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On the Murder of Herodes 5.1

I could have wished, gentlemen, that my powers of speech and my experience of the world note were as great as the misfortune and the severities with which I have been visited. Instead, I know more of the last two than I should, and am more wanting in the first than is good for me. 5.2When I had to submit to the bodily suffering which this unwarranted charge brought with it, experience afforded me no help; while now that my life depends upon my giving a truthful account of the facts, my case is being prejudiced by my inability to speak. 5.3Poor speakers have often before now been disbelieved because they spoke the truth, and the truth itself has been their undoing because they could not make it convincing: just as clever speakers have often gained credit with lies, and have owed their lives to the very fact that they lied. Thus the fate of one who is not a practised pleader inevitably depends less upon the true facts and his actual conduct than upon the version of them given by his accusers. 5.4I shall therefore ask you, gentlemen, not indeed for a hearing, as do the majority of those on trial, who lack confidence in themselves and presume you to be biassed; for with an honest jury the defence is naturally assured of a hearing even without appealing for it, seeing that that same jury accorded the prosecution a hearing unasked— 5.5no, my request of you is this. If, on the one hand, I make any mistake in speaking, pardon me and treat it as due to inexperience rather than dishonesty; and if, on the other hand, I express a point well, treat it as due to truthfulness rather than skill. For it is no more right that mere words should be the undoing of a man who is in fact innocent than that they should be the salvation of a man who is in fact guilty; the tongue is to blame for a word whereas the will is to blame for an act. 5.6Moreover, a man in personal danger is sure to make some mistake; he cannot help thinking of his fate as well as of his argument, as the decision of an issue which is still in doubt always depends more upon chance than upon human effort. Hence a man in danger is bound to be not a little distraught. 5.7Even speakers with a long experience of the courts are far from being at their best, I notice, when in any danger; they are more successful when conducting a case in safety. 5.8So much for my request, gentlemen; it breaks no law, human or divine: and it takes into account what you have a right to expect from me as much as what I have a right to expect from you. And now for the charges made, which I will answer one at a time.To begin with, I shall prove to you that the methods used to involve me in today's proceedings were entirely illegal and arbitrary. Not that I wish to evade trial before a popular court; as far as my belief in my innocence of the present charge and in the justice of your verdict is concerned, I would place my life in your hands even if you were not on oath and I were being tried under no particular law. No, my object is to let the arbitrary and illegal behavior of the prosecution furnish you with a presumption as to the character of the rest of their case against me 5.9First, note whereas an information has been lodged against me as a malefactor, I am being tried for murder: a thing which has never before happened to anyone in this country. note Indeed, the prosecution have themselves borne witness to the fact that I am not a malefactor and cannot be charged under the law directed against malefactors, as that law is concerned with thieves and footpads, and they have omitted to prove my claim to either title. Thus, as far as this arrest of mine goes, they have given you every right and justification to acquit me. 5.10They object, however, that murder is a malefaction, and a grave one. I agree, a very grave one; so is sacrilege; so is treason; but the laws which apply to each of them differ. In my case the prosecution have first of all caused the trial to be held in the one place from which those charged with murder are always debarred by proclamation, the Agora: and secondly, although it is laid down by law that a murderer shall pay with his life, they have entered a claim for damages note—not as a kindness to me, but for their own benefit—and by so doing they have grudged the dead man his lawful due. Their motives you will learn in the course of my speech. note 5.11Secondly, as of course you all know, every court judges cases of murder in the open air, and for good reasons: first, that the jurors may avoid entering the same building as those whose hands are unclean: and secondly, that he who is conducting the prosecution for murder may avoid being under the same roof as the murderer. No one but yourself has ever dreamed of evading this law. And not only that you should, as a preliminary, have taken the most solemn and binding oath known, note swearing, under pain of causing yourself, your kin, and your house to perish from the earth, that you would accuse me only in connection with the murder itself, to the effect that I committed it; whereby, however numerous my crimes, I could have been condemned only on the charge before the court, and however numerous my good deeds, none of those good deeds could have gained me an acquittal. 