|Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].|
|<<Dem. 23||Dem. 24 (Greek)||>>Dem. 25|
24.1I do not think, gentlemen of the jury, that even Timocrates can lay the blame of the present prosecution upon anyone else: he has brought it on himself. Moved by desire to deprive the State of a large sum of money, he has most illegally introduced a law which is both inexpedient and iniquitous. You shall presently learn in detail, if you will listen to me, in how many respects this law, if ratified, will be injurious and detrimental to the common weal; but there is one result, the most important and the most obvious that I can name, which I shall not hesitate to put before you. 24.2For it is the decision that you pronounce on oath on every question which is annulled and made worthless by the law proposed by the defendant; and his object is not any public benefit to the State,—that is impossible, for his law robs those Courts of Justice, which are the pillars of the constitution, of all power to impose the additional penalties attached by the laws to transgressions,—but that certain of those men who have long battened on your substance and pillaged your property may not even refund moneys which they were openly caught in the act of embezzling. 24.3Also it is so much easier to curry favour privately with certain persons than to stand up in defence of your rights that, while Timocrates has their fee in his pocket, and never introduced his law until he got it, I,so far from getting any reward from you, am risking a thousand drachmas in your defence.
24.4Now it is the common practice of those who take up any piece of public business to inform you that the matter on which they happen to be making their speeches is most momentous, and worthy of your best attention. But if that claim has ever been made with propriety, I think that I am entitled to make it now. 24.5For I suppose that no man living will attribute the prosperity of
24.6But to forestall any surprise you may feel that I, who can claim to have hitherto lived a quiet life, should now be making my appearance in actions at law and public prosecutions, I desire to offer a brief explanation, which will not be irrelevant to the issue. Men of
24.11A decree was moved by Aristophon in the Assembly, appointing a commission of inquiry, and directing anyone, who knew of any sacred or public money in private hands, to give information to the commission. Thereupon Euctemon laid an information that Archebius and Lysitheides, who had served as naval captains, held property captured in a ship of
24.17Before speaking of the law that I have indicted, I wish to give you a brief account of the existing statutes under which indictments of this kind are laid; for after hearing this account you will find the information useful for the rest of my speech. In our laws at present in force, men of
Ratification of Laws24.21
In the first presidency and on the eleventh day thereof, in the Assembly, the Herald having read prayers, a vote shall be taken on the laws, to wit, first upon laws respecting the Council, and secondly upon general statutes, and then upon statutes enacted for the nine Archons, and then upon laws affecting other authorities. Those who are content with the laws respecting the Council shall hold up their hands first, and then those who are not content; and in like manner in respect of general statutes. All voting upon laws shall be in accordance with laws already in force.
If any law already in force be rejected on show of hands, the presidents in whose term of office the voting takes place shall appoint the last of the three meetings of the Assembly for the consideration of laws so rejected. The commissioners who preside by lot at the Assembly are required, immediately after religious observances, to put the question respecting the sessions of the Legislative Committee, and respecting the fund from which their fees are to be paid. The Legislative Committee shall consist of persons who have taken the judicial oath.24.22
If the Presidents do not convene the Assembly according to the written regulations, or if the commissioners do not put the question, each president shall forfeit one thousand drachmas of sacred money to Athena, and each commissioner shall forfeit forty drachmas of sacred money to Athena, and information thereof shall be laid before the Judges in such manner as when a man holds office being in debt to the treasury; and the Judges shall bring before the Court according to the law all persons against whom such information is laid; otherwise they shall not be raised to the Council of Areopagus, as obstructing the rectification of the statutes.24.23
Before the meeting of the Assembly any Athenian citizen who wishes shall write down the laws proposed by him and exhibit the same in front of the Eponymous Heroes, to the end that the People may vote on the question of the time allowed to the Legislative Committee with due regard to the total number of laws proposed. Whosoever proposes a new statute shall write it on a white hoard and exhibit it in front of the Heroes on every day until the meeting of the Assembly. On the eleventh day of the month Hecatombaeon the people shall elect from the whole body of citizens five persons to speak in defence of laws proposed for repeal before the Legislative Committee.
24.24These are all old-established laws, gentlemen of the jury; they have been repeatedly tested and found advantageous to you, and no man ever denied that they were well-conceived. Naturally; for there is nothing offensive or violent or oligarchical in their provisions; they order business to be done in a courteous, democratic spirit. 24.25In the first place, they entrusted to you citizens the decision whether a new law is to be introduced or the existing laws judged satisfactory. Then, if your vote is in favour of introduction, they did not order immediate enactment, but appointed the next assembly but one, and even at that assembly, they do not permit you to legislate, but only to consider the terms on which the Legislative Committee shall sit. In the intervening time they instructed persons wishing to introduce laws to exhibit them in front of the Heroes, so that anyone who chooses may inspect them, and, if he discovers anything injurious to the public interest, may inform you and have time to speak against the laws. 24.26Now, of all these rules the defendant Timocrates has not observed one. He never exhibited his law; he gave no one a chance to read it and oppose it; nor did he wait for any of the dates appointed by statute. The assembly at which your vote was taken fell on the eleventh of Hecatombaeon, and he introduced his law on the twelfth, the very next day, although it was a feast of Cronos and the Council therefore stood adjourned; for he had contrived, with the help of persons whose intentions are unfriendly to you, to get by decree a sitting of the Legislative Committee, on an excuse afforded by the Panathenian Festival. 24.27I wish to read to you the decree that was adopted on division, to show you that the whole business was managed by collusion, and nothing was left to chance.—Take the decree, sir, and read it to the jury.
During the first presidency, namely, that of the Pandionid Tribe, and on the eleventh day of that presidency, it was moved by Epicrates that, in order that the sacrifices may be offered, that provision may be adequate, and that any lack of funds for the Panathenian Festival may be made good, the Presidents of the Pandionid Tribe do tomorrow set up a Legislative Committee, and that such Legislative Committee do consist of one thousand and one citizens who have taken the oath, and that the Council co-operate therewith in legislative business.
24.28Observe, as the decree is read, how ingeniously the man who drafted it, under a pretext of finance and the urgency of the Festival, cancelled the date fixed by statute, and put in his own date,—that they should legislate “to-morrow.” I protest that his intention was, not that something belonging to the Festival should be done as handsomely as possible, for in fact there was nothing left to be done, and no financial deficiency to be made good; but that this law of theirs, the subject of the present trial, might be enacted and come into force without any living man having wind of it beforehand or offering opposition. 24.29Here is the proof: when the Legislative Committee was in session, nobody introduced any law, good or bad, in respect of the business specified, that is, of financial provision for the Panathenian Festival, but this man Timocrates coolly and quietly proceeded to legislate about matters that lay outside the terms of the decree, and were forbidden by statute. He assumed that the date specified in the decree was more authoritative than the date prescribed by law; and, while you were all holidaymaking, and though there is a standing law that at such a time we shall do one another no wrong either in private or public life nor transact business that does not concern the Festival, he was not in the least afraid of making an exhibition of himself by doing wrong, not to this or that person, but to the whole community. 24.30Yet was it not outrageous that, well knowing that the statutes which you heard read just now were still in force, well knowing also that another law declares that no decree, even though in itself constitutional, shall have higher authority than a statute, he should draft and propose to you a new law, in virtue of a decree that, as he was fully aware, had been moved in defiance of the laws? 24.31Was it not atrocious that, when the State had granted to us individually security against any disagreeable or offensive treatment at that time, by declaring a religious holiday, the State itself should have obtained no such immunity from Timocrates, but, during that very holiday, should have been subjected to most grievous ill-treatment? How, indeed, could any private person ill-treat the State more gravely than by subverting the laws by which the State is administered?
24.32That Timocrates has done nothing that he ought to have done, nothing that the laws expressly enjoin, may be concluded from consideration of what I have already said; and before long you shall be satisfied, point by point, that he transgressed not merely in so far as he ignored the dates fixed by statute, and entirely annulled your right of deliberate consideration, by attempting to legislate during the holiday, but also in this respect,—that the law he introduced is inconsistent with all existing statutes.—But first take and read the statute I have here, which expressly forbids the introduction of any conflicting law, and authorizes an indictment if such a law should have been introduced. 24.33
It shall not he lawful to repeal any established law except at a Legislative Committee; and then any Athenian citizen may move for such repeal only on condition that he proposes a law to be substituted for the law so repealed. The Commissioners shall take a show of hands upon such laws, in the first instance upon the established law, whether it appear to be advantageous to the Athenian democracy or not, and afterwards upon the law proposed. And whichever law is approved on division by the Legislative Committee shall then be operative. It shall not be lawful to introduce any law contrary to existing laws; and if any person having repealed any existing law proposes in substitution another law that is either disadvantageous to the Athenian democracy or contrary to any established law, an indictment shall lie against him according to the law made and provided in the case of the proposer of a disadvantageous law.
