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Second Speech for the Defense

3δ.1While it is only to be expected that the preoccupation of my opponent with his speech for the prosecution should prevent his understanding my defence, the same is not true of yourselves. You should bear in mind that while we, the interested parties, take a biassed view of the case, each naturally thinking that his own version of it is fair, your duty is to consider the facts conscientiously; and so you must give your attention to me as much as you did to him note: 3δ.2as it is in what is said that the true facts are to be sought. For my part, if I have told any falsehoods, I am content that you should treat the truth which I have spoken as itself a piece of equally dishonest pleading. On the other hand, if my arguments have been honest, but close and subtle, it is not I who used them, but he whose conduct made them necessary, upon whom the displeasure which they have caused should properly fall.

3δ.3I would have you understand to begin with that it requires not mere assertion, but proof, to show that someone has killed someone else. Now our accuser agrees with us as to how the accident happened, but disagrees as to the person responsible; yet it is only from what happened that that person can be determined. 3δ.4He complains bitterly, because, according to him, it is a slur upon his son's memory that he should have been proved a slayer when he neither threw the javelin nor had any intention of doing so. That complaint is not an answer to my arguments. I am not maintaining that his son threw the javelin or struck himself. I am maintaining that since he moved within range of the javelin, his death was due not to the lad, but to himself; for he was not killed standing in his place. As this running across was his undoing, it follows that if it was at his master's summons that he ran across, the master would be the person responsible for his death note; but if he moved into the way of his own accord, his death was due to himself.

3δ.5Before proceeding to any further argument, I wish to show still more clearly which of the two was responsible for the accident. The lad no more missed the target than any of those practising with him note: nor has he rendered himself guilty of any of the acts with which he is charged owing to error on his own part. On the other hand, the boy did not do the same as the other onlookers; he moved into the javelin's path. And this is clear proof that it was through his own error that he met with a disaster which those who stood still did not. The thrower would not have been guilty of an error in any respect, note had no one moved into the path of his spear: while the boy would not have been hit, had he remained in his place among the onlookers.

3δ.6Further, my son was not more concerned in the boy's death than any one of those throwing javelins with him, as I will show. If it was owing to the fact that my son was throwing a javelin that the boy was killed, then all those practising with him must share in the guilt of the deed, as it was not owing to their failure to throw that they did not strike him, but owing to the fact that he did not move into the path of the javelin of any one of them. Similarly the young man, who was no more guilty of error than they, would not have hit the boy any more than they did, had the boy stood still with the onlookers.

3δ.7Again, not only was the boy guilty of the error committed; he was also to blame for the failure to take due precautions. My son saw no one running across, so how could he have taken precautions against striking anyone? The boy, on the other hand, upon seeing the throwers, might easily have guarded against running across, as he was quite at liberty to remain standing still.

3δ.8The law which they quote is a praiseworthy one; it is right and fair that it should visit those who have killed without meaning to do so with chastisement which they did not mean to incur. But the lad is not guilty of error; and it would therefore be unjust that he should suffer for him who is. It is enough that he should bear the consequences of his own errors. On the other hand, the boy, who perished through his own error, punished himself as soon as he had committed that error. And as the slayer has been punished, the slaying has not gone unavenged.

3δ.9The slayer has paid the penalty; so it is not by acquitting us, but by condemning us that you will leave a burden upon your consciences. The boy, who is bearing the consequence of his own error, will leave behind him nothing that calls for atonement from anyone; but if my son, who is innocent, is put to death, the conscience of those who have condemned him will be more heavily burdened than ever.

3δ.10If the arguments put forward prove the dead boy his own slayer, it is not we who have stated them whom he has to thank, but the fact that the accident happened as it did. 3δ.11Since examination proves beyond doubt that the boy was his own slayer, the law absolves us from blame, and condemns him who was guilty. See, then, that we are not plunged into woes which we do not deserve, and that you yourselves do not defy the powers above by a verdict succoring my opponents in their misfortunes. Remember, as righteousness and justice require you to do, that the accident was caused by him who moved into the javelin's path. Remember, and acquit us; for we are not guilty of his death.

Antiphon, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [word count] [lemma count] [Antiph.].
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