Lycurgus, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Lycurg.].
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1.107Though they have no regard for other poets, they valued his works so highly that they passed a law which provides that their men, after taking the field, shall be summoned to the king's tent to hear the verses of Tyrtaeus all together, holding that this of all things would make them most ready to die for their country. It will be profitable for you to hear these elegiac verses too, that you may know what sort of conduct brought men fame among the Spartans. [Note] Nobly comes death to him who in the van
Fighting for fatherland has made his stand.
Shame and despite attend the coward's flight,
Who, leaving native town and fruitful land,
Wanders, a homeless beggar, with his kin,
True wife, old father, mother, tender child.
Unwelcome will he be where'er he goes,
Bowed dawn with hardship and by want defiled.
Bringing his house dishonor, he belies
His noble mien, a prey to fear and shame.
Thus roams the waif unpitied and unloved,
He and the line that after bears his name.
Be stalwart then. Think not of life or limb;
Shielding our land and children let us die.
Youths, brave the fight together. Be not first
To yield to craven cowardice and fly.
Make large your hearts within you. Undismayed
Engage in battle with grown men. Be bold;
And standing fast forsake not those whose feet
No longer keep their swiftness. Guard the old.
For shame it is to see an elder fall,
Down in the forefront, smitten in the strife,
Before the youths, with grey beard, hair grown white,
To breathe out in the dust his valiant life,
Clasping his bloody groin with clinging hands,
(Fit sight indeed to kindle wrath and shame!)
His body bared. But those whom youth's sweet flower
Adorns unfaded nothing can defame.
Honor of men is theirs, in life, and women's love;
Fair are they too when in the van laid low.
Then clench your teeth and, with both feet astride,
Firm planted on the ground withstand the foe.

1.108They are fine lines, gentlemen, and a lesson too for those who wish to heed them. Such was the courage of the men who used to hear them that they disputed with our city for supremacy; no matter for surprise, since the most gallant feats had been performed by either people. Your ancestors defeated the barbarians who first set foot in Attica, demonstrating clearly the superiority of valor over wealth and courage over numbers. The Spartans took the field at Thermopylae, and, though their fortune was less happy, in bravery they far surpassed all rivals. 1.109And so over their graves a testimony to their courage can be seen, faithfully engraved for every Greek to read: to the Spartans: Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here obedient to their laws we lie.
And to your ancestors: Athenians, guarding Greece, subdued in fight
At Marathon the gilded Persians' might.
i. 42): Dic, hospes, Spartae nos te hic vidisse iacentes
dum sanctis patriae legibus obsequimur.

1.110These are noble lines for us to remember, Athenians; they are a tribute to those whose deeds they record and an undying glory to the city. But Leocrates has not acted thus. Deliberately he sullied that honor which the city has accumulated from the earliest times. Therefore if you kill him all Greeks will believe that you too hate such acts as his. If not, you will rob your forbears of their long-lived renown, and will do grievous harm to your fellow citizens. For those who do not admire our ancestors will try to imitate Leocrates believing, that although among men of the past the old virtues had a place of honor, in your eyes shamelessness, treachery and cowardice are held in most esteem.

1.111If I am unable to show you what your attitude towards such men should be, remember your ancestors and the methods of punishment which they employed against them. Capable as they were of the noblest actions, they were no less ready to punish what was base. Think of them, gentlemen; think how enraged they were with traitors and how they looked on them as common enemies of the city. 1.112You remember when Phrynichus [Note] was murdered at night beside the fountain in the osier beds by Apollodorus and Thrasybulus, who were later caught and put in the prison by the friends of Phrynichus. The people noted what had happened and, releasing the prisoners, held an inquiry after torture. On investigation they found that Phrynichus had been trying to betray the city and that his murderers had been unjustly imprisoned. 1.113They decreed publicly, on the motion of Critias, that the dead man should be tried for treason, and that if it were found that this was a tratior who had been buried in the country, his bones should be dug up and removed from Attica, [Note] so that the land should not have lying in it even the bones of one who had betrayed his country and his city.

Lycurgus, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Lycurg.].
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