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Against Meidias

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 Athens, because, so help me heaven! they thought that my own wrongs were serious, and they also wished to punish Meidias for conduct which they had witnessed on other occasions, as a scoundrel and a ruffian who could no longer be tolerated. 21.3This being so, I have in your interests taken all due precautions, and now that the case is before the court, I am here, as you see, to accuse him, having refused large sums of money, men of Athens, which I might have accepted on condition of dropping the prosecution, and having had to steel myself against many appeals and favorable offers-yes, and even menaces. 21.4What yet remains to do is in your hands; but my hope is that the more the defendant has pestered you with his solicitations—I observed just now what he was up to in front of the courthouse-more likely I am to obtain justice. For I would not insult any of you by imagining that you will be indifferent to the cause in which you so heartily supported me before, or that, in order to grant Meidias immunity for future outrages, any juryman remembering his oath will give other than what he considers a righteous verdict. 21.5Now if, men of Athens, I were going to accuse Meidias of unconstitutional proposals or of misconduct on an embassy or of any offence of that sort, I should not feel justified in appealing for your sympathy, for I consider that in such cases the plaintiff ought to confine himself to proving his case, though the defendant may have recourse to prayers. But since Meidias bribed the umpires and so robbed my tribe unfairly of the prize, 21.6since I in person was struck by him and insulted as perhaps no chorus-master was ever insulted before, and since I am here to follow up the verdict which the Assembly pronounced in indignation and anger at such conduct, for these reasons I shall not shrink even from an appeal to you. For, if I may say so, it is now I who am in the position of a defendant, if indeed to obtain no redress for an insult is the real calamity. 21.7Therefore, gentlemen of the jury, I appeal to you all, and implore you first to grant me a favorable hearing, and secondly, if I prove that the insults of Meidias touch, not me only, but you and the laws and the whole body of citizens, to come at once to any rescue and to your own. For the case stands thus, Athenians. I was the victim and it was my person that was then outraged; but now the question to be fought out and decided is whether Meidias is to be allowed to repeat his performances and insult anyone and everyone of you with impunity. 21.8Therefore if perhaps anyone of you hitherto assumed that this action was brought from private motives, when he now reflects that this is a matter of general concern, and that public interest demands that no one shall be allowed to act in this way, let him grant me an attentive hearing, and then let him give what seems to him the fairest verdict.

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.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.]

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.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 Athens, by a nocturnal raid on the premises of my goldsmith. And he did destroy them, though not completely, for that was beyond his power. And no one can say that he ever yet heard of anyone daring or perpetrating such an outrage in this city. 21.17But not content with this, men of Athens, he actually corrupted the trainer of my chorus; and if Telephanes, the flute-player, had not proved the staunchest friend to me, if he had not seen through the fellow's game and sent him about his business, if he had not felt it his duty to train the chorus and weld them into shape himself, we could not have taken part in the competition, Athenians; the chorus would have come in untrained and we should have been covered with ignominy. Nor did his insolence stop even there. It was so unrestrained that he bribed the crowned Archon himself; he banded the choristers against me; he bawled and threatened, standing beside the umpires as they took the oath he blocked the gangways from the wings, note nailing up those public thoroughfares without public authority; he never ceased to cause me untold damage and annoyance. 21.18Of those outrages which were committed in public or before the umpires in the theater, you are yourselves my witnesses, all of you, gentlemen of the jury. And surely the statements on which most reliance should be placed are those of which the jury can themselves attest the truth. So after he had already corrupted the umpires in the men's contest, he put the cap, as it were, on all his previous acts of wantonness by two outrages: he assaulted my person, and he was chiefly responsible for preventing my tribe, which was winning, from gaining the prize.

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 Athens, that I lodged my public plaint; and there are many besides, of which I will describe to you immediately as many as I can. But I have to tell of many other acts of unmitigated rascality and insolence, directed against many of yourselves, and many daring crimes of this blackguard. 21.20Some of his victims, gentlemen of the jury, suffered in silence, because they were cowed by him and his self-confidence, or by his gang of bullies, his wealth and all his other resources; others tried to obtain redress and failed; others again made terms with him, perhaps because they thought that the best policy. Those, then, who were induced to do so have obtained the satisfaction due to themselves; but of the satisfaction due to the laws, by breaking which Meidias wronged them and is wronging me now and every other citizen—of that satisfaction you are the dispensers. 21.21Therefore include all the offences in one sweeping penalty, whatever you consider just.

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. 21.22Deposition

[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 Athens, about the wrongs which he inflicted on others, as I told you at the beginning of my speech, and I have made a collection of his outrageous and insulting acts, which you shall hear in a moment. The collection was indeed an easy matter, for the victims themselves applied to me. note

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 Athens, the Chairman for the day who is said to have been struck by Polyzelus in your court, the judge who was lately struck when trying to rescue the flute-girl, and similar cases. He imagines that if he can point to many other victims of serious assault, you will be less indignant at the assault committed upon me! 21.37But it seems to me, Athenians, that it would be reasonable for you to do just the reverse, since your duty is to be solicitous for the common good of all. For who of you is unaware that the reason for the frequency of these assaults is the failure to punish the offenders, and that the only way to prevent such assaults in the future is adequately to punish every offender who is caught? Therefore, if it is to your interest to deter others, those cases are an additional reason for punishing Meidias, and punishing him the more severely in proportion to their number and their seriousness; but if you want to encourage him and everybody, you must let him off. 21.38[Then again we shall find that he has not the same claim to consideration as these others. For in the first case the man who struck the judge had three excuses: he was drunk, he was in love, and he did not know what he was doing in the darkness and the night. Polyzelus again explained that owing to his ungovernable temper he had lost his head when he committed the offence; there was no hostility behind the act and no intention to insult. But Meidias cannot plead any of these excuses, for he was my enemy, and he assaulted me willfully by daylight, and not only on that, but on every occasion he has shown a deliberate intention to insult me. 21.39And indeed I can see no comparison between my own conduct and that of those others. In the first case it will be proved that the judge took no thought or concern for you or for the laws, but was privately induced by a sum of money—I cannot say how much—to drop his action. In the same way the man who was struck by Polyzelus was privately squared, laughed in his sleeve at you and your laws, and never even prosecuted his assailant. 21.40Such statements, then, are quite in point if one wishes to accuse those men today, but as a defence of Meidias against my indictments they are the very last pleas that should be urged. For my conduct was clean contrary to theirs. It will be proved that I never got, or tried to get, any advantage for myself, but religiously observed, and have now restored to your keeping, the task of avenging the laws, the god, and your interests.] Do not then allow him to make these statements, or if he persists, do not give him credence as if his plea were just. If he finds that this is your fixed determination, he will have nothing to say, not a word. 21.41For what sort of pretext, what decent and moderate excuse, can he show for his conduct? Anger? Possibly that will be his plea. But whereas in cases where a sudden loss of self-control has impelled a man even to inflict a wanton insult, it is open to him to say that he has acted in anger; if, on the other hand, he is detected in a continuous course of law-breaking, spread over many days, surely this is far from a mere fit of anger and he stands convicted of a deliberate policy of insult.