24.34You have heard the law. Our city possesses many excellent laws, but in my judgement there is not one that has been framed in a more praiseworthy manner than this. Observe in what an equitable and thoroughly democratic spirit it is enacted. It forbids the introduction of anything repugnant to existing laws, except after abrogation of the law previously enacted. What is the purpose? First, to enable a jury to give a just and conscientious verdict; 24.35for, if there were two inconsistent laws, and if two litigants were contending in this court, whether in a public or a private dispute, and if each of them, by citing a different law, claimed your verdict, you could not of course give judgement in favour of both of them,—that is absurd,—nor could you give your verdict for either without breaking your oath, because such a decision contravenes the opposite law, which is equally valid. 24.36As a safeguard against such a dilemma the lawgiver made this provision in your interest. He also wished to make you the established guardians of the law, well knowing that the other safeguards provided by him may be evaded in many ways. The advocates note appointed by you, for instance, may be persuaded to hold their peace. He enjoined the exhibition of a proposed law that we may all have knowledge of it beforehand; but it may happen that it is unobserved by those who would oppose it if they knew in time, and that the rest read it without attention. 24.37But, it may be objected, it is open to anyone to indict the law, as I have done on this occasion. Well, even in that event the State is outwitted if a man gets the prosecutor to stand aside. What, then, is the only honest and trustworthy safeguard of the law? You, the common people. It is beyond the power of mortal man to take away from you the right to determine and to approve the best policy. No man, by getting you to stand aside, or by bribing you, can ever induce you to substitute a bad law for a good one. 24.38Therefore the lawgiver anticipates every avenue of iniquity, thwarting the plans and forbidding the advance of men whose intentions are hostile to you. All these precautions, so admirably and so righteously enacted, Timocrates has subverted and obliterated, so far as in him lay; he has introduced a law repugnant to all or nearly all the existing statutes, without reading any for comparison, without repealing any, without leaving you the right of choice, without taking any other of the steps that he was required to take.
24.39I suppose that you are all satisfied that he is amenable to the indictment, as having introduced a law that contravenes existing statutes; but, to show you the character of the laws he has contravened and of the law he has introduced, the clerk will read to you, first his new law, and then the other laws to which it is repugnant.
Law of Timocrates24.40
During the first presidency, namely, that of the Pandionid Tribe, and on the twelfth day of that presidency, it was moved by Timocrates that, if the additional penalty of imprisonment has been or shall hereafter be inflicted in pursuance of any law or decree upon any person in debt to the treasury, it shall be competent for him or for any other person on his behalf to nominate as sureties for the debt such persons as shall be approved by vote of the Assembly, on an undertaking to pay in full the amount in which he was indebted. The Commissioners are required to put the question whensoever any debtor wishes to nominate sureties.
The debtor who has given sureties shall be released from the penalty of imprisonment on payment to the State of the money, in respect of which he gave such sureties; but if at the time of the ninth presidency neither he nor his sureties shall have paid in the money, the man who gave sureties shall be imprisoned and the property of the sureties shall be confiscated. But in the case of tax-farmers, their sureties, and their collectors, and of the lessees of leasable revenues and their sureties, the State may exact payment according to the established laws. If any man incur debt during the ninth presidency he shall pay in full during the ninth or the tenth presidency of the next ensuing year.
24.41You have heard the law, and I beg you to bear in mind this phrase, “if the additional penalty of imprisonment has been or shall hereafter be inflicted,” and also that he excepts from the operation of his law tax-farmers and lessees and their sureties. The law as a whole, but those provisions more especially, is contrary to all existing statutes. That you will recognize when you have listened to the actual laws.—Read. 24.42
Moved by Diocles: that laws enacted under democratic government before the archonship of Eucleides and all laws that were enacted during the archonship of Eucleides and are on record shall be in force. Laws enacted after the archonship of Eucleides or laws that shall hereafter be enacted shall be in force as from the day of their several enactment, unless a clause be appended defining the date of their first coming into force. The Clerk of the Council shall affix his mark to all laws now established within thirty days; and hereafter whosoever is acting as clerk shall forthwith make a note that the law is in force as from the date of enactment.
24.43The existing laws are excellent, gentlemen of the jury; but the law just read has defined them, if I may so put it, and given them new authority. It ordains that every statute shall be operative as from the date of enactment, unless any date is appended, and, in that case, that the specified date shall mark the beginning of its operation. The reason is that a clause had been appended to many statutes, to the effect that “this law shall be in force from the time of the next ensuing archon.” But the man who, to confirm such statutes, proposed the statute that has just been read, did not, in drafting his law at a later date, think it right to carry back to their dates of enactment those laws whose operation had been deferred to a date later than their enactment, and so make them operative earlier than their several authors intended. 24.44You must therefore observe how contrary to that statute is the law that Timocrates has proposed. The statute ordains that either the date specified or the date of enactment shall hold good; Timocrates writes, “if the penalty has been inflicted,” referring to past transactions. He did not even define the initial date by naming an archonship; nay, he has made his law operative not merely before the date of enactment, but before any of us were born, for he has included all past time without any limitation.—Your duty, Timocrates, was either not to compose your law, or to repeal the other one; you had no right to throw the whole business into confusion for the furtherance of your own purposes. Read another law. 24.45
. . . . nor in respect of disfranchised citizens, for restoration of their franchise, nor in respect of persons indebted to the Gods or to the treasury of the Athenians, for remission or composition of their debt, unless permission be granted by not less than six thousand citizens giving an affirmative vote by ballot. In that event it shall be lawful to put the question in such manner as the Council and the Assembly approve.
24.46Here is another law which forbids any proposal in respect of disfranchised or indebted persons, for remission or composition, to be made or put to the vote, except after permission granted, and that only if at least six thousand citizens have voted aye. But Timocrates expressly proposed that, if the additional penalty of imprisonment has been inflicted on any debtor, he shall have remission on production of sureties, without any preliminary resolution having been carried, or any permission granted for such a resolution. 24.47Even when a man has got his permission, the law does not allow him to do the business as he chooses, but as the Council and the Assembly approve. Timocrates was not satisfied with the simple transgression of making his proposal and introducing his law on the matters in question without permission granted; he went further and, without laying any proposition before the Council or before the Assembly, on the sly, when the Council stood adjourned, and everybody was holiday-making in honor of the festival, he brought in his bill surreptitiously.— 24.48Yet, if your intentions had been honest, Timocrates, knowing as you did the statute which I have read, it was your duty, first to make written request for audience before the Council, then to confer with the Assembly, and after that, if the whole body of citizens had approved, to compose and bring in your bill on the matters in question, and even then to wait for the dates prescribed by law, in order that, doing business in that fashion, even though anyone tried to show that your law was disadvantageous to the State, you might not have been suspected of malicious intention, but only of the misfortune of erroneous judgement. 24.49As it is, by thrusting your law into the statute-book clandestinely, hastily, and illegally, you have stripped yourself of all claim to indulgence; for indulgence belongs to those who offend unwittingly, not to those who have concerted a plot, as you are convicted of doing. However, I shall have a word to say on that point presently. Meantime,—read the next law. 24.50
If any person make petition to the Council or to the Assembly in respect of any sentence of a Court of Justice or of the Council or of the Assembly, if the person who has been fined himself make petition before he has paid the fine, an information shall lie against him in the same manner as when a person sits on a jury being indebted to the treasury; and if another person make petition on behalf of the person fined, his whole property shall be confiscated; and if any Commissioner shall allow the question to be put for anyone, whether for the person fined or for another on his behalf, he shall be disfranchised.
