|Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].|
|<<Dem. 20||Dem. 21 (Greek)||>>Dem. 22|
21.1The brutality and insolence with which Meidias treats everyone alike are, I suppose, as well known to you, gentlemen of the jury, as to all other citizens. For myself, I have simply taken the course which anyone of you would have adopted, had he been the victim of a similar outrage. I lodged a plaint in the Assembly against him as an offender in connection with the festival, not only for his assault on my person at the Dionysia, but for many other acts of violence during the whole period when I served as chorus-master. 21.2But when the whole people, acting honorably and rightly, evinced such anger, such exasperation, such deep concern at the wrongs which they knew I had suffered, that, in spite of the frantic efforts of the defendant and a few supporters, they were deaf to their arguments, shut their eyes to their wealth and their promises, and condemned him by an unanimous show of hands, thereupon, gentlemen of the jury, many citizens, including some of you who are here in court, came to me and demanded and even implored that I should take the further step of bringing Meidias under your jurisdiction; and they did so, I think, for two reasons, men of
But first the clerk shall read you the law which provides for the lodging of plaints in the Assembly; after that I will try to enlighten you on other points. Recite the law. [The Prytanes shall call a meeting of the Assembly in the temple of Dionysus on the day next after the Pandia. At this meeting they shall first deal with religious matters; next they shall lay before it the plaints lodged concerning the procession or the contests at the Dionysia, namely such as have not been satisfied.]
[The Prytanes shall call a meeting of the Assembly in the temple of Dionysus on the day next after the Pandia. At this meeting they shall first deal with religious matters; next they shall lay before it the plaints lodged concerning the procession or the contests at the Dionysia, namely such as have not been satisfied.]
21.9This is the law, Athenians, which provides for the lodging of a plaint. It directs, as you have heard, that a meeting of the Assembly shall be held in the temple of Dionysus after the Pandia, and that at this meeting, when the chairmen for the day have dealt with the official acts of the chief Archon, they shall also deal with any offences or illegal acts in connection with the festival—a sound and expedient law, Athenians, as the facts of the present case attest. For when it appears that certain persons, with this threat overhanging them, can be as insolent as ever, how should we expect that such men would behave, if there were no risk and no trial to be faced?
21.10Now I want to read to you the next law as well, because it will illustrate to all of you the self-restraint of the citizens in general and the hardihood of the defendant. Read the law.
[Evegorus proposed that, on the occasion of the procession in honor of Dionysus in Peiraeus with the comedies and tragedies, the procession at the Lenaeum with the comedies and tragedies, the procession at the City Dionysia with the boys' contests and the revel and the comedies and tragedies. and also at the procession and contest of the Thargelia, it shall not be lawful on those days to distrain or to seize any debtors' property, even if they are defaulters. If anyone transgresses any of these regulations, he shall be liable to prosecution by the aggrieved party, and public plaints against him as an offender may be lodged at the meeting of the Assembly in the temple of Dionysus, as is provided by statute in the case of other offenders.]
21.11You will observe, gentlemen of the jury, that whereas in the first law the public plaint may be lodged against those who violate the laws of the festival, in the latter law you have sanctioned plaints against those who exact money from defaulting debtors or seize any property or use violence to that end. So far from thinking it right that any man's person should be outraged on those days, or that any equipment should be damaged which a citizen provides out of his private means for a public service, you have even conceded that what by law and by verdict belongs to the winner of a suit should remain the property of the loser and original owner, at any rate during the festival. 21.12You therefore, Athenians, have all risen to such a height of benevolence and piety that during those days you have even suspended the exaction of penalties due for past offences; but Meidias, as I shall prove, chose those very same days to commit offences that call for the severest punishment. I intend to describe in order each outrage of which I have been the victim, before I speak of the blows in which his attacks culminated, for there is not a single one of those attacks for which he will not be shown to have deserved death.
21.13Two years ago the tribe of Pandionis had failed to appoint a chorus-master, and when the Assembly met at which the law directs the Archons to assign the flute-players by lot to the choruses, there was a heated discussion and mutual recrimination between the Archon and the overseers of the tribe. note Thereupon I came forward and volunteered to act as chorus-master, and at the drawing of the lots I was fortunate enough to get first choice of a flute-player. 21.14You, Athenians, all of you, welcomed with the utmost cordiality both these incidents—my voluntary offer and my stroke of luck; and your cheers and applause expressed your approval of my conduct and your sympathy with my good fortune. But there seems to have been one solitary exception, Meidias, who in his chagrin kept up a constant fire of insults, trifling or serious, during the whole period of my service. 21.15Now the trouble that he caused by opposing the exemption of our chorus from military service, or by putting himself forward as overseer at the Dionysia and demanding election, these and other similar annoyances I will pass over in silence; for I am not unaware that although to myself, the victim of his persecution and insolence, each of these acts caused as much irritation as any really serious offence, yet to the rest of you, who were not directly concerned, these things in themselves would hardly seem to call for litigation. I shall therefore confine myself to what will excite indignation in all of you alike. 21.16His subsequent conduct, which I am now going to describe, passes all limits; and indeed I should never have ventured to arraign him today, had I not previously secured his immediate conviction in the Assembly. The sacred apparel—for all apparel provided for use at a festival I regard as being sacred until after it has been used—and the golden crowns,which I ordered for the decoration of the chorus, he plotted to destroy,men of
21.19These were the crimes and brutalities which Meidias committed in connection with the festival against my fellow-tribesmen and myself. It was for these, men of
I will first, then, adduce proofs of the outrages against myself, next of those against you. After that, Athenians, I will examine all the rest of his life and will show that he deserves not one death, but a thousand. First please take and read the deposition of the goldsmith.21.22
[I, Pammenes, son of Pammenes, of Erchia, have a goldsmith's shop in the Agora, where I reside and carry on my business. When Demosthenes, for whom I am a witness, commissioned me to fashion a golden crown, note and to make a gold-embroidered robe, that he might wear them at the procession in honor of Dionysus; and when I had completed them and had them ready by me, Meidias, who is being prosecuted by Demosthenes, broke into my premises by night, having also others with him, and tried to destroy the crown and the robe, and a part of them he injured, but was not able to destroy them completely, because I appeared and prevented him.]
