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

32.1Men of the jury, having entered a plea that the action is not admissible, I wish first to speak concerning the laws in accordance with which the plea was entered. The laws, men of the jury, ordain that actions for shipowners and merchants shall be upon loans for shipments to or from Athens, concerning which there shall be written agreements; and if anyone brings suit in violation of this provision, the action shall not be maintainable. 32.2Now between this man Zenothemis and myself there has been no contract or agreement in writing, as he himself acknowledges in his complaint. He states that he made a loan to Hegestratus, a shipowner, and that after the latter was lost at sea, we appropriated the cargo. This is his charge in the complaint. The same speech will suffice to prove to you that his action is not maintainable, and to make you see the whole of his plot and his rascality. 32.3I beg of you all, men of the jury, if you ever attended closely to any matter, to attend to this. You will hear of a man's audacity and villainy that go beyond all bounds, provided I am able, as I hope to be, to tell you the whole tale of what he has done.

32.4Zenothemis, who is here before you, being an underling of Hegestratus, the shipowner, who he himself in his complaint states to have been lost at sea (how, he does not add, but I will tell you), concocted with him the following fraud. Both of them borrowed money in Syracuse. Hegestratus admitted to those lending money to Zenothemis, if inquiries were made, that there was on board the ship a large amount of grain belonging to the latter; and the plaintiff admitted to those lending money to Hegestratus that the cargo of the ship was his. As one was the shipowner and the other a passenger, they were naturally believed in what they said of one another. 32.5But immediately on getting the money, they sent it home to Massalia, and put nothing on board the ship. The agreement being, as is usual in all such cases, that the money was to be paid back if the ship reached port safely, they laid a plot to sink the ship, that so they might defraud their creditors. Hegestratus, accordingly, when they were two or three days' voyage from land, went down by night into the hold of the vessel, and began to cut a hole in the ship's bottom, while Zenothemis, as though knowing nothing about it, remained on deck with the rest of the passengers. When the noise was heard, those on the vessel saw that something wrong was going on in the hold, and rushed down to bear aid. 32.6Hegestratus, being caught in the act, and expecting to pay the penalty, took to flight, and, hotly pursued by the others, flung himself into the sea. It was dark, and he missed the ship's boat, and so was drowned. Thus, miserable as he was, he met a miserable end as he deserved, suffering the fate which he purposed to bring about for others. 32.7As for this fellow, his associate and accomplice, at the first on board the ship immediately after the attempted crime, just as though he knew nothing of it but was himself in utter consternation, he sought to induce the sailing-master and the seamen to embark in the boat and abandon the vessel with all speed, declaring that there was no hope of safety and that the ship would presently sink; thinking that thus their design might be accomplished, the ship be lost, and the creditors thus be robbed of their money. 32.8In this he failed, for our agent, note who was on board, opposed the plan, and promised the sailors large rewards if they should bring the ship safe into port. The ship safely brought to Cephallenia, thanks chiefly to the gods, and after them to the bravery of the seamen. Again after this he schemed together with the Massaliotes, the fellow-countrymen of Hegestratus, to prevent the vessel from completing her voyage to Athens, saying that he himself was from Massalia; that the money came from thence; and that the shipowner and the lenders were Massaliotes. 32.9In this, too, he failed; for the magistrates in Cephallenia decided that the vessel should return to Athens, from which port she had set sail. Then the man, whom no one would have thought audacious enough to come here, after having plotted and wrought such deeds—this man, Athenians, has so surpassed all in shamelessness and audacity, that he has not only come, but has actually laid claim to my grain, and has brought suit against me!