24.51It is a long task, gentlemen of the jury, if we are to speak of all the laws to which the proposals introduced by the defendant are repugnant; but if any law deserves discussion it is surely that which the clerk has just read. The author of that law knew how kind-hearted and indulgent you Athenians are; he could see that in many instances you had already suffered serious detriment by your own act because of that easy disposition; 24.52and therefore, wishing to leave no excuse for public losses, he declared it wrongful that men who had been convicted of misconduct by process and judgement with the sanction of law should enjoy the benefit of your good-nature, falling back upon prayers and solicitation in their distress. Accordingly he strictly forbade either the culprit himself or anyone else to supplicate you or make speeches upon such complaints; they must do what justice demands in silence. 24.53Now if you were asked for whom you would more naturally do a service, for those who beg you or for those who bid you, I am sure you would reply, for those who beg; for the former service is the outcome of kindliness, the latter of cowardice. Well, the laws, all of them, command you to do your duty; suppliants beg you to do a favour. Then where supplication is forbidden, can it be permissible to introduce a law that contains a command? I think not. In cases in which you conceived it to be your duty even to refuse favours, it is shameful that you should allow the desires of certain people to be fulfilled against your will.—Read the statute that comes next in order. 24.54
When there has been a prior judgement audit or adjudication about any matter in a court of law, whether in a public or a private suit, or where the State has been vendor, none of the magistrates may bring the matter into court or put any question to the vote, nor shall they permit any accusation forbidden by law.
24.55Why, it looks as though Timocrates were compiling evidence of his own transgressions; for at the very outset of his law he makes a proposal exactly contrary to these provisions. The legislator does not permit any question once decided by judgement of the court to be put a second time; the law of Timocrates reads that, if any penalty has been inflicted on a man in pursuance of a law or a decree, the Assembly must reconsider the matter for him, in order that the decision of the court may be overruled, and sureties put in by the person amerced. The statute forbids any magistrate even to put the question contrary to these provisions; Timocrates proposes that, if sureties are nominated, the Commissioners shall be obliged to submit their names, and adds the phrase, “whenever any debtor wishes.”— 24.56Read another statute.
Judgements and awards given under the law while the government was democratic shall be valid.
No, says Timocrates; they shall not be valid, at least when the penalty of imprisonment has been imposed.—Proceed. But acts done and judgements delivered during the time of the Thirty Tyrants, whether in private or public suits, shall be invalid.
But acts done and judgements delivered during the time of the Thirty Tyrants, whether in private or public suits, shall be invalid.
24.57Stop. Tell me; hearing that, what would all of you name as the most terrible misfortune?Against what would you pray most earnestly? I suppose that your prayer would be that the state of things under the Thirty Tyrants should never recur. Anyhow, that, as I understand it, is the misfortune against which this statute provides, by ordaining that the acts of that time shall be invalid. Well, the defendant condemns as illegal acts done under popular government, exactly as you condemned the acts of the tyranny; or at least he makes them equally invalid. 24.58Then what are we to say for ourselves, men of
Nor shall it be lawful to propose a law applying to a particular man, unless the same be applicable to all Athenian citizens, except by the votes of not less than six thousand citizens voting in the affirmative by ballot.
It forbids the introduction of any law that does not affect all citizens alike,—an injunction conceived in the true spirit of democracy. As every man has an equal share in the constitution generally, so this statute asserts his equal share in the laws. You know as well as I do for whose sake Timocrates introduced his law; but, leaving those names out of the question, we have his own admission that his law is not of universal application, for he added a clause excepting from its operation tax-farmers, lessees, and their sureties.—When, sir, there are certain persons whom you have put outside your law, you cannot claim that you have made the same law for all alike.24.60And there is another thing that you cannot say,— that of all persons punished by imprisonment tax farmers are the greatest offenders and do us the gravest wrong, and that that is why you do not give them the benefit of your law. Surely men who are traitors to the commonwealth, men who maltreat their own parents, men who enter the market-place with unclean hands, offend far more heinously; and all those criminals are threatened with imprisonment by the standing laws, while your law offers them instant release. But here again you reveal the men in whose favour you moved your law. They got into our debt not by tax-farming, but by embezzling, or rather by plundering, our money; and that, I warrant you, is the true reason why you had no consideration for the tax-farmers.
24.61Many other excellent statutes might be cited, all contradicted by the law he has proposed. However, if I discuss every one of them, I shall, perhaps, be robbed of my chance of arguing that the law is altogether disadvantageous to the citizens. On the other hand, even if it is repugnant to one only of the existing laws, you can have no doubt that it is open to the indictment. What, then, is my decision? To pass over all the other laws, but to discuss one law proposed on a former occasion by the defendant himself, before I proceed to that part of my accusation in which I allege that the law, if operative, will be most injurious to the commonwealth. 24.62To have introduced a law contrary to the laws of others is a serious offence, but one which requires accusation by someone else; but, when a man legislates in opposition to a former enactment of his own, he is really making himself his own accuser. To show you that such is really the case, the clerk will read to you the actual law proposed by him, while I hold my peace.—Read. 24.63
Moved by Timocrates: if any Athenian citizens are now in jail or shall hereafter be imprisoned on impeachment by the Council, if the judgement against such prisoners be not delivered to the Judges by the Secretary of the Presidency in pursuance of the law of impeachment, be it enacted that the Eleven shall bring them before the Court within thirty days of the day on which they receive them into custody, unless prevented by public business, and, if so prevented, as soon as possible. Any Athenian qualified as a prosecutor may prosecute. If the culprit be convicted, the Court of Heliaea shall assess such penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, as he appears to deserve. If the penalty assessed be pecuniary, he shall be imprisoned until he has paid the full amount of the fine inflicted.
24.64You hear that, gentlemen of the jury?—Read those words again.
If the penalty assessed be pecuniary he shall be imprisoned until he has paid the full amount—
That will do.—Could a man possibly propose two more contradictory enactments than these,—that convicted malefactors shall be kept in jail until they have paid their fines, and that these same malefactors may put in sureties, but must not be imprisoned. Here, then, is an accusation brought against Timocrates by Timocrates, not by Diodorus nor by any other of the great multitude of citizens.24.65Yet from what gain do you think that such a man would restrain his hand, or what would he hesitate to do for lucre's sake, when he did not disdain to legislate in contradiction of himself, though the laws forbid contradiction even of others? It seems to me that, so far as effrontery goes, such a man is ready to do anything. Inasmuch, therefore, as the laws provide that evil doers of other kinds shall upon confession be punished without trial, you, men of
24.66That the law he has proposed is contrary to the statutes just read, to those which I cited before, and, I may almost say, to every law in
24.68I will now do my best to prove that the law he introduced is unacceptable and disadvantageous to the citizens. I presume that you will all agree with me that a really wholesome law, such as is calculated to benefit the people, ought, in the first place, to be drawn simply and intelligibly, not in such terms that one man thinks it means this and another that; and, secondly, that the proceedings prescribed by the law ought to be practicable, for if a law, though well-meant, were to enjoin what is impossible, it would be attempting the work not of a law, but of a prayer. 24.69Furthermore, it should plainly appear that it does not offer an easy time to any wrongdoer. For if anyone supposes that indulgent laws are the mark of popular government, let him ask this further question: to whom are they to be indulgent? If he will look at the matter rightly, he will find that the answer is, to persons who are going to be tried, not to persons already convicted. For of the former we may say that it is still uncertain whether they have been unjustly calumniated; but the latter can no longer plead that they are not evil-doers. 24.70Now it shall be made clear that the law before us exhibits none of the traits I have enumerated, but the very opposite, taking them one by one. There are many ways in which I might make good that statement; the best will be to go through the law itself, phrase by phrase. It is not a law well-conceived in parts, and defective in parts; from beginning to end, from the first syllable to the last, it is enacted to your detriment.— 24.71The clerk shall take the actual manuscript, and read the law to the jury as far as the end of the first section.—That is the easiest way for me to explain, and for you to apprehend, what I mean.
