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Against Aristogeiton 1

25.1Gentlemen of the jury, as I sat here for a long time and listened with you to the speech of Lycurgus for the prosecution, I thought it in general an excellent speech; but when I observed him unduly exerting himself, I was surprised that he should not realize that the strength of our case does not really depend on the arguments that he has used or that I am going to use, but on the disposition of each juryman either to be indignant at wickedness or to condone it. 25.2For myself, I admit it was our duty to undertake the prosecution and to deliver full speeches in accordance with custom and for your information; but I feel that the case has been already decided by each one of you in his inmost conscience, and that now, if the majority of you are men disposed to admire and protect rascals, all our declamation will be wasted, but if you are disposed to hate them, then this man, please God! shall pay the penalty.

25.3Though much has been said, and all of it well said, I shall not scruple to put my own views before you, because the present suit seems to me quite different from all others. Just consider. To all our courts the juries come to learn from plaintiff and defendant the facts upon which they are to give their votes, and each litigant comes to prove that the legal right is strong on his side. 25.4But how stands it with the present trial? You who are to give the verdict have come here knowing better than we, the accusers, that this man, since he is a state-debtor and registered as such in the Acropolis, has no right to speak at all; so that each of you is in the position of an accuser, knowing the facts and not needing to be told them. 25.5But the defendant is here with nothing whatever to support his acquittal, with no sound plea based on the facts, with no past record of a decent life, with not a single point in his favour. He imagines that he may be saved by what would have frightened anyone else, though innocent; for he bases the hope of his acquittal on the enormity of his wickedness.

25.6This being so, it seems to me that one would not be wrong in saying that, while Aristogeiton is on his trial, it is your character that is being tested, your reputation that is at stake. For if you make it quite clear that you are angry at such patent and gross offences and are determined to punish them, then it will be seen that you have come here to play your true part as judges and guardians of the law. 25.7But if some other motive prevails, some motive which none would care to confess, but which your votes will betray, then I am afraid that to some you will appear to be playing the part of trainers of any citizen who has a taste for wickedness. For every bad man is in himself weak; he only becomes strong by your countenance and support. Whoever wins that support finds in it his advantage and his strength; to you who give that support, it is a source of shame.

25.8But before I speak of the private affairs of the defendant, men of Athens, I should like you seriously but briefly to calculate how much shame and discredit is brought upon our city by these monsters, of whom the defendant is at once the midmost, the first, and the last. 25.9To mention only one matter; they mount the platform in the Assembly, where you look to your orators to explain their policy, not to flaunt their wickedness; they come equipped with a hardened front, a raucous voice, false charges, intimidation, shamelessness, and all such gifts as these, than which one could name no qualities more hostile to the spirit of debate nor, I think—so Heaven help me!—more discreditable. By these vile tricks they gain supremacy over all that is respectable in the State, over the laws, the committees, the course of public business, and the maintenance of order. 25.10Now if that is what you want, if their practice accords with your ideas, we must just let them go their own way; but if you think that even at the eleventh hour you ought to put all this right, and reform what has been allowed to go too far, and has been disgracefully misdirected by these men, you must today avert your eyes from all such practices and give a righteous verdict. 25.11You must magnify the Goddess of Order who loves what is right and preserves every city and every land; and before you cast your votes, each juryman must reflect that he is being watched by hallowed and inexorable Justice, who, as Orpheus, that prophet of our most sacred mysteries, tells us, sits beside the throne of Zeus and oversees all the works of men. Each must keep watch and ward lest he shame that goddess, from whom everyone that is chosen by lot derives his name of juror, because he has this day received a sacred trust from the laws, from the constitution, from the fatherland,—the duty of guarding all that is fair and right and beneficial in our city. 25.12For if you do not cherish that temper, if you come here and take seats with your usual easy good nature, I am afraid that the case may be reversed, and that we who seem to accuse Aristogeiton may be found to be accusing you; for the more convincingly we prove his guilt without arousing your interest, the greater will be your shame. But enough of that subject!

25.13Men of Athens, I shall certainly tell you the truth with the utmost frankness. When I saw you in the Assembly indicating and proposing me as the accuser of Aristogeiton, I was troubled, and I call Heaven to witness that I did not relish the task. For I was not unaware that he who plays such a part in your courts suffers for it in the end, not perhaps so as to feel it at once, but if he undertakes many such tasks and perseveres in them, his character will soon be recognized. I thought it, however, my duty to accede to your wishes.

