1.82When ambassadors were needed for the peace he said he would not move a foot to leave the city; yet when it was reported that Alexander was restoring the exiles and Nicanor came to Olympia he offered himself to the council as president of the sacred embassy. These are the parts he plays: on the field of battle he is a stay-at-home, when others stay at home he is an ambassador, among ambassadors he is a runaway.
Now read the [Note] and the decree relating to the inquiry over the money proposed by Demosthenes for the Areopagus and affecting both himself and you. I want you by comparing them together to realize that he is demented.1.83Did you propose this, Demosthenes? You did; you cannot deny it. Was the council given authority on your motion? It was. Have some of the citizens been executed? They have. Did your decree have power over them? You cannot deny that it did.
Read the decree again which Demosthenes proposed against Demosthenes. Let me have your attention, gentlemen.1.84The council has found Demosthenes guilty. Need we enlarge on this? It has made its report on him, Athenians. Justice demanded that, having been self-condemned, he should immediately be put to death. But now that he has fallen into the hands of you who have been assembled by the people and have sworn to obey the laws and the people's decrees, what will you do? Will you ignore the claims of piety towards the gods and the justice recognized by the world? No, Athenians, do not do so.
1.85It would be an utter disgrace if, when others no worse, and even less guilty, than Demosthenes have been destroyed by his decrees, he, with his contempt for you and the laws, should be at large unpunished in the city, when by his own motion and the decrees which he proposed he has been convicted. The same council, Athenians, the same place, the same rights have been in question.
1.86The same orator was responsible for the misfortunes which overtook them and those which will soon overtake him. He himself in the Assembly instructed this council to judge his case, after calling on you as his witnesses. He made an agreement with the people and proposed the decree against himself, to be kept by the mother of the gods, [Note] who is the city's guardian of all written contracts. It would thus be impious for you to invalidate this or, after swearing by the gods in the present trial, to give a vote which did not conform with the actions of the gods themselves.
1.87When Poseidon lost his suit against Ares over Halirrothius he abode by the decision. [Note] The awful goddesses too, in their case against Orestes, [Note] abode by the judgement of this council, associating themselves for the future with its reputation for truth. How will you act with your claim to unrivalled piety? Will you annul the decision of the council and follow the bad example of Demosthenes? You will not, Athenians, if you remain in your senses.
1.88This is no small or incidental matter that you are deciding today; the question at issue is the safety of the whole city and also bribery, an evil habit and a practice which is harmful to you and has always brought men to ruin. If you do everything in your power to rid the city of this vice and to suppress those who gladly take bribes against you, we shall be saved, with Heaven's consent. But if you allow the orators to sell you, you will stand by and see them wreck the city.
1.89Demosthenes himself proposed in the Assembly, clearly implying that it was a just step to take, that we should keep for Alexander the money brought into Attica with Harpalus. [Note] Tell me, sir: are we going to keep it under present conditions, when you have taken twenty talents for personal use, someone else fifteen, Demades six thousand gold staters, and the others the various sums that have been credited to them? For sixty-four talents have already been traced, for which, you must conclude, gentlemen, that these men are to be held responsible.
1.90Which is the more honorable alternative, which the more just: that all the money should be kept in the treasury until the people has reached some fair decision, or that the orators and certain of the generals should seize and keep it? Personally I think that to keep it in the treasury is the course which all would admit to be just, while no one would consider it fair for these men to retain it.
1.91The statements made by the defendant, gentlemen, have been numerous and very varied but never consistent. For he realizes that all along you have been cheated by him with empty hopes and lying assertions and that you remember his promises only so long as they are being uttered. If then the city must go on enjoying the fruits of Demosthenes' wickedness and ill-fortune, that we may still be plagued by an evil genius,—I can find no other word for it,—we should acquiesce in the present state of affairs.
1.92But if we have any regard for our country, if we hate wicked and corrupt men and want our fortune to change for the better, you must not surrender yourselves, Athenians, to the prayers of this accursed juggler or lend an ear to his laments and quackeries. You have had enough experience of him, his speeches, his actions, and his luck.