Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
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20.28You see, Athenians, how explicitly the law lays down that none shall be exempt from the equipment of a war-galley except the nine archons. So those whose wealth falls short of the qualification for that service will contribute by groups to the special war-tax, but those who reach that qualification will be available both for the war-galleys and for the war-tax. Then what relief does your law, Leptines, afford to the main body of citizens, if from one or two tribes it provides a single contributor, who, having relieved one other citizen on one occasion, will thereafter be exempt? [Note] I can see no relief. On the other hand it taints the honor and credit of the whole State. Therefore, when the damage it will inflict is greater than the benefit it confers, ought it not to be repealed by this court? Such would be my verdict.

20.29My next point is this, gentlemen of the jury. The law of Leptines explicitly states that "none, whether citizen or enfranchised alien or foreigner, shall be exempt," and does not specify from what, whether from the public service or from any other charge, but simply that "none shall be exempt except the descendants of Harmodius and Aristogiton." The word "none" must be taken to include all classes, and foreigner is not further defined as resident at Athens. 20.30It follows that Leptines deprives Leucon, [Note] the ruler of the Bosporus, and his children of the reward which you bestowed on them. For, of course, Leucon is a foreigner by birth, though by adoption an Athenian citizen, but on neither ground can he claim exemption, if this law stands. And yet, while of our other benefactors each has made himself useful to us on one occasion, Leucon will be found on reflection to be a perpetual benefactor, and that in a matter especially vital to our city. 20.31For you are aware that we consume more imported corn than any other nation. Now the corn that comes to our ports from the Black Sea is equal to the whole amount from all other places of export. And this is not surprising; for not only is that district most productive of corn, but also Leucon, who controls the trade, has granted exemption from dues to merchants conveying corn to Athens, and he proclaims that those bound for your port shall have priority of lading. For Leucon, enjoying exemption for himself and his children, has granted exemption to every one of you. 20.32See what this amounts to. He exacts a toll of one-thirtieth from exporters of corn from his country. Now from the Bosporus there come to Athens about four hundred thousand bushels; the figures can be checked by the books of the grain commissioners. So for each three hundred thousand bushels he makes us a present of ten thousand bushels, and for the remaining hundred thousand a present of roughly three thousand. [Note] 20.33Now, so little danger is there of his depriving our state of this gift, that he has opened another depot at Theudosia, which our merchants say is not at all inferior to the Bosporus, [Note] and there, too, he has granted us the same exemption. I omit much that might be said about the other benefits conferred upon you by this prince and also by his ancestors, but the year before last, when there was a universal shortage of grain, he not only sent enough for your needs, but such a quantity in addition that Callisthenes had a surplus of fifteen talents of silver to dispose of. [Note] 20.34What, then, men of Athens, do you expect of this man, who has proved himself such a friend to you, if he learns that you have deprived him by law of his immunity, and have made it illegal to bestow it hereafter, even if you change your minds? Are you not aware that this same law, if ratified, will take away the immunity, not only from Leucon, but from those of you who import corn from his country? [Note] 20.35For surely no one dreams that he will tolerate the cancelling of your gifts to him, and let his own gifts to you stand good. So to the many disadvantages that this law will obviously entail upon you, may be added the immediate loss of part of your resources. In view of this, are you still considering whether you ought to erase it from the statute-book? Have you not made up your minds long ago? Take and read them the decrees touching Leucon. Decrees

20.36How reasonable and just was the immunity which Leucon has obtained from you, these decrees have informed you, gentlemen of the jury. Copies of all these decrees on stone were set up by you and by Leucon in the Bosporus, in the Piraeus, and at Hierum. [Note] Just reflect to what depths of meanness you are dragged by this law, which makes the nation less trustworthy than an individual.



Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 20.23 Dem. 20.31 (Greek) >>Dem. 20.41

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