25.14Now as regards the laying of the injunction and the legal points, I considered that Lycurgus would deal adequately with them; and I also saw that he was producing witnesses to the wickedness of the defendant. But I resolved to devote my speech to those points which ought always to be considered and examined by those who are deliberating in the interests of the State and of the laws; and I will now proceed to deal with those points. But do you, men of Athens, in Heaven's name grant me the privilege of addressing you on these topics in the way that suits my natural bent and the scheme of my speech, for indeed I could not speak in any other way.

25.15The whole life of men, Athenians, whether they dwell in a large state or a small one, is governed by nature and by the laws. Of these, nature is something irregular and incalculable, and peculiar to each individual; but the laws are something universal, definite, and the same for all. Now nature, if it be evil, often chooses wrong, and that is why you will find men of an evil nature committing errors. 25.16But the laws desire what is just and honorable and salutary; they seek for it, and when they find it, they set it forth as a general commandment, equal and identical for all. The law is that which all men ought to obey for many reasons, but above all because every law is an invention and gift of the gods, a tenet of wise men, a corrective of errors voluntary and involuntary, and a general covenant of the whole State, in accordance with which all men in that State ought to regulate their lives. 25.17But that Aristogeiton has been convicted on all the heads of the information, and that he has not a single counter-argument worth considering, can be easily proved. For there are two objects, men of Athens, for which all laws are framed—to deter any man from doing what is wrong, and, by punishing the transgressor, to make the rest better men; and it will be shown that both these objects will be secured by the punishment of the defendant. For by his original transgressions he has incurred the due penalties, and for his refusal to acquiesce in them he is now brought into court to receive your punishment; so that no one has any excuse left for acquitting him.

25.18Nor is it possible to say, “After all, these things do no harm to the State.” I will not dwell on the fact that all the fines due to the State are lost, if you admit his sophistries, or that if we must forgive any of our debtors, it ought to be the most decent and respectable and those who have been fined on the least serious charges, not the greatest villain of all, who has committed most offences and incurred the most deserved fines on the most serious charges. 25.19For what could be more serious than chicanery and breach of the constitution, for both of which the defendant has been condemned? Nor will I urge that even if you let off all other offenders, it is surely wrong to give way to one who resorts to force, for that is surely an outrage. I waive such considerations as these; but I do think that I can clearly prove to you that the defendant's example confounds and destroys all order in law and in government.

25.20I shall say nothing novel or extravagant or peculiar, but only what you all know to be true as well as I do. For if any of you cares to inquire what is the motive-power that calls together the Council, draws the people into the Assembly, fills the law-courts, makes the old officials resign readily to the new, and enables the whole life of the State to be carried on and preserved, he will find that it is the laws and the obedience that all men yield to the laws; since, if once they were done away with and every man were given licence to do as he liked, not only does the constitution vanish, but our life would not differ from that of the beasts of the field. 25.21You see what the defendant is, when the laws are in force: what do you think he would do, if the laws were done away with? Since then it is admitted that, next after the gods, the laws preserve the State, it is the duty of all of you to act just as if you were sitting here making up a contribution to your club. note If a man obeys the laws, respect and commend him for paying his contribution in full to the welfare of his fatherland; if he disobeys them, punish him. 25.22For everything done at the bidding of the laws is a contribution made to the State and the community. Whoever leaves it unpaid, men of Athens, is depriving you of many great, honorable, and glorious benefits, which he is destroying to the best of his ability. 25.23One or two of these benefits I will name for the sake of example, choosing the best known.