32.10What, then, is the reason for this? And what can have induced the fellow to come here and commence this suit? I will tell you, men of the jury, though Heaven knows it gives me pain to do so; but I must. There exists in the Peiraeus a gang of scoundrels note closely leagued with one another. 32.11You would know them at once, should you see them. When this man Zenothemis was scheming to prevent the vessel from completing her voyage to Athens we chose one of these men after consulting with one another note as our representative. He was known to us after a fashion, but we had no idea of his real character. This was in fact a piece of misfortune for us as great, if so much may be said, as our having to deal with rascals at the start. This man who was sent out by us—his name was Aristophon, and he is the same one, as we now hear, who managed the business of Miccalion—has entered into an agreement with the plaintiff, and has sold him his services. In a word he is the one who is managing the whole affair, and Zenothemis has been glad to accept this help. 32.12For when he failed in his scheme to destroy the vessel, not being able to pay back their money to his creditors—how could he pay, when at the start he had put nothing on board?—he lays claim to my goods, and declares that he has lent money to Hegestratus on the security of the grain which our agent sailing with him had purchased. The creditors, who had been deceived in the first instance, seeing that instead of receiving their money, they have a scoundrel as their debtor and nothing more, and hoping that, if you are imposed upon by Zenothemis, they may recover their own out of my property, are forced to make common cause with him in order to protect their own interests, although they know him to be making these false charges against me.

32.13Such, to speak briefly, is the matter on which you are to cast your votes. But I wish first to bring before you the witnesses to what I am saying, and then to instruct you regarding other aspects of the case.

Please read the depositions.Depositions

32.14When the vessel arrived here—for the Cephallenians ordered, despite the plaintiff's machinations, that it should put into the port from which it first sailed—those who had lent money on the ship immediately took possession of her, and the man who had bought the grain took possession of it; he was the one who had borrowed the money of us. After this the plaintiff came, having with him Aristophon, the man sent out as our representative, and laid claim to the grain, saying that he had lent money to Hegestratus. 32.15“What are you saying, fellow?” exclaimed Protus immediately. (This was the name of the man who imported the grain, and who owed us the money.) “Is it you who have given money to Hegestratus, you who aided him to deceive the others, that he might borrow of them? Would you who often heard him say that those who ventured their money would lose it, would you, I say, hearing this, have ventured yours?” “Yes,” said he impudently. “Well, then,” interrupted one of those present, “if what you say is never so true, your partner and fellow-countryman, Hegestratus, has taken you in, it appears, and for that has passed sentence of death upon himself, and is dead.” 32.16“Yes,” said another of the bystanders, “and that this fellow has co-operated with Hegestratus in the whole matter, I will give you a proof. For before the attempt was made to cut through the ship's bottom, this man and Hegestratus deposited with one of the ship's company a written agreement. Yet, if you had confidence in him when you gave the money, why should you have sought some security for yourself before the crime? But if you distrusted him, why did you not, like the others, get a legal acknowledgement before sailing?” 32.17But why relate all that was said? We made no progress by all this talking; he held on to the grain. Protus tried to put him out, and so did Phertatus, Protus's partner; but he wouldn't budge, declaring point-blank that he would not be put out of possession by anyone, unless I myself should put him out. note 32.18After this Protus and I challenged him to go before the Syracusan authorities, and, if it should be shown that Protus had bought the grain, that the customs duties were recorded in his name, and that it was he who had paid the price, we demanded that Zenothemis be punished as a rascal; if this were not proved, we agreed that he should receive back all he had expended and a talent in addition and that we would relinquish our claim to the grain. Despite this challenge and all that Protus and I could say, we made no progress, but I had to choose either to put Zenothemis out, or to lose my property which had been brought safe to port and was there before my eyes. 32.19Protus on his part adjured us by the gods to put him out, declaring himself ready to sail back to Sicily; but if, despite this willingness of his, I should give up the grain to Zenothemis, he said it made no difference to him. To prove that I am telling the truth in this—that the plaintiff refused to be put out of possession except by me, that he refused the challenge to sail back to Sicily, and that he deposited the agreement in the course of the voyage—read the depositions.Depositions

