Dinarchus, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Din.].
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Against Aristogiton

2.1There is nothing, it appears, Athenians, which we must not expect either to hear or see in connection with the reports which have been made; but the most remarkable fact of all, in my opinion, confronts us now. The worst character in the city, I should say in the whole world, Aristogiton, has come to pit himself in law against the Areopagus on the subject of truth and justice; and the council which has made the report is now in greater danger than this man who takes bribes against you and who sold for twenty minas the right of free speech in the cause of justice. 2.2It will be no new or alarming experience for the defendant if he is convicted, for he has committed in the past many other crimes meriting the death penalty and has spent more time in prison than out of it. While he has been in debt to the state he has prosecuted men with citizen rights, though not entitled to do so, and has committed numerous other offences of which you have a more exact knowledge than I. It is a most shameful and monstrous thing for this council to be suspected of making a false report against Aristogiton and for him to be considered among you as having more justice on his side than it has. 2.3For this reason, Athenians, thinking that the trial holds no dangers for him, this man is coming forward, I believe, to test your attitude. He has often undergone all sorts of suffering short of death, which, if God so wills it and you are wise, he will undergo today. For you must assume, by Heracles, that there will be no improvement in him if he is pardoned by you now, and that in future he will not abstain from taking bribes against you if you now acquit him. For when wickedness is in its infancy perhaps it can be checked by punishment, but when it has grown old and has sampled the usual penalties, it is said to be incurable. 2.4If therefore you wish depravity to grow up ingrained in Athens, you should preserve Aristogiton and allow him to act there as he pleases. But if you hate the wicked and accursed and can recall with resentment what this man has done in the past, kill him, for he dared to take money from Harpalus, who he knew was coming to seize your city. Cut short his excuses and deceptive arguments, on which he now depends when he appears before you.

2.5Do you realize that, awkward though the arrival of Harpalus was, it has been an advantage to the city in one respect, because it has given you a sure means of testing those who give up everything to the enemies of Athens for a payment of silver or gold? Do not be lax, Athenians, or weary of punishing the guilty; purge the city of bribery to the utmost of your ability. Do not ask for arguments from me when you see that the crimes have been plainly attributed to those whom the council has reported. 2.6[Or ought you to spare the defendant on account of his ancestry and his moderation, or because he has done you many public and private services?] [Note] What information do you lack that makes you ask for arguments against the defendant here before you? What if we, the accusers, all ten of us, use up all the water in our clocks and proclaim that it is a terrible thing to release men who have been caught with bribes against the city in their very hands; will that make the council's report against Aristogiton true and just? 2.7Or suppose that each of us assumes that you are just as well aware as we on which side justice lies in the present trials, and so leaves the platform after a short speech; will the report then be a false one, unjustly made by the Areopagites? Or don't you realize that to take bribes in order to betray the city's interests is one of the greatest crimes causing the most irreparable harm to cities?

2.8No doubt I shall be told that the defendant is himself a man of sober character coming of a good family, that he has done you many noble services in private and in public life and that therefore you are justified in sparing him. You must all have often heard that, when Aristogiton's father Cydimachus was condemned to death and fled from the city, this admirable son allowed his own father to lack the bare necessities of life, while he survived, and do without a proper burial when he died: a fact for which evidence was often brought against him; 2.9or again, that the man himself, on being taken to prison for the first time,—no doubt you realize that he has often been imprisoned—dared to behave in such a way there that the inmates voted that no one should either light a fire for him or sit at meals or share the usual sacrifices with him. Reflect, Athenians; what sort of character must we suppose this man to have, who was thrown into prison for criminal conduct 2.10and when he was there, among those who had been segregated from the rest of the world as felons, was looked upon as so debased that even there he was not thought worthy of the same treatment as the rest? It is said, in fact, that he was caught thieving among them and that, if there had been any other place more degraded where they could have isolated men who stole in prison, this monster would have been conducted there. These facts, as I said just now, were established by evidence against Aristogiton, as is well known, when the lot fell to him to be custodian of the exchange but he was rejected by those who then decided the appointment to that office. [Note]



Dinarchus, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Din.].
<<Din. 1.110 Din. 2.4 (Greek) >>Din. 2.15

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