5.12This requirement you have evaded. You have invented laws to suit yourself. You, the prosecutor, are not on oath; nor are the witnesses, who are giving evidence against me which they should have given only after taking the same preliminary oath as yourself, their hands on the sacrifice as they did so. You bid the court, moreover, believe your witnesses, in spite of their not being on oath, and pass sentence for murder—when your own evasion of the laws of the land has destroyed the trustworthiness of those witnesses. Yes, you imagine that, in the eyes of the court, the laws themselves should have less authority than your own actions in defiance of them. 5.13You reply that if I had been allowed my freedom, I should have made off without awaiting my trial—as though you had forced me to enter this country against my will. Yet if I attached no importance to being debarred from Athens for the future, it was equally open to me either to disregard the summons to appear in court and so lose the case by default, or to avail myself of the right given to every one of leaving the country after making the first speech for the defense. note You, however, for purely personal reasons, are trying to rob me, and me alone, of a privilege accorded to every Greek, by framing a law to suit yourself. 5.14Yet it would be unanimously agreed, I think, that the laws which deal with cases such as the present are the most admirable and righteous of all laws. Not only have they the distinction of being the oldest in this country, but they have changed no more than the crime with which they are concerned; and that is the surest token of good laws, as time and experience show mankind what is imperfect. Hence you must not use the speech for the prosecution to discover whether your laws are good or bad: you must use the laws to discover whether or not the speech for the prosecution is giving you a correct and lawful interpretation of the case. note 5.15The laws concerned with the taking of life are thus excellent, and no one has ever before ventured to interfere with them. You alone have had the audacity to turn legislator and substitute worse for better; and the object of this arbitrary behavior of yours is to have me put to death without just cause. In fact, your infringement of the law is itself decisive evidence in my favor, because you well knew that you would find no one to testify to my guilt once he had taken that preliminary oath. 5.16Furthermore, instead of acting like a man confident of his case and arranging that it should be tried once and indisputably, you have left yourself grounds for dispute and argument, as though you proposed to show your distrust of even the present court. The result is that even if I am acquitted today, I am no better off; you can say that it was as a malefactor that I was acquitted, not on a charge of murder. On the other hand, if you win your case, you will claim my life, on the ground that it is on a charge of murder that I have been tried and found guilty. Could any thing more unfair be devised? You and your associates have only to convince this court once, and your object is gained; whereas I, if I am acquitted once, am left in the same peril as before. 5.17Then again, gentlemen, my imprisonment was an act of illegality quite without parallel. I was ready to furnish the three sureties required by law; yet the prosecution took steps to ensure that I should be prevented from doing so. Hitherto no alien willing to furnish sureties has ever been imprisoned; and, moreover, the law concerned applies to the custodians of malefactors note as it does to others. Here again, then, we have a law by which every one benefits: and it has failed to release me, and me alone, from confinement. 5.18The reason was that it was to the prosecution's advantage, first, that I should be prevented from looking after my interests in person, and so be quite unable to prepare for my trial: and secondly, that I should undergo bodily suffering, and by reason of that bodily suffering find my friends readier to tell lies as witnesses for the prosecution than the truth as witnesses for the defence. note In addition to which, lifelong disgrace has been brought upon me and mine. 5.19Such are the manifold respects in which I have had to submit to a loss note of the rights accorded me by your laws and by justice before appearing in court. However, in spite of that disadvantage, I will try to prove my innocence: although it is hard to refute at a moment's notice false charges so carefully framed, as one cannot prepare oneself against the unexpected. 5.20I sailed from Mytilene, gentlemen, as a passenger on the same boat as this Herodes whom, we are told, I murdered. We were bound for Aenus, I to visit my father, who happened to be there just then, and Herodes to release some slaves note to certain Thracians. The slaves whom he was to release were also passengers, as were the Thracians who were to purchase their freedom. I will produce witnesses to satisfy you of this. Witnesses 5.21Such were our respective reasons for making the voyage. In the course of it, we happened to meet with a storm which forced us to put in at a place within the territory of Methymna, where the boat on to which Herodes transhipped, and on which the prosecution maintain that he met his end, lay at anchor. Now consider these circumstances in themselves to begin with; they were due to chance, not to any design on my part. It has nowhere been shown that I persuaded Herodes to accompany me; on the contrary, it has been shown that I made the voyage independently on business of my own. 5.22Nor again, as is clear, was I making my voyage to Aenus without good reason. Nor did we put in at this particular spot by prearrangement of any sort; we were forced to do so. And the transhipment after coming to anchor was similarly forced upon us, and not part of any plot or ruse. The boat on which we were passengers had no deck, whereas that on to which we transhipped had one and the rain was the reason for the exchange. I will produce witnesses to satisfy you of this. Witnesses 5.23After crossing into the other boat, we fell to drinking. Now whereas it is established that Herodes quitted the boat and did not board it again, I did not leave the boat at all that night. Next day, when Herodes was missing, I joined in the search as anxiously as any; if anyone considered the matter serious, I did. Not only was I responsible for the dispatch of a messenger to Mytilene, that is to say, it was upon my