The Council of the Five Hundred, thanks to this barrier, note frail as it is, is master of its own secrets, and no private citizen can enter it. The Council of the Areopagus, when it sits roped off in the King's Portico, enjoys complete freedom from disturbance, and all men hold aloof. 25.24All the magistrates who are chosen from you by lot, as soon as the attendant cries “Strangers must withdraw,” control the laws which they were appointed to administer and cannot be disturbed by the most unruly. There are thousands of other benefits. All the noble and reverend qualities that adorn and preserve our city,—sobriety, orderliness, the respect of your younger men for parents and elders—hold their own, backed by the laws, against the base qualities of indecency, audacity, and shamelessness. For vice is vigorous, daring, and grasping; on the other hand probity is peaceful, retiring, inactive, and terribly liable to come off second-best. Therefore those of you who sit upon juries ought to protect and strengthen the laws, for with the help of the laws the good overcome the bad. 25.25If not, all is dissolved, broken up, confounded, and the city becomes the prey of the most profligate and shameless. For tell me this, in Heaven's name; if everyone in the city copied the audacity and shamelessness of Aristogeiton and argued in the same way as he, that in a democracy a man has an unlimited right to say and do whatever he likes, as long as he does not care what reputation such conduct will bring him, and that no one will put him to death at once for any of his misdoings; 25.26if, acting on this principle, the citizen rejected at the ballot or at the election should put himself on an equality with the chosen citizen; if, in a word, neither young nor old should do his duty, but each man, banishing all discipline from life, should regard his own wish as law, as authority, as all in all—if, I say, we should act like this, could the government continue to be carried on? What? Would the laws be any longer valid? What violence, insolence and lawlessness there would be throughout the city every day! What scurrility instead of our present decency of language and behavior! 25.27Why need one repeat that order is everywhere maintained by the laws and by obedience to the laws? You yourselves have the sole right of judging our case, though every Athenian was in the ballot and all, I am sure, wanted to be allotted to this court. Why is this? Because by lot you were chosen and then assigned to this case. Those are the instructions of the law. And then will you, who owe your presence here to the laws, allow a man, who flouts the laws by word and deed, to escape from your grasp? Will none of you show anger or bitterness at this shameless ruffian's defiance of the laws?

25.28Vilest of all living men! Shut out from your right of speech, not by barriers or doors which any man might break open, but by so many heavy penalties, which are registered in the temple of the Goddess, you are trying to force your way in and to approach those precincts from which the laws exclude you. Debarred by every right that holds good in Athens, by the decisions of three tribunals, by the registers of the archons and of the collectors of taxes, by the indictment for wrongful entry in which you yourself are the plaintiff, curbed, I might almost say, by chains of steel, you wriggle and force your way through all and imagine that by weaving excuses and trumping up false charges you can overturn all the principles of justice.

25.29I will, however, by a clear and forcible example show the jury that they ought not to overlook such conduct; no, not in a single particular. Imagine for a moment that someone proposed that speakers in the Assembly should be confined to the youngest citizens, or to the richest, or to those who had performed a public service, or to some similar category. I am sure you would have him put to death for trying to overthrow the democracy. And indeed you would be justified. 25.30Yet any one of these proposals is less dangerous than if it were proposed that speakers should belong to one of the classes to which the defendant belongs—law-breakers, jail-birds, sons of criminals put to death by the people, citizens disqualified after obtaining office by lot, public debtors, men totally disfranchised, or men who by repute and in fact are utter rascals. All these descriptions fit the defendant and apply to those who resemble him in disposition. I think, men of Athens, that he deserves death both for what he is doing now and much more, or at least no less, for what he obviously will do, if he gets the power and opportunity from you; which Heaven forfend! 25.31It is also strange if anyone of you is ignorant that for nothing that is honorable or useful or worthy of our city is he of any use. May Zeus and all the gods grant that Athens may never be so short of real men that any honorable task should have to be performed by an Aristogeiton! We ought to pray Heaven that the occasion may never arise for which such a monster could be found useful. But should it possibly arise, it would be a greater blessing for the city that those who wish for its fall should lack the instrument of their designs than that this fellow should be released and ready to their hand. 25.32For what fatal or dangerous act will he shrink from, men of Athens,—this polluted wretch, infected with hereditary hatred of democracy? What other man would sooner overthrow the State, if only—which Heaven forbid!—he should gain the power? Do you not see that his character and his policy are not guided by reason or by self-respect, but by recklessness? note Or rather, his policy is sheer recklessness. Now that is the very worst quality for its possessor, terribly dangerous for everyone else, and for the State intolerable. For the reckless man has lost all control of himself, all hope of rational safety, and can only be saved, if at all, by some unexpected and incalculable accident. 25.33Who, then, that is wise would bind up his own or his country's interests with this failing? Who would not shun it as far as possible, and keep its possessor at arm's length, that he may not be involved in it even against his will? Patriotic statesmen, Athenians, ought to seek out some adviser who will contribute, not recklessness, but intelligence, sound judgement, and ample forethought; for these qualities conduct all men to happiness; the other leads to that goal for which Aristogeiton is bound.

25.34In considering this question, look not at my speech, but at the general character of mankind. All our cities contain shrines and temples of all the gods, and among them is one of Athena, Our Lady of Forethought, note worshipped as a beneficent and powerful goddess, and close to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, immediately as you enter the precincts, she has a large and beautiful temple. Apollo, a god and prophet both, knows what is best. But there is no temple of Recklessness or of Shamelessness. 25.35Of Justice too and Order and Modesty all men have shrines, some, the fairest and holiest, in the very heart and soul of each man, and others built for the common worship of all. But none is raised to Shamelessness or Chicanery or Perjury or Ingratitude—all qualities of the defendant.