21.23Now I have much to say also, men of
21.24But before I come to that, I want to speak about the tricks by which I am told he will try to deceive you; for I think it very necessary for me to put my remarks on that subject before you, and very important for you to hear them. Why so? Because the same argument that prevents your deception will help you to cast your votes in accordance with justice and your oath. You must pay attention to this argument above all others and bear it in mind, so as to meet each separate point in his speech.
21.25And first, it is pretty evident from his private conversation as reported to me that he will say that, if I had really suffered from him as I assert, I ought to have brought various personal suits against him, one for willful damage, arising out of the destruction of the robes and golden crowns, and another for assault, arising out of his alleged attack on my person; but that I ought most emphatically not to have brought him to a public trial and proposed a penalty or a fine which he must pay. 21.26But of one thing I am perfectly certain, and you should be equally so-that if I had not lodged the public plaint but had brought a civil action, the opposite argument would have been used against me, that if there was any truth in my statements, I ought to have lodged a public plaint and claimed redress at the time when the offences were committed; for the chorus was a state-chorus, the apparel was being prepared entirely for a public festival, and I, the aggrieved party, was official chorus-master. Who then would dream of any other form of redress than that which the law provides against those who profane a festival? 21.27I am sure that he would have said all that in those circumstances. For it is, I believe, the cue for the defendant, the man who has done a wrong, to try and shuffle out of the method actually adopted to bring him to punishment and to say that a different method should have been employed; but it is the duty of sensible jurymen to ignore such evasions and to chastise anyone whom they convict of an outrage. 21.28Do not allow him to say that the law affords me a choice of personal suits or an indictment for assault. That is true; but he has to prove that he has not done what I have charged him with, or that in doing it he has not profaned the festival, for that is the ground on which I based my public plaint against him, and that is the question on which you must presently cast your votes. But if I, waiving the profit which a private suit would bring, entrust his punishment to the State, and if I have chosen this particular form of action from which I can receive no benefit myself, then surely it ought to win me your favour and not prejudice my case.
21.29Now I know that he will also make great use of this argument: “Do not deliver me into Demosthenes' hands; do not ruin me to oblige Demosthenes. Because I am at war with him, will you ruin me?” That is the sort of language that he will, I am sure, use again and again, with the object of exciting prejudice against me. 21.30But the truth is quite otherwise. You never “deliver” a malefactor to his accuser; for when someone has been wronged, you do not exact the penalty in such a form as the injured party urges upon you in each case. On the contrary, laws were laid down by you before the particular offences were committed, when the future wrongdoer and his victim were equally unknown. What is the effect of these laws? They ensure for every citizen the opportunity of obtaining redress if he is wronged. Therefore when you punish a man who breaks the laws, you are not delivering him over to his accusers; you are strengthening the arm of the law in your own interests. 21.31But surely when he says, “Demosthenes was insulted,” he is met by an argument that is just and impartial and in the interests of all. It was not against the individual named Demosthenes that his brutality was directed on that occasion, but also against your chorus-master; and what that implies you may realize from the following considerations. 21.32You know of course that of the judges who sit in this court none has the name of Judge, but each has some name of his own. Therefore if a man is guilty of assault or slander against anyone of them in his private capacity, he will stand his trial on an indictment for assault or in a suit for slander; but if he assails him as judge, he will incur total disfranchisement. Why so? Because at once by the mere act he is outraging your laws, your public crown of office, and the name that belongs to the State, for Judge is not a private name but a state-title. 21.33In the same way again, if you strike or abuse the Archon when wearing his crown, you are disfranchised; but if you assault him as a private citizen, you are liable to a private suit. Moreover, this is true not only of these officials, but of everyone to whom the State grants the inviolability of a crowned office or of any other honor. Therefore in my case also, if on any other day in the year Meidias had wronged me as a private citizen, he would have had to give me private satisfaction; 21.34but if all his outrages are shown to have been aimed at your chorus-master during the holy days of the festival, it is right that he should face public resentment and pay a public penalty. For the chorus master was insulted as well as Demosthenes, and that is a concern of the State, as well as the fact that this occurred on the very days on which the laws expressly forbid it. When you are framing your laws, you must scrutinize their purport; but when you have passed them, you must uphold them and put them in force, for that is required by your oath and by justice as well. 21.35You had the law—an ancient one—of damage; you had the law of battery and the law of assault. Now if it had been sufficient that those guilty at the Dionysia of any of these offences should be punished according to these laws, there would have been no need for this further law. But it was not sufficient, and the proof of this is that you made a law to protect the sanctity of the god during the Holy Month. If, then, anyone is liable both under those pre-existing laws and under this subsequent one as well as all the rest of the laws, is he for that reason to escape punishment, or should he in fairness suffer a heavier one? I think that it should be the heavier punishment.