suggestion that it was decided to send one, 5.24but when none of the passengers or the personal companions of Herodes volunteered to go, I offered to send my own attendant; and I hardly imagine that I was deliberately proposing to send someone who would inform against me. Finally, when the search had failed to reveal any trace of Herodes either at Mytilene or anywhere else and, with the return of fair sailing-weather, the rest of the boats began standing out to sea, I likewise took my departure. I will produce witnesses to prove these statements to you. Witnesses 5.25Those are the facts; now draw the logical conclusions. First, in the interval before I put to sea for Aenus, when Herodes was missing, not a soul accused me, although the prosecution had already heard the news; otherwise I should never have taken my departure. For the moment the true facts of the matter were too much for any charge which they could bring; and, moreover, I was still on the island. It was not until I had resumed my voyage, and the prosecution had conspired to form this plot of theirs upon my life, that they made their accusation. 5.26Their story is that it was on the shore that Herodes was killed, and that I, who did not leave the boat at all, struck him upon the head with a stone. Yet while they have detailed information of this, they cannot give any plausible account of how the man came to disappear. Clearly, the probabilities suggest that the crime was committed somewhere in the neighborhood of the harbor. On the one hand, Herodes was drunk; and on the other hand, it was at night that he left the boat. He probably would not have been in a condition to control his own movements, nor could anyone who wished to take him a long way off by night have found any plausible excuse for doing so. 5.27Yet in spite of a two days' search both in the harbor and at a distance from it, no eyewitness, no bloodstain, and no clue of any other description was found. But I will go further. I accept the prosecution's story. I can indeed produce witnesses to prove that I did not quit the boat. note But suppose as much as you please that I did quit it; it is still utterly improbable that the man should have remained undiscovered after his disappearance, if he did not go very far from the sea. 5.28However, we are told that he was thrown into the sea. From what boat? Clearly, the boat came from the harbor itself; and in that case, why should it not have been identified? For that matter, we should also have expected to find some traces in the boat, seeing that a dead man had been placed in it and thrown overboard in the dark. The prosecution claim, indeed, to have found traces—but only in the boat on board of which he was drinking and which he quitted, the one boat on which they themselves agree that he was not murdered. The boat from which he was thrown into the sea they have not discovered; they have found neither it itself nor any trace of it. I will produce witnesses to prove these statements to you. Witnesses 5.29After I had departed for Aenus and the boat on which Herodes and I had been drinking note had reached Mytilene, the prosecution first of all went on board and conducted a search. On finding the bloodstains, note they claimed that this was where Herodes had met his end. But the suggestion proved an unfortunate one, as the blood turned out to be that of the animals sacrificed. So they abandoned that line, and instead seized the two men and examined them under torture. note 5.30The first, who was tortured there and then, said nothing to damage me. The second was tortured several days later, after being in the prosecution's company throughout the interval. It was he who was induced by them to incriminate me falsely. I will produce witnesses to confirm these facts. Witnesses 5.31You have listened to evidence for the length of the delay before the man's examination under torture; now notice the actual character of that examination. The slave was doubtless promised his freedom: it was certainly to the prosecution alone that he could look for release from his sufferings. Probably both of these considerations induced him to make the false charges against me which he did; he hoped to gain his freedom, and his one immediate wish was to end the torture. 5.32I need not remind you, I think, that witnesses under torture are biassed in favor of those who do most of the torturing; they will say anything likely to gratify them. It is their one chance of salvation, especially when the victims of their lies happen not to be present. Had I myself proceeded to give orders that the slave should be racked for not telling the truth, that step in itself would doubtless have been enough to make him stop incriminating me falsely. As it was, the examination was conducted by men who also knew what their own interests required. 5.33Now as long as he believed that he had something to gain by falsely incriminating me, he firmly adhered to that course; but on finding that he was doomed, he at once reverted to the truth and admitted that it was our friends here who had induced him to lie about me. However, neither his persevering attempts at falsehood nor his subsequent confession of the truth helped him. 5.34They took him, took the man upon whose disclosures they are resting their case against me, and put him to death, note a thing which no one else would have dreamed of doing. As a rule, informers are rewarded with money, if they are free, and with their liberty, if they are slaves. The prosecution paid for their information with death, and that in spite of a protest from my friends that they should postpone the execution until my return. 