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Against Aristocrates

23.1Men of Athens, I beg that none of you will imagine that I have come here to arraign the defendant Aristocrates from any motive of private malice, or that I am thrusting myself so eagerly into a quarrel because I have detected some small and trivial blunder, but if my judgement and my views are at all right, the purpose of all my exertions in this case is that you may hold the Chersonese securely, and may not for the second time be cheated out of the possession of that country. 23.2If, then, it is your desire to learn the truth about this business, and to give a righteous and legitimate verdict on the indictment, you must not confine your attention to the mere phrasing of the decree, but also take into consideration its probable consequences.

Had it been possible for you, at a first hearing, to discover the trick that had been played, you would not, perhaps, have been deceived at the outset; 23.3but, inasmuch as one of our grievances is that certain persons make speeches and move resolutions designed to avert your suspicions and put you off your guard, you must not be greatly astonished if we convince you that this decree also is so worded that, while apparently offering some personal protection to Charidemus, it really robs our city of an honest and effective safeguard for the Chersonese.

23.4You will be well advised, men of Athens, to grant me your attention, and give a favorable hearing to what I have to say. I am not one of the orators who worry you; I am not one of the politicians who enjoy your confidence; yet I undertake to convince you of the importance of this transaction; and therefore, if you will cooperate with me to the best of your power and listen to me with goodwill, you will avert this peril, and at the same time you will overcome the reluctance of any of us plain citizens who may believe himself able to do the State a good turn. And he will so believe, if only he is satisfied that it is not difficult to get a hearing in this court; 23.5though at present many of us,—inexpert speakers, perhaps, and yet better men than the experts—so dread this ordeal that they never think even of examining any public question. You may be sure that I for one, as Heaven is my witness, would never have dared to lay this indictment, if I had not thought it entirely dishonorable that at this time, when I see people engaged in a project to the disadvantage of our commonwealth, I should hold my peace, and close my lips,—I who, on a former occasion, when I sailed for the Hellespont in command of a war-galley, spoke out and denounced certain men who, in my judgement, were doing you wrong.

23.6I am not ignorant that Charidemus is regarded by some as a benefactor of Athens. But if I can find ability to tell you what I mean, and what I know him to have done, I hope to prove that, so far from being our benefactor, he is particularly ill-disposed to us, and that exactly the wrong conception has been formed of his character. 23.7If, men of Athens, the most serious offence committed by Aristocrates had been that in his decree he was so solicitous for the safety of such a man as I undertake to prove Charidemus to be that he provided a special and illegal penalty, in case anything happened to him, I should have tried to deal with that point at once, for the purpose of proving that the man is very far from deserving the favour of this decree. There is, however, a much graver iniquity involved in the decree, of which you must first be informed, and against which you must take precaution.

23.8It is essential that at the outset I should explain to you the circumstances to which you owe the secure possession of the Chersonese, for in the light of that knowledge you will get a clear perception of the wrong that has been committed. The circumstances, men of Athens, are these. On the demise of Cotys three persons instead of one became kings of Thrace—Berisades, Amadocus, and Cersobleptes; and the natural result was that they competed with one another and that they all flattered you and courted your favour. 23.9Well, men of Athens, certain persons who wanted to put a stop to that state of affairs, to get rid of the other kings, and to put Cersobleptes in possession of an undivided monarchy, contrived to equip themselves with this provisional resolution. If one listened only to the wording, they were far from appearing to pursue any such purpose; and yet such was in fact their main object, as I will proceed to explain. 23.10On the death of Berisades, one of the three kings, Cersobleptes, in violation of a sworn treaty concluded with you, began to levy war upon the sons of Berisades and upon Amadocus; and it was at once foreseen that Athenodorus would come to the aid of the sons of Berisades, and Simon and Bianor to that of Amadocus, the former being related by marriage to Berisades and the two latter to Amadocus. 23.11Accordingly the persons I have mentioned began to consider by what means those commanders might be compelled to remain inactive, so that, the rival princes being friendless, Charidemus, who was striving to win the monarchy for Cersobleptes, might make himself master of the situation. The first plan was to get a decree enacted by you, making any man who should kill Charidemus liable to arrest; and the second was that Charidemus should receive from you a general's commission. 23.12For neither Simon nor Bianor, both of whom had been admitted to your citizenship, and who were, apart from that, thoroughly well affected towards you, was likely to take the field against a general of yours while Athenodorus, an Athenian citizen by birthright, would never dream of doing so, nor would he incur the criminal charge set up by the decree, which would certainly be brought against those commanders, if anything happened to Charidemus. By these means, the kings being denuded of allies, and impunity provide for themselves, they hoped easily to drive them out and seize the monarchy. 23.13Of such intentions and of such artifices they are accused by the evidence of facts; for, at the moment when they began hostilities, Aristomachus of Alopece visited you as their ambassador, and in his oration before the assembly, not content with commending Cersobleptes and Charidemus and enlarging on their generous sentiments towards you, 23.14he declared that Charidemus was the only man in the world who could recover Amphipolis for Athens, and advised you to appoint him as general. But this preliminary resolution had already been drafted and preconcerted by them, in order that, if you should be captivated by the promises and expectations which Aristomachus held out to you, it might be ratified there and then by the Assembly, and no impediment might remain. 23.15Yet what more ingenious and cunning device could these men have concocted to obtain the expulsion of the other kings, and the subjection of the whole realm to the monarch whom they preferred, than when they intimidated the commanders who would otherwise have supported the two rivals, and put them on their guard against that spiteful accusation which they might reasonably expect to encounter by the operation of this decree; and when on the other hand they conferred upon the man who was scheming to get the monarchy for one king, and was laying plans entirely opposed to your interests, such ample licence to proceed without fear?

23.16Nor is it only these considerations that prove that such was the purpose for which the resolution was moved: the decree itself supplies evidence of great weight. After drafting the words “if any person put Charidemus to death,” and omitting any proviso of what Charidemus might be doing, whether for or against your advantage, the mover forthwith added, “he shall be liable to seizure and removal from the territory of our allies.” 23.17Now no man who is an enemy of ours as well as of Charidemus will ever enter allied territory, whether he has put him to death or not, and therefore it is not against such men that this retribution has been directed. The man who will be alarmed by this decree, and will be on his guard against be coming our certain enemy, is one who is a friend of ours, and also an enemy of his, if he should attempt anything inimical to us. And that man is Athenodorus, or Simon, or Bianor, kings of Thrace, or any other man who may wish to lay you under obligation by restraining Charidemus when he is trying to act in opposition to you.

23.18Such, men of Athens, are the purposes for which the provisional resolution was moved, in the hope that it would be ratified by a deluded Assembly; and such the reasons why we, desiring to frustrate its ratification, have brought this present indictment. As I have undertaken to prove three propositions,—first that the decree is unconstitutional, secondly that it is injurious to the common weal, and thirdly that the person in whose favour it has been moved is unworthy of such privilege,—it is, perhaps, fair that I should allow you, who are to hear me, to choose what you wish to hear first, and second, and last. 23.19Consider what you prefer, that I may begin with that.—You wish me to deal first with the illegality? Very well; I will do so. There is a favour which I not only ask but claim from you all,—with justice, as I am inclined to think. I beg that none of you, men of Athens, taking a partisan view, because you have been deceived in Charidemus and look on him as a benefactor, will give an unfriendly hearing to my remarks on the point of law. Do not, for that reason, rob yourselves of the power to cast an honest vote, and me of the right to present my whole case as I think fit. You must listen to me in the manner following,—and observe how fairly I will put it. 23.20When I am discussing the point of law, you must disregard the person, and the character of the person, in whose favour the decree has been proposed, and attend to the question whether it is legal or illegal,—that and that alone. When I am bringing the man's deeds home to him, and relating in what fashion you have been overreached by him, you must look only at the transactions,—do I relate them accurately or untruly? 23.21And when I inquire whether or not the enactment of this decree is conducive to the public good, dismiss everything else and watch my reasoning on that point,—is it sound or unsound? Listen to me in that manner, and you will get a better understanding of what you ought to know, by looking at one question at a time, instead of inquiring into all the issues at once, while I shall have no difficulty in explaining what I mean. On every topic my remarks shall be brief.

23.22Now take and read the actual statutes, that I may prove thereby the illegality of their proposal.One of the Laws of the Areopagus Concerning Homicide

The Council of the Areopagus shall take cognizance in cases of homicide, of intentional wounding, of arson, and of poisoning, if a man kill another by giving poison.

23.23Stop there. You have heard the statute, men of Athens, and you have also heard the decree. Let me tell you how you will more readily grasp the arguments on the question of illegality. Consider the status of the person in whose favour the decree has been proposed: is he an alien, a resident alien, or a citizen? If we call him a resident alien, we shall not be telling the truth; and if we call him an alien, we shall be doing him wrong, for it is only fair to him to admit the validity of that grace of the people by which he was made a citizen. It seems, then, that we must treat him as a citizen in our arguments. 23.24Now I beg you to observe how candidly and honestly I am going to treat the question; for I assign him to that class which entitles him to the greatest respect, though I do deny his right to acquire illegally privileges not enjoyed by us who are citizens by birthright,—the privileges, I mean, which the defendant has specified in this decree. In the statute it is provided that the Council shall take cognizance of homicide, intentional wounding, arson, and poisoning, if a man kills another by giving him poison. 23.25The legislator, while he presumes the killing, has nevertheless directed a judicial inquiry before specifying what is to be done to the culprit, and thereby has shown a just respect, men of Athens, for the religious feeling of the whole city. I say of the whole city, because it is impossible that all of you should know who the manslayer is. He thought it scandalous to give credit to such accusations, when made, without a trial; and he conceived that, inasmuch as the avenging of the sufferer is in our hands, we ought to be informed and satisfied by argument that the accused is guilty, for then conscience permits us to inflict punishment according to knowledge, but not before. 23.26Moreover he argued that before the trial is held such expressions as “if a man kill,” “if a man rob a temple,” “if a man commit treason,” and the like, are merely phrases of accusation: they become definitions of crime only after trial and conviction. To a formula of accusation he thought it proper to attach not punishment, but only trial; and therefore, when enacting that, if one man killed another, the Council should take cognizance, he did not lay down what should be done to the culprit if found guilty. 23.27So much for the legislator; but what of the author of the decree? “If any man kill Charidemus,” he says. So he defines the injury in the same phrase, “if any man kill,” as the legislator; but the sequel is not the same. He struck out submission to trial, and made the culprit liable to immediate seizure; he passed by the tribunal appointed by law, and handed over to the accusers, to be dealt with as they chose, a man untried, a man whose guilt is not yet proven. 23.28When they have got him, they are to be allowed to torture him, or maltreat him, or extort money from him. Yet the next ensuing statute directly and distinctly forbids such treatment even of men convicted and proved to be murderers. Read to the jury the statute that follows.Law

It shall be lawful to kill note murderers in our own territory, or to arrest them as directed on the first turning-table, note but not to maltreat or amerce them, on penalty of a payment of twice the damage inflicted. The Archons, according to their several jurisdictions, shall bring cases into court; for any man who so desires and the court of Heliaea shall adjudicate.