21.36I have been told that Meidias goes about inquiring and collecting examples of people who have at any time been assaulted, and that these people are going to give evidence and describe their experiences to you; for instance, men of
21.42Very well; since he has clearly done what I accuse him of, and has done it by way of insult, we must now consider the laws, gentlemen of the jury, for it is in accordance with the laws that you have sworn to give your verdict. Observe, moreover, that the laws treat the willful and insolent transgressors as deserving more resentment and a heavier punishment than other classes of offenders. 21.43First then, all the laws of damage—to take these first—order the offender to pay the amount twice over if the damage is willful, but only once if it is involuntary. This is reasonable, because, while the injured party is in any case entitled to relief, the law does not ordain that the resentment against the aggressor should be the same, whether his act is voluntary or involuntary. Again, the laws of homicide punish willful murder with death, perpetual exile, and confiscation of goods, but accidental homicide they treat with much consideration and charity. 21.44It is not only in these, but in all cases, that the laws may be seen to be severe against premeditated outrages. For how is it that if a man who has lost his case fails to pay, the law thereupon is not content with a private suit for ejectment, but directs the imposition of a further fine to the treasury? Or again, how is it that if a man takes from another by mutual consent a sum of one, two, or ten talents, and then fraudulently withholds it, the State has no concern with him; but if a man, taking something that would merit only a trifling fine, keeps it back by force, then the laws direct the jury to impose an additional fine for the treasury equal to that paid to the private owner? 21.45The answer is that the legislator regarded every deed of violence as a public offence, committed against those also who are not directly concerned. For force belongs to the few, but the laws to all alike; and the man who agreed to the transaction can right himself privately, but the victim of violence needs relief at the hands of the State. On this principle, for the actual assault the law grants everyone the right to prosecute, but makes over the whole of the fine to the State. The legislator considered that the State, as well as the injured party, was wronged by the author of the outrage, and that his punishment was sufficient compensation for the victim, who ought not to make money for himself out of such wrongs. 21.46Indeed he went to such extreme lengths that even if a slave was assaulted, he granted him the same right of bringing a public action. He thought that he ought to look, not at the rank of the sufferer, but at the nature of the act, and when he found the act unjustifiable, he would not give it his sanction either in regard to a slave or in any other case. For nothing, men of
If anyone assaults any child or woman or man, whether free or slave, or commits any unlawful act against anyone of these, any Athenian citizen who desires so to do, being qualified, may indict him before the Judges; and the Judges shall bring the case before the Heliastic Court within thirty days from the date of the indictment, unless some public business prevents, in which case it shall be brought on the earliest possible date. Whomsoever the Court shall condemn, it shall at once assess the punishment or the fine which he is considered to deserve. In all cases where an indictment is entered, as the law directs, if anyone fails to prosecute, or after prosecution fails to obtain one fifth of the votes of the jury, he shall pay a thousand drachmas to the Treasury. If he is fined for the assault, he shall be imprisoned until the fine is paid, provided that the offence was committed against a freeman.
21.48Athenians, you hear the humanity of the law, which does not permit even slaves to be assaulted. In heaven's name, think what this means. Suppose someone carried this law to the barbarous nations from whom we import our slaves; suppose he praised you and described your city to them in these words: 21.49“There are in
21.51Now if I had not been chorus-master, men of
You I address, Pandion's townsmen and sons of Erechtheus,
who appoint your feasts by the ancient rites of your fathers.
See you forget not Bacchus, and joining all in the dances
Down your broad-spaced streets, in thanks note for the gifts of the season,
Crown each head with a wreath, while incense reeks on the altars.
For health sacrifice and pray to Zeus Most High, to Heracles, and to Apollo the Protector; for good fortune to Apollo, god of the streets, to Leto, and to Artemis; and along the streets set wine-bowls and dances, and wear garlands after the manner of your fathers in honor of all gods and all goddesses of
Olympus, raising right hands and left in supplication, note and remember your gifts.
To the people of the Athenians the prophet of Zeus announces. Whereas ye have let pass the seasons of the sacrifice and of the sacred embassy, he bids you send nine chosen envoys, and that right soon. To Zeus of the Ship note sacrifice three oxen and with each ox three sheep; to Dione one ox and a brazen table for the offering which the people of the Athenians have offered.
The prophet of Zeus in
Dodonaannounces. To Dionysus pay public sacrifices and mix a bowl of wine and set up dances; to Apollo the Averter sacrifice an ox and wear garlands, both free men and slaves, and observe one day of rest; to Zeus, the giver of wealth, a white bull.
21.54Besides these oracles, men of
21.56Moreover, you are aware that, although anxious to exclude aliens from the contest, you do not grant unlimited right to any chorus-master to summon for scrutiny any member of a chorus note; if he summons him, he is fined fifty drachmas, and a thousand drachmas if he orders him to sit among the spectators. What is the object? To protect the crowned official, who is doing public service to the god, from being maliciously summoned or annoyed or insulted on that day. 21.57So even the man who in due course of law summons a member of a chorus will not escape a fine. And shall not he be punished who in contempt of all the laws thus publicly strikes the master of a chorus? Surely it is useless for your laws to be thus well and humanely framed for the protection of the humbler citizen, if those who disobey and flout them are not to incur the resentment of you who are, for the time being, entrusted with their administration.