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 Athens, nothing in the world is more intolerable than a personal outrage, nor is there anything that more deserves your resentment. Read me the actual law with regard to it. There is nothing like hearing the law's own words. 21.47Law

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 Greece men so mild and humane in disposition that though they have often been wronged by you, and though they have inherited a natural hostility towards you, yet they permit no insult to be offered even to the men whom they have bought for a price and keep as their slaves. Nay, they have publicly established this law forbidding such insult, and they have already punished many of the transgressors with death.” 21.50If the barbarians heard these words and understood their import, do you not think that they would unanimously appoint you their protectors? note As regards this law then, which is so well esteemed among the Greeks and would be well esteemed among the barbarians also, consider what penalty he who transgresses it will have to pay before he has paid his deserts.

21.51Now if I had not been chorus-master, men of Athens, when I was thus maltreated by Meidias, it is only the personal insult that one would have condemned; but under the circumstances I think one would be justified in condemning also the impiety of the act. You surely realize that all your choruses and hymns to the god are sanctioned, not only by the regulations of the Dionysia, but also by the oracles, in all of which, whether given at Delphi or at Dodona, you will find a solemn injunction to the State to set up dances after the ancestral custom, to fill the streets with the savour of sacrifice, and to wear garlands. 21.52Please take and read the actual oracles.Oracles
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.
21.53Oracles from Dodona

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 Dodona announces. 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.unknown

21.54Besides these oracles, men of Athens, there are many others addressed to our city, and excellent oracles they are. Now what conclusion ought you to draw from them? That while they prescribe the sacrifices to the gods indicated in each oracle, to every oracle that is published they add the injunction to set up dances and to wear garlands after the manner of our ancestors. 21.55Therefore in the case of all the choruses that are constituted, together with their chorus-masters, during the days on which we meet in competition, these oracles make it clear that we wear our crowns as your representatives, the winner as well as the one destined to be last of all; it is not until the day of the prize-giving that the victor receives his own special crown. If, then, a man commits a malicious assault on any member or master of these choruses, especially during the actual contest in the sacred precinct of the god, can we deny that he is guilty of impiety?

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 Colonus was one of the accusers when Chabrias note was tried for his life on charges relating to Oropus, and that he showed himself the bitterest of them all, and that afterwards he won the prize at the Dionysia with a chorus of boys. Yet Chabrias neither struck him nor snatched the crown off his head nor in any way intruded where he had no right. 21.65I could mention many others who on various grounds have quarrelled with their neighbors, but I have never seen or heard of anyone who carried his insolence so far as to behave like this. And I am quite sure that no one here can recall any case where a man, involved in a public or private dispute, has taken his stand beside the umpires while they were being named, or dictated the oath when they were being sworn, or paraded his hostility on any such occasion. 21.66These and all similar acts, Athenians, are partly excusable in a chorus-master who is carried away by emulation; but to harass a man with one's hostility, deliberately and on every occasion, and to boast one's own power as superior to the laws, that, by Heaven! is cruel and unjust and contrary to your interests. For if each man when he becomes chorus-master could foresee this result: “If So-and-so is my enemy—Meidias for example or anyone else equally rich and unscrupulous—first I shall be robbed of my victory, even if I make a better show than any of my competitors next I shall be worsted at every point and exposed to repeated insults:” who is so irrational or such a poor creature that he would voluntarily consent to spend a single drachma? 21.67I suppose what tends to make everyone public-spirited and liberal with his money is the reflection that under a democracy each man has his share of just and equal rights. Now I, men of Athens, was deprived of those rights through this man's acts, and, quite apart from the insults I endured, I was robbed of my victory. Yet I shall prove to all of you beyond a doubt that Meidias, without committing any outrageous offence, without insulting or striking me, had it in his power both to cause me trouble and to display his public spirit to you in a legitimate way, so that I should not be able to open my lips against him. 21.68This is what he ought to have done, Athenians. When I offered myself to the Assembly as chorus-master for the tribe of Pandionis, he should have got up and offered himself as a rival master for his own tribe of Erechtheis he should have put himself on equal terms with me and spent his money as I was spending mine and tried in that way to wrest the victory from me; but not even as my rival should he have thus insulted and struck me. 21.69As it was, he did not adopt this course, by which he might have done honor to the people, nor did he work off his high spirits in this way. No; I was his target, I who in my madness, men of Athens,—for it may be madness to engage in something beyond one's power perhaps in my ambition, volunteered for chorus-master. He harassed me with a persecution so undisguised and so brutal that neither the sacred costumes nor the chorus nor at last even my own person was safe from his hands.

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 Samos at a gathering—just a private pleasure-party-and because he imagined he was insulting him, took such summary vengeance that he actually killed him. note

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 Athens, can bring the outrage as vividly before the hearers as it appears in truth and reality to the victim and to the spectators. 21.73In the name of all the gods, Athenians, I ask you to reflect and calculate in your own minds how much more reason I had to be angry when I suffered so at the hands of Meidias, than Euaeon when he killed Boeotus. Euaeon was struck by an acquaintance, who was drunk at the time, in the presence of six or seven witnesses, who were also acquaintances and might be depended upon to denounce the one for his offence and commend the other if he had patiently restrained his feelings after such an affront, especially as Euaeon had gone to sup at a house which he need never have entered at all. 21.74But I was assaulted by a personal enemy early in the day, when he was sober, prompted by insolence, not by wine, in the presence of many foreigners as well as citizens, and above all in a temple which I was strictly obliged to enter by virtue of my office. And, Athenians, I consider that I was prudent, or rather happily inspired, when I submitted at the time and was not impelled to any irremediable action; though I fully sympathize with Euaeon and anyone else who, when provoked, takes the law into his own hands. 21.75My views were, I think, shared at that trial by many of the jury; for I am told that he was only condemned by a single vote, and yet he had no recourse to tears or supplications and made no effort, small or great, to win the favour of his judges. Let us assume, then, that the judges who condemned him did so, not because he retaliated, but because he did it in such a way as to kill the aggressor, while the judges who acquitted him allowed even this licence of revenge to a man who had suffered an outrage on his person. 21.76What follows? I who was so careful not to cause any irremediable mischief that I never retaliated—from whom am I to seek redress for my sufferings? I think it should be from you and from the laws. I think that you should set up a precedent for all to follow, that no one who wantonly assaults and outrages another should be punished by the victim himself in hot blood, but must be brought into your court, because it is you who confirm and uphold the protection granted by the laws to those who are injured.