5.35Clearly, it was not his person, but his evidence, which they required; had the man remained alive, he would have been tortured by me in the same way, and the prosecution would be confronted with their plot: but once he was dead, not only did the loss of his person mean that I was deprived of my opportunity of establishing the truth, but his false statements are assumed to be true and are proving my undoing. Call me witnesses to confirm these facts. <Witnesses> 5.36In my opinion, they should have produced the informer himself in court, if they wished to prove me guilty. That was the issue to which they should have brought the case. Instead of putting the man to death, they ought to have produced him in the flesh and challenged me to examine him under torture. As it is, which of his statements will they use, may I ask: his first or his second? And which is true: the statement that I committed the murder or the statement that I did not? 5.37If we are to judge from probability, it is obviously the second which is the truer; he was lying to benefit himself, but on finding that those lies were proving fatal, he thought that he would be saved by telling the truth. However, he had no one to stand up for the truth, as I, who was vindicated by his second, true statement, was unfortunately not present; while there were those who were ready to put his first, his false one, beyond all reach of future correction. As a rule, it is the victim who quietly seizes an informer and then makes away with him. In this case, it is the very persons who arrested the slave in order to discover the truth who have done so; 5.38and it is the very person who had supplied information against myself with whom they have made away. Had I myself been responsible for his disappearance, had I refused to surrender him to the prosecution or declined to establish the truth in some other way, they would have treated that very fact as most significant: it would have furnished the strongest presumption in their favor that I was guilty. So now that they themselves have declined to submit to an inquiry, in spite of a challenge from my friends to do so, that fact should in the same way furnish a presumption in my favor that the charge which they are bringing is a false one. note 5.39They further allege that the slave admitted under torture that he had been my accomplice in the murder. I maintain that he did not say this; what he said was that he conducted Herodes and myself off the boat, and that after I had murdered him, he helped me pick him up and put him in the boat; then he threw him into the sea. 5.40Also let me point out to you that at the start, before being placed on the wheel, in fact, until extreme pressure was brought to bear, the man adhered to the truth and declared me innocent. It was only when on the wheel, and when driven to it, that he falsely incriminated me, in order to put an end to the torture. 5.41When it was over, he ceased affirming that I had had any part in the crime; indeed, at the end he bemoaned the injustice with which both I and he were being sent to our doom: not that he was trying to do me a kindness—hardly that, after falsely accusing me as he had done; no, the truth left him no choice: he was confirming as true the declaration which he had made to begin with. 5.42Then there was the second man. note He had travelled on the same boat as I: had been present throughout the voyage: and had been constantly in my company. When tortured in the same way, he confirmed the first and last statements of the other as true; for he declared me innocent from start to finish. On the other hand, the assertions made by the other upon the wheel, made not because they were the truth, but because they were wrung from him, he contradicted. Thus, while the one said that it was not until I had left the boat that I killed Herodes, and that he had himself helped me to remove the body after the murder, the other maintained that I did not leave the boat at all. 5.43And indeed, the probabilities are in my favor; I hardly imagine myself to have been so benighted that after planning the murder on my own to ensure that no one was privy to it—for there lay my one great danger—I proceeded to furnish myself with witnesses and confederates once the crime had been committed. 5.44Furthermore, Herodes was murdered very close to the sea and the boats, or so we are told by the prosecution. Was a man who was struck down by but one assailant not going to shout out or attract the attention of those on shore or on board? Moreover, sounds can be heard note over much greater distances by night than by day, on a beach than in a city. Moreover, it is admitted that the passengers were still awake when Herodes left the boat. 5.45Again, he was murdered on shore and placed in the boat; yet no trace or bloodstain was found either on shore or in the boat, in spite of the fact that it was at night that he was picked up and at night that he was placed in the boat. Do you think that any human being in such circumstances would have been able to smooth out the traces on shore and wipe away the marks on the boat, clues which a calm and collected man could not have removed successfully even by daylight? What probability is there in such a suggestion, gentlemen? 5.46One thing above all you must remember, and I hope that you will forgive me for repeatedly stressing the same point; but my danger is great, and only if you form a right judgement, am I safe; if you are misled, I am doomed. I repeat, let no one cause you to forget that the prosecution put the informer to death, that they used every effort to prevent his appearance in court and to make it impossible for me to take him and examine him under torture on my return; 5.47although to allow me to do so was to their own advantage. note Instead, they bought the slave and put him to death, entirely on their own initiative—put the informer himself to death, without any official sanction, and without the excuse that he was guilty of the murder. They should of course have kept him in custody, or surrendered him to my friends on security, or else handed him over to the magistrates of Athens in order that his fate might be decided by a court. As it was, you sentenced him to death on your own authority and executed him, when even an allied state is denied the right of inflicting the death-penalty in such fashion without the consent of the Athenian people. note You thought fit to let the present court decide the merits of his statements; but you pass judgement on his acts yourselves. 