25.36Now I know that he will avoid the straight and honest path of defence, and will take a devious course, abusing, slandering, and threatening to prosecute, arrest, imprison, and the like. But he will find all this futile, if you duly attend to the case; for which of these tricks has not been exposed over and over again? 25.37To pass over other occasions, seven times, Aristogeiton, have you indicted me, when you had taken the pay of Philip's agents, and twice you accused me at my audit. As a mere mortal I pay my respects to Nemesis, and I am deeply grateful both to the gods and to all the citizens of Athens for their protection. But as for you, it was never once found that you had spoken the truth; you were always convicted of chicanery. If, then, these gentlemen make the laws invalid by acquitting you today, will you convict me now? On what charge? 25.38I ask the jury to reflect. For two years he has been asserting his claim to address you, though it is illegal for him to do so; but he speaks all the same. All that time he saw the State injured by the wretched Phocides, by the coppersmith from Peiraeus, by the tanner, and by all the others whom he has accused in your courts; but had he no eyes for me, the orator with whom he was at open war, or for Lycurgus, or for the other orators about whom he will have so much to say presently? Yet either way he deserves death; in the one case, if he had a charge against us that he could prove, but passed it over to assail private citizens, or on the other hand, if he has no charge against us, but wants to deceive and hoodwink you by his statements. 25.39If there really is in our city a man whose disposition prompts him diligently to search for someone ready to accuse and blackmail others, but who does not trouble himself about the justice or injustice of the charges, he could not find an agent less fitted for his purpose than the defendant. And why? Because one who is prepared to accuse others and bring them all to trial, ought to be himself unimpeachable, so that his victims may not escape through his own wickedness. But no one in the city has a record of more numerous and more serious crimes than the defendant.

25.40Now what is the defendant? “He is the watch dog of the democracy,” cry his friends. Yes, but what sort of dog? One that never snaps at those whom he accuses of being wolves, but himself devours the sheep he pretends to guard. To which of the orators has he done so much harm as to the private citizens against whom he has been convicted of moving unlawful decrees? What statesman has he brought to trial, since he again took to public speaking? Not a single one-but plenty of private citizens. But they say that dogs who taste mutton ought to be cut to bits; so the sooner he is cut up the better.

25.41Men of Athens, he serves no purpose that he claims to serve, but he has turned his attention to an abominable and disgusting trick. In the Assembly he recklessly abuses and attacks all alike, and for all the misrepresentations that he thus foists upon you collectively, he gets his remuneration from each of you separately, when he descends from the platform, by threatening prosecution and by demanding and extorting money. note Not from the orators, you may be sure: they know how to throw mud back at him: but from the inexperienced private citizens, as those know who have felt his blows.

25.42But perhaps, while admitting the truth of this, you will say that you consider him a useful servant of the State, so that we must overlook all this and spare him. Men of Athens, when you have had practical experience of something, you should never take a merely theoretical view of it. This man had no dealings with you in the five years when he was deprived of the right to address you. Well, who in all that time regretted him? What neglect of the city's interests has anyone observed in consequence of his absence, or what improvement now that he is allowed to speak? On the contrary, it seems to me that as long as he did not come before you, the city had respite from the troubles that he caused to everyone, but since he started his harangues again, Athens is in a state of siege from the factious and unruly speeches that he delivers at every meeting of the Assembly.

25.43I will now trench upon a dangerous topic and offer some remarks to those who, for these reasons, admire him. How such persons ought to be regarded, you shall judge for yourselves; I will say nothing myself, except that they are not wise in taking his part. Now of you who are here in court, I assume that this does not apply to any: it is only fair, men of Athens, and honorable and proper that I should both say and think that of you. 25.44But of the rest of our citizens—to confine the reproach to as few as possible—his pupil, or, if you like, his teacher, Philocrates of Eleusis, is the only one whom I account as such, not as if there were not more (for I would that no one else found satisfaction in Aristogeiton), but I have no right publicly to bring a charge against other citizens which I shrink from bringing against you. Moreover the argument, though it applies to one man alone, will have the same force.