Law of Timocrates
During the first presidency, namely, that of the Pandionid Tribe, on the twelfth day of that presidency, the question was put by Aristocles of Myrrhinus, one of the Commissioners: moved by Timocrates, that if the additional penalty of imprisonment has been or shall hereafter be inflicted in pursuance of any law or decree upon any person in debt to the treasury, it shall be competent for him or for any person on his behalf to nominate as sureties for the debt—
24.72Stop; you shall read it clause by clause presently. This, gentlemen of the jury, is very nearly the most scandalous provision of the whole statute. I do not think that any other man, when introducing a law for the use of his fellow-citizens, ever ventured upon an attempt to rescind judgements passed under earlier statutes. Yet that is what the defendant Timocrates has done without shame and even without concealment, inserting these plain words: “if the additional penalty of imprisonment has been or shall hereafter be inflicted in pursuance of any law or decree upon any person in debt to the treasury.” 24.73If he had merely advised us of the right course for the future, there would have been no harm in it but, when a court of justice has given its verdict and determined the issue, is it not outrageous to introduce a law by which that verdict is to be rescinded? It is as though, after allowing the law of Timocrates to become operative, someone should draft a second law to this effect: “if any persons being indebted, and having had the further penalty of imprisonment passed upon them, shall have put in sureties as the law directs, they shall not be entitled to such bail, and it shall not be lawful hereafter to release anyone on bail.” 24.74I suppose that no man in his senses would do such a thing; and you, sir, were guilty when you tried to annul those other provisions. For if he thought it a fair thing to do, his proper course was to introduce a law governing future transactions; not to lump together all offences, past and future, proven and unproven, and then register an indiscriminate judgement upon all together. Surely it is outrageous that men who have already been convicted of offences against the common weal should be deemed worthy of the same judicial treatment as men of whom it is not yet known whether they will ever do anything that deserves prosecution?
24.75Again, we may discern how monstrously he has acted in making his law retrospective, by asking ourselves what is the real difference between government by law and oligarchy; and why we regard those who prefer to live under laws as honest, sober-minded persons, and those who submit to oligarchical rule as cowards and slaves. 24.76The outstanding difference you will find to be really this: under oligarchical government everybody is entitled to undo the past, and to prescribe future transactions according to his own pleasure; whereas the laws of a free state prescribe what shall be done in the future, such laws having been enacted by convincing people that they will be beneficial to those who live under them. Timocrates however, legislating in a democratically governed city, has introduced into his law the characteristic iniquity of oligarchy; and in dealing with past transactions has presumed to claim for himself an authority higher than that of the convicting jury.
24.77Nor is this the only example of his arrogance. It is further enacted that “if hereafter the additional penalty of imprisonment shall have been imposed, the prisoner may be released on producing sureties for payment of his fine.” If he really thought imprisonment such a dreadful infliction, his proper course was to enact that no man who produces sureties shall be committed to prison; but not, having first found that you have passed sentence of imprisonment and so incurred the resentment of the convict, then to give him a discharge on bail. In fact, he has introduced his law in this fashion by way of advertising himself as one who will, on his own authority, release prisoners, though you may have decided to keep them in jail. 24.78Can anyone see any public advantage in a law that is to override the decisions of a court of justice, and that requires unsworn persons to cancel the judgements of sworn juries ? I hope not. It is clear that the law of Timocrates has both these faults; and if you have, each one of you, any regard for the constitution, or if you claim authority for your own decision of the questions on which you give your verdict under oath, you must abrogate a law like this, and not permit it to be made valid today.
24.79He was not satisfied with destroying the authority of this court in respect of additional penalties, but you will find that even the proceedings which he has prescribed in his law, and imposed upon culprits who have been condemned, have not been drafted with honesty and sincerity, but as though his main purpose was to mislead and overreach you. Observe the phrasing: “Moved by Timocrates that, if the additional penalty of imprisonment has been or shall hereafter be inflicted in pursuance of any law or decree upon any person in debt to the treasury, it shall be competent for him or for any other person on his behalf to nominate as sureties for the debt such persons as shall be approved on vote by the Assembly.” 24.80See what a long stride he has taken from the court of justice and its sentences! Even to the Assembly; for he steals the person of the criminal, as well as the right to hand him over to the Eleven. What magistrate will ever hand over the delinquent? What member of the Eleven will ever accept custody? The order of Timocrates is that sureties are to be nominated in the Assembly; it is impossible for the Assembly and the Courts to be in session on the same day; and there is no injunction to keep the man in custody until he has named his sureties. 24.81Why should he have been afraid to add a distinct injunction that “the magistrate shall keep the delinquent in custody until he shall have put in his sureties”? Is not that quite fair? I am sure you will all say yes. Would it have been contrary to any statute ? No, indeed; it would have been the only clause that does conform to the statutes. Then what was his reason? There is no discoverable reason except this,—that his purpose was not to help but to obstruct the punishment of criminals condemned by you.
24.82Well, how does it go on? “To nominate sureties on an undertaking to pay in full the amount in which he was indebted.” Here again he has stolen away the right of the sacred funds to a tenfold payment, and one-half of the claim of the civil treasury, in cases where double payment is required by law. And how does he manage that? By writing “the amount” instead of “the penalty,” and “in which he was indebted” instead of “which has accrued.” 24.83The difference is this: if he had proposed that sureties should be appointed to guarantee the payment of the accruing penalty, he would have embraced in his enactment the statutes under which certain debts are doubled, and others multiplied by ten; and so the debtor would have been obliged not only to pay in full the amount of the debt as recorded, but also to liquidate the penal payments legally added thereto. As it is, by the words “nominate sureties on an undertaking to pay in full the amount in which he was indebted,” he makes the payment depend on the plaint and the documents upon which the several delinquents were brought to trial; and in those documents only the original amount of the debt is recorded.
24.84Again, after making such a big hole in the laws by juggling with words, he adds: “the Commissioners note are required to put the question whensoever any debtor wishes to nominate sureties,” for right through his law he thinks it his business to rescue the criminal who has been convicted in this court. By allowing the nomination of sureties to take place at the pleasure of the delinquent, he puts it into his power never to pay, and never to go to prison. 24.85Of course he will put forward men of straw, and by the time you have rejected them, he will be out of your reach. For if anyone demands his retention in jail for failing to produce sureties, he will reply that he has done so, and intends to do so; and then he will point to the statute of Timocrates, which bids him nominate sureties whenever he likes, but says nothing about custody in the meantime, which gives no instruction for imprisonment in case you reject the sureties, which is, in short, a sort of universal talisman for would-be evil-doers.
24.86“The debtor who has given sureties,” he goes on, “shall be released from the penalty of imprisonment on payment to the State of the money in respect of which he gave sureties.” Here again he persisted in the trick I mentioned just now; he had not forgotten it; he enacted that the man shall be released from prison on payment, not of the accruing penalty, but of the original debt.
24.87“But if at the time of the ninth presidency neither he nor his sureties shall have paid in the money, the man who gave sureties shall be imprisoned, and the property of the sureties shall be confiscated.” In this final clause, you will find, he has at last become the accuser of his own iniquities in the fullest sense. He did not forbid imprisonment on the broad ground that to imprison a free citizen is something shameful or terrible; but he stole from you your chance of catching your criminal in the place where he is, and so he left to you, who are the party aggrieved, the empty name of retribution, but robbed you of the reality. Without your consent he gave a discharge to people who forcibly appropriate your money; and he was within an ace of adding a clause enabling an action at law against the juries that had imposed the penalty of imprisonment.
24.88But of all the objectionable enactments of his law, that of which I will now speak deserves our most vehement indignation. From beginning to end it is addressed to delinquents who put in sureties; but there is neither prosecution nor penalty for the man who offers no sureties, good or bad, but simply defies you. For that man he has provided the fullest imaginable impunity. The days of grace, defined as extending to the ninth presidency, he offers to the man who has put in bail. 24.89You will see the point by observing that he adds a clause to the effect that the property of the sureties shall be confiscated, if they do not pay the debt in full. Yes, but suppose a man has not named any sureties,—then of course there are no sureties to punish. He compels the Commissioners, men chosen for that office by lot from the ranks of the citizens, to accept sureties whenever named; but on men who defraud the commonwealth he imposes no sort of compulsion,—he treats them as benefactors, and gives them the right to choose whether they will be punished or not.
24.90Could any conceivable statute be more unsound or more opposed to your interests? First, it enjoins the reversal of your judgements in cases long ago decided; and secondly, in cases still to be tried, while instructing sworn jurors to inflict penalties, it makes those penalties inoperative. Further, it enfranchises state-debtors who do not discharge their liabilities, and, in general, it makes an exhibition of you jurors as men whose oaths, whose penalties, whose verdicts, whose censures, whose acts, in short, are all utterly futile. For my part, I conceive that if the author of the statute had been Critias of the Thirty Tyrants, he would hardly have framed and introduced it in any other fashion than this.
