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Philip's Letter

12.1Philip to the Council and People of Athens, greeting.

To the embassies that I have repeatedly dispatched to ensure the observance of our oaths and agreements you have paid no attention, so that I am forced to send you a statement of the matters in which I consider myself wronged. But you must not be surprised at the length of the letter, for I have many charges to prefer, and it is necessary to put them all clearly and frankly.

12.2In the first place, when Nicias, my herald, was kidnapped note from my territory, you not only failed to bring the law-breakers to justice, but you kept the victim a prisoner for ten months, and the letters from me, of which he was the bearer, you read before your Assembly. Next, when the Thasians opened their harbor to the Byzantine war-galleys and to any pirates that chose to touch there, you ignored the incident, in spite of the clauses expressly denouncing such acts as hostile. 12.3Furthermore, about the same date, Diopithes note attacked Crobyle and Tiristasis and enslaved the inhabitants, laying waste the adjacent parts of Thrace. But his crowning act of lawlessness was the arrest of Amphilochus, the ambassador sent to negotiate for the captives; he subjected him to the severest torture and wrung from him a ransom of nine talents. And this he did with the approval of your Assembly. 12.4Yet violation of the rights of heralds and ambassadors is regarded by all men as an act of impiety, and by none more than by you, if I may judge from the fact that, when the Megarians arrested Anthemocritus, note your Assembly went to the length of excluding them from the celebration of the mysteries, and actually erected a statue before the city gates to commemorate the outrage. Yet is it not monstrous that you are now yourselves notoriously guilty of acts which, when you were the victims, excited in you such detestation of the perpetrators? 12.5Again, your general, Callias, note captured the cities on the Pagasaean Gulf, every one of them, though they were protected by treaty with you and were in alliance with me all merchants sailing to Macedonia he regarded as enemies and sold them into slavery. And for this you passed him a vote of thanks! So I am at a loss to say what difference it will make if you admit that you are at war with me, for when we were openly at variance, then too you used to send out privateers, enslave merchants trading with us, help my adversaries, and lay waste my territory.

12.6Not content with this, you have shown your contempt for right and your hostility to me by actually sending an embassy to urge the king of Persia to declare war on me. This is the most amazing exploit of all; for, before the king reduced Egypt and Phoenicia, note you passed a decree calling on me to make common cause with the rest of the Greeks against him, in case he attempted to interfere with us; 12.7and today you have such a superabundance of hatred for me that you negotiate with him for a defensive alliance. Yet I am given to understand that your fathers of old punished the sons of Pisistratus for inviting the Persians to invade Greece. You are not ashamed to do what you have always made a matter of indictment against your tyrants.

12.8But there is more to come. In your decrees you order me in so many words to leave Thrace to the rule of Teres note and Cersobleptes, because they are Athenians. But I am not aware that these two had any share with you in the terms of peace, or that their names were included in the inscription set up, or that they are really Athenians. On the contrary, I know that Teres fought with me against you, and that Cersobleptes was quite ready in private to take the oath of allegiance to my ambassadors, but was prevented by your generals, who denounced him as an enemy of the Athenians. 12.9And yet is it fair and right that, when it suits your convenience, you should call him an enemy of your state, but, when you want to bully me, the same man should be described as your fellow-citizen; and that on the death of Sitalces, note on whom you did confer your citizenship, you should at once cultivate the friendship of his murderer, and pick a quarrel with us to shield Cersobleptes? And all the time you know perfectly well that of those who receive such honors at your hands not one cares a jot for your laws or your decrees. 12.10However, if I may mention two instances to the exclusion of the rest, you gave your citizenship to Evagoras note of Cyprus and to Dionysius note of Syracuse, to them and their descendants. Now, if you can persuade either of these peoples to restore their exiled tyrants, then you may apply to me for as much of Thrace as was ruled by Teres and Cersobleptes. But if you have not a word to say against those who overthrew Evagoras and Dionysius, but persist in harassing me, have I not a perfect right to defend myself against you?

12.11Now I prefer to pass over many complaints that I might justly make, but I admit that I am helping the Cardians, note for I was their ally before the peace, and you refused to submit your claim to arbitration, though you were often pressed to do so by me, and not infrequently by the Cardians. Should I not be utterly contemptible if I threw over my allies and paid more regard to you, who are harassing me in every way, than to those who have always been my staunch friends?