25.45I will not discuss too minutely what character we must assign to an admirer of Aristogeiton, for fear lest I should be committed to a long tirade of vituperation. But one thing I will say. If Aristogeiton is in plain language a rascally and malicious blackmailer, the sort of man in fact that he professes to be, then you have my hearty consent, Philocrates, to support one who so closely resembles you; because, if every one else does his duty and upholds the law, I do not think that your attitude will produce any effect. 25.46But if he is a jobber and pedlar and retail-dealer in wickedness, if he has all but sold by scale and balance every action of his whole life, why, you silly fellow, do you egg him on? Surely a cook has no use for a knife that does not cut, and in the same way a man who wants by his own efforts to cause trouble and annoyance to everybody has no use for a blackmailer who is ready to sell such services. 25.47That, I may tell you, is the sort of man the defendant is, though you now it already. You remember how he sold the impeachment of Hegemon. You know how he threw up his brief against Demades. At the trial of Agathon, the olive-merchant, a day or two ago, he bellowed and ranted and cried “Ha-ha!” and threw the Assembly into confusion, saying it was a case for the rack; and after pocketing some trifle or other, though he was present at his acquittal, he kept his mouth shut. He held the threat of impeachment over Democles' head, and what did he make of it? There are thousands of other cases. I should find it a task to mention them all, but you, who were his jackal, must have notes of them. 25.48Then what man, be he good or bad, wants to spare such a fellow? Why spare one who is the betrayer of those who resemble him, and the foe, by instinct and by inheritance, of good men; unless one thinks that the State should preserve, as a farmer might do, the seed and stock of the blackmailer and rascal? But that would be a disgrace, men of Athens; yes, by Heaven! and I account it an impiety too. I cannot believe that your ancestors built you these law-courts as a hotbed for rogues of this sort, but rather to enable you to check and chastise them, until no man shall admire or covet vice.

25.49Depravity may prove a difficult thing to check. When Aristogeiton, for acknowledged misdeeds, is only now on his trial and has not been put to death long ago, what is one to do or say? His wickedness has reached such a pitch that after information had been laid against him, he did not cease to bluster and blackmail and threaten; and because the generals, to whom you have entrusted the most important interests, refused to give him money, he said that they did not deserve to be appointed inspectors of latrines. 25.50This affront did not touch the generals—no, for they could have silenced his abuse by paying him a trifling sum, but it was a gross insult to your action as electors and a proof of his own depravity. The officials chosen by lot he worried with his demands, extorting money from them and sparing them no insult. And now his latest exploit is to stir up confusion and dissension among us all by publishing false letters, for he was born to be the bane of all men, and his character is clearly shown by his life.

25.51Just consider. There are something like twenty thousand citizens in all. Every single one of them frequents the market-place on some business (you may be sure), either public or private. Not so the defendant. He cannot point to any decent or honorable business in which he has spent his life; he does not use his talents in the service of the State; he is not engaged in a profession or in agriculture or in any other business; he takes no part in any charitable or social organization: 25.52but he makes his way through the market-place like a snake or a scorpion with sting erect, darting hither and thither, on the look-out for someone on whom he can call down disaster or calumny or mischief of some sort, or whom he can terrify till he extorts money from him. He never calls at the barber's or the perfumer's or any other shop in the city. He is implacable, restless, unsociable; he has no charity, no friendliness, none of the feelings of a decent human being; he is attended by those companions whom painters couple with the damned souls in hell—by Malediction, Evil-speaking, Envy, Faction, Dissension. 25.53This man, then, who is likely to find no mercy from the powers below, but to be thrust out among the impious for the depravity of his life—this man, when you have caught him doing wrong, will you not only decline to punish, but actually dismiss him with greater rewards than you would bestow on your benefactors? For what defaulter to the treasury have you ever allowed to enjoy full rights, unless he paid his debt? Not one! Then do not grant this favour to the defendant now, but punish him and make him a warning to the others.

25.54The sequel too, men of Athens, is worth hearing. What you have just heard from Lycurgus is serious, or, rather, impossible to exaggerate, but the rest will be found to rival it and to be of the same character. Not content with abandoning his father in prison when he quitted Eretria, as you have heard from Phaedrus, this unnatural ruffian refused to bury him when he died, and would not refund the expenses to those who did bury him, but actually brought a law-suit against them. 25.55Not content with offering violence to his mother, as you have just heard from witnesses, he actually sold his own sister—not indeed a sister by the same father, but his mother's daughter, whatever her parentage (for I pass that by)—yes, sold his sister for export, as is stated in the indictment of the action which was brought against him on these grounds by his good brother here, who in the present action will help to defend him.