21.58And now I solemnly call your attention to another point. I shall beg you not to be offended if I mention by name some persons who have fallen into misfortune; for I swear to you that in doing so I have no intention of casting reproach upon any man; I only want to show you how carefully all the rest of you avoid anything like violent or insulting behavior. There is, for instance, Sannio, the trainer of the tragic choruses, who was convicted of shirking military service and so found himself in trouble. 21.59After that misfortune he was hired by a chorus-master—Theozotides, if I am not mistaken—who was keen to win a victory in the tragedies. Well, at first the rival masters were indignant and threatened to debar him, but when they saw that the theater was full and the crowd assembled for the contest, they hesitated, they gave way, and no one laid a finger on him. One can see that the forbearance which piety inspires in every one of you is such that Sannio has been training choruses ever since, not hindered even by his private enemies, much less by any of the chorus-masters. 21.60Then again there is Aristeides of the tribe of Oeneis, who has had a similar misfortune. He is now an old man and perhaps less useful in a chorus, but he was once chorus-leader for his tribe. You know, of course, that if the leader is withdrawn, the rest of the chorus is done for. But in spite of the keen rivalry of many of the chorus-masters, not one of them looked at the possible advantage or ventured to remove him or prevent him from performing. Since this involved laying hands on him, and since he could not be cited before the Archon as if he were an alien whom it was desired to eject, every man shrank from being seen as the personal author of such an outrage. 21.61Then is not this, gentlemen of the jury, a shocking and intolerable position? On the one hand, chorus-masters, who think that such a course might bring them victory and who have in many cases spent all their substance on their public services, have never dared to lay hands even on one whom the law permits them to touch, but show such caution, such piety, such moderation that, in spite of their expenditure and their eager competition, they restrain themselves and respect your wishes and your zeal for the festival. Meidias, on the other hand, a private individual who has been put to no expense, just because he has fallen foul of a man whom he hates—a man, remember, who is spending his money as chorus-master and who has full rights of citizenship—insults him and strikes him and cares nothing for the festival, for the laws, for your opinion, or for the god's honor.
21.62Now although men have quarrelled often enough, whether on private or on public grounds, no one has ever been so lost to shame as to venture on such conduct as this. Yet it is said that the famous Iphicrates once had a serious quarrel with Diocles of the Pitthean deme, and, to make matters worse, Iphicrates' brother Teisias happened to be a chorus-master in competition with Diocles. Iphicrates was a wealthy man with many friends and had a high opinion of himself, as a man would naturally have who had earned so many honors and distinctions at your hands; 21.63but Iphicrates never went under cover of night to the goldsmiths' shops, he never ripped up the costumes intended for the festival, he never bribed the instructor and hindered the training of the chorus, he never played any of the tricks that Meidias repeatedly practised. No, he submitted to the laws and to the wishes of his fellow-citizens, and patiently witnessed the victory and the crowning of his enemy. And he was right; for he felt that such submission was due to the constitution under which he himself had enjoyed such prosperity.
21.64Take another instance. We all know that Philostratus of
21.70Now if there is anyone of you, Athenians, whose anger against Meidias falls short of a demand for his death, he is wrong. For it is neither just nor proper that the forbearance of the victim should contribute to the acquittal of a man who has put no check on his insolence. The latter you should punish as if the results of his conduct had been utterly irremediable; to the former you should show your goodwill by favouring his cause. note
21.71You cannot retort that such acts have never had any serious consequences, but that I am now exaggerating the incident and representing it as formidable. That is wide of the mark. But all, or at least many, know what Euthynus, the once famous wrestler, a youngster, did to Sophilus the prize-fighter. He was a dark, brawny fellow. I am sure some of you know the man I mean. He met him in
It is a matter of common knowledge that Euaeon, the brother of Leodamas, killed Boeotus at a public banquet and entertainment in revenge for a single blow.21.72For it was not the blow but the indignity that roused the anger. To be struck is not the serious thing for a free man, serious though it is, but to be struck in wanton insolence. Many things, Athenians, some of which the victim would find it difficult to put into words, may be done by the striker—by gesture, by look, by tone; when he strikes in wantonness or out of enmity; with the fist or on the cheek. These are the things that provoke men and make them beside themselves, if they are unused to insult. No description, men of
21.77Now I expect, gentlemen of the jury, that some of you are anxious to hear about the quarrel between Meidias and myself; for you must suppose that no human being could treat a fellow-countryman with such violence and brutality, unless he had a long account to settle with him. Well, I am quite willing to give you a detailed account of this quarrel from its inception, so that you may understand that on this score too, as I shall prove, he owes me reparation. The narrative shall be brief, though I may seem to go a long way back for the start.
21.78When I brought my action against my guardians for the recovery of my patrimony, being a mere lad, neither acquainted with Meidias nor even aware of his existence—would that I were not acquainted with him now!—when my suit was due to come on in three or four days, Meidias and his brother suddenly burst into my house and challenged me to take over their trierarchy. note It was the brother, Thrasylochus, who submitted his name and made the challenge; but the real author of all these proceedings was Meidias. 21.79And first they forced the doors of the apartments, assuming that these became their property by the terms of the challenge; next in the presence of my sister, who was a young girl still living at home, they used foul language such as only men of their stamp would use—nothing would induce me to repeat to you some of their expressions—and they uttered unrestrained abuse of my mother and myself and all my family. But, what was more shocking still, from words they proceeded to deeds, and they were going to drop the lawsuits, claiming them as their own, to oblige my guardians. 21.80All this is ancient history, though I expect some of you remember it, for all
[We, Callisthenes of Sphettus, Diognetus of Thoricus, Mnesitheus of Alopece, know that Demosthenes, for whom we appear, has brought an action for ejectment against Meidias, who is now also being publicly prosecuted by him, and that eight years have now passed since that action, and that Meidias has been the cause of all the delay by repeated excuses and procrastinations.]
21.83Hear now what he has done, men of
[We, Nicostratus of Myrrhinus and Phanias of Aphidna, know that Demosthenes, for whom we appear, and Meidias, who is being prosecuted by Demosthenes, when Demosthenes brought his action against him for slander, chose
Stratoas arbitrator; and when the statutory day arrived, Meidias did not appear in court but abandoned the case. Judgement having gone by default against Meidias, we know that Meidias tried to induce Strato, the arbitrator, and us, who were at that time Archons, to reverse the judgement against him, and he offered us fifty drachmas, and, when we resented his offer, he threatened us and so departed. Also we know that on this account Stratowas victimized by Meidias and was disfranchised contrary to all justice.]