24.91I think that you will easily be convinced that this law upsets the constitution, throws public business into confusion, and denudes the commonwealth of many honorable ambitions. For you cannot be unconscious that our city has often owed her safety to the warlike adventures of our navy and our land forces; and that you have frequently performed glorious achievements in the deliverance, or the chastisement, or the reconciliation, of other cities. What do I infer? 24.92Such successes could only have been organized by the aid of those decrees and laws under which you levy contributions on some citizens, and require others to furnish war-galleys; bid some to serve in the navy, and others to perform their several duties. With that object, therefore, you impanel juries, and punish the insubordinate with imprisonment. Now mark how this gallant gentleman's statute vitiates and makes havoc of all that business. 24.93His clause reads, you remember: “if the penalty of imprisonment has been or shall hereafter be inflicted upon any debtor, he shall, on nominating sureties on an undertaking to pay the money during the ninth presidency, be released from imprisonment.” Then where are our resources? How shall any expedition be dispatched? How shall we collect ways and means, if every defaulter nominates sureties under this man's act instead of discharging his obligation? 24.94I presume that our reply to the Hellenic world will be: “We have a law here,—the statute of Timocrates. Kindly wait till the ninth presidency; then after that we will start.” No other excuse is left. And if you have to fight in self-defence, do you really think that the enemy will wait for the evasions and rogueries of every scoundrel in
24.96Moreover, men of
24.102Not only, then, does he deprive the court of authority in respect of supplementary payments, offer immunity to defrauders of the State, cripple our national service, and undermine our financial system, but also, by abrogating the penalties imposed by the existing statutes, he has enacted his law for the benefit of swindlers, parricides, and shirkers. 24.103The statutes enacted by Solon, a very different legislator from the defendant, provided that if a man is convicted of theft, and not punished with death, he shall suffer imprisonment; that if a man found guilty of ill-treating his parents intrudes upon the market-place, he shall go to jail; and that if a man, having been convicted of shirking military service, behaves as though he were not disfranchised, he also shall be imprisoned. Timocrates gives impunity to all these offenders, for he abolishes imprisonment if they put in bail. 24.104Therefore, in my judgement )and though you may think what I am going to say rather coarse, I will say it without hesitation(, he deserves, on that very account, to be punished with death, so that he may pass this law in Hell for the benefit of the wicked, and leave us who are still alive in the continued enjoyment of our holy and righteous laws.—Read also the laws I have mentioned. 24.105
Laws Concerning Theft, Maltreatment of Parents, and Desertion
If a man has recovered the property lost, the penalty shall be twice the value of such property; if he has not recovered it, ten times the value in addition to the lawful amercement. The thief shall be kept in the stocks for five days and five nights, if an additional penalty is awarded by the court; and such additional penalty may be proposed by anyone, when the question of sentence is raised.—If any man be put under arrest after being found guilty of ill-treating his parents or of shirking service, or for entering any forbidden place after notice of outlawry, the Eleven shall put him into prison and bring him before the Court of Heliaea, and any person being a lawful prosecutor may prosecute him. If he be found guilty, the Court shall determine what penalty, corporal or pecuniary, he shall suffer; and if the penalty be pecuniary, he shall be kept in prison until he has paid the fine.
24.106Much alike these two legislators, Solon and Timocrates,—are they not, men of
24.108Now I propose to reckon up how I have fulfilled the promises I made at the outset of my address. I undertook to prove that he is amenable to the indictment in every respect, first, because he legislated illegally; secondly, because his proposals were contrary to existing statutes; and thirdly, because they were injurious to the commonwealth. Well, you have now heard the statutes, and what they enjoin upon the author of a new law; and again I have satisfied you that the defendant has not observed any one of those injunctions. 24.109Further, you have also heard the statutes with which the defendant's law is manifestly at variance; and you are aware that he has introduced it without repeal of those statutes. And you have certainly heard that the law is detrimental, for I have only just left off telling you so. Therefore he is unquestionably guilty on every count, and in nothing has he shown consideration or scruple; but, as it seems to me, if anything else had been forbidden by the existing statutes, he would have done that as well.
24.110From every point of view it is clear that he framed his proposals with a sinister purpose, and that he offends of malice prepense and not by error of judgement, especially as the character of his law is preserved down to the very last syllable. He proposed nothing that was right, nothing likely to be serviceable to you, even unintentionally. Surely you are bound to abhor and to punish a man who had no thought for wrongs done to the people, but enacted laws for the benefit of those who have injured you before and will injure you again. 24.111Gentlemen of the jury, I am amazed at the man's effrontery. To think that, when he and Androtion were in office, he never had any compassion for the great body of your fellow-citizens, who were exhausted with paying income-tax, and that then when Androtion was called upon to refund money, both sacred and civil, which he had long before stolen from the State, he must needs propose a law to deprive you of the double repayment of civil, and the tenfold repayment of sacred, liabilities! Thus the whole mass of you citizens has been attacked by a man who was immediately afterwards to pretend that he had framed his law as a friend of the people. 24.112In my view, no punishment could be too severe for a man who, when some market-clerk, or street-inspector, or judge of a local court,—some poor, unskilled man, without experience, and appointed to his office by lot,—has been found guilty of peculation at the audits, demands from him a tenfold restitution, and has no new law to propose for the relief of such delinquents, and then, when ambassadors, elected by vote of the people, men of substance, have embezzled and long retained large sums of money, the property in part of the temples, in part of the treasury, is at great pains to invent for them a way of escape from penalties ordained both by decree and by statute. 24.113And yet Solon, gentlemen of the jury,—and even Timocrates cannot pretend to be a legislator of the same calibre as Solon,—so far from providing such defaulters with the means of swindling in security, actually introduced a law to ensure that they should either refrain from crime or be adequately punished. For a theft in day-time of more than fifty drachmas a man might be arrested summarily and put into custody of the Eleven. If he stole anything, however small, by night, the person aggrieved might lawfully pursue and kill or wound him, or else put him into the hands of the Eleven, at his own option. A man found guilty of an offence for which arrest is lawful was not allowed to put in bail and refund the stolen money; no, the penalty was death. 24.114Or suppose that he stole a cloak, or an oil-flask, or any such trifle, from the Lyceum, or the Academy, or Cynosarges, or any utensil from the gymnasia or the harbors, above the value of ten drachmas, for such thefts also Solon enacted the capital penalty. If a man was found guilty on a private prosecution for theft, while the normal penalty was double reparation, the court was empowered to add to the fine the extra penalty of imprisonment for five days and as many nights, so that everybody might see the thief in jail. You heard those laws read not long ago. 24.115Solon's view was that the doer of infamous deeds ought not to get off with mere repayment of the money stolen; for it seemed to him that there would be no lack of thieves on such terms,—if they had the chance of keeping their booty if undetected, and of simply restoring it if caught. They must pay double; they must be imprisoned as well as fined, and so live in disgrace for the rest of their lives. Not so Timocrates; he made arrangements for a simple, instead of a double, reparation, and for no sort of additional penalty. 24.116Nor was he content to be guilty of this iniquity in respect of future offences only; he released even the man who had already committed his crime, and already been punished. I, however, used to suppose that legislators were concerned with the future, making laws to direct how people should behave, how every thing should he managed, and what should be the proper penalties for different transgressions. That is what is meant by making the laws the same for all citizens. To frame statutes for past transactions is not to legislate, but to rescue malefactors. 24.117You may judge that what I am telling you is true by reflecting that, if Euctemon had been convicted on the charge of illegal legislation, Timocrates would never have proposed his law, and the State would never have wanted his law; his friends would have been content to plunder the property of the State, without any concern for other people. But in fact Euctemon was acquitted and therefore Timocrates demands that your decision, the judgement of the court, and every other statute shall be invalidated, and that he and his law shall alone be authoritative. 24.118—And yet, Timocrates, laws which are still authoritative have given supreme authority to the gentlemen of the jury. The laws permit them, after hearing the case, to adjust their condemnation of the offender to their view of the gravity of the offence; light for light, heavy for heavy. Whenever the phrase is, “what penalty, corporal or pecuniary, should be awarded,” the award is at the discretion of the jury. 24.119You, then, abolish the corporal penalty by remitting imprisonment. For whom? For thieves and temple-robbers, for parricides, murderers, shirkers, and deserters. All such men you protect by your law. And yet does not a man who, under a free constitution, legislates, not to protect the temples, not to protect the people, but to protect such people as I have named, deserve to suffer the extreme penalty? 24.120—Certainly he cannot deny that such people ought to be, and that the laws make them, liable to the heaviest punishments. Neither can he deny that the men for whose protection he has invented his law are thieves and temple-robbers; for the have robbed the temples of the ten per cent due to Athena and of the two per cent due to the other gods; they keep the money in their own pockets instead of making restitution, and they have stolen the public share, which belonged to you. Their sacrilege differs from other forms of sacrilege to this extent,—that they never even paid the money into the Acropolis as they ought. 24.121As Heaven is my witness, gentlemen of the jury, I believe Androtion became the victim of this arrogant, overbearing temper, not by accident, but by the visitation of the gods, to the end that, as the mutilators of the statue of Victory perished by their own hands, note so these men should perish by litigation among themselves, and should either make tenfold restitution, as the laws direct, or be cast into prison.
