Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 20.140 Dem. 20.151 (Greek) >>Dem. 20.162

20.147Now the laws forbid the same man to be tried twice on the same issue, be it a civil action, a scrutiny, a contested claim, or anything else of the sort. But quite apart from all this, it would be a most absurd result if on the first occasion the services of Chabrias outweighed the arguments of Leodamas, but when to his services were added those of all the other benefactors, then the combined effect should be weaker than the arguments. 20.148To Aristophon I think I could raise many sound objections. He obtained his grant, which included immunity, by your votes. I find no fault with that, for it is right that you should have it in your power to bestow what is yours on anyone you please. But I do suggest that it is unfair that he should raise no objection when he was going to receive it himself, but when it has been given to others, he should take offence and urge you to withdraw it. 20.149Moreover it was Aristophon who proposed to pay Gelarchus five talents for sums advanced to the democrats in the Piraeus [Note]; and he was right. Then, my friend, if you recommended the repayment of unattested sums on the ground of service done to the people, you must not advise the revocation of grants for services which the people themselves attested by inscriptions in the temples, and which are indeed known to all men. You must not exhibit yourself as at the same time proposing that debts ought to be paid, and urging that a man should be deprived of what he has won at the hands of the people. 20.150Next, I have this much to say to Cephisodotus. As an orator, men of Athens, he is inferior to none. Then it would be far more honorable to use his talents for the chastisement of evil-doers than for the injury of those who deserve well. If he must make enemies, I suggest that they should be those who injure the people, not those who benefit them. 20.151Then as to Dinias. Perhaps he will tell you of the war-galleys he has equipped and of his other public services. For my part, though Dinias has proved himself a valuable servant of the public, as I sincerely believe, I would urge him rather to claim from you some reward for himself than to tell you to take back rewards previously given to others; for a man gives a surer proof of excellence by claiming a reward for his own services than by grudging others the rewards they have received for theirs. 20.152But the most effective retort is one which applies to all the commissioners alike. Each one of them has often before served as commissioner for some business or other. Now you have a very sound law—not, of course, directed against these men, but framed to prevent any commissioner from using his opportunity for profit or blackmail—that no one, elected by the people, be permitted to serve as commissioner more than once. 20.153Surely those who are going to advocate a law and urge its necessity ought to show themselves ready to obey existing laws; otherwise it is absurd for them to defend one law as commissioners and violate another themselves. Take and read the law which I cite.Law

That, Athenians, is both an old and a sound law, [Note] which the commissioners will be careful not to violate, if they are wise.

20.154I have still a few things to say to you before I sit down. For you ought, in my opinion, men of Athens, to be anxious for the utmost possible efficiency of our laws, but especially of those on which depends the strength or weakness of our State. And which are they? They are those which assign rewards to those who do good and punishments to those who do evil. For in truth, if from fear of legal penalties all men shunned wrongdoing, and if from ambition for the rewards of good service all chose the path of duty, what prevents our city from being great and all our citizens honest, with not a rogue among them?

20.155Now the law of Leptines, Athenians, does harm not only by abolishing the rewards of good service and so rendering fruitless the good intentions of those who are ambitious for honor, but also by leaving our city under the serious reproach of imbecility. For you are of course aware that for each grave offence a single penalty is provided by the law, which says explicitly that “at any trial there shall be not more than one assessment of penalty, whichever the court imposes, whether a personal punishment or a fine, but not both.” 20.156But Leptines has used a different measure and says that if anyone claims a return from you, “he shall be disfranchised, and his property shall be confiscated.” There you have two penalties. “The process shall be by laying information or by summary arrest; and if he be convicted, he shall be liable under the law which provides for the case of a man holding office while in debt to the treasury.” Death is what he means, for such is the punishment in that case. Why, here are three penalties! [Note] Is it not monstrously hard, Athenians, if it proves more serious in your courts to ask for a return for good service than to be convicted of some heinous crime?

20.157Men of Athens, this law, so dishonorable, so unsound, so suggestive of envy and spite and—I spare you the rest. Those are the sort of things that the framer of the law seems to favor, but you must not imitate them nor display sentiments unworthy of yourselves. I ask you in Heaven's name, what should we all most earnestly deprecate? What do all our laws most carefully guard against? What but those vengeful murders against which our specially appointed protector is the Council of the Areopagus?



Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 20.140 Dem. 20.151 (Greek) >>Dem. 20.162

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