing, men of Athens, has surprised me more than what I heard uttered in the Council the other day, that your advisers are bound to put before you the plain alternative of fighting or observing the peace. 8.5But the fact is, if Philip keeps quiet and does not retain any of our territory contrary to the terms of peace, and does not form a general coalition against us, there is nothing more to be said and we must simply observe the peace, and I perceive a readiness to do so on your part at any rate; but if the oath that we took and the terms on which we made peace are published for all men to read, 8.6and if it is proved that from the first, even before Diopithes set sail with colonists, whom they now accuse of having started hostilities, Philip has unfairly taken much that is ours, about which your decrees denouncing him still stand good, and that he is all the time repeatedly seizing the property of the other Greeks and of the barbarians, and so equipping himself for an attack upon us, what do they mean by saying that we must either make war or keep peace? 8.7For we have no choice in the matter, but there remains the most righteous and most necessary task of all, which these gentlemen deliberately pass over in silence. What then is that task? To defend ourselves against the aggressor. Or perhaps they mean that if Philip keeps his hands off Attica and the Piraeus, he is neither injuring our city nor provoking hostilities. 8.8But if they ground their plea upon this principle, if this is their interpretation of the peace, it is obvious to all that their argument is assuredly impious and intolerable and dangerous to Athens; and it follows besides that their own words flatly contradict their indictment of Diopithes. For why on earth are we to give Philip leave to do everything else, provided he keeps clear of Attica, while Diopithes is not allowed to help the Thracians, or else we shall have to admit that he is starting a war? 8.9Yes, you may say, as to that indeed the speakers are proved wrong, but the mercenaries are really acting abominably in ravaging the shores of the Hellespont, and Diopithes is wrong in detaining the merchantmen, and we must not sanction it. Very well; be it so. I have no objection. 8.10Only I think that, if their advice is really given in perfect good faith, even as they are trying to break up the force belonging to our city by bringing charges before you against the commander, who provides for its maintenance, so they are bound to show that Philip's force will also be disbanded, if you accept their advice. If not, you must observe that they are merely reducing our city to the same plight that has already caused her to forfeit all her existing advantages. 8.11For I need not tell you that Philip owes his successes to nothing in the world more than to his being the first in the field. For the man who always keeps a standing army by him, and who knows beforehand what he wants to do, is ready in an instant for anyone that he chooses to attack, while it is only after we have heard of something happening that we begin to bustle about and make our preparations. 8.12Hence, I believe, it results that Philip, quite at his leisure, keeps whatever he assails, while we are too late, and whatever we have spent has been lavished in vain; we have succeeded in showing our enmity and our will to thwart him, but by being too late for action we only incur additional ignominy.



Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 7.39 Dem. 8.1 (Greek) >>Dem. 8.17

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