23.29You have heard the law, men of Athens; and I beg you to examine it and observe how admirably and most righteously it is framed by the legislator. He uses the term “murderers”; but in the first place you see that by murderer he means a man found guilty by verdict; for no man comes under that designation until he has been convicted and found guilty. 23.30That is made clear both in the earlier statute and in this one; for in the former, after the words “if any man kill,” the legislator directs the Council to take cognizance, and here, after designating the man as “the murderer,” he has directed what is to be done to him. That is to say, when it is a question of accusation, he has ordered a trial, but when the culprit, being found guilty, is liable to this designation, he has specified the penalty. Therefore he should be speaking only of persons found guilty. Well, what does he direct? That it shall be lawful to kill them and to put them under arrest. 23.31Does he say that they are to be taken to the house of the prosecutor, or as he pleases? No, indeed. How are they to be arrested? “As directed on the first turning-table,” is the phrase; and you all know what that means. The judicial archons are there authorized to punish with death persons who have gone into exile on a charge of murder. Only last year you all saw the culprit who was arrested by them in the Assembly. It is to the archons, then, that the murderer is to be taken on arrest; 23.32and that differs from being taken to the house of the prosecutor in this respect, men of Athens,—that the captor who carries a man to the judges gives control of the malefactor to the laws, while the captor who takes him home gives such control to himself. In the former case punishment is suffered as the law enjoins; in the latter, as the captor pleases; and of course it makes a vast difference whether the retribution is controlled by the law or by a private enemy. 23.33“Not to maltreat or amerce,” says the statute. What does that mean? Every one, I am sure, understands that not to maltreat means that there is to be no scourging, no binding nor anything like that, and that not to amerce means not to extort blood-money, for the ancients called fining amercement. 23.34Note that in this manner the law lays down not only how the murderer or convict is to be punished, but also where, for it specifies the country of the person injured, and it directly prescribes that the penalty is to be inflicted in that way and in no other, in that place and in no other. Yet the author of the decree is far indeed from making this distinction,—his proposals are exactly contrary. After the words, “if anyone shall kill Charidemus,” he adds, “he shall be liable to seizure everywhere.”— 23.35What do you mean, sir? The laws do not allow even convicted criminals to be arrested elsewhere than in our own country, and do you propose that a man shall be liable to seizure without trial in any allied territory? And when the laws forbid seizure even in our own territory, do you permit seizure? Indeed, in making a man liable to seizure you have permitted everything that the law has forbidden,—extortion of blood-money, maltreatment and misusage of a living man, private custody and private execution. 23.36How could a man be convicted of a more clearly unconstitutional proposal, or of drafting a resolution more outrageously than in this fashion? You had two phrases at your disposal: “if any man kill,” directed against a person under accusation, and “if any man be a murderer, directed against a culprit found guilty; yet in your description you adopted the expression that applies to a man accused, while you propose for untried culprits a penalty which the law does not permit even after conviction. You have eliminated the intermediate process, for between accusation and conviction comes a trial.—There is not a word about trial in the decree proposed by the defendant.

23.37Read the statutes that come next in order.Law

If any man shall kill a murderer, or shall cause him to be killed, so long as the murderer absents himself from the frontier-market, the games, and the Amphictyonic sacrifices, he shall be liable to the same penalty as if he killed an Athenian citizen;and the Criminal Court shall adjudicate.

You must be informed, men of Athens, of the intention with which the legislator enacted this statute. You will find that all his provisions were cautious and agreeable to the spirit of the law. 23.38”If any man,“ he says, shall kill a murderer, or shall cause him to be killed, so long as he absents himself from the frontier-market, the games, and the Amphictyonic sacrifices, he shall be liable to the same penalty as if he killed an Athenian citizen; and the Criminal Court shall adjudicate.” What does this mean? In his opinion it was just that, if a man who had gone into exile, when convicted on a charge of murder, should make good his flight and escape, he should be excluded from the country of the murdered man; but that it was not righteous to put him to death anywhere and everywhere. His view was that, if we put to death people who have gone into exile elsewhere, others will put to death people who have come into exile here; 23.39and that, in that event, the only chance of salvation left for all those who are unfortunate will be destroyed, that is to say, the power of migrating from the country of those whom they have injured to a country where no one has been wronged by them, and there dwelling in security. To avert that misfortune, and to prevent an endless succession of retributions, he wrote: “if any man kill a murderer, so long as he absents himself from the frontier-market,”—meaning thereby the confines of the man's own country. It was there, I suppose, that in old times borderers of our own and neighboring countries used to forgather; and so he speaks of a “frontier-market.” 23.40Or take the words, “from Amphictyonic sacrifices.” Why did he also exclude the murderer from them? He debars the offender from everything in which the deceased used to participate in his lifetime; first from his own country and from all things therein, whether permitted or sacred, assigning the frontier-market as the boundary from which he declares him excluded; and secondly from the observances at Amphictyonic assemblies, because the deceased, if a Hellene, also took part therein. “And from the games,”—why from the games? Because the athletic contests of Hellas are open to all men,—the sufferer was concerned in them because everybody was concerned in them; therefore the murderer must absent himself. 23.41Accordingly the law excludes the murderer from all these places; but if anyone puts him to death elsewhere, outside the places specified, the same retribution is provided as when an Athenian is slain. He did not describe the fugitive by the name of the city, for in that name he has no part, but by that of the act for which he is chargeable. Accordingly he says: “if any man kill the murderer;” and afterwards, when he prescribed the places from which the man is debarred, he introduces the name of the City for the lawful assignment of punishment: “he shall be liable to the same penalty as if he killed an Athenian.” Gentlemen, that phrase is very different from the wording of the decree before us. 23.42Yet is it not scandalous to propose the surrender of men whom the law has permitted to go into exile and to live in security, provided they absent themselves from the places I have mentioned, and to rob them of that benefit of mercy which the unfortunate may justly claim from those who are unconcerned in their crimes, although, in our ignorance of the future destiny of every man, it is uncertain for which of us that benefit is in store? In this case, if the man who slays Charidemus (supposing the thing really to happen) is slain in his turn by men who capture him as an outcast, after he has gone into exile, and while he absents himself from the places specified in the law, they will be liable to a charge of bloodguiltiness,—and so will you, sir. 23.43For it is written: “if any man shall cause to be killed,” and you will have caused, because it is you who have granted the licence implied in your decree. Therefore if, when the event has happened, we let you and your friends go free, we shall be living in the society of the unholy, and on the other hand, if we prosecute, we shall be constrained to act in opposition to our own resolution.—Gentlemen, is it a trifling or a casual reason that you have for annulling this decree?

23.44Read the next statute.Statute

If any man outside the frontier pursue or violently seize the person of any homicide who has quitted the country, and whose goods are not confiscate, he shall incur the same penalty as if he so acted within our own territory.

Here is another law, men of Athens, humanely and excellently enacted; and this law the defendant shall in like manner be proved to have transgressed. 23.45“If any man,” it begins, and then, “any homicide who has quitted the country and whose goods are not confiscate,” meaning any man who has migrated by reason of involuntary manslaughter. That is quite clear, because it speaks of those who have “quitted the country,” not of those who have gone into exile, and because it specifies persons “whose goods are not confiscate,” for the property of willful murderers is forfeited to the State. The legislator, I say, is speaking of involuntary offenders. To what purport? 23.46If they are pursued or violently seized, he says, “outside the frontier.” What is the significance of “outside the frontier”? For all homicides alike the “frontier” implies exclusion from the country of the person slain. From that country he permits them to be pursued and seized; but outside of it he permits neither seizure nor pursuit. For anyone who contravenes this rule he orders the same punishment as if he had done the man wrong at home, in the words, “shall incur the same penalty as if he had so acted at home.” 23.47Now suppose the defendant Aristocrates were asked,—you must not think it a silly question—first if he knows whether Charidemus will be killed by someone, or will die in some other way. He would reply, I take it, that he does not know. However, we will presume that somebody will kill him. Next question: will the man who is to do it be a voluntary or an involuntary agent, an alien or a citizen,—do you know, Aristocrates? You cannot say that you do know. 23.48Then of course you ought to have supplied these particulars, and written, “if any man, whether alien or citizen, shall kill, with or without intention, rightfully or wrongfully,” in order that any man soever, by whom the deed should have been done, might have received his deserts according to law; but assuredly, after merely naming an accusation, you ought not to have added, “he shall be liable to seizure.” What boundary have you left in this clause? 23.49Yet the law distinctly provides that beyond the frontier a man shall not be pursued, whereas you permit him to be seized anywhere. Beyond the frontier the law forbids not only pursuit but also seizure; and yet according to your decree anyone who chooses will take as an outcast and forcibly seize a man who has slain without intention, and carry him by violence into the country of the slain man. Are you not treating human conduct indiscriminately, and ignoring the motives according to which a given act is either virtuous or immoral?— 23.50Observe, gentlemen, that this is a universal distinction: it does not apply only to questions of homicide. “If a man strike another, giving the first blow,” says the law. The implication is that he is not guilty, if the blow was defensive. “If a man revile another,”—“with false hoods,” the law adds, implying that, if he speaks the truth, he is justified. “If a man slay another with malice aforethought,”—indicating that it is not the same thing if he does it unintentionally. “If a man injures another with intention, wrongfully.” Everywhere we shall find that it is the motive that fixes the character of the act. But not with you: you say, without qualification, “if any man slay Charidemus, he shall be seized,” though he do it unwittingly, or righteously, or in self-defence, or for a purpose permitted by law, or in any way whatsoever.

23.51Read the statute that comes next.Law

No man shall be liable to proceedings for murder because he lays information against exiles, if any such exile return to a prohibited place.

This statute, men of Athens, like all the other excerpts from the law of homicide which I have cited for comparison, is a statute of Draco; and you must pay attention to his meaning. “No man is to be liable to prosecution for murder for laying information against manslayers who return from exile illegally.” Herein he exhibits two principles of justice, both of which have been transgressed by the defendant in his decree. In the first place, though he allows information to be laid against the homicide, he does not allow him to be seized and carried off; and secondly, he allows it only if an exile returns, not to any place, but to a prohibited place. 23.52Now the prohibited place is the city from which he has gone into exile. That the law makes very clear indeed when it says, “if any man return,”—a word that cannot be used in relation to any other city except that from which he has fled; for of course a man cannot return from exile to a place from which he was never expelled. What is allowed by the statute is an information, and that only in case of return to a prohibited place; whereas Aristocrates has proposed that a man shall be liable to seizure even in places where the law does not forbid him to take refuge.

23.53Read another statute.Law

If a man kill another unintentionally in an athletic contest, or overcoming him in a fight on the highway, or unwittingly in battle, or in intercourse with his wife, or mother, or sister, or daughter, or concubine kept for procreation of legitimate children, he shall not go into exile as a manslayer on that account.

Many statutes have been violated, men of Athens, in the drafting of this decree, but none more gravely than that which has just been read. Though the law so clearly gives permission to slay, and states under what conditions, the defendant ignores all those conditions, and has drawn his penal clause without any suggestion as to the manner of the slaying. 23.54Yet mark how righteously and admirably these distinctions are severally defined by the lawgiver who defined them originally. “If a man kill another in an athletic contest,” he declared him to be not guilty, for this reason, that he had regard not to the event but to the intention of the agent. That intention is, not to kill his man, but to vanquish him unslain. If the other combatant was too weak to support the struggle for victory, he considered him responsible for his own fate, and therefore provided no retribution on his account. 23.55Again, “if in battle unwittingly”—the man who so slays is free of bloodguiltiness. Good: If I have destroyed a man supposing him to be one of the enemy, I deserve, not to stand trial, but to be forgiven. “Or in intercourse with his wife, or mother, or sister, or daughter, or concubine kept for the procreation of legitimate children.” He lets the man who slays one so treating any of these women go scot-free; and that acquittal, men of Athens, is the most righteous of all. 23.56Why? Because in the defence of those for whose sake we fight our enemies, to save them from indignity and licentiousness, he permitted us to slay even our friends, if they insult them and defile them in defiance of law. Men are not our friends and our foes by natural generation: they are made such by their own actions; and the law gives us freedom to chastise as enemies those whose acts are hostile. When there are so many conditions that justify the slaying of anyone else, it is monstrous that that man should be the only man in the world whom, even under those conditions, it is to be unlawful to slay. 23.57Let us suppose that a fate that has doubtless befallen others before now should befall him—that he should withdraw from Thrace and come and live somewhere in a civilized community; and that, though no longer enjoying the licence under which he now commits many illegalities, he should be driven by his habits and his lusts to attempt the sort of behavior I have mentioned, will not a man be obliged to allow himself to be insulted by Charidemus in silence? It will not be safe to put him to death, nor, by reason of this decree, to obtain the satisfaction provided by law. 23.58If anyone interrupts me with a question, “And where, pray, are such things likely to happen?” there is nothing to prevent me from asking, “And who is likely to kill Charidemus?” Well, we need not go into those questions; only, inasmuch as the decree now on trial refers, not to any past transaction, but to something of which nobody knows whether it will happen or not, let the uncertainty of the future be common ground to both sides; let us, as mankind are wont, adjust our expectations thereto, and consider the matter on the presumption that both the one contingency and the other may possibly happen. 23.59Moreover, if you annul the decree, should anything happen to Charidemus, the legitimate means of avenging him are still there. On the other hand, if you let it stand, and if before he dies he maltreats any man, the man whom he insults has been defrauded of his legal remedy. Therefore on every ground the decree is contrary to law, and ought to be annulled.