24.122I should like to make an observation about his law which occurred to my mind while I was speaking about these matters,—something quite out of the common, indeed surprisingly so. The defendant, gentlemen of the jury, has proposed that the penalty inflicted upon farmers of taxes, if they did not pay their dues, should be in accordance with the earlier statutes, in which the penalty provided is imprisonment and double restitution for men who, in consequence of losses on their contract, might possibly do the State a wrong unintentionally. On the other hand, he abolishes imprisonment for men who steal the property of the State and rob the temples of the Goddess.—If you tell us, Timocrates, that the latter are guilty of a less serious offence than the former, you must admit that you are out of your senses; and if you think their offence more serious, as indeed it is, and yet release them and refuse to release the others, is it not evident that you have sold your services to these men for a bribe?
24.123Another remark worth making, gentlemen of the jury, is that you are far more magnanimous than the politicians. Anyhow you do not repeal the harsh enactments made against the common people,—against those, for instance, who take fees from both parties, or attend the Assembly or sit on a jury while in debt to the treasury, or do anything else forbidden by the laws,—although you know that any man who commits one of these offences may do so because he is poor. You do not enact laws to give liberty of transgression, but rather to take it away. They, on the other hand, make laws to rescue from punishment persons guilty of the most infamous and outrageous misconduct. 24.124And then in private they talk insultingly about you, as though they were superior persons, though they are really behaving like ill-conditioned, ungrateful servants. Servants who have been manumitted, you know, gentlemen of the jury, are never grateful to their masters for their liberation, but hate them more bitterly than they hate anyone else, as sharing in the secret of their former servitude. In the same spirit politicians are not satisfied with having risen from poverty to affluence at the expense of the City, but calumniate the common people,—because the common people know what their style of life was when they were young and poor.
24.125But it would perhaps, as he may suggest, have been a great shame for Androtion to be sent to prison, or for Glaucetes, or Melanopus. No, indeed, gentlemen of the jury! It will be a far greater shame if an injured and insulted commonwealth shall exact no retribution for the Goddess or for itself. Does not imprisonment run in Androtion's family? Why, you know yourselves that his father often went to jail for five years at a stretch; and then he was not discharged—he ran away. 24.126Or has he earned forgiveness by his conduct in youth? Why, he deserves imprisonment for that conduct just as much as for his embezzlements. Do you mean because he frequented the market-place before he was qualified, and with his own hands haled men of respectable life from the market-place to the jail? But there is Melanopus, you say, and what a dreadful thing it would be if Melanopus were committed to prison today! 24.127Well, about his father I will say nothing disrespectful; though I could tell you a long story about thieving,—however, so far as I am concerned, let his father be worthy of all the compliments that Timocrates may lavish upon him. But suppose that the son of this virtuous father was himself a rascal and a thief; suppose that he once paid a fine of three talents on conviction for treason; suppose that, after he had sat in the Allied Congress, note the court found him guilty of embezzlement, and ordered him to make tenfold restitution; suppose that he played false when he went on embassy to
24.131You must punish crime, not encourage it by your own teaching. Do not let them make a grievance of going to prison with your money in their pockets, but bring them under the yoke of law. People convicted under the alien acts do not think themselves aggrieved when they are kept in yonder building note until the trial for false evidence is over; they simply stay there without expecting to get the freedom of the streets by putting in bail. 24.132The commonwealth, having decided to distrust them, did not choose to be cheated of retribution by the process of putting in bail, but preferred that they should stay in a place where many genuine Athenians have sojourned. Yet. people have been imprisoned there before now both for debt and on judgement, and have taken it quietly. Perhaps it is rather invidious to mention names, but I cannot help giving you a list for comparison with the men before you. 24.133I will not mention very ancient instances, or any earlier than the archonship of Eucleides note; but I must observe that many men, who in their own generation were highly esteemed for their earlier conduct, were nevertheless most severely treated by the People for the offences of their later life. The commonwealth was not content with a period of honesty followed by knavery, but expected uninterrupted honesty in public dealings. The previous honesty of such a person was not, in their view, attributable to innate virtue; it was part of a scheme to attract confidence. 24.134But after the archonship of Eucleides, gentlemen of the jury, first, you all remember that the well-known Thrasybulus of Colyttus was twice imprisoned and condemned at both his trials before the Assembly; and yet he was one of the heroes of the march from
24.139I should like, gentlemen of the jury, to give you a description of the method of legislation among the Locrians. It will do you no harm to hear an example, especially one set by a well-governed community. In that country the people are so strongly of opinion that it is right to observe old-established laws, to preserve the institutions of their forefathers, and never to legislate for the gratification of whims, or for a compromise with transgression, that if a man wishes to propose a new law, he legislates with a halter round his neck. If the law is accepted as good and beneficial, the proposer departs with his life, but, if not, the halter is drawn tight, and he is a dead man. 24.140In very truth they are not bold enough to propose new laws, but punctually obey the old ones. And, during quite a long series of years, we are told, gentlemen of the jury, that they have enacted only one new statute. They had a law in that country that, if any one destroyed his neighbor's eye, he must submit to the destruction of one of his own eyes; and there was no alternative of a fine. The story goes that a man, whose enemy had only one eye, threatened to knock that one eye out. 24.141The one-eyed man was much perturbed by the threat, and, reflecting that his life would not be worth keeping after such a loss as that, he plucked up courage, as we are told, to introduce a law that whosoever struck out the eye of a man who had only one, should submit to the loss of both his own eyes, in order that both might suffer the same affliction. And that, according to the story, is the only new statute adopted by the Locrians for more than two hundred years. 24.142But in this city, gentlemen of the jury, our politicians rarely let a month go by without legislating to suit their private ends. When in office they are always haling private citizens to jail; but they disapprove of the application of the same measure of justice to themselves. They arbitrarily repeal those well-tried laws of Solon, enacted by their forefathers, and expect you to obey laws of their own, proposed to the detriment of the community. 24.143If, then, you decline to punish the men before you, in a very little time the People will be in slavery to those beasts of prey. But you may be sure, gentle men of the jury, that, if you are really very angry with them, their ferocity will soon be mitigated. If not, you will have plenty of ruffians to insult you under pretence of patriotic fervor.
24.144Let me now say a word, gentlemen of the jury, about the statute which, as I am informed, he intends to cite as a precedent and which he will claim to have followed in his own proposal. I mean the statute which contains these words: “Nor will I imprison any Athenian citizen who offers three sureties taxed in the same class as himself, except any person found guilty of conspiring to betray the city or to subvert popular government, or any tax-farmer or his surety or collector being in default.” Listen to my reply. 24.145I will say nothing about Androtion himself dragging people to prison and putting them in irons after the enactment of this law, but I must inform you to whom it really applies. This statute, gentlemen of the Jury, is not intended for the protection of people who have stood their trial and argued their case, but for those who are still untried and its purpose is that they shall not plead at a disadvantage, or even without any preparation at all, because they have been sent to jail. But Timocrates is going to speak to you of regulations made for untried culprits, as though they had been framed to include everybody. 24.146Let me give you a proof that my account of the matter is correct. It would not have been lawful note for you, gentlemen of the jury, to assess any penalty, corporal or pecuniary,for imprisonment is a corporal punishment, and therefore you could not have inflicted it as a penalty, nor could it have been provided by statute, in cases where information is laid or summary arrest is allowed, that “the Eleven shall put in the stocks any man against whom information is laid, or who has been arrested,” if it had been unlawful to imprison any offenders other than those who conspire to betray the commonwealth, or to overthrow popular government, or tax-farmers who do not satisfy their contract. 24.147But as matters stand you must accept these facts as proving that imprisonment is lawful, otherwise penal sentences would at once have been entirely inoperative. In the second place, gentlemen of the jury, the formula, “I will not imprison any Athenian citizen,” is not in itself a statute; it is merely a phrase in the written oath taken by the Council, to prevent politicians who are in the Council from caballing to commit any citizen to prison. 24.148Solon therefore, wishing to deprive the Council of authority to imprison, included this formula in the Councillors' oath; but he did not include it in the judicial oath. He thought it right that a Court of Justice should have unlimited authority, and that the convicted criminal should submit to any punishment ordered by the court. To make good this view the clerk will read the judicial oath of the Court of Heliaea. Read. 24.149
The Oath of the Heliasts24.150
I will give verdict in accordance with the statutes and decrees of the People of
Athensand of the Council of Five-hundred. I will not vote for tyranny or oligarchy. If any man try to subvert the Athenian democracy or make any speech or any proposal in contravention thereof I will not comply. I will not allow private debts to be cancelled, nor lands nor houses belonging to Athenian citizens to be redistributed. I will not restore exiles or persons under sentence of death. I will not expel, nor suffer another to expel, persons here resident in contravention of the statutes and decrees of the Athenian People or of the Council.