5.48Why, even slaves who have murdered their masters and been caught red-handed are not put to death by the victim's own relatives; they are handed over to the authorities as the ancient laws of your country ordain. If it is a fact that a slave is allowed to give evidence that a free man is guilty of murder, if a master can seek vengeance for the murder of his slave, should he see fit, and if a court can sentence the murderer of a slave as effectively as it can the murderer of a free man, note it follows that the slave in question should have had a public trial, instead of being put to death by you without a hearing. Thus it is you who deserve to be on trial far rather than I, who am being being accused this day so undeservedly. 5.49And now, gentlemen, consider further the statements of the two witnesses tortured. What are the fair and reasonable conclusions to be drawn from them? The slave gave two accounts: at one time he maintained that I was guilty, at another that I was not. 5.50On the other hand, in spite of similar torture, the free man has not even yet said anything to damage me. He could not be influenced by offers of freedom, as his companion had been; and at the same time he was determined to cling to the truth, cost what it might. Of course, as far as his own advantage was concerned, he knew, like the other, that the torture would be over as soon as he corroborated the prosecution. Which, then, have we more reason to believe: the witness who firmly adhered to the same statement throughout, or the witness who affirmed a thing at one moment, and denied it at the next? Why, quite apart from the torture employed, those who consistently keep to one statement about one set of facts are more to be trusted than those who contradict themselves. 5.51Then again, of the slave's statements half are in favor of one side, half in favor of the other: his affirmations support my accusers, and his denials support me. [Similarly with the combined statements of both the witnesses examined: the one affirmed, and the other consistently denied.] note But I need not point out that any equal division is to the advantage of the defence rather than the prosecution, in view of the fact that an equal division of the votes of the jury similarly benefits the defence rather than the prosecution. 5.52Such was the examination under torture on which the prosecution rely, gentlemen, when they say that they are convinced that I am the murderer of Herodes. Yet if I had had anything whatsoever on my conscience, if I had committed a crime of this kind, I should have got rid of both witnesses while I had the opportunity, either by taking them with me to Aenus or by shipping them to the mainland. note I should not have left the men who knew the truth behind to inform against me. 5.53The prosecution further allege that they discovered on board a note stating that I had killed Herodes, which I had intended to send to Lycinus. But what need had I to send a note, when the bearer himself was my accomplice? Not only would he, as one of the murderers, have told the story more clearly in his own words, but it would have been quite unnecessary to conceal the message from him, and it is essentially messages which cannot be disclosed to the bearer that are sent in writing. 5.54Then again, an extensive message would have had to be written down, as its length would have prevented the bearer remembering it. But this one was brief enough to deliver—“The man is dead.” Moreover, bear in mind that the note contradicted the slave tortured, and the slave the note. The slave stated under torture that he had committed the murder himself, note whereas the note when opened revealed the fact that I was the murderer. 5.55Which are we to believe? The prosecution discovered the note on board only during a second search, not during their first one; they had not hit on the idea at the time. It was not until the first witness had said nothing to incriminate me when tortured that they dropped the note in the boat, in order to have that, if nothing else, as a ground for accusing me. 5.56Then, once the note had been read and the second witness, when tortured, persisted in disagreeing with the note, it was impossible to spirit away the message read from it. Needless to say, had the prosecution supposed that they would induce the slave to lie about me immediately, they would never have devised the message contained in the note. Call me witnesses to confirm these facts. Witnesses 5.57Now what was my motive in murdering Herodes? For there was not even any bad feeling between us. The prosecution have the audacity to suggest that I murdered him as a favor. But who has ever turned murderer to oblige a friend? No one, I am sure. The bitterest feeling has to exist before murder is committed, while the growth of the design is always abundantly manifest. And, as I said, between Herodes and myself there was no bad feeling. 5.58Well and good. Then was it that I was afraid of being murdered by him myself? A motive of that kind might well drive a man to the deed. No, I had no such fears with regard to him. Then was I going to enrich myself by the murder? No, he had no money. 5.59Indeed, it would be more intelligible and nearer the truth for me to maintain that money was at the bottom of your own attempt to secure my death than it is for you to suggest it as my motive in murdering Herodes. You yourself deserve to be convicted of murder by my relatives for killing me far more than I by you and the family of Herodes. Of your designs on my life I have clear proof: whereas you, in seeking to make an end of me, produce only a tale of which proof is impossible. 