23.60Read the next statute.Law

If any man while violently and illegally seizing another shall be slain straightway in self-defence, there shall be no penalty for his death.

Here are other conditions of lawful homicide. If any man, while violently and illegally seizing another, shall be straightway slain in self-defence, the legislator ordains that there shall be no penalty for his death. I beg you to observe the wisdom of this law. By adding the word “straightway” after indicating the conditions of lawful homicide, the legislator has excluded any long premeditation of injury and by the expression, “in self-defence,” he makes it clear that he is giving indulgence to the actual sufferer, and to no other man. Thus the law permits homicide in immediate self-defence; but Aristocrates has made no such exception. He says, without qualification, “if anyone ever kills,”—that is, even if he kill righteously, or as the laws permit. 23.61I shall be told that this is a quibble of ours; who will ever be “violently and illegally seized” by Charidemus? Everybody. Surely you are aware that any man who has troops at command lays hands on whomsoever he thinks he can overpower, demanding ransom. Heaven and Earth! Is it not monstrous, is it not manifestly contrary to law,—I do not mean merely to the statute law but to the unwritten law of our common humanity,—that I should not be permitted to defend myself against one who violently seizes my goods as though I were an enemy? And that will be so, if the slaying of Charidemus is forbidden even on those terms,—if even though he be iniquitously plundering another man's property, his slayer is to be liable to seizure, though the statute ordains that he who takes life under such conditions shall have impunity.

23.62Read the next statute.Law

Whosoever, whether magistrate or private citizen, shall cause this ordinance to be frustrated, or shall alter the same, shall be disfranchised with his children and his property.

You have heard the statute, men of Athens, declaring in plain terms that “whosoever, whether magistrate or private citizen, shall cause this ordinance to be frustrated or shall alter the same, shall be disfranchised with his children and his property.” Do you then count this a trifling or worthless precaution taken by the author of the statute to secure its validity, and to save it from being either frustrated or altered? Yet the defendant Aristocrates, with very little regard for the lawgiver, is trying both to alter it and to frustrate it. For surely, to permit punishment outside the established tribunals and beyond the limits of the prohibited areas, or to rob people of the right of fair hearing, and make them outcasts—what is that but alteration? To draft a series of clauses, all of them exactly contradicting the provisions of the statute-book—what is that but frustration?

23.63Besides the laws cited, he has violated many other statutes, which we have not put on the schedule because they are so numerous. I offer a summary statement. Take the laws which deal with courts of homicide, and which order the contending parties to summon one another, or to tender evidence, or to take their oaths, or which give them any other direction; he has violated every one of them; he has drafted this decree in contravention of them all. What other account can one give, when there is no summons, no evidence by witnesses of the fact, no oath-taking,—when the penalty follows on the heels of the accusation, and that a penalty forbidden by the laws? Yet all the proceedings I have named are in use, as ordered by statute, at five different tribunals. note 23.64—Yes, but,—someone will say,—those tribunals are worthless and unfairly constituted, whereas the proposals of the defendant are righteous and admirable.—I deny it. I say that of all the proposals ever laid before you I know of none more outrageous than this decree, and that of all the tribunals to be found in the whole world there are none that can be shown to be more venerable or more righteous than ours. I desire to speak briefly of certain truths, the relation of which reflects credit and honor upon the city, and which you will be gratified to hear. I will begin with a statement which you will find especially instructive, first referring to the free gift which has already been conferred upon Charidemus.

23.65It was we, men of Athens, who made Charidemus a citizen, and by that gift bestowed upon him a share in our civil and religious observances, in our legal rights, and in everything in which we ourselves participate. There are many institutions of ours the like of which are not to be found elsewhere, but among them one especially peculiar to ourselves and venerable,—I mean the Court of Areopagus. Concerning that Court I could relate a greater number of noble stories, in part traditional and legendary, in part certified by our own personal testimony, than could be told of any other tribunal. It is worth your while to listen to one or two of them by way of illustration. 23.66First, then, in ancient times, as we are told by tradition, in this court alone the gods condescended both to render and to demand satisfaction for homicide, and to sit in judgement upon contending litigants,—Poseidon, according to the legend, deigning to demand justice from Ares on behalf of his son Halirrothius, and the twelve gods to adjudicate between the Eumenides and Orestes. These are ancient stories; let us pass to a later date. This is the only tribunal which no despot, no oligarchy, no democracy, has ever dared to deprive of its jurisdiction in cases of murder, all men agreeing that in such cases no jurisprudence of their own devising could be more effective than that which has been devised in this court. In addition to these great merits, here, and here alone, no convicted defendant and no defeated prosecutor has ever made good any complaint against the justice of the verdict given. 23.67And so, in defiance of this safeguard of justice, and of the lawful penalties that it awards, the author of this decree has offered to Charidemus a free licence to do what he likes as long as he lives, and to his friends the right of vindictive prosecution when he is dead. For look at it in this light. You are all of course aware that in the Areopagus, where the law both permits and enjoins the trial of homicide, first, every man who brings accusation of such a crime must make oath by invoking destruction upon himself, his kindred, and his household; 23.68secondly, that he must not treat this oath as an ordinary oath, but as one which no man swears for any other purpose; for he stands over the entrails of a boar, a ram, and a bull, and they must have been slaughtered by the necessary officers and on the days appointed, so that in respect both of the time and of the functionaries every requirement of solemnity has been satisfied. Even then the person who has sworn this tremendous oath does not gain immediate credence; and if any falsehood is brought home to him, he will carry away with him to his children and his kindred the stain of perjury,—but gain nothing. 23.69If, on the other hand, he is believed to be laying a just charge, and if he proves the accused guilty of murder, even then he has no power over the convicted criminal; only the laws and the appointed officers have power over the man for punishment. The prosecutor is permitted to see him suffering the penalty awarded by law, and that is all. Such are the prosecutor's rights. As for the defendant, the rules for his oath are the same, but he is free to withdraw after making his first speech, and neither the prosecutor, nor the judges, nor any other man, has authority to stop him. 23.70Now why is that so, men of Athens? Because they who originally ordained these customs, whoever they were, heroes or gods, did not treat evil fortune with severity, but humanely alleviated its calamities, so far as they honestly could. All those regulations, so nobly and equitably conceived, the author of the decree now in question has manifestly infringed, for not a single shred of them is to be found in his decree.—That is my first point: here is one tribunal whose written laws and unwritten usages he has contravened in drafting his decree.

23.71Secondly, there is another tribunal, the court by the Palladium, for the trial of involuntary homicide; and it shall be shown that he nullifies that tribunal also, and transgresses the laws there observed. Here also the order is first the oath-taking, secondly the pleadings, and thirdly the decision of the court; and not one of these processes is found in the defendant's decree. If the culprit be convicted, and found to have committed the act, neither the prosecutor nor any other person has any authority over him, but only the law. And what does the law enjoin? 23.72That the man who is convicted of involuntary homicide shall, on certain appointed days, leave the country by a prescribed route, and remain in exile until he is reconciled to one of the relatives of the deceased. Then the law permits him to return, not casually, but in a certain manner; it instructs him to make sacrifice and to purify himself, and gives other directions for his conduct. In all these provisions, men of Athens, the law is right. 23.73It is just to allot a lesser penalty for involuntary than for willful homicide; it is quite right, before ordering a man to go into exile, to provide for his safe departure; and the provisions for the reinstatement of the returning exile, for his purification by customary rites, and so forth, are excellent. Well, everyone of these ordinances, so righteously enacted by the original legislators, has been transgressed by the defendant in drafting his decree. So we have now two tribunals, of great antiquity and high character, and usages handed down from time immemorial, which he has insolently overridden.

23.74Besides these two tribunals there is also a third, whose usages are still more sacred and awe-inspiring, for cases in which a man admits the act of slaying, but pleads that he slew lawfully. That is the court held at the Delphinium. It appears to me, gentlemen of the jury, that the first inquiry made by those who originally defined the rules of jurisprudence in these matters was, whether we are to regard no act of homicide as righteous, or whether any kind of homicide is to be accounted righteous; and that, arguing that Orestes, having slain his own mother, confessing the fact, and finding gods to adjudge his case, was acquitted, they formed the opinion that there is such thing as justifiable homicide,—for gods could not have given an unjust verdict. Having formed this opinion, they immediately set down in writing an exact definition of the conditions under which homicide is lawful. 23.75The defendant, however, admitted no exception; he simply makes an outcast of any man who kills Charidemus, even though he kill him justly or as the laws permit. And yet to every act and to every word one of two epithets is applicable: it is either just or unjust. To no act and to no word can both these epithets be applied at the same time, for how can the same act at the same time be both just and not just? Every act is brought to the test as having the one or the other of these qualities; if it be found to have the quality of injustice, it is adjudged to be wicked, if of justice, to be good and honest.—But you, sir, used neither qualification when you wrote the words, “if any man kill.” You named the mere accusation, without any definition, and then immediately added, “let him be liable to seizure.” Thereby you have evidently ignored this tribunal and its usages as well as the other two.

23.76There is also a fourth tribunal, that at the Prytaneum. Its function is that, if a man is struck by a stone, or a piece of wood or iron, or anything of that sort, falling upon him, and if someone, without knowing who threw it, knows and possesses the implement of homicide, he takes proceedings against these implements in that court. Well, if it is not righteous to deny a trial even to a lifeless and senseless thing, the object of so grave an accusation, assuredly it is impious and outrageous that a man who may possibly be not guilty, and who in any case,—and I will assume him to be guilty,—is a human being endowed by fortune with the same nature as ourselves, should be made an outcast on such a charge without a hearing and without a verdict.

23.77Then there is a fifth tribunal which he has overruled,—and I beg you to take note of its character; I mean the court held in the precinct of Phreatto. In that court, men of Athens, the law orders every man stand his trial who, having gone into exile on a charge of unintentional homicide, and being still unreconciled to the persons who procured his banishment, incurs a further charge of willful murder. The author of the several rules of court did not let such a man alone, on the ground that he was unable to return to Athens, nor did he, because the man had already committed a like offence, treat the similarity of the accusation as proof positive against him; 23.78he found a way of satisfying the requirements of religion without depriving the culprit of a fair hearing and a trial. How did he manage it? He conveyed the judges who were to sit to a place to which the accused was able to repair, appointing a place within the country but on the sea-coast, known as the precinct of Phreatto. The culprit approaches the shore in a vessel, and makes his speech without landing, while the judges listen to him and give judgement on shore. If found guilty, the man suffers the penalty of willful murder as he deserves; if acquitted, he goes his way scot-free in respect of that charge, but still subject to punishment for the earlier homicide. 23.79Now with what object have these regulations been made so carefully? The man who drew them up accounted it equally irreligious to let slip the guilty, and to cast out the innocent before trial. But if such great pains are taken in the case of persons already adjudged to be homicides, to ensure for them a hearing, a trial, and fair treatment in every respect upon any subsequent accusation, surely it is most outrageous to provide that a man who has not yet been found guilty, and of whom it is still undecided whether he committed the act or not, and whether the act was involuntary or willful, should be handed over to the mercy of his accusers.

23.80In addition to all these provisions for legal redress there is a sixth, which the defendant has equally defied in his decree. Suppose that a man is ignorant of all the processes I have mentioned, or that the proper time for taking such proceedings has elapsed, that for any other reasons he does not choose to prosecute by those methods; if he sees the homicide frequenting places of worship or the market, he may arrest him and take him to jail; but not, as you have permitted, to his own house or wherever he chooses. When under arrest he will suffer no injury in jail until after his trial; but, if he is found guilty, he will be punished with death. On the other hand, if the person who arrested him does not get a fifth part of the votes, he will be fined a thousand drachmas. 23.81The proposals of the defendant are quite different: the accuser is to prosecute without risk, the culprit to be given up incontinently and without trial; and if any person, or indeed any entire city, shall intervene to prevent the destruction of all those usages which I have described and the overthrow of all the tribunals I have mentioned; tribunals introduced by the gods and frequented by mankind from that day to this,—and to rescue the victims of outrage and lawless violence, he proposes that any such person shall be banned; for him also he allows no hearing and no trial, but punishes him instantly and without trial. Could any decree be more monstrous and more unconstitutional?

23.82Have we any statute left? . . . Let me see it. . . . . Yes, that is the one; read it.Law

If any man die a violent death, his kinsmen may take and hold hostages in respect of such death, until they either submit to trial for bloodguiltiness, or surrender the actual manslayers. This right is limited to three hostages and no more.