12.12The following affront also should not be passed over. Though formerly you confined yourselves to the charges I have mentioned, your arrogance is now such that, when the people of Peparethus note complained of the latest “outrage,” you instructed your general to demand redress from me on their behalf. I actually punished them less rigorously than they deserved, for they seized Halonnesus in time of peace and refused to restore either the fortress or the garrison in spite of my repeated remonstrances. 12.13But you, with full knowledge of the facts, ignored their offences against me, and only considered their punishment. Yet I robbed neither them nor you of the island, but only the pirate chief, Sostratus. Now, if you say that you handed it over to Sostratus, you admit that you employ pirates; if he captured it against your wishes, why this indignation against me for taking it and making the district safe for traders? 12.14In my regard for the interests of your city, I offered you the island, but your statesmen urged you to refuse it as a gift and demand it as an act of restitution, in order that, if I submit to their dictation, I may thereby confess that I have no right to the place, but if I do not give it up, I may arouse the suspicions of your democracy. Conscious of this, I challenged you to submit our claims to arbitration, so that if the island was adjudged to be mine, I might give it to you; if yours, then I might restore it to your people. 12.15I repeatedly demanded a trial, but you paid me no attention, and the Peparethians occupied the island. What, then, was I to do? Was I not to punish those who had violated their oaths? Was I not to take vengeance for such a wanton outrage? For if the island belonged to the Peparethians, what right had the Athenians to demand it back? If it was yours, why are you not angry with the Peparethians for seizing the territory of others?

12.16Our mutual hostility has become so acute that, when I wanted to convey my fleet to the Hellespont, I was compelled to escort it with my army through the Chersonese, because your settlers there were at war with us in accordance with the decree of Polycrates, note backed up by your resolutions, and your general was inciting the Byzantines and publicly announcing that your orders were to make war on me, if he got the chance. In spite of this provocation, I kept my hands off the fleets and the territory of your state, though I was strong enough to seize most, if not all, of these, and I have not ceased to appeal to you to have the points in dispute between us settled by arbitration. 12.17Yet consider which is the more honorable—to settle the dispute by arms or by arguments, to be yourselves the umpires or to win the verdict from others. Also reflect how unreasonable it is that Athenians should force Thasians and Maronites note to submit to arbitration about Stryme, but should not themselves in this way settle with me the points on which we are at variance, especially when you realize that, if you lose the verdict, you will sacrifice nothing, and if you win it, you will gain territory which is now in my possession.

12.18But the crowning absurdity, I think, is that, though I sent ambassadors from all my allies to attend as witnesses, and was willing to come to a just agreement with you in the interests of the Greek world, you turned a deaf ear to the representations of the ambassadors, when you might perfectly well have relieved the fears of those who attributed sinister motives to me, or else have proved me beyond all doubt the most worthless of mankind. 12.19Such a course was indeed in the interests of your people, but it would not have paid your talkers. For those who have any experience of your constitution say that to the orators peace means war and war means peace; because they always manage to make something out of the generals either by backing them up or by blackmailing them, and also, by abusing from the Public platform your most prominent citizens and the most esteemed of your foreign residents, they win a reputation with the mob for democratic zeal.

12.20Now it would be easy for me, at a trifling expense, to stop their abuse and set them singing my praises. But I should be ashamed if I were known to purchase your goodwill from men who, besides their other faults, have reached such a height of impudence that they even venture to dispute with me about Amphipolis, to which I think I can advance a far better claim than my rivals. 12.21For, if it belongs to the original conquerors, have not we a right to hold it? It was my ancestor, Alexander, note who first occupied the site, and, as the first-fruits of the Persian captives taken there, set up a golden statue at Delphi. Or if anyone disputes this and claims it for its later owners, here again the right is mine, because I besieged and captured the city, after its inhabitants had expelled you and accepted the Lacedaemonians as their founders. note 12.22Yet we all of us occupy our cities either by inheritance from our ancestors or by right of conquest in war. But you, who were not the first to take Amphipolis, who do not possess it today, and who made the briefest sojourn in that district, now lay claim to the city, and that in spite of your own most solemn assurances in my favour. For I wrote to you again and again on the subject, and you acknowledged that I was in the right by making peace with me at a time when I was in occupation of the city, and subsequently by concluding an alliance with me on the same terms. 12.23Yet what stronger title to possession could there be than that the city was originally inherited by me from my ancestors, was again captured by me in war, and thirdly was conceded to me by you, who are in the habit of claiming even that to which you have no shadow of a right?

Such are the complaints I have to make. As you were the aggressors and, thanks to my forbearance, are making still further attacks on my interests and doing me all the harm in your power, I shall defend myself, with justice on my side, and, calling the gods to witness, I shall bring my dispute with you to an issue.

Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].
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