21.94Read also the law concerning arbitrators.
[If any parties are in dispute concerning private contracts and wish to choose any arbitrator, it shall be lawful for them to choose whomsoever they wish. But when they have chosen by mutual agreement, they shall abide by his decisions and shall not transfer the same charges from him to another court, but the judgements of the arbitrator shall be final.]
This man, Athenians, is a poor man perhaps, but certainly not a bad man. He was once a citizen and served at the proper age in all the campaigns; he has done nothing reprehensible, yet now there he stands silent, stripped not only of all our common privileges, but also of the right to speak or complain; he is not even allowed to tell you whether he has suffered justly or unjustly.21.96All this he has endured at the hands of Meidias, and from the wealth and pride of Meidias, because he himself is poor and friendless and just one of the multitude. If in violation of the laws he had accepted the fifty drachmas and changed his verdict from a condemnation to an acquittal, he would now be a full citizen, untouched by harm and sharing with the rest of us in our common rights; but because he disregarded Meidias in comparison with justice and feared the laws more than his threats, therefore he has met with this great and terrible misfortune through the act of this man. 21.97And then this same man, so cruel, so heartless, who has taken such dire vengeance for his wrongs—you have only his word for them, for he really suffered none—will you acquit him when you have detected him in a wanton outrage on one of the citizens? [If he regards neither festivals nor temples nor law nor anything else, will you not condemn him? Will you not make an example of him?] 21.98If not, what have you to say, gentlemen of the jury? What fair and honorable excuse, in heaven's name, can you find for him? Is it because he is a ruffian and a blackguard? That is true enough, but surely, men of
21.102Therefore, men of
[We, Dionysius of
Aphidnaand Antiphilus of Paeania, when our kinsman Nicodemus had met with a violent death at the hands of Aristarchus, the son of Moschus, prosecuted Aristarchus for murder. Learning this, Meidias, who is now being brought to trial by Demosthenes, for whom we appear, offered us small sums of money to let Aristarchus go unharmed, and to substitute the name of Demosthenes in the indictment for murder.]
Now let me have the law concerning bribery.
21.108While the clerk is finding the statute, men of
If any Athenian accepts a bribe from another, or himself offers it to another, or corrupts anyone by promises, to the detriment of the people in general, or of any individual citizen, by any means or device whatsoever, he shall be disfranchised together with his children, and his property shall be confiscated.
21.114This man, then, is so impious, so abandoned, so ready to say or do anything, without stopping for a moment to ask whether it is true or false, whether it touches an enemy or a friend, or any such question, that after accusing me of murder and bringing that grave charge against me, he suffered me to conduct initiatory rites and sacrifices for the Council, and to inaugurate the victims on behalf of you and all the State; 21.115he suffered me as head of the Sacred Embassy to lead it in the name of the city to the Nemean shrine of Zeus; he raised no objection when I was chosen with two colleagues to inaugurate the sacrifice to the Dread Goddesses. note Would he have allowed all this, if he had had one jot or tittle of proof for the charges that he was trumping up against me? I cannot believe it. So then this is conclusive proof that he was seeking in mere wanton spite to drive me from my native land.
21.116Then, when for all his desperate shifts he could bring none of these charges home to me, he turned informer against Aristarchus, aiming evidently at me. To pass over other incidents, when the Council was in session and was investigating the murder, Meidias came in and cried, “Don't you know the facts of the case, Councillors? Are you wasting time and groping blindly for the murderer, when you have him already in your hands?”-meaning Aristarchus. “Won't you put him to death? Won't you go to his house and arrest him?” 21.117Such was the language of this shameless and abandoned reptile, though only the day before he had stepped out of Aristarchus's house, though up till then he had been as intimate with him as anyone could be, and though Aristarchus in the day of his prosperity had often importuned me to settle my suit with Meidias out of court. Now if he said this to the Council, believing that Aristarchus had actually committed the crime which has since proved his ruin, and trusting to the tale told by his accusers, yet even so the speech was unpardonable. 21.118Upon friends, if they seem to have done something serious, one should impose the moderate penalty of withdrawing from their friendship; vengeance and prosecution should be left to their victims or their enemies. Yet in a man like Meidias this may be condoned. But if it shall appear that he chatted familiarly under the same roof with Aristarchus, as if he were perfectly innocent, and then uttered those damning charges against him in order to involve me in a false accusation, does he not deserve to be put to death ten times—no! ten thousand times over? 21.119I am going to call the witnesses now present in court to prove that my version of the facts is correct; that on the day before he told that tale to the Council, he had entered Aristarchus's house and had a conversation with him; that on the next day-and this, men of
[We, Lysimachus of Alopece, Demeas of Sunium, Chares of Thoricus, Philemon of Sphetta, Moschus of Paeania, know that at the date when the indictment was presented to the Council charging Aristarchus, the son of Moschus, with the murder of Nicodemus, Meidias, who is now being tried at the suit of Demosthenes, for whom we appear, came before the Council and stated that Aristarchus, and no one else, was the murderer of Nicodemus, and he advised the Council to go to the house of Aristarchus and arrest him. This he said to the Council, having dined on the previous day with Aristarchus in our company. We also know that Meidias, when he came from the Council after making this statement, again entered the house of Aristarchus and shook hands with him and, invoking destruction on his own head, swore that he had said nothing in his disparagement before the Council, and he asked Aristarchus to reconcile Demosthenes to him.]