We have many well-conceived laws, men of Athens; but I am inclined to think that this statute is as wise and just as any of them. Observe the spirit of equity and the remarkable humanity with which it is drawn up. 23.83“If any man die a violent death,” says the legislator. First, by adding the epithet “violent,” he has given an indication by which we understand his meaning to be, “if a man die wrongfully.” “His kinsmen may take and hold hostages in respect of such death, until they either submit to trial for bloodguiltiness, or surrender the actual manslayers.” You will note what an admirable provision this is. He requires the hostages, in the first instance, to stand trial; and then if they refuse, he enjoins them to give up the murderers; but, if they decline both these duties, he adds that the right to hold hostages is limited to three and no more. The whole of this statute is defied in the wording of the decree. 23.84In the first place, when writing the words, “if any man shall kill,” he did not add “wrongfully,” or “violently,” or any qualification at all. Secondly he proposes that the culprit shall be liable to seizure instantly and before any claim of redress has been made. Furthermore, while the statute ordains that, if the persons in whose house the death took place will neither submit to trial nor give up the perpetrators, as many as three may be detained as hostages, 23.85Aristocrates dismisses those persons scot-free, and takes no account of them whatever, but proposes to put under a ban those who, in obedience to that common law of mankind which enjoins hospitality to a fugitive, have harbored the culprit, who, as I will assume, has already gone into exile, if they refuse to surrender their suppliant. Thus, by omitting to specify the mode of the homicide, by not providing for a trial, by omitting the claim of redress, by permitting arrest in any place whatsoever, by punishing those who harbor the fugitive, and by not punishing those in whose house the death took place,—in every respect I say that his proposal is in manifest contravention of this statute also.

23.86Read the next one.Law

And it shall not be lawful to propose a statute directed against an individual, unless the same apply to all Athenians.

The statute just read is not, like the others, taken from the Laws of Homicide, but it is just as good—as good as ever law was. The man who introduced it was of opinion that, as every citizen has an equal share in civil rights, so everybody should have an equal share in the laws; and therefore he moved that it should not be lawful to propose a law affecting any individual, unless the same applied to all Athenians. Now seeing that it is agreed that the drafting of decrees must conform to the law, a man who draws a decree for the special benefit of Charidemus, such as is not applicable to all the rest of you, must evidently be making a proposal in defiance of this statute also; of course what it is unlawful to put into a statute cannot legitimately be put into a decree.

23.87Read the next statute,—or is that all of them?Law

No decree either of the Council or of the Assembly shall have superior authority to a statute.

Put it down.—I take it, gentlemen, that a very short and easy argument will serve me to prove that this statute has been violated in the drafting of the decree. When there are so many statutes, and when a man makes a motion that contravenes every one of them, and incorporates a private transaction in a decree, how can anyone deny that he is claiming for his decree authority superior to that of a statute?

23.88Now I wish to cite for your information one or two decrees drawn in favour of genuine benefactors of the commonwealth, to satisfy you that it is easy to frame such things without injustice, when they are drawn for the express purpose of doing honor to a man, and of admitting him to a share of our own privileges, and when, under the pretence of doing so, there is no malicious and fraudulent intention.—Read these decrees.—To save you a long hearing, the clauses corresponding to that for which I am prosecuting the defendant have been extracted from the several decrees.Decrees

23.89You see, men of Athens, that they have all drawn them in the same fashion. For instance: “There shall be the same redress for him as if the person slain were an Athenian.” Here, without tampering with your existing laws respecting such offences, they enhance the dignity of those laws by making it an act of grace to allow a share in them to others. Not so Aristocrates: he does his very best to drag the laws through the mire; anyhow, he tried to compose something of his own, as though they were worth nothing; and he makes light even of that act of grace which you bestowed your citizenship upon Charidemus. For when he assumes that you still owe the man a debt of gratitude, and has proposed that you should protect him into the bargain, so that he may do just what he likes with impunity, does not such conduct merit my description?

23.90I am well aware, men of Athens, that, although Aristocrates will be quite unable to disprove the charge of framing his decree in open defiance of the laws, he will make an attempt to shuffle away the most serious part of the accusation,—namely, that from beginning to end of his decree he does not order any trial of a very grave indictment. On that point I do not think I need say much; but I will prove clearly from the actual phrasing of the decree that he himself does not suppose that the man accused will get any trial at all. 23.91The words are: “If any man kill Charidemus, he shall be liable to seizure; and if any person or any city rescue him, they shall be put under ban,”—not merely in case they refuse to give up for trial the man they have rescued, but absolutely and without more ado. And yet if he were permitting instead of disallowing a trial, he would have made the penal clause against the rescuers conditional upon their not giving up for trial the person rescued.

23.92I dare say that he will use the following argument, and that he will try very hard to mislead you on this point. The decree, he will urge, is invalid because it is merely a provisional resolution, note and the law provides that resolutions of the Council shall be in force for one year only; therefore, if you acquit him today, the commonwealth can take no harm in respect of his decree. 23.93I think your rejoinder to that argument should be that the defendant's purpose in drafting the decree was, not that it should be inoperative and have no disagreeable results,—for it was open to him not to draft it at all, if he had wished to consult the best advantage of the commonwealth;—but that you might be misled and certain people might be enabled to carry through projects opposed to your interests. That the decree has been challenged, that its operation has been delayed, and that it has now become invalid, you owe to us; and it is preposterous that the very reasons that ought to make you grateful to us should be available as reasons for acquitting our opponents. 23.94Moreover the question is not so simple as some suppose. If there were no other man likely to propose decrees like his without regard to your interests, the matter might, perhaps, be a simple one. But in fact there are many such; and that is why it is not right that you should refuse to annul this decree. If it is pronounced flawless, who will not move decrees in future without misgiving? Who will refuse to put them to the vote? Who will impeach them? What you have to take into account is, not that this decree has become invalid by lapse of time, but that, if you now give judgement for the defendant, by that verdict you will be offering impunity to every man who may hereafter wish to do you a mischief.

23.95It also occurs to my mind, men of Athens, that Aristocrates, having no straightforward or honest defence, nor indeed any defence at all, to offer, will resort to such fallacious arguments as this,—that many similar decrees have been made before now in favour of many persons. That is no proof, gentlemen, of the legality of his own proposal. There are many pretences by which you have often been misled. 23.96For instance, suppose that one of those decrees which have in fact been disallowed had never been impeached in this Court. It would certainly have been operative; nevertheless it would have been moved contrary to law. Or suppose that a decree, being impeached, was pronounced flawless, because the prosecutors, either collusively or through incompetence, had failed to make good their case: that failure does not make it legal. Then the jurors do not give conscientious verdicts? Yes, they do; I will explain how. They are sworn to decide to the best of an honest judgement; but the view that commends itself to their judgement is guided by the speeches to which they listen, and, inasmuch as they cast their votes in accordance with that view, they are true to their oath. 23.97Every man keeps his oath who does not, through spite or favour or other dishonest motive, vote against his better judgement. Suppose that he does not apprehend some point that is explained to him, he does not deserve to be punished for his lack of intelligence. The man who is amenable to the curse is the advocate who deceives and misleads the jury. That is why, at every meeting, the crier pronounces a commination, not upon those who have been misled, but upon whosoever makes a misleading speech to the Council, or to the Assembly, or to the Court. 23.98Do not listen to proof that the thing has happened, but only to proof that it ought to have happened. Do not let them tell you that those old decrees were upheld by other juries; ask them to satisfy you that their plea for this decree is fairer than ours. Failing that, I do not think that you ought to give greater weight to the delusions of others than to your own judgement. 23.99Moreover, I cannot but think that there is something uncommonly impudent in such a plea as that other people have before now got decrees of this sort.—If, sir, an illegal act has already been done, and you have imitated that act, that is no reason why you should be acquitted. On the contrary, it is an additional reason why you should be convicted. If one of them had been found guilty, you would never have moved our decree and similarly another will be deterred, if you are found guilty today.

23.100I say that I do not expect that Aristocrates will be able to deny that he has moved a decree in open violation of all the laws; but before now, men of Athens, I have seen a man contesting an indictment for illegal measures, who, though convicted by law, made an attempt to argue that his proposal had been to the public advantage, and insisted strongly on that point,—a simple-minded argument, surely, if it was not an impudent one. 23.101Admit a man's proposition to be in every other respect advantageous; it is still disadvantageous in so far as he begs you, who are sworn to give judgement according to law, to ratify a decree which he himself cannot prove to have been honestly drawn, seeing that every man is bound to set the highest value upon fidelity to his oath. At the same time the plea, though impertinent, has reason in it; but not a reason which Aristocrates will be able to submit to you. Entirely opposed as his decree is to the laws, it is not less pernicious than illegal. 23.102That is the point which I wish now to make good to you; and, in order to do what I wish in as few words as possible, will cite an illustration that is well known to you all. You are aware that it is for the advantage of Athens that neither the Thebans nor the Lacedaemonians should be powerful; that the Thebans should be counterbalanced by the Phocians, and the Lacedaemonians by other communities; because, when that is the position of affairs, you are the strongest nation, and can dwell in security. 23.103You must, then, take the view that for those of our fellow-citizens who live in the Chersonese the same condition is advantageous, that is, that no one man shall be all-powerful among the Thracians. In fact the quarrels of the Thracians, and their jealousy of one another, afford the best and most trustworthy guarantee of the safety of the Chersonese. Now the decree before us, by offering security to the minister who controls the affairs of Cersobleptes, and by putting the commanders of the other kings in imminent fear of being accused of crime, makes those kings weak, and the king who stands by himself strong. 23.104And that you may not be quite surprised to hear that decrees made in Athens have so powerful an effect, I will remind you of a piece of history within the knowledge of all of you. After the revolt note of Miltocythes against Cotys, when the war had already lasted a considerable time, when Ergophilus had been superseded, and Autocles was on the point of sailing to take command, a decree was proposed here in such terms that Miltocythes withdrew in alarm, supposing that you were not well disposed towards him, and Cotys gained possession of the Sacred Mountain and its treasures. Now observe that later, men of Athens, although Autocles was put on his trial for having brought Miltocythes to ruin, the time for indicting the author of the decree was past; and, so far as Athens was concerned, the whole business had come to grief. 23.105Even so today, if you do not annul this decree, the kings and their commanders will be immensely discouraged. They will regard themselves as altogether slighted, and will imagine that your favour is inclining towards Cersobleptes. Now suppose that on this assumption they surrender their royalty, whenever Cersobleptes seizes opportunity and attacks them; and again observe what will happen.— 23.106In heaven's name, tell me this. If Cersobleptes attacks us,—and he is more likely than not to do so, when he has the power,—shall we not have recourse to those kings? Shall we not try to reduce him through them? Very well; then suppose they reply: “Athenians, so far from helping us when we were ill-treated, you made us grievously afraid of defending ourselves, for you issued a decree that anyone who should kill the man who was working against your interests and ours alike, should be liable to seizure. Therefore you have no right to call upon us to help you in a matter which you mismanaged for us as well as for yourselves.” Tell me this, I say: will not they have the best of the argument? I think so.

23.107Again, it cannot possibly be alleged that it was natural that you should be hoodwinked and misled. For even though you had no other basis of calculation, even though you were unable of yourselves to grasp the state of affairs, you had before your eyes the example of those people at Olynthus. What has Philip done for them? And how are they treating him? He restored Potidaea to them, not at a time when he was no longer able to keep them out, as Cersobleptes restored the Chersonesus to you; no,—after spending a great deal of money on his war with you, when he had taken Potidaea, and could have kept it if he chose, he made them a present of the place, without even attempting any other course. 23.108Nevertheless, although so long as they saw that he was not too powerful to be trusted, they were his allies and fought us on his account, when they found that his strength had grown too great for their confidence, they did not make a decree that whosoever should kill any man who had helped to consolidate Philip's power should be liable to seizure in the country of their allies. 23.109No, indeed; they have made friendship, and promise to make alliance, with you,—you who of all men in the world would be most delighted to kill Philip's friends or even Philip himself. When mere Olynthians know how to provide for the morrow, will not you, who are Athenians, do likewise? It is discreditable that you, who have a reputation for superior ability in political deliberation, should be convicted of a duller perception of your own advantage than Olynthians.