I will not confirm the appointment to any office of any person still subject to audit in respect of any other office, to wit the offices of the nine Archons or of the Recorder or any other office for which a ballot is taken on the same day as for the nine Archons, or the office of Marshal, or ambassador, or member of the Allied Congress. I will not suffer the same man to hold the same office twice, or two offices in the same year. I will not take bribes in respect of my judicial action, nor shall any other man or woman accept bribes for me with my knowledge by any subterfuge or trick whatsoever.24.151
I am not less than thirty years old. I will give impartial hearing to prosecutor and defendant alike, and I will give my verdict strictly on the charge named in the prosecution. The juror shall swear by Zeus, Poseidon, and Demeter, and shall invoke destruction upon himself and his household if he in any way transgress this oath, and shall pray that his prosperity may depend upon his loyal observance thereof.
The oath, gentlemen of the jury, does not contain the words “I will not imprison any Athenian citizen.” The courts alone decide every question brought to trial; and they have full authority to pass sentence of imprisonment, or any other sentence they please.
24.152That you are empowered to pass sentence of imprisonment I prove by this argument; and I take it that everybody will agree that to invalidate judicial decisions is monstrous, impious, and subversive of popular government. Our commonwealth, gentlemen of the jury, is administered by laws and by votes of the people; and if once decisions by vote are repealed by a new law, where will be the end of it? Can we justly call this thing a law? Is it not rather the negation of law? Does not such a lawgiver merit our strongest resentment? 24.153Indeed in my view he merits the severest punishment, not merely for proposing this law, but for revealing to everyone else a method of destroying the courts of Justice, restoring exiles, and introducing every sort of atrocity. If the author of this law goes on his way rejoicing, what is there, gentlemen of the jury, to prevent another man from coming forward to overthrow our most powerful institutions with a fresh statute? 24.154In my opinion, nothing. I have been told that in time past popular government was overthrown in this way, when indictments for illegal legislation were abolished, and courts of justice were stripped of authority. Someone may perhaps object that, when I talk of subverting popular government, I am ignoring the difference of conditions between that time and this. Yes, but no man ought even to drop the seed of such a policy in our commonwealth, though for the moment it may not germinate; rather should every man who by word or deed attempts anything of the kind be brought to justice.
24.155It is also proper that you should be informed how craftily he laid his plans to injure you. Having observed that everybody, whether in public life or outside it, constantly attributes all the prosperity of
24.160Let us first of all inquire into the exploit on which he chiefly prides himself,—his collection of the money which he extracted from all of you, with the help of this honorable gentleman. Having accused Euctemon of retaining revenue money in his own hands, he promised that he would either make good the charge, or pay the money out of his own pocket; and on that pretext he turned out a magistrate appointed by lot, and insinuated himself into the tax-collecting business. He also proposed the appointment of Timocrates, pleading his own ill-health; “I shall be glad of his help in the work of the office,” he said. 24.161He made a speech to the people on that occasion, advising you that you had the choice of three courses, either to break up the processional plate, or to pay your taxes over again, or to recover arrears from defaulters. You naturally preferred to collect your debts; and as by virtue of his promises he had the upper hand, and enjoyed special powers to suit the emergency, he did not think proper to observe the statutes made and provided for such business, nor, if he considered them unsatisfactory, to propose new ones. Instead of that, he moved at the Assembly some truculent and unconstitutional decrees, and used those decrees for jobbery, with Timocrates as his jackal. 24.162With the help of this man he has stolen a great deal of your property, for he had included in his decree an order that the police-magistrates, the receivers, and their clerks, should all follow his instructions. Taking these officers with him, he proceeded to invade your dwelling-houses; and you, Timocrates, were the only one of his colleagues, though there were ten of them, who went with him. And let no one suppose that I am hinting that payment ought not to be exacted from defaulters. It ought; but how? As the law directs, and disinterestedly; that is the democratic way. Men of
24.170Nevertheless they will allege that both then and now they were acting in your interests. Will you then accept their exploits as due to zeal in your interests? Or will you indulgently tolerate the handiwork of their audacity and wickedness? No, men of
24.172However, I will make it quite clear to you without more ado that they did not carry out those exactions for your benefit. If they were asked whether, in their opinion, the greater injury is done to the commonwealth by tillers of the soil, who live frugally, but, because of the cost of maintaining their children, or of household expenses, or of other public burdens, are behindhand with their taxes, or by people who plunder and squander the money of willing taxpayers and the revenue that comes from our allies, I am sure that, for all their hardihood, they would never have the audacity to reply that those who fail to contribute their own money are worse transgressors than those who embezzle public money. 24.173—What then is the reason, Timocrates and Androtion, that, though one of you has taken part in public life for more than thirty years, though during that time many commanders have defrauded the commonwealth, and many politicians as well, who have been tried in this court, and though some of them have suffered death for their crimes, and others have condemned themselves by slipping away and disappearing altogether, neither of you ever once appeared as prosecutor of those offenders, or expressed any indignation at the wrongs of the city, but made your first exhibition of anxiety for our welfare in an affair which involved harsh treatment of a great many people? 24.174—Do you wish me to tell you the reason, men of
24.176Yes, but, in spite of those public delinquencies, there was, it may be said, other business which they managed with credit. On the contrary, in every respect their behavior towards their fellow-citizens has been such that the story you have heard is the least of the reasons you have for hating them. What do you wish me to mention? How they repaired the processional ornaments? How they broke up the crowns? Their success as manufacturers of saucers? 24.177Why, for those performances alone, though they had committed no other fraud on the City, it seems to me that they deserve not one but three sentences of death; for they are guilty of sacrilege, of impiety, of embezzlement, of every monstrous crime. The greater part, then, of the speech by which Androtion threw dust in your eyes I will leave unnoticed; but, by alleging that the leaves of the crowns were rotten with age and falling off,—as though they were violet-leaves or rose-leaves, not leaves made of gold—he persuaded you to melt them down. Being appointed to perform that operation, he chose as his assistant Timocrates, the constant partner of his misdeeds. 24.178And then, in providing for the collection of taxes, he had put in a clause that the public accountant should attend. That was very honest of him; only every taxpayer was certain to check the accounts. But in dealing with the crowns that he was to break up, he left out that very proper regulation; he was himself orator, goldsmith, business-manager, and auditor of accounts. 24.179—Now if you, sir, had claimed our entire confidence in all your public business, your dishonesty would not have been equally manifest; but, seeing that in the matter of the taxes you laid down the just principle that the City must trust, not you, but her own servants, and then, when you took up another job, and were tampering with the consecrated plate, some of it dedicated before we were born, you forgot to provide the precaution that was taken at your own instance in respect of the tax-collection, is it not perfectly clear what you were aiming at? Of course it is. 24.180Again, men of
24.187Of Androtion I may speak at greater length hereafter. As for what he will say in support of Timocrates, I have still much more to say, but I will refrain. I am sure that he will not be able to deny that this law is undesirable, that it was introduced unconstitutionally, and that it is iniquitous in every respect; but I understand that he alleges that the money has now been paid in full by Androtion, Glaucetes, and Melanopus, and that he would be most infamously treated if, when the people on whose behalf he is accused of proposing his law have made full restitution, he should nevertheless be convicted. 24.188In my judgement, it is not open to him to make the slightest use of that plea.—If you, sir, admit that you did bring in your law on behalf of the persons who, as you say, have now done their duty, you must clearly be found guilty on this count,—that statutes still valid distinctly forbid you to introduce a law that does not apply equally to every citizen; and the jury have sworn to give judgement in accordance with those statutes. 24.189On the other hand, if you say that you legislated for the general good, you must not plead the payment made by these men,—it has nothing to do with your law,—you must prove that the law itself is acceptable and well conceived. That is the motive you allege; that is what I deny, and have therefore indicted you; that is the issue which the jury is to decide.—I should, indeed, have no difficulty in proving that respect for law is by no means the reason why these persons have paid their debt; but as that is not the question on which the jury have to vote, why trouble them by discussing it now?