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 Athens heard of the challenge and of the plot they then hatched and of their brutal behavior. As for me, being quite alone in the world and a mere lad, I did not want to lose the property that was still in the hands of my guardians, and I expected to obtain, not the trifle that I was actually able to recover, but all that I knew I had been robbed of; so I gave them twenty minas, the sum which they had paid for the performance of their trierarchy by deputy. Such was the scandalous treatment that I received at their hands. 21.81Next I brought an action against Meidias for slander and gained the verdict by default, for he did not appear. He had put himself into my power by failing to pay the fine, but I did not lay hands on his property. Instead I obtained leave to bring an action for ejectment, but to this day I have never been able to commence it, such shifts and quibbles does he find to thwart me. While I think it my duty to proceed thus with caution, legally and constitutionally, Meidias, as you learn, thought fit to treat with brutal insolence not only me and mine, but also my fellow-tribesmen through me. 21.82To prove the truth of this, please call my witnesses, so that you may know that, before obtaining legal redress for my former injuries, I have again been insulted in the way that you have heard.Deposition

[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 Athens, in the matter of the legal action and observe his insolent and overbearing conduct on each occasion. In that action—I mean the one in which I obtained a verdict against him—the arbitrator assigned to me was Strato of Phalerum, a man of small means and no experience, but in other respects quite a good fellow; but his appointment proved the unhappy man's ruin—a ruin undeserved, unjust, and in every way scandalous. 21.84This Strato, acting as arbitrator, when the appointed day arrived and all the legal delays had been exhausted—counter-pleas, demurrers, and the rest of them—and there was not a trick left, at first begged me to abandon the arbitration, and then to postpone it till the next day, and at the last, as I continued to refuse and Meidias did not appear in court, and it was getting late, he gave his decision against him. 21.85It was now evening and growing dark. Up comes this fellow Meidias to the office of the Archons, and finds them just leaving and Strato already making his way home after having handed to them his judgement of guilty by default. This I learned from one of the bystanders. Well, at first he had the impudence to try and persuade Strato to report a judgement for the defendant instead of one for the plaintiff, and he wanted the Archons to alter the record and offered them fifty drachmas. 21.86But finding that they resented the offer and that he could persuade neither Archons nor arbitrator, he threatened them and blackguarded them and went off and—what do you think he did? Just observe his malignity. [He appealed against the arbitration but omitted the oath, thus allowing the verdict against him to be made absolute, and he was recorded as unsworn. Then, wishing to conceal his real object,] he waited for the last day note for appeal against the arbitrators, which falls in Thargelion or Scirophorion, a day on which some of the arbitrators turned up but others did not; 21.87he induced the presiding arbitrator to put it to the vote contrary to all the laws, because Meidias had not appended the name of a single witness to the summons; he denounces Strato in his absence and in the absence of witnesses, and gets him struck off the roll of arbitrators and disfranchised. And so a citizen of Athens, because Meidias lost his suit by default, has been deprived of all his civic rights, and has been irrevocably disfranchised; and it is unsafe for him to bring an action against Meidias when wronged, or to act as arbitrator for him, or even, it seems, to walk the same street with him. 21.88[Now you must consider the transaction from this point of view. Estimate what loss Meidias must have suffered before he could plan such a dire revenge against a fellow-citizen; and if it was something really terrible and overwhelming, he may be forgiven, but if it was nothing of the sort, mark the insolent brutality with which he treats all whom he comes across. Well, what loss has he suffered? He was cast, you reply, in a big lawsuit, so big that he has lost all his property. 21.89But the lawsuit only involved a thousand drachmas. True, you will say; but the galling thing is to be made to pay unfairly, and it was the unfairness of it that caused him to let the day of payment pass unnoticed. note But he noticed his mistake the same day, which is the strongest possible proof that Strato had done him no wrong; and he has not yet paid a single drachma. But of that later. 21.90But of course he could have moved for a fresh trial on the ground of nullity, and so made me the object of his litigation as at the first. But no; that was not his game. To save him from defending a suit in which the penalty was fixed by law at ten minas—the suit in which he neglected to apppear—to save him from paying the penalty if guilty or if innocent, a citizen of Athens must needs be disfranchised, and must obtain neither pardon nor right of defence nor any sort of equitable treatment, privileges extended even to those whose guilt is established. 21.91But now that he has disfranchised the man he wanted to, and you have indulged him in this; now that he has sated that shameless temper that prompted him to this course, has he finished the business? Has he paid the fine, to escape which he ruined the poor fellow? Not a brass farthing of it to this day! He submits rather to be the defendant in an action for ejectment. So the one man is disfranchised and ruined on a side issue; the other is unscathed and is playing havoc with the laws, the arbitrators, and everything else that he pleases. 21.92Moreover, he has secured the validity of the award against the arbitrator, which he maneuvered to get without serving a summons, while the suit which he lost to me, wittingly and after due summons, this he renders invalid.] Yet if such is the vengeance that he claims from arbitrators who have given judgement against him by default, what vengeance ought you to wreak on a man who openly and wantonly transgresses your laws? [For if disfranchisement and loss of all legal and civil rights is a fitting punishment for that other offence, death seems an inadequate one for this reckless outrage.] 21.93However, to prove the truth of my statements, please call the witnesses, and also read the law concerning arbitrators.Witnesses

[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 Strato as 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 Strato was victimized by Meidias and was disfranchised contrary to all justice.]

21.94Read also the law concerning arbitrators.Law

[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.]

21.95Call also Strato, the victim of this persecution, for no doubt he will be allowed to stand up in court.

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 Athens, your duty is to hate such creatures, not to screen them. Is it because he is wealthy? But you will find that his wealth was the main cause of his insolence, so that your duty is to cut off the resources from which his insolence springs, rather than spare him for the sake of those resources; for to allow such a reckless and abominable creature to have such wealth at his command is to supply him with resources to use against yourselves. 21.99What plea, then, is left? Pity, forsooth! He will group his children round him and weep and beg you to pardon him for their sakes. That is his last move. [But I need not remind you that pity is the due of those who unjustly suffer more than they can endure, not of those who are paying the penalty for the misdeeds they have committed.] And who could justly pity his children, when he sees that Meidias had no pity for Strato's children, whose distress is enhanced by the reflection that for their father's calamity no relief is possible? For it is not a question of paying a fixed fine and regaining his civil rights; he has been disfranchised absolutely, at one stroke, by the wanton resentment of Meidias. 21.100[Whose insolence then will be checked, and who will be deprived of the wealth that makes such outrages possible, if you are prepared to pity Meidias as though he were an innocent victim, while, if a poor man, who has done no wrong, has through him become unjustly involved in utmost ruin, you fail even to share in his indignation? It must not be. No one deserves pity who shows no pity; no one deserves pardon who grants no pardon. 21.101For I think that all men, in all that they do, feel bound to make a contribution out of their own pockets for the benefit of their own life. Here am I, let us suppose; moderate and merciful towards all, and a benefactor of many. To such a man all men ought to make an equivalent return, if occasion offers or need demands. Here again is a very different man; violent, showing no pity to his neighbor, nor even treating him as a fellow-man. Such a man deserves to be paid in his own coin. And such, Meidias, was the contribution that you paid for your own benefit; such is the return that you deserve. note]