32.20When, therefore, he refused to be put out of possession by Protus, or to sail back to Sicily for an equitable settlement, and when it was proved that he was an accomplice in all the villainy of Hegestratus, the only course left for us, who had lent our money here at Athens and had taken over the grain from the man who had honestly purchased it there in Sicily, was to dispossess the plaintiff. 32.21What else could we have done? Not one of us partners had as yet any idea that you would ever declare the grain to be this man's property—grain which he tried to induce the sailors to abandon, that it might be lost by the sinking of the ship. This fact is the strongest proof that none of it belonged to him; for who would have tried to induce those who were attempting to save it to abandon grain which belonged to himself? Or who would not have accepted the challenge and have sailed to Sicily, where these matters might have been clearly proved? 32.22And surely I was not going to have so poor an opinion of you as to imagine that you would vote to allow this man to enter a suit regarding these goods, whose entry into your port he had sought by every means to prevent,—first when he tried to induce the sailors to abandon them, and again when in Cephallenia he strove to prevent the ship from sailing here. 32.23Would it not be a shameful and outrageous thing, if Cephallenians, in order to save property for Athenians, ordered the ship to be brought here, but you, who are Athenians, should order the property of your citizens to be given up to those who wished to throw it into the sea, and should allow this fellow to enter an action for goods which he schemed to prevent from being brought here at all? Do not do that, I implore you by Zeus and the Gods. Now read, please, the special plea which I entered.Plea

Now please read the law.Law

32.24That my plea that the action is not admissible is in harmony with the laws, has, I think, been sufficiently proved; but you must hear the trick of this clever fellow Aristophon, who has concocted the whole scheme. When they saw that, in the light of the facts, they had absolutely no basis of right, they made overtures to Protus, and induced him to leave the matter wholly in their hands. From the first, as has now become plain to us, they had been working to this end, but had been unable to carry their point. 32.25For Protus, so long as he thought to get a profit for himself from the grain by going, clung to it, and chose rather to make his profit, and to render to us what was our due, than to make common cause with these men, sharing with them the advantage gained and doing us an injury. But when, after he had come back here and was negotiating about these matters, grain fell in price, he straightway changed his mind. 32.26At the same time (for, men of Athens, the whole truth shall be told you), we on our part, who had made the loan, came to a quarrel and felt bitter against him (for the loss on the grain was falling on us), and charged that he had secured for us this pettifogging scoundrel instead of our money. After this, being manifestly none too honest by nature, he went over to their side, and agreed to let judgement go by default in the suit which Zenothemis had brought against him before they had come to an agreement with one another. 32.27For, if he had dropped his suit against Protus, it would have been made clear at once that his action against us was a malicious one, and Protus would not consent to have judgement given against him while he was here present, in order that, if they should do for him what they had agreed—well and good; but, if not, he might have the judgement by default set aside. But why speak of all this? If Protus really did what Zenothemis here has written in his complaint, he justly deserves, as it seems to me at least, not merely to have judgement given against him, but to be put to death. For if in danger and tempest he drank so much wine as to be like a madman, what punishment does he not deserve to suffer? 32.28Or, if he stole documents, or secretly broke the seals? However, the facts regarding all these things you will determine in your own minds; but, Zenothemis, do not mix up that action with mine. If Protus has wronged you in word or deed, you have, it seems, had satisfaction. No one of us sought to hinder you, or now begs for leniency for him. If you have brought a baseless charge against him, that is no affair of ours. Ah, but the fellow has disappeared. 32.29Yes; thanks to you, who wished to deprive us of his testimony, and to be able yourselves to say against him whatever you please. For if the judgement by default had not been of your own contriving, you would at the same time have called him before the Polemarch, and have had him put under bail; and, if he had appointed sureties, he would have been forced to remain, or you would have had persons from whom you could recover damages; if he had not given bail, he would have gone to prison. note 32.30But, as it is, you have made common cause; he thinks that through your help he will escape paying us the deficiency that has come about; and you, through accusing him, hope to get control of my property. Here is a proof of this. I shall summon him as a witness; you, Zenothemis, did not have him put under bail, nor do you now summon him.

32.31There is yet another way in which they hope to deceive and trick you. They will accuse Demosthenes, and will say that I relied upon his help when I put Zenothemis out of possession of the grain, assuming that this charge will be credited because he is an orator and a well-known personage. Demosthenes, men of Athens, is indeed my blood-relation (I swear to you by all the gods that I shall speak the truth), 32.32but when I approached him, and entreated him to be present and to aid me in any way he could, he said to me, ”Demo, I will do as you bid me; it would be cruel to refuse you. You must, however, consider both your own circumstances and mine. My own position is this: from the time when I first began to speak on public affairs I have not come forward to plead in a single private case, but . . . note 320

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