23.110I am informed that Aristocrates will also say something to the same effect as a speech once made in the Assembly by Aristomachus,—that it is inconceivable that Cersobleptes would ever deliberately provoke your enmity by trying to rob you of the Chersonesus, because, even if he should take it and hold it, it will be of no use to him. Indeed when that country is not at war, its revenue is no more than thirty talents, and when it is at war, not a single talent. On the other hand the revenue of his ports, which, in the event supposed, would be blockaded, is more than two hundred talents. They wonder,—as they will put it,—what he could possibly mean by preferring small returns and a war with you, when he might get larger returns and be your friend.

23.111But I am at no loss for plenty of instances in the light of which a man might reasonably be skeptical, instead of putting his trust in those orators, and allowing Cersobleptes to become a potentate. However, I will be content with the instance that lies nearest to hand. Of course, gentlemen, you all know that Macedonian, Philip. It was certainly more profitable for him to draw the revenues of all Macedonia in safety, than the revenue of Amphipolis with risks attached; and more agreeable to have you, his hereditary friends, on his side, than the Thessalians who once ejected his own father. 23.112Apart from that, it may be observed that you, Athenians, never yet betrayed any of your friends, while the Thessalians have betrayed every one of theirs. Nevertheless, in spite of all that, you see that he has deliberately chosen small gains, faithless friends, and big risks, in preference to a life of security. 23.113Now what can be the reason? For the logic of the thing is certainly not so very obvious. The truth is, men of Athens, that there are two things that are excellent for everybody: good luck, the chiefest and greatest of goods, and good counsel, inferior to good luck, but greater than any other; but men do not get both these good things at once, and no successful man sets any limit or end to his desire to get more. And that is why men, in the desire for more, so often throw away what they already have. 23.114But what need to name Philip, or any other man? Why, Cersobleptes' own father, Cotys, whenever he had a quarrel on hand, used to send his ambassadors, and was ready to do anything, and then he could see that being at war with Athens was quite unprofitable. But, as soon as he had all Thrace at his command, he would occupy cities, do mischief, discharge his drunken fury, first on himself, and then on us; he must needs subjugate the whole country; there was no dealing with the fellow. For everybody who attempts improper enterprises for the sake of aggrandizement is apt to look, not to the difficulties of his task, but to what he will achieve if successful. 23.115My own opinion, then, is that your policy should be fashioned in such a way that, if Cersobleptes' views in regard to you are what they should be, he shall not be unjustly treated by you, but that, if he is so unreasonable as to treat you unjustly, he may not be too strong to be punished. I will read to you the letter which Cersobleptes sent at the time of the revolt of Miltocythes, and also that which, when the whole kingdom was his, he sent to Timomachus before seizing your outposts.Letters

23.116Here is a warning, men of Athens, which, if you will be guided by me, you will bear in mind; and, remembering also that, when Philip was besieging Amphipolis, he pretended to be doing so in order to hand the place over to you, but that, when he had got it, he annexed Potidaea into the bargain, you will sh to have the same sort of assurance that, according to the story, Philocrates, son of Ephialtes, once opposed to the Lacedaemonians. 23.117It is said that, when the Lacedaemonians were trying to overreach him, and offered any assurance he was willing to accept, Philocrates replied that the only possible assurance would be that they should satisfy him that, if they had a mind to injure him, they would not have the power; “for,” he added, “I am quite certain that you will always have the mind, and there can be no assurance so long as you have the power.” That,—if you will let me advise you,—is the sort of assurance that you will hold against this Thracian. If he ever became master of all Thrace, you need not inquire what his sentiments toward you would be.

23.118That it is entirely the act of insane men to compose such decrees, or to bestow such favours as this, may easily be learned from many examples. I am sure, men of Athens, that you all know as well as I do that you once admitted Cotys over yonder to your citizenship, evidently because you regarded him at the time as a sincere well-wisher. Indeed, you decorated him with golden crowns; and you would never have done that, if you had thought him your enemy. 23.119Nevertheless, when he was a wicked, unprincipled man, and was doing you serious injury, you treated the men who put him to death, Pytho and Heracleides of Aenos, as benefactors, made them citizens, and decorated them with crowns of gold. Now suppose that, at the time when the disposition of Cotys was thought to be friendly, it had been proposed that any one who killed Cotys should be given up for punishment, would you have given up Pytho and his brother? Or would you, in defiance of the decree, have given them your citizenship, and honored them as benefactors? 23.120Again, there was Alexander of Thessaly. note At the time when he had imprisoned Pelopidas, and was holding him captive, when he was the most bitter enemy of the Thebans, when his feelings towards you were so fraternal that he applied to you for a commander, when you gave aid to his arms, when it was Alexander here and Alexander there,—why, gracious heavens! if anybody had moved that whoever killed Alexander should be liable to seizure, would it have been safe for any man to try to give him due punishment for his subsequent violence and brutality? 23.121But why need one talk about the other instances? Take Philip, who is now accounted our very worst enemy. At the time when, having caught some of our citizens in the act of trying to restore Argaeus, he released them and made good all their losses, when he professed in a written message that he was ready to form an alliance with us, and to renew his ancestral amity, if at that time he had asked us for this favour, and if one of the men he had released had proposed that “whoever shall kill Philip” should be liable to seizure, a fine insult we should have had to swallow! 23.122Do you not see, gentlemen, do you not understand, how you would have been chargeable with sheer lunacy in every one of these instances, if you had carried by vote any such resolution as this? I say it is not the part of sane men either to put such confidence in a man, whenever they imagine him to be friendly, as to deprive themselves of all defence against possible aggression, or, on the other hand, when they regard anyone as an enemy, to hate him so fiercely that, if he ever wants to reform and be their friend, they have taken it out of his power to do so. But we should, I think, carry both our friendship and our hatred only so far as not to exceed the due measure in either case.

23.123For my part, I cannot see why everybody who has any sort of claim to be your benefactor should not expect to get this favour, if you bestow it upon Charidemus,—Simon, for example, if you want a name, or Bianor, or Athenodorus, or thousands more. No; if we make the same decree in favour of the whole company, we shall unconsciously make ourselves a bodyguard for every one of them, like jobbing mercenaries; but if we do it for one but not for another, those who are disappointed will have a right to complain. 23.124Now just suppose that Menestratus of Eretria were to require us to make the same decree for him, or Phayllus of Phocis, or any other autocrat,—and I need not say that we often make friends, to serve our occasions, with many such people,—are we to vote decrees for all of them, or are we not? You say, Yes. Then what decent excuse shall we have, men of Athens, if, while asserting ourselves as the champions of all Hellas in the cause of liberty, we make our appearance as yeomen of the guard to men who maintain troops on their own account to keep down the populace? 23.125If we ought, though I say we ought not, to grant such a favour to anyone, let it be even in the first instance to the man who has never done us wrong; secondly, to the man who will never have the power, though he have the will, to injure us; and finally the man who is known by everyone to be seeking it for his own protection, and not in the hope of maltreating his neighbors with impunity—it is to him truly that it should be given. I will spare you the proof that Charidemus is neither a man void of offence towards us, nor one who, for his own safety, tries to win your support; but I do ask you to listen to me when I declare that he is not even one who can be trusted for the future, and to consider carefully whether my argument is sound.

23.126In my judgement, men of Athens, everyone who desires to become an Athenian citizen, because he has fallen in love with our customs and laws, will make his home in our midst, as soon as he receives our franchise, and will enjoy his share in the advantages he coveted. But as for those who are not moved by any desire or emulation of those institutions, but value only the advantage they derive from the credit of being distinguished by you, I fancy, indeed I am quite certain, that as soon as they discern a prospect of larger advantage elsewhere, they will devote their attention to that prospect, without the least concern for you. 23.127For example, to make clear to you my purpose in saying this, when that man Pytho, having just killed Cotys, did not think it safe to take his chance of a place of refuge, he came to you, applied for your citizenship, and thought you the finest people in the world. But now that he thinks relations with Philip more advantageous to him, he takes Philip's side, without the slightest regard for you. No, men of Athens; when men give their lives to the pursuit of their own ambitions, I say that there is no stability and no honesty to be found in them. Every sensible man must get the better of such people by wary conduct: he should not begin by trusting and end by denouncing them. 23.128Athenians, if we should assume,—though it is the reverse of the truth,—that Charidemus himself has been, is still, and will remain devoted to us, and that he will never entertain any other sentiment, it is not a whit the more wise to pass such decrees for him. If he had accepted the security offered by the decree for any other purpose than the interests of Cersobleptes, the danger would have been less; but, in fact, I find on a calculation of probabilities that the man for whose benefit he will turn to account the advantage given by the decree is himself equally unworthy of his confidence and of ours.

23.129Observe how honestly I examine the several points, and how entirely reasonable are my apprehensions. I look at Cotys, and I find that he was related by marriage to Iphicrates in the same degree as Cersobleptes to Charidemus; and that the achievements of Iphicrates on behalf of Cotys were far more important and meritorious than anything that Charidemus has done for Cersobleptes. Let us consider it in this way. 23.130No doubt you remember, men of Athens, that Iphicrates was a very fortunate man, with his bronze effigy, his free board at the Town Hall, and other grants and distinctions. Nevertheless he had the courage to fight a battle at sea against our commanders in defence of Cotys, setting a higher value on the salvation of that king than upon all the honors he enjoyed in your city. If your resentment had not been more restrained than his impetuosity, nothing could have saved him from being the most miserable of mankind. 23.131In spite of that, when Cotys, who owed his deliverance to Iphicrates, and had had practical experience of his loyalty, believed himself to be permanently out of danger, he took no pains to reward him, and never showed you any civility through his agency in the hope of winning forgiveness for his past conduct. On the contrary, he claimed his help in besieging the rest of your strongholds, 23.132and, on his refusal, he made an attack in person on the strongholds, taking with him the forces collected by Iphicrates as well as his barbarian troops, and engaging the services of Charidemus. He reduced Iphicrates to such helplessness that he withdrew to Antissa, and afterwards to Drys, and lived there; for he did not think he could honorably return to you, whom he had slighted for the sake of a Thracian and a barbarian. On the other hand, he thought it dangerous to remain at the court of a king whom he had found so negligent of his safety. 23.133Now suppose, men of Athens, that Cersobleptes also, having his power enhanced by the immunity that is being procured for Charidemus, should disdain that man, and initiate plots and disturbances against you,—are you content, as long as Charidemus is misled, to have furnished the Thracian with strength to fight you? I hope not! Here is the view that I think the just one: if Charidemus makes it his business to get these decrees, after perceiving and foreseeing that peril, you must distrust him as an intriguer. 23.134On the other hand, if he has failed to discern the peril, the more you credit him with good intentions, the more forethought you should exercise for his sake as well as your own. Honest friends should not bestow upon their well-wishers such favours as will bring disaster to both alike, but should rather cooperate in any action that tends to their common advantage; and when a man is more far-sighted than his friend, he should order things for the best, and not treat the gratification of the moment as of more value than all future time.

23.135Moreover, I cannot discover on reflection that Cersobleptes, though both barbarous and faithless, is likely to take any pains not to injure Charidemus so seriously; for when I look backwards and observe the advantages of which Cotys was going to deprive Iphicrates without the slightest consideration for him, I really cannot think that Cersobleptes would trouble himself about the losses that will fall on Charidemus. 23.136Cotys expected to rob Iphicrates of honors, of maintenance, of statues, of the country that made him a man to be envied, I may almost say of everything that made life worth living; yet he had no scruple. But, really, what is there of which this man should be anxious not to deprive Charidemus? He has no possessions whatsoever in your city,—neither children, nor a statue, nor kindred, nor anything else. 23.137If Cersobleptes is by nature not a man of his word, if he is justly distrusted because of his past behavior, and if there is nothing in the political situation that should induce him, even against his judgement and his character, to promote the welfare of Charidemus, for what reason should we, in sheer absolute stupidity, help him to accomplish his desires, even to our own detriment? I see no reason.