21.102Therefore, men of Athens, I think that even if I had no other charge to bring against Meidias, and even if what I shall allege hereafter were not more serious than what I have already said, you would be justified, in view of my statements, in condemning him and imposing the utmost penalty of the law. Yet the tale is not complete, and I think I shall not be at a loss what to say next, so lavishly has he furnished me with matter for indictment. 21.103How he trumped up a charge of desertion against me and bribed another to bring the action—a scoundrel ready for any dirty job, the filthy Euctemon—that I shall pass over; for that blackmailer never moved for a trial, nor had Meidias hired him for any other purpose than to have this notice posted up before the Tribal Heroes for all men to read, “Euctemon of the Lusian deme has indicted Demosthenes of the Paeanian deme for desertion of his post.” Indeed I think he would have been delighted, if it had been in order, to add that Meidias had hired him to indict me. But I pass that over, because Euctemon, having disfranchised himself by failing to follow up the charge, has given me all the satisfaction that I require. 21.104But I will now relate a serious act of cruelty committed by him, men of Athens, which I at least regard as not merely a personal wrong but a public sacrilege. For when a grave criminal charge was hanging over that unlucky wretch, Aristarchus, the son of Moschus, at first, Athenians, Meidias went round the Market-place and ventured to spread impious and atrocious statements about me to the effect that I was the author of the deed; next, when this device failed, he went to the relations of the dead man, who were bringing the charge of murder against Aristarchus, and offered them money if they would accuse me of the crime. He let neither religion nor piety nor any other consideration stand in the way of this wild proposal: he shrank from nothing. 21.105Nay, he was not ashamed to look even that audience in the face and bring such a terrible calamity upon an innocent man; but having set one goal before him, to ruin me by every means in his power, he thought himself bound to leave no stone unturned, as if it were only right that when any man, having been insulted by him, claimed redress and refused to keep silence, he should be removed by banishment without a chance of escape, should even find himself convicted of desertion, should defend himself on a capital charge, and should be in imminent danger of crucifixion. Yet when Meidias is proved guilty of all this, as well as of his insults when I was chorus-master, what leniency, what compassion shall he deserve at your hands? 21.106My own opinion, men of Athens, is that these acts constitute him my murderer; that while at the Dionysia his outrages were confined to my equipment, my person, and my expenditure, his subsequent course of action shows that they were aimed at everything else that is mine, my citizenship, my family, my privileges, my hopes. Had a single one of his machinations succeeded, I should have been robbed of all that I had, even of the right to be buried in the homeland. What does this mean, gentlemen of the jury? It means that if treatment such as I have suffered is to be the fate of any man who tries to right himself when outraged by Meidias in defiance of all the laws, then it will be best for us, as is the way among barbarians, to grovel at the oppressor's feet and make no attempt at self-defence. 21.107However, to prove that my statements are true and that these things have actually been perpetrated by this shameless ruffian, please call the witnesses.Witnesses

[We, Dionysius of Aphidna and 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 Athens, I wish to address a few words to you. I appeal to all of you jurymen, in the name of Zeus and all the gods, that whatever you hear in court, you may listen to it with this in your minds: What would one of you do, if he were the victim of this treatment, and what anger would he feel on his own account against the author of it? Seriously distressed as I was at the insults that I endured in the discharge of my public service, I am far more seriously distressed and indignant at what ensued. 21.109For in truth, what bounds can be set to wickedness, and how can shamelessness, brutality and insolence go farther, if a man who has committed grave-yes, grave and repeated wrongs against another, instead of making amends and repenting of the evil, should afterwards add more serious outrages and should employ his riches, not to further his own interests without prejudice to others, but for the opposite purpose of driving his victim into exile unjustly and covering him with ignominy, while he gloats over his own superabundance of wealth? 21.110All that, men of Athens, is just what has been done by Meidias. He brought against me a false charge of murder, in which, as the facts proved, I was in no way concerned; he indicted me for desertion, having himself on three occasions deserted his post; and as for the troubles in Euboea—why, I nearly forgot to mention them!-troubles for which his bosom-friend Plutarchus was responsible, he contrived to have the blame laid at my door, before it became plain to everyone that Plutarchus was at the bottom of the whole business. 21.111Lastly, when I was made senator by lot, he denounced me at the scrutiny, and the business proved a very real danger for me; for instead of getting compensation for the injuries I had suffered, I was in danger of being punished for acts with which I had no concern. Having such grievances and being persecuted in the way that I have just described to you, but at the same time being neither quite friendless nor exactly a poor man, I am uncertain, men of Athens, what I ought to do. 21.112For, if I may add a word on this subject also, where the rich are concerned, Athenians, the rest of us have no share in our just and equal rights. Indeed we have not. The rich can choose their own time for facing a jury, and their crimes are stale and cold when they are dished up before you, but if any of the rest of us is in trouble, he is brought into court while all is fresh. The rich have witnesses and counsel in readiness, all primed against us; but, as you see, my witnesses are some of them unwilling even to bear testimony to the truth. 21.113One might harp on these grievances till one was weary, I suppose; but now recite in full the law which I began to quote. Read.Law

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 Athens, this for vileness is impossible to beat—he went into his house and sat as close to him as this, and put his hand in his, in the presence of many witnesses, after that speech in the Council in which he had called Aristarchus a murderer and said the most terrible things of him; that he invoked utter destruction on himself if he had said a word in his disparagement; that he never thought twice about his perjury, though there were people present who knew the truth, and he actually begged him to use his influence to bring about a reconciliation with me. 21.120And yet, Athenians, must we not call it a crime, or rather an impiety, to say that a man is a murderer and then swear that one has never said this to reproach a man with murder and then sit in the same room with him? And if I let him off now and so stultify your vote of condemnation, I am an innocent man apparently; but if I proceed with my case, I am a deserter, I am accessory to a murder, I deserve extermination. I am quite of the contrary opinion, men of Athens. If I had let Meidias off, then I should have been a deserter from the cause of justice, and I might reasonably have charged myself with murder, for life would have been impossible for me, had I acted thus. 21.121And now please call the witnesses to attest the truth of these statements also.Witnesses

[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.