21.122Can anything go beyond that? Has there ever been, or could there ever be, baseness to compare with this of Meidias? He felt justified in informing against that unfortunate man, who had done him no wrong—I waive the fact that he was his friend—and at the same time he was begging him to bring about a reconciliation between himself and me; and not content with this, he spent money on an iniquitous attempt to procure my banishment as well as that of Aristarchus.
21.123Yet this habit of his, Athenians, this scheme of involving in yet greater calamities all who stand up against him in just defence, is not something that might well rouse indignation and resentment in me, but that the rest of you should overlook. Far from it. All citizens alike should be stirred to anger, when they reflect and observe that it is exactly the poorest and weakest of you that run the greatest risk of being thus wantonly wronged, while it is the rich blackguards that find it easiest to oppress others and escape punishment, and even to hire agents to put obstacles in the path of justice. 21.124Such conduct must not be overlooked. It must not be supposed that the man who by intimidation tries to debar any citizen from obtaining reparation for his wrongs is doing less than robbing us of our liberties and of our right of free speech. Perhaps I and one or two others may have managed to repel a false and calamitous charge and so have escaped destruction; but what will the vast majority of you do, if you do not by a public example make it a dangerous game for anyone to abuse his wealth for such a purpose? 21.125When the accused man has rendered an account of his actions and has stood his trial on the charges brought against him, then he may retaliate upon unjust assailants; but even then he must not try to spirit away some witness of his ill deeds, nor to escape a trial by bringing false charges; he must not count it a grievance to submit to justice, but must avoid all outrageous conduct from the first.
21.128Now if, men of
Memoranda of the Crimes of Meidias
21.131That, gentlemen of the jury, is how he has treated everyone that comes across his path. I have omitted other instances, for no one could compress into a single narrative the violent acts that he has spent a lifetime in committing. But it is worth while noticing to what a height of audacity he has advanced in consequence of his never having been punished for any of these acts. He seems to have thought that no act that one man can commit against an individual was brilliant or dashing enough or worth risking his life for, and unless he could affront a whole tribe or the Council or some class of citizens and harass vast multitudes of you at once, he felt that life was really not worth living. note 21.132And as to other instances, innumerable as they are, I say nothing, but as regards the cavalry which was dispatched to Argura, and of which he was one, you all know of course how he harangued you on his return from
21.136I observe, gentlemen, that in all other trials the defendants are charged with one or two offences only, but they can rely on any number of appeals, such as these: “Does anyone in court know me to be capable of this? Who among you has ever seen me commit these offences? No one. The plaintiffs are libelling me out of spite. I am the victim of false testimony,” and so on. But with Meidias the case is just the reverse; 21.137for I suppose you all know his way of life, his arrogance and his superciliousness, and I even suspect that some have long marvelled at things which they know themselves, but have not heard from my lips today. But I note that many of his victims are reluctant to disclose in evidence all that they have suffered, because they realize his violence and his persistence and the extent of those resources which make him so powerful and so dreaded, despicable though he is. 21.138For a man whose wickedness and violence are supported by power and wealth is fortified against any sudden attack. So this fellow, if he were deprived of his property, would perhaps discontinue his outrages, or if not, he will be of less account in your courts than the most insignificant criminal; for then he will rail and bluster to deaf ears, and for any act of gross violence he will pay the penalty like the rest of us. 21.139But now, I believe, his champions are Polyeuctus and Timocrates and the ragamuffin Euctemon. Such are the mercenaries that he keeps about him; and there are others besides, an organized gang of witnesses, who do not openly force themselves upon you, but readily give a silent nod of assent to his lies. [I do not of course imagine that they make anything out of him, but there are some people, men of
21.141Now, some such ready plea as this will be submitted to you: “Why did not So-and-so, who suffered this or that at my hands, try to obtain redress from me? Or why did not So-and-so?”—naming perhaps another of his victims. But I expect you all know the stock excuses for shirking the duty of self-defence—want of leisure, a distaste for affairs, inability to speak, lack of means, and a thousand such reasons. 21.142I do not, however, think that Meidias has any right to use such language now; his duty is to prove that he has not done what I have accused him of doing, and if he cannot, then he deserves death all the more. For if he is so powerful that he can act like this and yet prevent you individually from obtaining satisfaction from him, you ought all of you, in common and on behalf of all, now that he is in your grasp, to punish him as the common enemy of the State.
21.143History tells us that Alcibiades lived at
21.151Such, then, being the events that make up the life of this shameless blackguard, some of his associates came to me, gentlemen of the jury, urging me to retire and drop this action; but finding me unmoved, they did not venture to assert that he was innocent of all these crimes and would not deserve the severest penalty for his deeds. They took this line of argument. “He has already been convicted and condemned; what fine do you expect the court to impose on him? Do you not see that he is a rich man and will talk about the equipment of war-galleys and other public services? Then take care that he does not beg himself off by such pleas, and make you his laughingstock, when he pays the State a far less sum than he now offers you.” 21.152For myself, in the first place, I do not charge you with anything dishonorable, nor do I suppose that you will lay on him a lighter punishment than will effectually check his insolence; and that means, for choice, death, or failing that, at least the confiscation of all his property. In the next place, my own opinion about his trierarchies and public services and pleas of that sort is this. 21.153If, men of
21.160But, mark you, he gave us a war-galley! I am sure he will brag about that vessel. “I,” he will say, “presented you with a trireme.” Now this is how you must deal with him. If, men of
[We, Cleon of Sunium, Aristocles of Paeania, Pamphilus, Niceratus of Acherdus, and Euctemon of Sphetta, on the occasion when we sailed home from
Styrawith the entire force, were commanders of triremes along with Meidias, who is now being prosecuted by Demosthenes, for whom we appear as witnesses. When the whole fleet was sailing in formation and the commanders had instructions not to separate until we landed at Athens, Meidias lagged behind the fleet and loaded his ship with timber and fencing and cattle and other things, and sailed alone into Peiraeus two days later, and did not join with the other commanders in bringing the force to land.]