24.190He will not, I suppose, spare you the argument that it would be very hard on him to be punished for proposing that no Athenian citizen shall be sent to jail; and that it is for the benefit more especially of people without influence that laws should be as merciful and humane as possible. To avoid being led astray, you will do well to listen to a brief rejoinder to that plea. 24.191For when he uses the phrase, “that no Athenian citizen shall be sent to jail,” do not forget that he is lying. That is not his proposal; it is that you jurors shall lose your control over penalties. He is trying to establish the right of appeal against a verdict returned on oath, after argument and trial. Do not let him pick out of his law and read a few phrases that have a benevolent sound to the ear let him produce the whole statute, clause by clause, and allow you to consider its effects. You will find that it is what I describe, not what he pretends. 24.192Again, with regard to the plea that merciful and humane laws are good for the common people, you must consider this. There are two sorts of problems, men of
24.194It would take a long speech to prove, point by point, that everything he will say will be intended to hoodwink and mislead you. Most of his topics I will pass over, but I will mention one leading point which you will bear in mind. Watch all his pleas, however various, and see if he will be able to advance one to prove his contention that a legislator may justly make the same ordinance for bygone issues, already determined, as for cases yet to come. Every clause of his law is infamous and outrageous; but that provision is the most outrageous and unconstitutional of all. 24.195But, if neither the defendant nor any other man can make good that contention, you must clearly recognize that you are being deluded, and you must ask yourselves how it ever occurred to his mind to legislate in this fashion.—You did not bring in your law gratuitously, Timocrates. No, indeed! far from it. You can offer no excuse for daring to introduce such a measure, except that cursed greediness of yours. Not one of these men is your kinsman, or a member of your household, or has any natural claim on you. 24.196Nor can you plead that you took compassion on ill-used men, and therefore resolved to help them. That long after date they should restore money belonging to the citizens, reluctantly, unwillingly, and after conviction in three courts of justice,—you certainly never thought that ill-usage. That means ill-conduct, and should rather provoke our indignation than incline us to pity. Nor do you take pity on them because a humane and considerate disposition is a peculiar trait of your character. 24.197Compassion for Androtion, Glaucetes, and Melanopus, because they have to repay stolen money, shows a temper quite different from your refusal of compassion to everyone of the many persons here present, and of all the other citizens, whose houses you invaded with police-magistrates, receivers, and clerks at your heels; with demolishing their front-doors, dragging their bed-clothes from under them, and levying distraint on a man's maidservant, if he was living with her; and that is how you and Androtion were employed for a whole twelve-month. 24.198—Yes, it was you citizens who were the more infamously ill-used;—and as for you, you reprobate, you had far more reason to pity your fellow-citizens, who, thanks to you speech-makers, never get a moment's respite from taxpaying. Even that is not enough they are compelled to pay double, compelled by you and Androtion, who never paid income-tax in your lives. 24.199—And yet this fellow was so self-confident,—as though he could never be brought to justice for his doings,—that, with ten colleagues in office, he alone joined Androtion in making his return. Yes indeed; gratuitously and from purely unselfish motives, Timocrates provokes your hostility, introducing laws that contradict every statute, and that even, to crown all, contradict a statute of his own making! By our Lady, I think that even you must recognize his generosity!
24.200I will now tell you, without any hesitation, something that, in my opinion, deserves your sternest indignation. Men of
24.204I am sure that you would all agree, if asked, that all evil-doers ought to be punished; but I will try to satisfy you that this malefactor in particular deserves punishment for introducing a law detrimental to the common people. A thief, or a cutpurse, or any rogue of that sort, in the first place really injures only the man who encounters him; it is out of his power to strip everybody, or steal everybody's property; and in the second place, he brings disgrace on no one's reputation or manner of life but his own. 24.205But if a man introduces a law by which unlimited license and immunity is granted to those who seek to defraud their fellow-citizens, he is guilty in respect of the whole city, and he brings disgrace upon everybody; for an infamous statute, when ratified, is a discredit to the government that enacted it and an injury to everyone who lives under it. Will you not, then, punish, when you have caught him, a man who is doing his utmost to injure you, and to pollute you with infamy? If not, what excuse will you have? 24.206The best way to ascertain with what far-reaching designs he has framed his law, and how inimical those designs are to the established constitution, is to reflect that this is just the way that all conspirators begin, when they are trying to overthrow democracy by innovations,—they first of all release all who were formerly by law suffering this penalty for some offence. 24.207Does not this man, then, deserve, if possible, not one but three sentences of death, because, standing by himself, and of course with no expectation of crushing you, but rather of meeting his own doom in this court, if you do justice as you ought, he nevertheless imitated that crime, and attempted to release men whom the tribunals have imprisoned, by his impudent enactment that if the penalty of imprisonment has already been inflicted, or if you hereafter inflict it, upon any man, that man shall be discharged from prison? 24.208Suppose that in a moment's time you were to hear an outcry hard by this court, and suppose that you were told that the jail had been thrown open and that the prisoners were escaping, there is not a man, however old or however apathetic, who would not rally to the rescue to the utmost of his power. And if someone came forward and informed you that the man who had let them out was the defendant, he would be incontinently arrested and executed without a hearing. 24.209Well, men of
24.210You ought also to consider this point, that many Hellenic nations have often resolved by vote to adopt your laws; and in this you take an honorable pride, naturally; for there seems to me to be truth in an observation once made, as we are told, in this court, that all wise men regard laws as the character of the State. Therefore we should take pains that they be accounted as good as possible, and we should punish those who debase and pervert them; for, if they are impaired by your neglect, you will lose that high distinction, and will create an unfavorable reputation for your city. 24.211If you are justified in praising Solon and Draco, although you can credit neither of them with any public service except that they enacted beneficial and well-conceived statutes, it is surely right that you should visit men whose enactments are contrary to the spirit of those lawgivers with indignation and chastisement. But as to Timocrates I know that he brought in this law chiefly for his private advantage, because he felt that many of his political acts in your city deserve imprisonment.
24.212I would also like to repeat to you a saying attributed to Solon, when he was prosecuting a man who had carried an undesirable law. We are told that, after stating his other charges, he observed that in all, or nearly all, states there is a law that the penalty for any man who debases the currency is death. He proceeded to ask the jury whether they thought that a just and good law; 24.213and when the jury replied that they did, he said that in his opinion money had been invented by private persons for private transactions, but laws were the currency note of the State; and therefore if a man debased that currency, and introduced counterfeit, the jury had graver reason to abhor and punish that man than one who debased the currency of private citizens. 24.214By way of proof that it is a more heinous crime to debase laws than silver coinage, he added that many states that use without concealment silver alloyed with copper and lead are safe and sound and suffer no harm thereby; but that no nation that uses bad laws or permits the debasement of existing laws has ever escaped the consequence. Now that is the accusation to which Timocrates stands open today, and he may justly receive from you the punishment that is adequate to his guilt.
24.215While, therefore, you should be indignant with every man who brings in shameful and wicked laws, your indignation ought chiefly to be directed against those who vitiate the laws upon which depends the greatness, or the weakness, of the commonwealth. And what are they? The laws that avenge you upon evil-doers, and all the laws that confer certain honors on the well-conducted. 24.216If all men alike were zealous to serve the community, because they had become ambitious of the honors and rewards of such service, and if all were to recoil from noxious acts, through fear of the pains and penalties enacted for malefactors, could anything prevent our commonwealth from becoming very great? Does not
24.218For all the reasons I have set before you, it is incumbent upon you to show your resentment, to chastise these men, and to make them an example to others. To be lenient to such offenders, or to convict them and then inflict a light penalty, is to habituate and train the greatest possible number to do you wrong.
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