21.126Men of Athens, you have now heard how many outrages I endured, both in my own person and in the performance of my public service, and how many escapes I have had from plots and ill-treatment of every kind. Yet I have omitted much, for it was not easy perhaps to mention everything. But the case is this. By none of his acts was I alone wronged, but in the wrongs inflicted on the chorus my whole tribe, the tenth part of the citizens, shared; by his plots and attacks against me he wronged the laws, to which each of you looks for protection;lastly by all these acts he wronged the god to whose service I had been dedicated and that divine and awful power beyond our ken—the power of Holiness. 21.127Those who would exact from him an adequate punishment for his misdeeds must not let their indignation be checked by the reflection that I alone am concerned, but must base the penalty on the ground that all alike are victims of the same wrong—the laws, the gods, the city of Athens; and they must look upon those who support him and are marshalled in his defence as something more than mere advocates, as men who set the seal of their approval to his acts.

21.128Now if, men of Athens, Meidias had in other respects behaved with decency and moderation, if he had never injured any other citizen, but had confined his brutality and violence to me, I might, in the first place, consider this a piece of my own bad luck, and, in the second place, I should be afraid lest, by pointing to the moderation and humanity of the rest of his life, he might so evade punishment for his outrage on me. 21.129But as it is, the wrongs that he has done to many of you are so many and so great that I am relieved of this apprehension; my fear is now, on the contrary, that when you hear of the terrible wrongs that others have suffered at his hands, some such argument as this may occur to you. “What have you to complain of? Have you suffered more than each of his other victims?” Now all that he has done, I could not relate to you, nor would you have the patience to listen, even if I were allowed for the rest of my speech all the time assigned to both of us: all my time and all his in addition would not suffice. I will confine myself to the most important and clearest examples. 21.130Or rather, this is what I propose to do. I will read you all my memoranda, just as I wrote them out for my own use. I will take first whatever incident you would like to hear first; next your second choice, and so on, as long as you care to listen. There is no lack of variety; plenty of examples of assault, of kinsmen swindled, and of sacrilege. There is not a single passage where you will not find that he has committed many crimes worthy of death.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 Chalcis, blaming the troop and saying that its dispatch was a scandal to the city. In connection with that, you remember too the abuse that he heaped on Cratinus, who is, I understand, going to support him in the present case. Now if he provoked such serious but groundless quarrels with so many citizens at once, what degree of wickedness and recklessness may we expect from him now? 21.133[But I should like to ask you, Meidias, which was the greater scandal to the city—the men who crossed to Chalcis in due order, and with the equipment proper to those who were to take the field against the enemy and to join forces with our allies, or you, who, when lots were drawn for the expedition, prayed that you might draw a blank, who never donned your cuirass, who rode on a saddle with silver trappings, imported from Euboea, taking with you your shawls and goblets and wine-jars, which were confiscated by the customs? We of the infantry learned this by report, for we had not crossed at the same point as the cavalry. 21.134And then, because Archetion or someone chaffed you on the subject, must you annoy them all?] If you did what your fellow-troopers say you did, Meidias, and what you complain of them for saying, then you deserved their reproaches, because you were bringing harm and disgrace both on them and on these jurymen here and on all the city. But if you did not do it and it was all a fabrication, and if the rest of the soldiers, instead of reproving the slanderers, chuckled over you, it only shows that from your general manner of life they thought that such a story exactly fitted you. It was yourself, then, that you ought to have kept more under control, instead of accusing the others. 21.135But you threaten all, you bully all. You insist that everyone else shall consult your wishes; you do not your self consult how to avoid annoying others. Yes, and what seems to me the most damning proof of your audacity is this: you come forward, you shameless ruffian, and include all these men in one sweeping accusation. Anyone else would have shuddered at the thought of doing such a thing.

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 Athens, who are strangely prone to abase themselves towards the wealthy, to attend upon them, and to give witness in their favour.] 21.140All this, I expect, is alarming for the rest of you as individuals, depending each upon his own resources; and that is why you band yourselves together, so that when you find yourselves individually inferior to others, whether in wealth or in friends or in any other respect, you may together prove stronger than any one of your enemies and so check his insolence.

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 Athens in the good old days of her prosperity, and I want you to consider what great public services stand to his credit and how your ancestors dealt with him when he thought fit to behave like a ruffian and a bully. And assuredly it is not from any desire to compare Meidias with Alcibiades that I mention this story. I am not so foolish or infatuated. My object, men of Athens, is that you may know and feel that there is not, and never will be, anything—not birth, not wealth, not power—that you, the great mass of citizens, ought to tolerate, if it is coupled with insolence. 21.144For Alcibiades, Athenians, was on his father's side one of the Alcmaeonidae, who are said to have been banished by the tyrants because they belonged to the democratic faction, and who, with money borrowed from Delphi, liberated our city, expelling the sons of Peisistratus, and on his mother's side he claimed descent from Hipponicus and that famous house to which the people are indebted for many eminent services. 21.145But these were not his only claims, for he had also taken arms in the cause of democracy, twice in Samos and a third time in Athens itself, displaying his patriotism, not by gifts of money or by speeches, but by personal service. He had also to his credit for the Olympian chariot-race and victories there, and we are told that he was regarded as the best general and the ablest speaker of the day. 21.146But yet your ancestors, for all these services, would not allow him to insult them. They made him a fugitive and an outlaw, and in the day of Lacedaemonian power they endured the fortification of Decelea, the capture of their fleet, and every kind of loss, because they deemed any involuntary suffering more honorable than a voluntary submission to the tyranny of insolence. 21.147Yet what was his insolence compared with what has been proved of Meidias today? He boxed the ears of Taureas, when the latter was chorus-master. Granted; but it was as chorus-master to chorus-master that he did it, and he did not transgress the present law, for it had not yet been made. Another story is that he imprisoned the painter Agatharchus. Yes, but he had caught him in an act of trespass, or so we are told; so that it is unfair to blame him for that. He was one of the mutilators of the Hermae. All acts of sacrilege, I suppose, ought to excite the same indignation, but is not complete destruction of sacred things just as sacrilegious as their mutilation? Well, that is what Meidias has been convicted of. 21.148To contrast the two men, let us ask who Meidias is and to whom he displayed his qualities. Do not then imagine that for you, gentlemen, being the descendants of such ancestors, it would be in accordance with justice or piety, to say nothing of honor, if, when you have caught a rascally, violent bully, a mere nobody and son of nobody, you should pronounce him deserving of pardon or pity or favour of any kind. For why should you? Because of his services as general? But not even as a private soldier, much less as a leader of others, is he worth anything at all. For his speeches then? In his public speeches he never yet said a good word of anyone, and he speaks ill of everyone in private. 21.149For the sake of his family perhaps? And who of you does not know the mysterious story of his birth—quite like a melodrama? He was the sport of two opposing circumstances. The real mother who bore him was the most sensible of mortals; his reputed mother who adopted him was the silliest woman in the world. Do you ask why? The one sold him as soon as he was born; the other purchased him, when she might have got a better bargain at the same figure. 21.150And yet, though he has thus become the possessor of privileges to which he has no claim, and has found a fatherland which is reputed to be of all states the most firmly based upon its laws, he seems utterly unable to submit to those laws or abide by them. His true, native barbarism and hatred of religion drive him on by force and betray the fact that he treats his present rights as if they were not his own—as indeed they are not.