21.169Now if, men of
21.171I now propose to show you, Athenians, that he has received from you a recompense adequate not only to the public services he has actually performed—for in that case it would be small indeed!—but even to the most distinguished services; so that you may not imagine that you are still in debt to this contemptible fellow. For it was you, men of Athens, who elected him—he being what he is—steward of the Paralus, and also commander of the cavalry, though he could not sit a horse in the processions through the market-place, and superintendent of the Mysteries, and sacrificer on one occasion, and buyer of the victims and all the rest of it. 21.172And then, that a man's innate baseness and cowardice and wickedness should be redeemed by offices and honors and appointments from you—do you, in heaven's name, regard that as a trivial gift and favour? Take away, indeed, his right to say, “I have been commander of the cavalry; I have been made steward of the Paralus,” and what else is he good for? 21.173But at any rate you know this, that when he had been made steward of the Paralus, he plundered the people of
21.175Now I propose, men of
21.178There was another man who in your opinion had profaned the Dionysia, and although he was actually sitting as assessor to his son, who was Archon, you condemned him, because in ejecting from the theater a man who was taking a wrong seat, he laid a hand on him. That man was the father of the highly respected Charicleides, at that time archon. 21.179Yes, and you thought that his accuser had a strong case when he said, “If I was taking a wrong seat, fellow, if as you assert I was disregarding the notices, what authority do the laws confer on you or even on the archon himself? The authority to bid the attendants remove me, but not to strike me yourself. If I still refuse to go, you may impose a fine; anything rather than touch me with your own hand; for the laws have taken every precaution to save a citizen from being insulted in his own person.” That was his argument. You gave your votes, but the accuser died before he could bring the case before a jury. 21.180Then another man, Ctesicles, was unanimously condemned by the Assembly for profaning the festival, and when he came before you, you sentenced him to death, because he carried a leathern lash in the procession and, being drunk, struck with it a personal enemy of his. It was thought that insolence, not drink, prompted the stroke, and that he seized the excuse of the procession and his own drunkenness to commit the offence of treating freemen like slaves. 21.181Now I am certain, men of
21.184There are some other points that I consider no less necessary to mention than those which I have already put before you. I will mention them and discuss them briefly before I sit down. The leniency of your disposition, men of
21.186Now I know that he will set up a wail, with his children grouped about him, and will make a long and humble appeal, weeping and making himself as pitiable a figure as he can. But the more he humiliates himself, Athenians, the more he deserves your hatred. Why so? If in his past life he was so brutal and violent because it was impossible for him to be humble, it would be right to abate some of your anger as a concession to his natural temper and to the destiny that made him the man he is; but if he knows how to behave discreetly when he likes, but has deliberately chosen the opposite line of conduct, it is surely obvious that, if he slips through your fingers now, he will once more prove himself the man you know so well. 21.187Pay no attention to him; do not let the present crisis in his affairs, expressly invented by him, carry more weight and influence with you than the whole course of his life, of which you have direct knowledge. I have no children to pose before you, while I weep and wail over them for the insults I have received. For that reason shall I, the victim, be of less account in your court than the perpetrator of the wrong? It must not be. 21.188When Meidias, with his children round him, calls you to cast your votes for them, then you must imagine that I am standing here with the laws by my side and the oath that you have sworn, demanding and imploring each of you to vote for them. It is in every way more just that you should side with the laws than with this man. The laws, Athenians, you have sworn to obey; through the laws you enjoy your equal rights; to the laws you owe every blessing that is yours—not to Meidias nor to the children of Meidias.
21.189Perhaps he will say of me, “This man is an orator.” If an orator is one who offers you such counsel as he thinks expedient for you, yet stops short of pestering or bullying you, then for my part I would neither shun nor disclaim that title. But if by orator he means one of those speakers such as you and I so often see, men who have shamelessly enriched themselves at your expense, I cannot be one, for I have never received a penny from you and I have spent upon you all but a trifle of my fortune. Yet even if I were the most unscrupulous of that gang, I ought rather to be punished according to the laws than insulted in the performance of a public service. 21.190Then again, none of these orators supports me in this trial; nor do I blame them, for I have never said a word in public in support of one of them. I make it a fixed rule to take my own line, speaking and acting in whatever way I believe to be for your advantage. But you will see very soon that Meidias has all the orators in turn ranged on his side. Yet is it fair in him to brand me with the reproach of that title and then to depend on these very men to rescue him?