23.138Apart then from the fact that this decree does not further our policy, you must be warned that, as regards reputation also, it does not further the interest of our city to be known to have enacted anything of the sort. If, men of Athens, the decree had been made for the benefit of a man dwelling in a free state, and living under its laws as a free citizen, it would have been less discreditable, though still unwarranted; but in fact it has been made for Charidemus, a man not domiciled in any free state at all, but commanding an army for a Thracian and an autocrat, and maltreating people by royal authority. 23.139You cannot but know how all these mercenary officers seize upon free Hellenic cities, and try to dominate them. They march about through country after country as the common enemies, if the truth must be told, of every man whose wish is to reside constitutionally and as a free man in his own fatherland. Men of Athens, is it creditable to you, is it dignified, that you should be known to have carried a measure for the protection of a fellow who, to satisfy his greed, is ready to fall foul of anybody who comes his way, and to have given notice of expulsion from your alliance to the defenders of their own independence? 23.140For my part, I cannot regard such action as consistent with your honor or your good fame. It must be discreditable, first to denounce the Lacedaemonians for giving written licence to the King of Persia to do what he likes to the Hellenic inhabitants of Asia, note and then to put European Hellenes, and everybody whom Charidemus thinks he can overpower, at the mercy of Cersobleptes. And that is precisely the effect of this decree, when no distinction is drawn as to what his general may or may not do, but when all who resist his attacks are menaced with such terrors.

23.141In the next place, men of Athens, I would like to relate a piece of history, which will make it still more evident to you that it is your bounden duty to abrogate this decree. Once upon a time, on a certain occasion, you gave your citizenship to Ariobarzanes, note and also, on his account, to Philiscus,—just as you have recently given it to Charidemus for the sake of Cersobleptes. Philiscus, who resembled Charidemus in his choice of a career, began to use the power of Ariobarzanes by occupying Hellenic cities. He entered them and committed many outrages, mutilating free-born boys, insulting women, and behaving in general as you would expect a man, who had been brought up where there were no laws, and none of the advantages of a free constitution, to behave if he attained to power. 23.142Now there were two men in Lampsacus, one named Thersagoras and the other Execestus, who had formed views about tyranny very much like those that prevail here. These men put Philiscus to death, as he deserved, because they felt it their duty to liberate their own fatherland. Now suppose that one of those orators who spoke on behalf of Philiscus, at a time when he was paymaster of the mercenaries at Perinthus, when he held all the Hellespont, and was the most powerful of viceroys, had then, like Aristocrates today, moved a resolution that whosoever killed Philiscus should be liable to seizure in allied territory. I entreat you to reflect upon the depth of ignominy to which our city would have fallen. 23.143Thersagoras and Execestus came to Lesbos and lived there. Well, if any son or any friend of Philiscus had laid hands on them, they would have been given up to justice in pursuance of your decree; and assuredly you would have been guilty of a shameful and a scandalous act if, while ostentatiously setting up bronze statues of the men who performed a similar feat in your own city, and loading them with unparalleled honors, you had condemned to outlawry those who in some other country had exhibited the selfsame spirit of patriotism. I am glad to say that, in the case of Philiscus, it was not your fate to be ensnared and to incur that great dishonor; but in the present case, if you will heed my warning, you will be very careful; for, if there is no limiting clause and if the phrase “whosoever shall kill Charidemus” is unqualified, it is quite possible that the outcome will be such as I have described.

23.144My next purpose is briefly to examine the past history of Charidemus, and to unmask the extraordinary audacity of his flatterers. I pledge myself simply to this,—and I hope no one will take my pledge in bad part,—that I will satisfy you, not only that he is unworthy of the protection proposed by the defendant, but that he deserves to be most severely punished, if chastisement is justly due to those who wish you ill, and cheat you, and are always trying to thwart you. 23.145I dare say that some of you, reflecting that the fellow has first been made a citizen, and thereafter has been decorated with crowns of gold, are astonished that it has been such an easy task to delude you so completely. Well, you may be quite sure, men of Athens, that you have been deluded; and I will explain why such a result was to be expected. You have plenty of good judgement; but you do not apply it persistently. 23.146I mean this, for instance: suppose you were asked which you regard as the most unprincipled breed of citizens you have; you would not name the farmers, or the traders, or the silver-miners, or any class like those, but if any one named the people who make speeches and move resolutions for hire, I am sure that your assent would be unanimous. So far your judgement is excellent; but it is no longer sound in the sequel. 23.147For it is on the very people whom you regard as most unprincipled that you rely for a right opinion of a man's character and they describe this or that man as virtuous or wicked, not when the description is honest and true, but when it brings money into their own pockets. And that is what the orators have constantly done in respect of Charidemus, as you will agree when I have given you an account of his past career.

23.148I do not reckon among his misdeeds those campaigns of his early life, in which he served against Athens as a slinger or light-infantry man; nor that he once owned a piratical ship and preyed on your allies. But I pass these things by. And for what reason? Because, gentlemen, hard necessity does away with all consideration of what anyone should or should not do; and therefore in such matters a candid examiner must not be too fastidious. But let me tell you of the mischief he did to you at the outset of his career as a mercenary officer with troops under his command. 23.149First of all, he was hired by Iphicrates, and drew pay in his army for more than three years. When you had cashiered Iphicrates, and dispatched Timotheus as commander-in-chief to Amphipolis and the Chersonesus, the man's first performance was to surrender to the Amphipolitans those hostages of theirs whom Iphicrates had taken from Harpalus, and put under his care, although you had ordered them to be conveyed to Athens. That act prevented you from occupying Amphipolis. Secondly, when Timotheus in his turn wanted to hire him and his troops, he refused the engagement, and repaired by sea to Cotys, taking with him your light galleys, though he was perfectly well aware that Cotys was the most bitter enemy you had in the world. 23.150Subsequently, after the decision of Timotheus to take the operations against Amphipolis before those against the Chersonesus, finding that there was no mischief he could do you in that country, he again hired himself out,—this time to the Olynthians, who were your enemies and were then holding Amphipolis. He set sail from Cardia for Amphipolis, with the intention of fighting against Athens, but on the voyage he was captured by our fleet. But in view of the needs of the hour, and because mercenaries were wanted for the war against Amphipolis, instead of being punished for his refusal to deliver the hostages, and for deserting with the light galleys to your enemy Cotys, guarantees were exchanged, and he entered the campaign as your auxiliary. 23.151He ought to have been grateful to you because his life was spared when he might justly have been put to death; but instead of that the city, as though she owed gratitude to him, has bestowed upon him crowns and franchise and favours known to you all.—To prove the truth of these allegations, please read the decree respecting the hostages, the dispatch of Iphicrates, the dispatch of Timotheus, and lastly this deposition.—You will find that what I am telling you is not mere gossip and recrimination, but the plain truth.—Read.Decree

23.152You have heard the evidence of the dispatch and the deposition, proving that at the outset Charidemus sold his services to a country where he expected to fight against you, though he had the choice of many other markets; that later, finding that in that country he could do you no harm, he sailed back to a place where he had a chance of operating against Athens; and that he was the chief cause of your failure to take Amphipolis. Such were the early exploits of Charidemus. You must now look at his later conduct.

23.153After a certain lapse of time, when the war with Cotys had already broken out, he sent a letter to you; or rather, not to you but to Cephisodotus, for, being conscious of his transgressions, he was very much of the opinion that the beguilement of Athens was a task beyond his own powers. In this letter he undertook to recover the Chersonesus for Athens; but his real intention was exactly the opposite. You must be informed of the nature of this epistolary transaction,—it is not a long story—and so get an insight into the fashion of this man's dealings with you from first to last. 23.154Being at that time discharged from the service of Timotheus, he withdrew from Amphipolis, crossed the straits to Asia, and there, because of the recent arrest of Artabazus by Autophradates, he hired out his forces and himself to the sons-in-law of Artabazus. He had taken and given pledges, but he ignored and broke his oaths, and, finding the inhabitants of the country, who thought they were dealing with a friend, off their guard, he seized their towns, Scepsis, Cebren, and Ilium. 23.155Having taken possession of these strongholds, he had a misadventure into which even an ordinary person, not to say a man calling himself a commander, could never have blundered. Although he held no position on the sea-coast, and had no means of supplying his troops with provisions, and although he had no food in the towns, he remained within the walls, instead of looting the towns and making off in pursuance of his intention to do mischief. But Artabazus, having been released by Autophradates, collected an army, and appeared on the scene; and he could draw supplies from the friendly countries of upper Phrygia, Lydia, and Paphlagonia, while for Charidemus nothing remained but to stand a siege. 23.156When he realized what trouble he was in, and came to the conclusion that he would be reduced by famine, if by no other means, he made the discovery, whether by suggestion or by his own wits, that his only chance of salvation lay where there is salvation for everybody. And where is that? In your good-nature, if that is the right term, men of Athens,—or call it what you will. Having reached that conclusion, he dispatched the letter to you,—and it is worth your while to hear it read. His desire was, by means of a promise to recover the Chersonesus for you, and on the pretence that such was also the wish of Cephisodotus, as an enemy of Cotys and Iphicrates, to get a supply of galleys from you, and so scuttle safely out of Asia. 23.157Do you remember the immediate sequel, by which the trick was exposed in the very act? Memnon and Mentor, the sons-in-law of Artabazus, were young men, enjoying unexpected good fortune by their relationship to Artabazus. What they wanted was to govern the country peaceably without delay, and to win distinction without warfare and peril. Accordingly, they persuaded Artabazus to forgo his vengeance upon Charidemus, and to send him off under an armistice, advising him that you would bring Charidemus across with or without his consent: he could not possibly stop you. 23.158Having gained this unaccountable and unforeseen deliverance, Charidemus crossed the sea to the Chersonesus without your authority by reason of the armistice; but then, so far from attacking Cotys,—although he had told you in his letter that Cotys would not repel his attack,—and so far from helping you to recover the Chersonesus, he entered the service of Cotys once more, and began to beleaguer your last remaining strongholds, Crithote and Elaeus. You will find proof in his route across the straits that he had already decided on this action at the time when he was in Asia and was sending you the letter, and therefore that he was cheating you; for he crossed from Abydus, a place always hostile to you, and the base from which Sestus was captured, to Sestus, which was in the possession of Cotys. 23.159Yet you must not imagine that either the Abydenes or the people at Sestus would have admitted him, after that letter had been sent to you, if they had not been aware that he was cheating you, or if they had not been actually parties to the deception. They wanted you to provide a safe passage for the troops, and then, after the passage, to get the use of them for their own purposes; as in fact they did, when Artabazus had granted a safe-conduct.—To prove that such are the facts read the letters,—I mean the letter sent by Charidemus, and those that came from the authorities in the Chersonesus.—You will learn from them that the facts are so.—Read.Letter

23.160Observe from and to what points he crossed the straits; it was from Abydus to Sestus. Do you suppose that the Abydenes and the Sestians would have admitted him, if they had not been privy to his fraud, when he sent you that letter?—Now read to the jury the letter itself.—Observe, men of Athens, with what extravagance of self-commendation he wrote to you, telling you he had done this, and undertaking to do that.—Read.Letter

23.161A beautiful letter, is it not, gentlemen? One for which you could not have been too grateful,—if only it had been true! But in fact he wrote it to deceive, when he had no expectation of an armistice; but when he had got his armistice,—read what he did then.Letter

So, after the gentleman who undertook to recover our lost fortresses had passed the straits, the governor of Crithote informs us that our remaining possessions are in greater danger than ever.—Show me another letter, and then read a bit of it.Letter

Read a passage from another.Letter

23.162You see how testimony comes in from every quarter that, when he crossed the straits, he was not marching to attack Cotys but to join Cotys in attacking us. Now here is just one letter more that you must read; but never mind the rest. For it has, I suppose, become quite clear now that he has cheated you. Read.Letter

Stop. Now reflect how, after writing that he would recover the Chersonesus, he took the pay of your enemies, and tried to rob you of your remaining possessions there; and how, after writing that Alexander had sent envoys to him but that he had refused to see them, he was found behaving exactly like Alexander's filibusters. So much for your single-minded well-wisher; the man who is incapable of writing lies or practising deceit!