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 Athens, public service consists in saying to you at all the meetings of the Assembly and on every possible occasion, “We are the men who perform the public services; we are those who advance your tax-money; we are the capitalists”—if that is all it means, then I confess that Meidias has shown himself the most distinguished citizen of Athens; for he bores us at every Assembly by these tasteless and tactless boasts. 21.154But if you want to find out how he really performs his services, I will tell you; and please mark with what fairness I shall test him, for I will compare him with myself. This man, Athenians, who is about fifty years old or only a trifle less, has not performed more public services than I, who am only two and thirty. Moreover I, as soon as I had reached man's estate, undertook the trierarchy in the days when only two shared the duty, and when we paid all the expenses from our own purses and provided the crews ourselves. 21.155Meidias, when he was of my present age, had not yet begun to perform services; he has only put his hand to the task since you made twelve hundred citizens joint contributors, from whom such men as Meidias exact a talent and then contract for the equipment of the war-galley at the same price. After this the State provides the crews and furnishes the tackle; so that some of them succeed in really spending nothing at all and by pretending to have performed one public service enjoy exemption from the rest. 21.156Well, is there anything else? He has once equipped a tragic chorus; I have furnished a band of male flute-players; and everyone knows that the latter involves much greater expense than the former. Moreover my service is voluntary; his was only undertaken after a challenge to exchange property. Therefore no one could justly allow him any credit for it. What else? I have feasted my tribe and equipped a chorus for the Panathenaea; he has done neither. 21.157I was chairman of one of the tax-syndicates note for ten years, contributing the same share as Phormio, Lysitheides, Callaeschrus, and the richest citizens, not from my actual property, of which my guardians had robbed me, but from the estimated wealth which my father had left and which I was entitled to inherit when I had passed the scrutiny for citizenship. That is how I have borne myself towards you; but how has Meidias? To this day he has never been chairman of a syndicate, though no one has ever robbed him of any part of his inheritance and he has received from his father a large property. 21.158In what, then, consist his splendor, his public services and his lordly expenditure? I cannot for the life of me see, unless one fixes one's attention on these facts. He has built at Eleusis a mansion huge enough to overshadow his neighbors; he drives his wife to the Mysteries, or anywhere else that he wishes, with a pair of greys from Sicyon; he swaggers about the market-place with three or four henchmen in attendance, describing beakers and drinking-horns and cups loud enough for the passers-by to hear. 21.159I do not see how the mass of Athenians are benefited by all the wealth that Meidias retains for private luxury and superfluous display; I do see that his insolence, fostered by his wealth, affects many of us ordinary folk. You ought not to show respect and admiration for such things on every occasion, nor judge a man's public spirit by such tests as these—whether he builds himself a splendid house or keeps many maid-servants or handsome furniture, but whether his splendor and public spirit are displayed in those things in which the majority of you can share. There you will find Meidias absolutely wanting.

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 Athens, he gave it from patriotic motives, be duly grateful and pay him the thanks that such a gift deserves. But do not give him a chance to air his insolence; that must not be conceded as the price of any act or deed. If, on the other hand, it is proved that his motive was cowardice and malingering, do not be led astray. How then will you know? This too I will explain. I will tell you the story from the start: it is not a long one. 21.161Voluntary gifts were first introduced at Athens for the expedition to Euboea. Meidias was not one of those volunteers, but I was, and my colleague was Philinus, the son of Nicostratus. There was a second call subsequently for Olynthus. Meidias was not one of those volunteers either. Yet surely the public-spirited man ought to be found at his post on every occasion. We have now these voluntary gifts for the third time, and this time he did make an offer. But how? Though present in the Council when the gifts were being received, he made no offer then. 21.162But when it was announced that the troops at Tamynae were blockaded, and when the Council carried a preliminary decree to dispatch the rest of the cavalry, to which he belonged, then, alarmed at the prospect of this campaign, he came forward with a voluntary gift at the next meeting of the Assembly, even before the Committee could take their seats. What makes it clear, beyond all possibility of doubt, that his motive was not public spirit but the desire to shirk the campaign? His subsequent proceedings. 21.163For in the first place, when it appeared, as the meeting proceeded and speeches were made, that the services of the cavalry were not now required, but that the proposed expedition had fallen through, he never set foot on the ship he had presented, but dispatched a resident alien, the Egyptian Pamphilus, while he himself stayed at home and behaved at the Dionysia in the way that is the matter of the present trial. 21.164Next, when the general, Phocion, summoned the cavalry from Argura to take their turn of service, and the trickery of Meidias was exposed, then this damnable coward quitted that post and hurried to his ship and never went out with the cavalry whom he claimed to command here at home. But if there had been any risk at sea, he would certainly have hastened to land. 21.165Not so behaved Niceratus, the beloved son of Nicias, though he was himself physically an utter weakling. Not so behaved Euctemon, the son of Aesion, nor Euthydemus, the son of Stratocles. Each of these men had made the gift of a war-galley, yet did not run away from the campaign in this way. Each, as an act of grace and a free gift, supplied the State with a ship ready for sea, and where the law of the State assigned them their posts, there each insisted on giving his personal service. 21.166But not so our cavalry-officer Meidias. He deserted the post assigned him by the laws, and this, which is a punishable offence against the State, he is prepared to count as a meritorious service. Yet, good heavens! what name best befits such a trierarchy as his? Shall we call it patriotism, or tax-jobbing, two-per-cent-collecting, desertion, malingering, and everything of that sort? Unable in any other way to get himself exempt from service with the cavalry, Meidias has invented this new-fangled cavalry-collectorship. note Another point. 21.167All the other donors of war-galleys convoyed you when you sailed back from Styra; Meidias alone took no part in the convoy, but, without a thought for you, he was bringing fences and cattle and door-posts for his own house and pit-props for his silver-mines, and so his command has proved, not a public service, but a lucrative job for this detestable creature. However, to prove to you the truth of my statements, though most of the facts are known to you, I will nevertheless call witnesses. 21.168Witnesses
[We, Cleon of Sunium, Aristocles of Paeania, Pamphilus, Niceratus of Acherdus, and Euctemon of Sphetta, on the occasion when we sailed home from Styra with 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 Athens, his public services and his conduct were really what he will presently in court allege and boast them to have been and not what I thus prove them to have been, even so surely he has no right, under cover of his services, to escape the punishment due to his insolent acts. For I know that there are many men who have done you great and useful service—though not after the style of Meidias! Some have won naval victories, others have captured cities, others have set up many glorious trophies to the credit of the State. 21.170But yet to not one of these men have you ever yet granted, nor are you likely to grant, this reward—licence for each one of them to oppress his private enemies whenever he likes and in whatever way he can. For not even Harmodius and Aristogeiton were so privileged, though indeed they received from you the highest rewards for the noblest services. You would never have tolerated it if any one had added this to the inscription on their monument, “And they shall be licensed to oppress whomsoever they will.” No, they received their other rewards for this very service, that they had restrained those who acted insolently.