5.60I assure you that I personally can have had no motive for murdering Herodes; but I must apparently clear Lycinus as well as myself by showing the absurdity of the charge in his case also. I assure you that his position with regard to Herodes was the same as my own. He had no means of enriching himself by the murder; and there was no danger from which the death of Herodes released him. 5.61Further, the following consideration indicates most strikingly that he did not desire his death: had redress for some old injury been owing to Lycinus, he could have brought Herodes into court on a charge which endangered his life, and have enlisted the help of your laws in making an end of him. By proving him a criminal he could have gained both his own object and your city's gratitude. This he did not trouble to do: he did not even attempt to institute proceedings against him, in spite of the fact that he was running a more honorable risk <by bringing Herodes into court than by engaging me to murder him. Call me witnesses to confirm these facts.> note Witnesses 5.62So we are to understand that Lycinus left Herodes in peace as far as an action at law was concerned, and instead chose the one course which was bound to endanger both himself and me, that of plotting his death, notwithstanding the fact that, if discovered, he would have deprived me of my country and himself of his rights before heaven and mankind, and of all that men hold most sacred and most precious. I will go further: I will adopt the standpoint of the prosecution: I will admit as readily as you like that Lycinus did desire the death of Herodes. Does it follow that I should ever have been induced to perform in his stead a deed which he refused to commit with his own hand? 5.63Was I, for instance, in a position to risk my life, and he in a position to hire me to do so? No, I had money, and he had none. On the contrary, the probabilities show that he would have been induced to commit the crime by me sooner than I by him; for even after suffering an execution for a debt of seven minae, he could not release himself from prison: his friends had to purchase his release. In fact, this affords the clearest indication of the relations between Lycinus and myself; it shows that my friendship with him was hardly close enough to make me willing to satisfy his every wish. I cannot suppose that I braved the enormous risk which murder involved to oblige him, after refusing to pay off seven minae for him when he was suffering the hardships of imprisonment. 5.64I have proved, then, to the best of my ability that both Lycinus and I are innocent. However, the prosecution make endless play with the argument that Herodes has disappeared; and doubtless it is a fact which you want explained. Now if it is conjecture which is expected of me, you are just as capable of it as I am—we are both alike innocent of the crime; on the other hand, if it is the truth, the prosecution must ask one of the criminals: he would best be able to satisfy them. 5.65The utmost that I who am not guilty can reply is that I am not guilty; whereas the criminal can easily reveal the facts, or at least make a good guess. Criminals no sooner commit a crime than they invent an explanation to suit it note; on the other hand, an innocent man can scarcely guess the answer to what is a mystery to him. Each of you yourselves, I am sure, if asked something which he did not happen to know, would simply reply reply to that effect; and if told to say more, you would find yourselves, I think, in a serious difficulty. 5.66So do not present me with a difficulty which you yourselves would not find easy of solution. Furthermore, do not make my acquittal depend on my making plausible conjectures. Let it be enough for me to prove my innocence of the crime; and that depends not upon my discovering how Herodes disappeared or met his end, but upon my possessing no motive whatever for murdering him. 5.67As I know from report, there have been similar cases in the past, when sometimes the victim, sometimes the murderer, has not been traced; it would be unfair, were those who had been in their company held responsible. Many, again, have been accused before now of the crimes of others, and have lost their lives before the truth became known. 5.68For instance, the murderers of one of your own citizens, Ephialtes, note have remained undiscovered to this day; it would have been unfair to his companions to require them to conjecture who his assassins were under pain of being held guilty of the murder themselves. Moreover, the murderers of Ephialtes made no attempt to get rid of the body, for fear of the accompanying risk of publicity—unlike myself, who, we are told, took no one into my confidence when planning the crime, but then sought help for the removal of the corpse. 5.69Once more, a slave, not twelve years old, recently attempted to murder his master. Had he had the courage to stay where he was, instead of taking to his heels in terror at his victim's cries, leaving the knife in the wound, the entire household note would have perished, as no one would have dreamed him capable of such audacity. As it was, he was caught, and later confessed his own guilt.

Then again, your Hellenotamiae note were once accused of embezzlement, as wrongfully as I am accused today. Anger swept reason aside, and they were all put to death save one. Later the true facts became known. 5.70This one, whose name is said to have been Sosias, though under sentence of death, had not yet been executed. Meanwhile it was shown how the money had disappeared. The Athenian people rescued him from the very hands of the Eleven note: while the rest had died entirely innocent. 5.71You older ones remember this yourselves, I expect, and the younger have heard of it like myself.