23.163Although, then, it is abundantly clear that there is not a sincere word in all his professions of attachment to Athens, yet, if it is not already clear from these facts, it will be more evident in the light of later events. Cotys, I am glad to say,—for he was your enemy, and a bad man,—was killed by Pytho; Cersobleptes, the present king, was a mere boy, and so were all the sons of Cotys; and Charidemus had got control of affairs, because he was on the spot and had a force at his back. Cephisodotus, the man to whom he sent the famous letter, had arrived in command of an army, and so had the galleys, which were to have rescued him, even without the consent of Artabazus, when his deliverance was in doubt. 23.164Now what, men of Athens, was the conduct proper for a really single-minded and friendly person, after the arrival of a commander,—not one of those men whom he might have called jealous of himself, but the recipient of his letter, a man whom he had chosen out of all Athens as his special friend,—with Cotys in his grave, and himself in supreme power? Was it not to restore your territory there and then? To cooperate with you in establishing the king of Thrace? To embrace the opportunity of exhibiting his friendly disposition towards you I should say, yes. 23.165Well, is that what he did? By no means. For seven whole months he persisted in making war on us, openly displaying his hostility and withholding even the language of goodwill. At the outset we took anchorage at Perinthus with only ten ships, having heard that he was in the neighborhood, and hoping to meet him and talk matters over. He waited till our men were having their breakfast, and then tried to take our ships, killed a number of our sailors, and hunted every man of them into the sea with his cavalry and light infantry. 23.166Afterwards, when we set sail—,no, it was not to attack any part of Thrace, or any fortress there. For this at least no man can say: “Ah, yes; he did do a little damage,—in self-defence, you know, and to protect himself.” That is not true; we never went to any place in Thrace; we went to Alopeconnesus, and that is in the Chersonesus and used to belong to you,—a headland running out towards Imbros, a long way from Thrace; a place swarming with robbers and pirates. 23.167When we got there, and were besieging these gentry, he marched right across the Chersonesus,—your property, every yard of it,—attacked us, and tried to rescue the robbers and pirates. He took up his position, and persuaded or constrained your commander not to serve your interests, instead of letting himself be persuaded by him to carry out some part of his covenant and undertaking; and then he must needs draw up that convention with Cephisodotus, by which you were so deeply annoyed and exasperated that you dismissed your commander, and fined him five talents, and there was a majority of three votes only against a sentence of death. 23.168Why, what a preposterous absurdity a man must account this, men of Athens, when for one and the same transaction he sees one man punished with such severity as a criminal, and another glorified as a benefactor from that day to this!

To prove the truth of my narrative, you are, of course, my witnesses in regard to the fate of the commander; for it was you who tried him, cashiered him, reprimanded him;all this is within your knowledge. In respect of the incidents at Perinthus and Alopeconnesus, please call the ships' captains as witnesses.Witnesses

23.169Thereafter, when Cephisodotus had been discharged from his command, and you held the view that the convention made with him was improper and unfair, Miltocythes, who had been consistently well-affected to you, was betrayed by Smicythion, and fell into the hands of our honest friend. Knowing that the man's life would be spared if he were taken to Cersobleptes,—for killing one another is not customary among the Thracians,—Charidemus handed him over to your enemies the Cardians. They took Miltocythes and his son, put out in a ship to deep water, cut the boy's throat, and then threw the father overboard, after he had witnessed the murder of his son. 23.170These atrocities moved the whole population of Thrace to resentment; Berisades and Amadocus made a coalition; and Athenodorus, recognizing a favorable opportunity, formed alliance with them, and so was in a position to make war. Then Cersobleptes took fright, and Athenodorus proposed a convention, under which he compelled Cersobleptes to make a sworn engagement with you and with the other princes that the kingdom of Thrace should be held in common, and divided among the three, and that they should all restore to you your territory. 23.171At the election of magistrates you appointed Chabrias to command in that campaign; but unluckily Athenodorus disbanded his army, because he had no money from you, and no resources for carrying on war; and Chabrias started on his expedition with only one ship. And how does this man Charidemus turn his coat? He repudiates his sworn covenant with Athenodorus, persuades Cersobleptes to disclaim it, and proposes new terms to Chabrias,—terms more monstrous than those made with Cephisodotus. Chabrias was obliged to acquiesce, I suppose because he had no force at his back. 23.172When the news reached you, a great many speeches were made in the Assembly; the conventions were read and compared; and, without any respect for Chabrias's good name or for any of his supporters, you in your turn cancelled the new convention, and resolved, on the motion of Glauco, to elect ten citizens as ambassadors. If Cersobleptes would abide by his covenant with Athenodorus, they were to make him renew his oath;if not, they were to accept the oaths of the two kings, and concert measures for making war on him. 23.173The ambassadors took their departure; but by mere lapse of time the business came to such a pass, with these men dawdling and refusing to take any plain, honest action in your service, that we sent a relief expedition to Euboea, and Chares, on returning with his mercenaries, was sent out by you to the Chersonesus as plenipotentiary. So Charidemus once more drafts a new convention with Chares, supported by Athenodorus and the two kings: here it is,—the best and most equitable of the lot. He has convicted himself by his conduct of lying in wait for opportunities against Athens; there is no uprightness, no equity, in his policy. 23.174When you see that he is your friend only on inducement, and that his estimate of your strength is the measure of his goodwill, do you really think it your duty to allow him to be powerful,—and powerful through you? If that is your opinion, it is wrong.

To satisfy you that I am telling the truth, please take the letter that came after the first convention, and then the letter from Berisades.—You will be helped by these documents to a right conclusion.Letter

Read also the letter of Berisades.Letter

23.175The alliance with the two kings was concluded in this manner after the fraud effected by the convention with Cephisodotus. At that time Miltocythes had been got rid of, and Charidemus was known by his conduct to be an enemy of Athens; for surely a man who, having got into his power one known to him as the most loyal friend you had in all Thrace, put him into the hands of your enemies the Cardians, was ostentatiously displaying his great hostility towards you.—Read the convention which Cersobleptes made later, when he was afraid of war with the Thracians and with Athenodorus.Convention

23.176These are the terms that Charidemus drafted, and this is the convention he signed. He swore the oath to which you have listened; but as soon as he saw that the forces of Athenodorus had been disbanded, and that Chabrias had come with only one galley, he did not give up to you the son of Iphiades; he did not fulfil any other of his sworn promises; he repudiated every other article of the convention, and drew up the convention I have here.—That is it; please take and read it.Convention

23.177Observe that he claimed the right to take the port-dues and the ten-per-cent customs-duties; that he again talked as though the whole country belonged to him, requiring that the duties should be under the control of his own custom-house officers; and that, though he had taken his oath to Athenodorus that he would surrender the son of Iphiades, the hostage whom he held on behalf of Sestus, he now does not even promise to surrender him.—Take the decree which the Athenians adopted in this emergency. Read it.Decree

23.178Here is the letter sent by Cersobleptes later, after the arrival of the ambassadors in Thrace,—he would agree to nothing that was fair; and here is the letter sent by the others.—Read this to the jury.Letter

Now read the letter from the two kings.—Consider whether you really think that they are making no complaint.Letter

Men of Athens, look at this see-saw of villainy and perfidy, and try to understand it. First he was maltreating Cephisodotus; then he stopped, because he was afraid of Athenodorus. Another time he tried to maltreat Chabrias; changed his mind, and agreed with Chares. He always acted inconsistently, note ever like an honest, straightforward man.

23.179Since that time, so long as you had forces in the Hellespont, he has continually flattered you and cozened you; but as soon as he found the Hellespont denuded of your forces, he tried to break and to dethrone the two kings, and to bring the whole kingdom under his own thumb, knowing by experience that, until he had ejected them, he could not possibly revoke any part of his agreement with you. 23.180For the more expeditious fulfillment of this purpose, he procured from you a decree so worded that, if it had been ratified, as it would have been but for us and for this indictment, the two kings would have been iniquitously treated in the eyes of the world, the commanders of their armies, Bianor, Simon, Athenodorus, would have remained inactive through fear of the spiteful prosecution authorized by the decree, and the man who took advantage of this licence, and brought the whole kingdom into subjection, would have become and remained an enemy, and a powerful enemy, of Athens.

23.181For a base of operations,—on which he has constantly kept his eyes,—he has the city of the Cardians. In all his conventions he has had that city reserved to himself, and in the end he openly stole it from you. Yet why should men who had entirely got rid of any unjust feelings toward us, and had resolved candidly and with entire sincerity to be friendly to us, have left themselves a convenient base of operations for a war against us? 23.182I am sure that you all know,—those of you who have visited the place know for certain, and the rest by hearing their report,—that, the condition of Cardia being what it is, if the relations of Cersobleptes with the Thracians ever become favorable, he is able at twenty-four hours' notice to invade the Chersonesus quite safely. Indeed by its situation the city of the Cardians occupies a position in the Chersonesus in relation to Thrace analogous to the position of Chalcis in Euboea in relation to Boeotia. Those of you who know its situation cannot be unaware of the advantage for the sake of which he has acquired it for himself, and has taken great pains to keep it out of our hands. 23.183It is not your duty to help him to secure this advantage against yourselves; you must thwart him to the very best of your power, and consider how to prevent it, for he has made it quite clear that he is not the man to let slip any occasion whatsoever. In fact, when Philip came to Maroneia, he sent Apollonides to him, and gave pledges both to him and to Pammenes; and if Amadocus, who had control of the country, had not forbidden Philip to set foot there, there was nothing to prevent our being at war by this time with the Cardians and with Cersobleptes.—To prove that this statement of mine is true, take Chares' letter.Letter

23.184In view of these facts you ought to distrust him, instead of losing your wits and giving him your attention as a benefactor. There is no reason why you should owe him gratitude for those deceitful professions of friendship which he offers under compulsion, nor for the small sums which he lays out for the benefit of your commanders and politicians, note thereby contriving to get votes of thanks to himself submitted to you. You have far better cause to resent those efforts to do you harm, which we know him to be making in every place where he has won the power of acting as he pleases. 23.185All other persons who have ever received any favour from you have been honored for benefits conferred on you; Charidemus is the one and only man who is honored for the impotence of his efforts to do you harm. Why, to such a fellow exemption from the punishment he had justly earned was a handsome gratuity! But that is not the view of the politicians; no, make him a citizen, dub him benefactor,—here are crowns and presents,—in return for those private doles of his! The rest of you are gulled, and sit there wondering what is going on. 23.186And, to crown all, today they would have appointed his protectors by this resolution, if we had not laid the present indictment, and the commonwealth would have done duty as his hired servant and lackey, keeping guard over a Charidemus! A pretty business, is it not? Heaven help us! to think that a man, who once shouldered a pike for hire in the service of your enemies, should now be seen protected by your decree!

23.187Now perhaps I may be asked for what reason I, who had such exact knowledge of these doings, and had given close attention to some of his misdeeds, let them all pass; why I did not object either when you made him a citizen or when you gave him a vote of thanks; why, in short, I found nothing to say at any time earlier than the passing of this decree. Men of Athens, I will tell you the whole truth. I knew that he was undeserving; I was present when he asked these favours; I made no objection. I admit it. 23.188What was the reason? In the first place, men of Athens, I imagined that a great many men glibly telling lies about him would overpower one man, namely myself, telling the truth alone. Then as for the favours that he won by misleading you, I solemnly protest that it never entered my head to grudge him any one of them. I could not see that you would buffer any very grievous calamity, if you forgave a man who had done you much wrong, and so encouraged him to do you good service in future. Both these considerations applied to the grant of citizenship and to the grant of a crown. 23.189But now, when I perceive that he is contriving a new plan by which, if only he can provide himself with agents here to mislead you on his behalf, our friends abroad, who are ready to serve you and to stop him from acting against you,—I mean such men as Athenodorus, Simon, Archebius of Byzantium, the two kings of Thrace,—will all find it out of their power to oppose or to thwart him, at such a time I come into court and denounce him. 23.190I conceive that to speak against grants which he might accept without being likely to do serious injury to the State, is the act of one who has either a private grievance or the spirit of an informer, but that to set myself in opposition to a project by which he was concerting very serious detriment to the commonwealth is the act of an honest man and a patriotic citizen. That is why I was silent then and speak now.

23.191There is another plea of the same sort by which they hope to lead you off the track. “Cersobleptes and Charidemus,” they will say, “did perhaps oppose Athens at a time when they were unfriendly; but now they are our friends, and wish to be useful friends. We really must not be vindictive. When we were rescuing the Lacedaemonians, we dismissed from our minds the injuries they had done to us as enemies; so too with the Thebans, and, quite recently, with the Euboeans.” 23.192—But I hold that this plea would have been rightly offered, if they had offered it on some occasion when an expedition in relief of Cersobleptes and Charidemus had been proposed, and we were trying to block it. But, as we have here no such occasion and no such proposal, but only the argument of men trying to make Cersobleptes more powerful than he deserves by means of an immunity received from you by his generals, I regard their action as dangerous. It is not fair, men of Athens, that the pleas of men seeking deliverance should be offered to you in justification of men whose object is the power to do you wrong. 23.193Apart from that, if he had injured you as an enemy, but had been reformed after claiming to be your friend, such an excuse might, perhaps, have been acceptable; but, inasmuch as that is not so, and as most of his deceptions fall after the date of his profession of friendship, you ought to distrust him for his later, if not to dislike him for his earlier, conduct. With regard, however, to not being “vindictive,” I have this to say. The vindictive man is the man who hunts up grievances in order to inflict injury; the man who bears them in mind in order to be on his guard and not suffer injury, is a reasonable man.