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 Cyzicus of more than five talents, and to avoid punishment he worried and harassed the wretches in every possible way, and by making chaos of the treaties he has alienated their state from ours, while he keeps the money himself. Since he was appointed its commander, he has ruined your cavalry force, getting laws passed which he afterwards disowned. 21.174When he was steward of the Paralus at the time of your expedition to Euboea against the Thebans, though he was authorized to expend twelve talents of public money and was instructed by you to sail and convoy the troops, he rendered them no assistance and did not arrive until Diocles had already concluded his truce with the Thebans; moreover he was outstripped by one of the privately owned galleys. That shows you how well he had equipped your sacred galley. Then as cavalry-commander-I do not know what you think of his other performances, but this wealthy fine gentleman did not venture to buy a horse—not even a horse! He led the processions on one borrowed from Philomelus of Paeania, and every cavalryman knows it. Please call the witnesses to prove the truth of these statements also.Witnesses

21.175Now I propose, men of Athens, to name those who have been condemned by you, after an adverse vote of the Assembly, for violating the festival, and to explain what some of them had done to incur your anger, so that you may compare their guilt with that of Meidias. First of all then, to begin with the most recent condemnation, the Assembly gave its verdict against Euandrus of Thespiae for profanation of the Mysteries on the charge of Menippus, a fellow from Caria. The law concerning the Mysteries is identical with that concerning the Dionysia, and it was enacted later. 21.176Well, Athenians, what had Euandrus done to deserve your condemnation? He had won a commercial suit against Menippus, but being, as he alleged, unable to catch him sooner, he had arrested him while he was staying here for the Mysteries. You condemned him for that alone, and there were no aggravating circumstances. When he came before the court, you were inclined to punish him with death, and when his accuser was induced to relent, you compelled Euandrus to refund the damages, amounting to two talents, which he had won in the former action, and you also made him compensate the fellow for the loss that he had sustained, on his own calculation, by staying here in deference to your preliminary verdict. 21.177There you have one case of a man, in a merely private matter, with no added circumstances of insolence, paying so heavy a penalty for a breach of the law. With good reason; because that is what you are here to guard—the laws and your oath. That is what you who serve on any jury hold as a trust from the rest of the citizens, a trust which must be maintained inviolate in the interests of all who appeal to you with justice on their side.

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 Athens, that everyone would admit that the offences of Meidias were much more serious than those of any of these men, of whom one, as I have shown, forfeited the damages he had already received, while the other was actually punished with death. For Meidias, not being in a procession, not having won a suit, not acting as assessor, having in fact no other motive than insolence, behaved worse than any of them. About them I will say no more; 21.182but Pyrrhus, men of Athens, one of the Eteobutadae, who was indicted for serving on a jury when he was in debt to the Treasury, was thought by some of you to deserve capital punishment, and he was convicted in your court and put to death. And yet it was from poverty, not from insolence, that he tried to get the juryman's fee. And I could mention many others who were put to death or disfranchised for far slighter offences than those of Meidias. You yourselves, Athenians, fined Smicrus ten talents and Sciton a similar sum, because he was adjudged to be proposing unconstitutional measures; you had no pity for their children or friends and relations, or for any of those who supported them in court. 21.183Do not, then, display such anger when people make unconstitutional proposals, and such indulgence when not their proposals, but their acts are unconstitutional. For no mere words and terms can be so galling to the great mass of you as the conduct of a man who persistently insults any citizen who crosses his path. Beware, Athenians, of bearing this testimony against yourselves, that if you detect a man of the middle class or a friend of the people committing an offence, you will neither pity nor reprieve him, but will punish him with death or disfranchisement, while you are ready to pardon the insolence of a rich man. Spare us that injustice, and show your indignation impartially against all offenders.

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 Athens, is a great asset and advantage to all wrongdoers. Give me, then, your attention while I show that you have no right to admit Meidias to the least share in that advantage. My view is that all men during their lives pay contributions to their own fortunes, note not only those which are actually collected and paid in, but others also. 21.185For instance, one of us is moderate, kindly disposed and merciful: he deserves to receive an equivalent return from all, if he ever falls into want or distress. Yonder is another, who is shameless and insulting, treating others as if they were beggars, the scum of the earth, mere nobodies: he deserves to be paid with the same measure that he has meted to others. If you will consent to look at it in a true light, you will find that this, and not the former, is the kind of contribution that Meidias has made.

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 Athens; to that I plead guilty. As for Meidias, he has probably never in his life troubled himself about honesty, for if it had entered his head even for a moment to consider such a thing, he would not have missed it so completely in practice.

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 Olynthus; and now once more, having stayed at home, he will address his denunciation of the people to the men who were then away on service. Are you, then, prepared to admit that you, whether at home or on service, are what Meidias proclaims you to be, or on the contrary that he is, and always has been, an unhallowed ruffian? That is my own opinion of him; [for how else are we to describe a creature whom his own troopers, his brother-officers and his friends cannot stomach? 21.198I swear solemnly by Zeus, by Apollo, and by Athena—for I will speak out, whatever the result may be—for when this man was going about, trumping up the story that I had abandoned the prosecution, I observed signs of disgust even among his ardent supporters. And by heaven! they had some excuse, for there is no putting up with the fellow; he claims to be the only rich man and the only man who knows how to speak; all others are in his opinion outcasts, beggars, below the rank of men. 21.199Since he stands on such an eminence of pride, what do you think he will do, if he escapes now? I will tell you how you may know it; you have only to observe the signs that followed the adverse vote.] For who is there that, if an adverse vote had been recorded, and that on a charge of profaning the feast, even if there had been no further suit pending and no danger ahead,—who is there, I say, that would not have made that a reason for effacing himself and behaving decently, at any rate until the time of the trial, if not for ever after? Anyone else would have acted so. But not Meidias. 21.200From that day onwards he has been talking, railing, and bellowing. Is there an election on? Meidias of Anagyrus is a candidate. He is the accredited agent of Plutarchus; he knows all the secrets; the city cannot hold him. His object in all this is obvious;he wants to proclaim that “I am not a pin the worse for the vote of the people: I have no fears or misgivings about the pending action.” 21.201Now a man who thinks it degrading to show any fear of you, Athenians, and a dashing thing to snap his fingers at you, does not such a man deserve death ten times over? [He really believes that you will have no hold over him. Rich, arrogant, haughty, loud-voiced, violent, shameless, where will you catch him if he gives you the slip now?]