Thus it is wise to let time help us in testing the truth of a matter. Perhaps the circumstances of Herodes' death will similarly come to light hereafter; so do not discover that you have put an innocent man to death when it is too late. Weigh the matter carefully while there is yet time, without anger and without prejudice: for they are the worst of counsellors; 5.72it is impossible for an angry man to make a right decision, as anger destroys his one instrument of decision, his judgement. The lapse of one day after another, gentlemen, has a wondrous power of liberating the judgement from the sway of passion and of bringing the truth to light. 5.73Remember too that it is pity which I deserve from you, not punishment. Wrongdoers should be punished: those wrongfully imperilled should be pitied. You must never let your power to satisfy justice by saving my life be overridden by my enemies' desire to outrage it by putting me to death. A delay will still allow you to take the awful step which the prosecution urge upon you; whereas haste will make a fair consideration of the case quite impossible. 5.74I must also defend my father although, as my father, it would have been far more natural for him to be defending me. He is far older than I, and knows what my life has been whereas I am far younger than he, and cannot know what his has been. If my accuser were on trial, and I were giving evidence against him based on hearsay instead of certain knowledge, he would protest that he was being treated monstrously; 5.75yet he sees nothing monstrous in forcing me to explain occurrences with which I am far too young to be acquainted save from hearsay. However, as a loyal son, I will use what knowledge I have to defend my father against the unwarranted abuse to which you have been listening. Possibly indeed I may fail. I may describe but faultily a life which was without fault. But none the less, I will accept that risk. 5.76Before the revolt of Mytilene note my father gave visible proof of his devotion to your interests. When, however, the city as a whole was so ill-advised as to commit the blunder of revolting, note he was forced to join the city as a whole in that blunder. Not but what even then his feelings towards you remained unchanged: although he could no longer display his devotion in the old way. It was not easy for him to leave the city, as the ties which bound him, his children, and his property, were strong ones; nor yet could he set it at defiance as long as he remained there. 5.77But from the moment that you punished the authors of the revolt—of whom my father was not found to be one—and granted the other citizens of Mytilene an amnesty which allowed them to continue living on their own land, note he has not been guilty of a single fault, of a single lapse from duty. He has failed neither the city of Athens nor that of Mytilene, when a public service was demanded of him; he regularly furnishes choruses, and always pays the imposts. note 5.78If Aenus is his favorite place of resort, that fact does not mean that he is evading any of his obligations towards Athens, note or that he has become the citizen of another city, like those others, some of whom I see crossing to the mainland and settling among your enemies, while the rest actually litigate with you under treaty; note nor does it mean that he desires to be beyond the reach of the Athenian courts. It means that he shares your own hatred of those who thrive on prosecution. 5.79The act which my father joined his whole city in committing, which he committed not from choice but under compulsion, affords no just ground for punishing him individually. The mistake then made will live in the memory of every citizen of Mytilene. They exchanged great prosperity for great misery, and saw their country pass into the possession of others. Nor again must you be influenced by the distorted account of my father's conduct as an individual with which you have been presented. Nothing but money is at the bottom of this elaborate attack upon him and myself; and unfortunately there are many circumstances which favor those who seek to lay hands on the goods of others; my father is too old to help me: and I am far too young to be able to avenge myself as I should. 5.80You must help me: you must refuse to reach those who make a trade of prosecution to become more powerful than yourselves. If they achieve their purpose when they appear before you, it will be a lesson to their victims to compromise with them and avoid open court; but if by appearing before you they succeed only in gaining an evil reputation for themselves, you will enjoy the honor and the power which it is right that you should. So give me and give justice your support. 5.81Proof as complete as the presumptions and the evidence supplied by things human could make it has now been presented to you. But in cases of this nature the indications furnished by heaven must also have no small influence on your verdict. note It is upon them that you chiefly depend for safe guidance in affairs of state, whether in times of crisis or tranquillity; so they should be allowed equal prominence and weight in the settlement of private questions. 5.82I hardly think I need remind you that many a man with unclean hands or some other form of defilement who has embarked on shipboard with the righteous has involved them in his own destruction. note Others, while they have escaped death, have had their lives imperilled owing to such polluted wretches. Many, too, have been proved to be defiled as they stood beside a sacrifice, because they prevented the proper performance of the rites. 5.83With me the opposite has happened in every case. Not only have fellow-passengers of mine enjoyed the calmest of voyages: but whenever I have attended a sacrifice, that sacrifice has invariably been successful. I claim that these facts furnish the strongest presumption in my favor that the charge brought against me by the prosecution is unfounded; I have witnesses to confirm them. Witnesses 5.84I know furthermore, gentlemen of the jury, that if the witnesses were testifying against me that my presence on shipboard or at a sacrifice had been the occasion of some unholy manifestation, the prosecution would be treating that fact as supremely significant; they would be showing that here, in the signs from heaven, was to be found the clearest confirmation of their charge. As, however, the signs have contradicted their assertions and the witnesses testify that what I say is true and that what the prosecution say is not, they urge you to put no credence in the evidence of those witnesses; according to them, it is their own statements which you should believe. Whereas every one else uses the facts to prove the worth of mere assertion, they use mere assertion for the purpose of discrediting the facts. 