23.194Perhaps they will make a suggestion of this sort: the man has now embarked on a course of friendship, and really wants to do Athens a good turn; if we condemn the decree, we shall be discouraging him, and filling him with mistrust of us. Well, men of Athens, my attitude is this; please consider it. If he were our friend honestly and in all sincerity, if he really did intend to do us all manner of good, even then I should not think this argument worthy of your attention. In my judgement there is no man who could possibly do you so much service that for his sake you ought to perjure yourselves and vote against proven justice. 23.195Seeing that he is convicted of deceit and perpetual dishonesty,—vote against him, and one of two desirable results must follow. Either he will abandon his impostures on the ground that they can no longer escape detection, or else, if it is his desire to be really on good terms with us, he will make a genuine effort to serve us well, having discovered that he can no longer accomplish his purposes by chicanery. For that reason alone, if for no other, you will do well to give your verdict against him.

23.196It is also opportune, men of Athens, to inquire how our forefathers bestowed distinctions and rewards upon genuine benefactors, whether they were citizens or strangers. If you find their practice better than yours, you will do well to follow their example; if you prefer your own, it rests with you to continue it. Take first Themistocles, who won the naval victory at Salamis, Miltiades, who commanded at Marathon, and many others, whose achievements were not on a level with those of our commanders today. note Our ancestors did not put up bronze statues of these men, nor did they carry their regard for them to extremes. 23.197So they were not grateful to those who had served them well? Yes, men of Athens, they were very grateful; they showed their gratitude in a manner that was equally creditable to themselves and the recipients. They were all men of merit, but they chose those men to lead them; and to men of sobriety, who have a keen eye for realities, being raised to the primacy of a brave and noble people is a far greater distinction than any effigy of bronze. 23.198The truth is, gentlemen, that they would not rob themselves of their own share in any of those ancient achievements; and no man would say that the battle of Salamis belonged to Themistocles,—it was the battle of the Athenians; or that the victory at Marathon belonged to Miltiades,—it was the victory of the commonwealth. But today, men of Athens, it is commonly said that Corcyra was captured by Timotheus, that the Spartan battalion was cut to pieces by Iphicrates, that the naval victory off Naxos was won by Chabrias. It really looks as though you disclaimed any merit for those feats of arms by the extravagant favours that you lavish on the several commanders.

23.199Thus they distributed rewards within the city righteously and to the public advantage; we do it the wrong way. But what about those bestowed on strangers? When Meno of Pharsalus had given us twelve talents for the war at Eion near Amphipolis, and had reinforced us with three hundred of his own mounted serfs, they did not pass a decree that whoever slew Meno should be liable to seizure; they made him a citizen, and thought that distinction adequate. 23.200Or take Perdiccas, who was reigning in Macedonia at the time of the Persian invasion, and who destroyed the Persians on their retreat from Plataea, and made the defeat of the King irreparable. They did not resolve that any man should be liable to seizure who killed Perdiccas, the man who for our sake had provoked the enmity of the great King; they gave him our citizenship, and that was all. The truth is that in those days to be made a citizen of Athens was an honor so precious in the eyes of the world that, to earn that favour alone, men were ready to render to you those memorable services. Today it is so worthless that not a few men who have already received it have wrought worse mischief to you than your declared enemies. 23.201Not only this guerdon of the common wealth but all your honors have been dragged through the mire and made contemptible by those execrable and god-forsaken politicians, who make proposals like this on such easy terms; men who, in their inordinate lust of dishonest gain, put up honors and civic rewards for sale, like hucksters vending and cheapening their pitiful, trumpery merchandise, and supply a host of buyers at fixed prices with any decree they want.

23.202In the first place,—let me mention the latest instance first,—they not only claimed that Ariobarzanes and his two sons deserved everything they chose to ask for, but they associated with him two men of Abydus, unprincipled fellows, and bitter enemies of Athens, Philiscus and Agavus. Again, when Timotheus was held to have served your needs in some way, besides conferring on him all manner of great rewards, they associated with him Phrasierides and Polysthenes, who were not even free-born, but were blackguards whose conduct had been such as any man of good feeling will be loth to describe. 23.203Finally on this occasion, while demanding for Cersobleptes any honors they thought proper, and while concentrating on that, they attached two other names to his. One is the man of whose many misdeeds you have just heard the story. The other is named Euderces, but nobody in the wide world knows who he is. You see the result, men of Athens: honors that were once great now appear trifling; and the practice is advancing ever farther and farther. The old rewards no longer suffice, and they are not in the least grateful for them, unless you will also protect their persons, man by man, or so it seems.

23.204For this progress along the road of dishonor, men of Athens, if I am to tell the truth in all candor, nobody is more to blame than yourselves. You are no longer willing to bring malefactors to justice: retribution has disappeared from our city. Yet consider how our ancestors castigated those who had done them wrong, and ask whether their way was not better than yours. 23.205When they caught Themistocles presumptuously setting himself above the people, they banished him from Athens, and found him guilty of siding with the Medes. Because Cimon had dislocated the ancestral constitution by his personal efforts, they acquitted him by a majority of three votes only on the capital charge, and made him pay fifty talents. Such was their attitude to the men who had rendered those signal services. And they were right; they would not sell to those men their own freedom and their pride in their own achievements; note they honored them as long as they did right, but resisted them when they tried to do wrong. 23.206You, men of Athens, acquit men who have committed the gravest crimes and are clearly proved guilty, if they treat you to one or two pleasantries, or if a few advocates chosen from their own tribe ask you to be so good. If ever you do bring them in guilty, you assess the penalty at five-and-twenty drachmas. In those old times the State was wealthy and splendid, but in private life no man held his head higher than the multitude. 23.207Here is the proof: if any of you know the sort of house that Themistocles or Miltiades or any of those distinguished men of old lived in, you may observe that it is no grander than the common run of houses. On the other hand, both the structure and the equipment of their Public buildings were on such a scale and of such quality that no opportunity of surpassing them was left to coming generations. Witness those gate-houses, docks, porticoes, the great harbor, and all the edifices with which you see our city adorned. 23.208But today every man who takes part in public life enjoys such superfluity of wealth that some of them have built private dwelling-houses more magnificent than many public buildings; and others have bought larger estates than all you people in this court possess between you; while, as for the public buildings that you put up and whitewash, I am ashamed to say how mean and shabby they are. Can you name anything that you have acquired and that you will bequeath to posterity, as they bequeathed the Chersonesus, and Amphipolis, and the glory of noble exploits? That glory citizens like these are squandering as fast as they can,—but they cannot annihilate it, men of Athens; and we know why. 23.209In those days Aristeides had full control of the assessment of the tribute, but his own fortune was not increased by a single shilling; and when he died he was actually buried at the public expense. Whenever you wanted anything, you had more money in your treasury than any other Hellenic people, insomuch that you always started on any expedition with pay for the full period named in the decree authorizing such expedition. Now, while the administrators of public affairs have risen from poverty to affluence, and are provided with ample maintenance for a long time to come, you have not enough money laid by for a single day's expenditure, and when something must be done, you are at once without the means of doing it. The nation was then the master, as it is now the servant, of the politicians. 23.210The fault lies with the authors of such decrees as this, who have trained you to think very little of yourselves, and a great deal of one or two individuals. So they are the inheritors of your renown and of your possessions; you get no benefit from that inheritance! You are the witnesses of the prosperity of others, and participate in nothing but delusions. Ah, how loud would be the lamentation of those great men who laid down their lives for glory and for liberty, and left behind them the monuments of many noble achievements, if they could see how today the progress of our city has ended in the form and rank of a dependant, and that the question of the hour is—whether Charidemus is entitled to personal protection! Charidemus! Heaven help us!

23.211But the really scandalous thing is, not that our counsels are inferior to those of our ancestors, who surpassed all mankind in virtue, but that they are worse than those of all other nations. Is it not discreditable that, whereas the Aeginetans yonder, who inhabit that insignificant island, and have nothing whatever to be proud of, have never to this day given their citizenship to Lampis, the largest ship-owner in Hellas, who fitted out their city and their seaport, but have reluctantly rewarded him merely with exemption from the alien-tax; 23.212that whereas those detestable Megarians are so obsessed with their own dignity that, when the Lacedaemonians sent and ordered them to admit to their citizenship Hermo, the pilot, who, serving with Lysander, captured two hundred war-galleys on the occasion of our disaster at Aegospotami, they replied that they would make him a Megarian when they saw that the Lacedaemonians had made him a Spartan; 23.213that whereas the people of Oreus, who inhabit only a fourth part of Euboea, dealing with this very Charidemus, whose mother belongs to their city,—I will not mention who his father is or where he comes from, for it is not worth while to make unnecessary inquiries about the man,—so that he himself contributed one-half of the birth-qualification, have never to this day thought fit to make up the other moiety, and to this very day he is on the bastards' list, just as here bastards are registered at Cynosarges,— 23.214will you, men of Athens, after giving him your full franchise and honoring him with other distinctions,—will you bestow upon him this immunity into the bargain? For what? What ships has he taken for you, to cause the men who have lost them to plot against him? What city has he captured and handed over to you? What perils has he encountered in your defence? When has he chosen your enemies as his own? No man can tell you.

23.215Before I leave the tribune, gentlemen of the jury, I wish to add some brief observations upon the statutes that we have adduced. If you will bear them in mind, I think that you will keep a better look-out for any attempts these men may make to cajole and mislead you. The first statute expressly ordains that, if any man slay another, the Areopagus shall take cognizance. Aristocrates proposes that such a manslayer shall be liable to seizure without more ado. Mark that carefully, and remember that to make a man an outlaw without trial is exactly the opposite of trying him. 23.216The second statute forbids personal maltreatment or extortion even in the case of a convicted homicide. Aristocrates, by making him liable to seizure, has permitted such misusage; for it will be competent for captors to treat the man as they will. The statute provides that the culprit shall be conveyed to the judges, even though arrested in the country of his victim. He allows the homicide on seizure to be taken to the house of the prosecutor, even though the capture be effected in foreign parts. 23.217There are certain injuries for which the statute permits life to be taken. Aristocrates, even though the life be taken in such circumstances, makes no reservation, but permits a man whom the laws release without penalty to be handed over for punishment. When a man has suffered this misfortune, the law enjoins that satisfaction be first claimed. In defiance of this law he proposes no trial, demands no redress from the persons on whom he has such claim, but declares incontinently that the man is liable to seizure, and puts under an immediate ban anyone who tries to rescue him. 23.218The statute provides that not more than three hostages may be taken from the people with whom the offender lives, if they refuse to give satisfaction. The defendant puts under ban without more ado whosoever rescues the accused from his captors because he is unwilling to surrender him before judgement. The statute forbids anyone to introduce a new law without making it applicable to all men alike; he composes a special decree in favour of a particular man. The statute does not permit any decree to override the law. The relevant laws are many, but Aristocrates annuls them all and makes a mere decree supreme.

23.219Bear all this in mind and memory so long as you sit in that box. Dismiss all the fallacious reasons they will allege; do not allow them to be uttered. Tell them to show you the clause in which he has proposed a trial, or the clause that punishes a man duly convicted of murder. If he had provided for the due punishment of a man tried and found guilty elsewhere, or if he had himself proposed a trial to determine whether homicide has been committed or not, and if so whether justifiably or not, he would have done no wrong. 23.220But inasmuch as, after a phrase of mere accusation, “if any man kills,” without any such addition as “and is found guilty of murder,” or, “is adjudged to have killed,” or, “he shall submit to judgement for the murder,” or, “he shall be liable to the same penalty as if he had killed an Athenian,” he has omitted every just precaution, and has simply made the man liable to seizure, do not be led astray, but be assured that in this decree the laws have been absolutely contravened.

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