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 Athens, now when he comes with his humbug and chicanery, with his lamentations, tears and prayers, to throw this answer in his teeth. “Yes, and that is the sort of man you are, Meidias. You are a bully; you cannot keep your hands to yourself. Then can you wonder if your evil deeds bring you to an evil end? Do you think that we shall submit to you and you shall go on beating us? That we shall acquit you and you shall never desist?”

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 Athens, treat them otherwise than as they would treat you. Keep your respect, not for their wealth or their reputation, but for yourselves. They have many advantages, which no one hinders them from enjoying; then they in their turn must not hinder us from enjoying the security which the laws provide as our common birthright. 21.211Meidias will suffer no distressing hardship if he shall come to possess just as much as the majority of you, whom he now insults and calls beggars, and if he is stripped of the superfluous wealth that incites him to such insolence. Surely such men have no right to ask of you, “Do not try the case by the laws, gentlemen of the jury; do not help the man who has suffered serious wrongs; do not observe your oaths; grant us your verdict as a favour.” If they plead for Meidias, that is what their plea will come to, though these may not be their actual words. 21.212But if they are his friends and think it hard that he should not be rich, well, they are extremely rich themselves; that is their good fortune. Let them spare him some of their own wealth, that you may give your votes honestly, as you swore to do when you came into court, and that they may be generous to him at their own expense, and not at the expense of your honor. But if these men with all their money are not prepared to sacrifice it, how can it be honorable for you to sacrifice your oath?

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 Athens, do not sacrifice me to any one of them; but just as each of them will be zealous for his private interests and for the defendant, so be zealous for your own selves and for the laws, as well as for me who have fled to you for refuge, and cleave to the opinion that you already hold. 21.214If, men of Athens, at the time of the plaint the people, after hearing the facts, had acquitted Meidias, it would not be so hard to bear: one might console oneself with the fancy that the assault had never been made, or that it was not a profanation of the festival, and so on. 21.215But now this would be the hardest blow for me to bear, if, when the offences were fresh in your memory, you displayed such anger and indignation and bitterness that, when Neoptolemus and Mnesarchides and Philippides and another of these very wealthy men were interceding with you and me, you shouted to me not to let him off, and when Blepaeus the banker came up to me, you raised such an uproar, as if I was going to take a bribe—the old, old story!— 21.216that I was startled by your clamor, Athenians, and let my cloak drop so that I was half-naked in my tunic, trying to get away from his grasp, and when you met me afterwards, “Mind you prosecute the blackguard,” you cried; “don't let him go; the Athenians will watch to see what you are going to do”; and yet when the act has been condemned by vote as an outrage, and those who gave that verdict were sitting in a sacred building, and when I have stuck to my task and not betrayed either you or myself, if after all this you are going to acquit him. note 21.217Never! [Such a result entails all that is most disgraceful. I do not deserve this at your hands, Athenians. How should I, when I am bringing to justice a fellow who is as violent a bully as he is reputed to be, who has offended against decency at a public festival, and who has made not only you, but all the Greeks who were visiting the city, witnesses of his brutality? The people heard what he had done. What was the result? They voted him guilty and passed him on to your court. 21.218So it is impossible that your decision should be concealed or hushed up, or that the question should not be asked, How did you judge the case when it was brought before you? No; if you punish him, you will be thought men of discretion and honor and haters of iniquity; but if you acquit him, you will seem to have capitulated to some other motive.] For this is not a political issue, nor does it resemble the case of Aristophon, who stopped the plaint against him by restoring the crowns. This case arises from the insolence of Meidias and from the impossibility of his undoing any of his acts. [Is it then better, in view of the past, to punish him now or the next time he offends? Now is the time, I think, because the trial is a public one, even as the offences for which he is being tried were public.]

21.219Furthermore, it was not I alone, men of Athens, that he then, in his intention, struck and insulted, when he acted as he did, but all who may be supposed less able than I am to obtain satisfaction for themselves. If you were not all beaten, if you were not all insulted while acting as choir-masters, you realize of course that you cannot all be choir-masters at the same time, and that no one could possibly assault all of you at once with a single fist. 21.220But whenever a solitary victim fails to obtain redress, then each one of you must expect to be the next victim himself, and must not be indifferent to such incidents nor wait for them to come his way, but must rather guard against them as long beforehand as possible. I perhaps am hated by Meidias, and each of you by someone else. Would you, then, allow that enemy, whoever he is, to gain the power of doing to each of you what this man has done to me? I should think not indeed. Then neither must you leave me, Athenians, in this man's power. 21.221Just think. The instant this court rises, each of you will walk home, one quicker, another more leisurely, not anxious, not glancing behind him, not fearing whether he is going to run up against a friend or an enemy, a big man or a little one, a strong man or a weak one, or anything of that sort. And why? Because in his heart he knows, and is confident, and has learned to trust the State, that no one shall seize or insult or strike him. 21.222That sense of security, then, with which you walk the streets—will you not guarantee it to me before you set off home? How can I reasonably expect to survive after what I have suffered, if you leave me in the lurch? Perhaps someone will say, “Take heart! You will not be insulted again.” But if I am, will you be angry with him then, after acquitting him now? Do not, gentlemen of the jury, do not betray me or yourselves or the laws. 21.223For if you would only examine and consider the question, what it is that gives you who serve on juries such power and authority in all state-affairs, whether the State empanels two hundred of you or a thousand or any other number, you would find that it is not that you alone of the citizens are drawn up under arms, not that your physical powers are at their best and strongest, not that you are in the earliest prime of manhood; it is due to no cause of that sort but simply to the strength of the laws. 21.224And what is the strength of the laws? If one of you is wronged and cries aloud, will the laws run up and be at his side to assist him? No; they are only written texts and incapable of such action. Wherein then resides their power? In yourselves, if only you support them and make them all-powerful to help him who needs them. So the laws are strong through you and you through the laws. 21.225Therefore you must help them as readily as any man would help himself if wronged; you must consider that you share in the wrongs done to the laws, by whomsoever they are found to be committed; and no excuse—neither public services, nor pity, nor personal influence, nor forensic skill, nor anything else—must be devised whereby anyone who has transgressed the laws shall escape punishment.

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.

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