21.191Perhaps too he will say something of this sort; that my present speech is all carefully thought out and prepared. I admit, Athenians, that I have thought it out, and I should not dream of denying it; yes, and I have spent all possible care on it. I should be a poor creature if all my wrongs, past and present, left me careless of what I was going to say to you about them. Yet the real composer of my speech is Meidias. 21.192The man who has furnished the facts with which the speeches deal ought in strict justice to bear that responsibility, and not the man who has devoted thought and care to lay an honest case before you today. That is what I am doing, men of
21.193Again, I expect that he will not shrink from vilifying the people and the Assembly, but will repeat what he had the effrontery to say when the plaint was first brought in: that the meeting was composed of men who had stayed at home when they ought to have gone to the front and who had left their posts unguarded, and that he was condemned by the votes of chorus-men and aliens and the like. 21.194As those of you who were present know, gentlemen, he had risen on that occasion to such a height of bravado and impudence that, by abusing and threatening and turning his glance to any quarter of the Assembly that was inclined to be obstreperous, he thought he could browbeat the whole body of citizens. That, I think, must surely make his tears today seem ridiculous. Execrable wretch, what have you to say? 21.195Will you claim pity for your children and yourself or a kindly interest in your fortunes from these men whom you have already insulted publicly? Are you alone of living men privileged to be in your daily life so notoriously possessed of the demon of arrogance that even those who have no dealings with you are exasperated by your assurance, your tones and gestures, your parasites, your wealth and your insolence; and then, the instant you are put on your trial are you to be pitied? 21.196It would be indeed a great method that you have devised, or, rather, a great trick, if you could in so short a time make yourself the object of two contradictory sentiments, rousing resentment by your way of life and compassion by your mummeries. You have no conceivable claim to compassion; no, not for an instant. On the contrary, hatred, resentment and wrath—those are what your conduct calls for. But let me come back to my point, that he intends to arraign the people and the Assembly. 21.197Now when he does so, just reflect, gentlemen of the jury, that this same man brought accusations against the cavalry who had served with him, coming into the Assembly after they had sailed for
21.202But in my opinion, if for nothing else, yet for those harangues that he delivers at every opportunity and for the occasions that he chooses for them, he would deserve the severest penalty. For of course you know that if any welcome news is brought to the city, such as we all rejoice to hear, Meidias has never on any of those occasions been found in the ranks of those who share in the public satisfaction or the public rejoicings; 21.203but if it is something untoward, something that no one else would wish to hear, he is the first to jump up at once and harangue the people, making the utmost of his opportunity and enjoying the silence by which you show your distress at what has happened. “Why, that is the sort of men you Athenians are. You do not serve abroad; you see no need to pay your property-tax. And then do you wonder that your affairs go wrong? Do you think I am going to pay my property-tax and you spend the money? Do you think I am going to fit out war-galleys and you decline to embark in them?” 21.204That is how he insults you, seizing the chance to void the rancor and venom that he secretes in his heart against the masses, as he moves about among you. Now is the chance for you, men of
21.205As for the speakers who will support him, their object, I swear, is not so much to oblige him as to insult me, owing to the personal quarrel which that man there note says that I have with himself. He insists that it is so, whether I admit it or not; but he is wrong. Too much success is apt sometimes to make people overbearing. For when I, after all that I have suffered, do not admit that he is my enemy, while he will not accept my disclaimer, but even confronts me in another's quarrel, and is prepared now to mount the platform and demand that I shall even forfeit my claim to that protection which the laws afford to all, is it not clear that he has grown overbearing and is too powerful to suit the interests of each one of us? 21.206Furthermore, Athenians, Eubulus was in his seat in the theater when the people gave their vote against Meidias, and yet, as you know, he never stood up when called upon by name, though Meidias begged and implored him to do so. Yet if he thought that the plaint had been brought against an innocent man, that was the moment to help him by his testimony, if he was really his friend;but if he withheld his support then, because he had pronounced him guilty, but is now going to ask for his acquittal, because he has fallen foul of me, it is not well that you should humor him. 21.207In a democracy there must never be a citizen so powerful that his support can ensure that the one party submits to outrages and the other escapes punishment. But if you are anxious to do me an ill turn, Eubulus,though I protest that I know not why you should—you are a man of influence and a statesman; take any legal vengeance you like on me, but do not deprive me of my compensation for illegal outrages. If you find it impossible to harm me in that way, it may be taken as a proof of my innocence that you can readily censure others, but find no ground of censure in me.
21.208Now I have learned that Philippides and Mnesarchides and Diotimus of Euonymia and some other rich trierarchs will plead with you for his acquittal, claiming it as a favour due to themselves. I would not utter a word in disparagement of these men; I should indeed be mad to do so: but I will tell you how you ought to reflect and consider, when they make their request. 21.209Suppose, gentlemen of the jury, that these men—never may it so befall, as indeed it never will—made themselves masters of the State, along with Meidias and others like him; and suppose that one of you, who are men of the people and friends to popular government, having offended one of these men,—not so seriously as Meidias offended me, but in some slighter degree—came before a jury packed with men of that class; what pardon, what consideration do you think he would receive? They would be prompt with their favour, would they not? Would they heed the petition of one of the common folk? Would not their first words be, “The knave! The sorry rascal! To think that he should insult us and still draw breath! He ought to be only too happy if he is permitted to exist”? 21.210Do not therefore, men of
21.213An imposing muster of wealthy men, whose prosperity has raised them to apparent importance, will come into court to plead with you. Men of
21.219Furthermore, it was not I alone, men of
21.226Those of you who were spectators at the Dionysia hissed and hooted Meidias when he entered the theater; you gave every indication of your abhorrence, though you had not yet heard what I had to say about him. Were you so indignant before the case was investigated, that you urged me to demand vengeance for my wrongs and applauded me when I brought my plaint before the Assembly? 21.227And yet now, when his guilt has been established, when the people, sitting in a sacred building, have anticipated his condemnation, when all the other crimes of this miscreant have been sifted, when it has fallen to your lot to be his judges and it lies in your power to conclude the whole affair by a single vote—now, I say, will you hesitate to succor me, to gratify the people, to give all a lesson in sobriety, and to enjoy perfect safety for the rest of your lives, by making an example of the defendant for the instruction of others?
Therefore for all the reasons that I have urged, and above all for the honor of the god whose festival he has been convicted of profaning, punish this man by casting the vote which piety and justice alike demand.
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