5.85All the charges which I can remember, gentlemen, I have answered; and for your own sakes I think that you should acquit me. A verdict saving my life will alone enable you to comply with the law and your oath; for you have sworn to return a lawful verdict; and while the crime with which I am charged can still be tried legally, the laws under which I was arrested do not concern my case. note If two trials have been made out of one, it is not I, but my accusers, who are to blame; and I cannot suppose that if my bitterest enemies have involved me in two trials, impartial ministers of justice like yourselves will prematurely find me guilty of murder in the present one. 5.86Beware of such haste, gentlemen; give time its opportunity; it is time which enables those who seek the truth to find it with certainty. In fact, gentlemen, I for one have always maintained that, while a case of this kind should certainly be tried according to law, the rights of the matter should be established as many times as the law will permit, since they would thus be the better understood; the repeated trial of a case is a good friend of the truth and the deadly foe of misrepresentation. 5.87In a trial for murder, note even if judgement is wrongly given against the defendant, justice and the facts cannot prevail against that decision. Once you condemn me, I must perforce obey your verdict and the law, even if I am not the murderer or concerned in the crime. No one would venture either to disregard the sentence passed upon him because he was sure that he had had no part in the crime, or to disobey the law if he knew in his heart that he was guilty of such a deed. He has to submit to the verdict in defiance of the facts, or submit to the facts themselves, as the case may be, above all if his victim has none to avenge him. note 5.88The laws, the oaths, the sacrifices, the proclamations, in fact the entire proceeding in connection with trials for murder differ as profoundly as they do from the proceedings elsewhere simply because it is of supreme importance that the facts at issue, upon which so much turns, should themselves be rightly interpreted. Such a right interpretation means vengeance for him who has been wronged; whereas to find an innocent man guilty of murder is a mistake, and a sinful mistake, which offends both gods and laws. 5.89Nor is it as serious for the prosecutor to accuse the wrong person as it is for you jurors to reach a wrong verdict. The charge brought by the prosecutor is not in itself effective; whether it becomes so, depends upon you, sitting in judgement. On the other hand if you yourselves, when actually sitting in judgement, return a wrong verdict, you cannot rid yourselves of the responsibility for the mistake by blaming someone else for that verdict. 5.90Then how can you decide the case aright? By allowing the prosecution to bring their charge only after taking the customary oath, and by allowing me to confine my defence to the question before the court. And how will you do this? By acquitting me today. For I do not escape your sentence even so: you will be the judges at the second hearing also. note If you spare me now, you can treat me as you will then; whereas once you put me to death, you cannot even consider my case further. 5.91Indeed, supposing that you were bound to make some mistake, it would be less of an outrage to acquit me unfairly than to put me to death without just cause; for the one thing is a mistake and nothing more: the other is a sin in addition. You must exercise the greatest caution in what you do, because you will not be able to reconsider your action. In a matter which admits of reconsideration a mistake, whether made through giving rein to the feelings or through accepting a distorted account of the facts, is not so serious; it is still possible to change one's mind and come to a right decision. But when reconsideration is impossible, the wrong done is only increased by altering one's mind and acknowledging one's mistake. Some of you yourselves have in fact repented before now of having sent men to their death; but when you, who had been misled, felt repentance, most assuredly did those who had misled you deserve death. 5.92Moreover, whereas involuntary mistakes are excusable, voluntary mistakes are not; for an involuntary mistake is due to chance, gentlemen, a voluntary one to the will. And what could be more voluntary than the immediate putting into effect of a carefully considered course of action? Furthermore, the wrongful taking of life by one's vote is just as criminal as the wrongful taking of life by one's hand. 5.93Rest assured that I should never have come to Athens, had such a crime been on my conscience. I am here, as it is, because I have faith in justice, the most precious ally of the man who has no deed of sin upon his conscience and who has committed no transgression against the gods. Often at such an hour as this, when the body has given up the struggle, its salvation is the spirit, which is ready to fight on in the conscience that it is innocent. On the other hand, he whose conscience is guilty has no worse enemy than that conscience; for his spirit fails him which his body is still unwearied, because it feels that what is approaching him is the punishment of his iniquities. But it is with no such guilty conscience that I come before you. 5.94There is nothing remarkable in the fact that the prosecution are misrepresenting me. It is expected of them just as it is expected of you not to consent to do what is wrong. I say this because if you follow my advice, it is still open to you to regret your action, and that regret can be remedied by punishing me at the second trial: whereas if you obediently carry out the prosecution's wishes, the situation cannot be righted again. Nor is there a question of a long interval before the law will allow you to take the step to which the prosecution are today urging you to consent in defiance of it. It is not haste, but discretion which triumphs; so take cognizance of the case today: pass judgement on it later note; form an opinion as to the truth today: decide upon it later. 5.95It is very easy, remember, to give false evidence against a man on a capital charge. If you are persuaded only for an instant to put him to death, he has lost his chance of redress with his life. A man's very friends will refuse to seek redress for him once he is dead; and even if they are prepared to do so, what good is it to one who has lost his life? 5.96Acquit me, then, today and at the trial for murder the prosecution shall take the traditional oath before accusing me: you shall decide my case by the laws of the land: and I, if I am unlucky, shall have no grounds left for complaining that I was sentenced to death illegally. That is my request; and in making it I am not forgetting your duty as godfearing men or depriving myself of my rights, as my life is bound up with your oath. Respect which you will, and acquit me.



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