25.56All this is bad enough, Heaven knows; but you shall hear another dreadful performance. On the occasion when he broke prison and ran away, he visited a certain woman named Zobia, with whom he had probably cohabited at one time. She kept him in safe hiding during the first few days, when the police were searching and advertising for him, and then she gave him eight drachmas journey-money and a tunic and a cloak and packed him off to Megara. 25.57When this same woman, who had been such a benefactress, complained to him, seeing that he was giving himself airs and making a great show here among you, and when she reminded him of her services and claimed some recompense, on the first occasion he cuffed her and threatened her and turned her out of his house. But when she persisted and, woman-like, went about among her acquaintance with complaints of his conduct, he seized her with his own hands and dragged her off to the auction-room at the aliens' registry, and if her tax had not happened to be duly paid, she would have been put up for sale, thanks to this man who owed his safety to her. 25.58To prove the truth of this statement, please call the man who buried the defendant's father without payment, and also the arbitrator in the action which the witness here in court brought against him for the sale of his sister, and produce the indictment. But first of all please summon the protector of Zobia, who gave him shelter, and the sale-commissioners before whom he carried her. You yourselves just now expressed your indignation at his accusing the man who had contributed towards his defence. Athenians, he is an unclean beast; his touch is pollution. Read the depositions.Depositions

25.59What penalty is adequate for a man who has committed such offences? What retribution does he deserve? To my thinking death is too light a sentence.

25.60One more instance, then, of his private crimes, and I will pass over the rest. Before Aristogeiton was released, a man of Tanagra was thrown into the prison until he could find bail. Aristogeiton accosts him and, while chatting on some topic or other, filches the pocket-book that he had on him; and when the man charged him with the theft and made a to-do about it, saying that no one else could have taken it, he so far forgot all decency that he tried to strike him. 25.61But the Tanagran, a fresh-caught fish, was getting the better of the defendant, who was thoroughly pickled, having been long in jail. So when it came to this, he swallows the other man's nose. Then the unfortunate victim of this outrage abandoned the search for his pocket-book, which was afterwards found in a chest of which the defendant possessed the key. After that the inmates of the prison passed a resolution not to share fire or light, food or drink with him, not to receive anything from him, not to give him anything. 25.62To prove the truth of my statements, please call the man whose nose this monster bit off and swallowed.Deposition
What a fine performance for your popular orator! What a privilege to hear words of wisdom from a man with such a record as this! Now read also the precious resolution that was passed about him.Resolution

25.63Are you not ashamed then, men of Athens, if the men who had been thrown into prison for villainy and vice thought him so much more villainous than them selves that they forbade all intercourse with him, while you are ready to admit him to intercourse with yourselves, though the laws have placed him outside the pale of the constitution? What did you find to commend in his life or conduct? Which of all his actions has failed to move your indignation? Is he not impious, blood-thirsty, unclean, and a black mailer?

25.64And yet, in spite of his performances and his character, he misses no opportunity in the Assembly of bellowing, “I, only I, am your sincere well-wisher. All these others are in a cabal. You are betrayed. My patriotism is all you have left.” I should like to examine the source and origin of this great and wonderful patriotism of his, so that, if it is as he says, you may trust it and benefit by it; but if not, that you may be on your guard. 25.65Because you condemned his father to death and sold his mother when she was found guilty of defrauding her emancipator, do you suppose that that makes him well-disposed to you? By Zeus and all the gods, that is absurd. For if he is well-disposed towards father and mother, and so observes the great law of nature, which is laid down alike for man and beast, that all should love their parents, 25.66then he must clearly be ill-disposed to those who have destroyed them and to their laws and their constitution. But if he has no regard for these things, I should like to know who that sees how he has renounced all affection for his parents, can believe in his pretended zeal for the people; for the man who neglects his parents I regard as unworthy of trust and hateful alike to gods and men. 25.67But I shall be told it is because you condemned him on information laid and twice put him and his brother into prison; it is for this reason that he is your well-wisher. But that too is ridiculous. Or because you disqualified him for the office to which he had been allotted? Or because you found him guilty of a breach of the constitution? Or because you fined him ten talents? Or because you habitually point the finger of scorn at him as the vilest of all men in the world? 25.68Or because, as long as the present laws and constitution stand, he cannot clear himself of these reproaches? Then why is he well-disposed to you? It is because, in his own words, he is impudent. Why is the impudent man so called save because, being lost to a sense of shame, he dares to state what is not, and never will be, true? And that is precisely what the defendant does.

25.69Now there are some facts about the information laid against him which Lycurgus seems to have passed over, but which I had better lay before you; for I think you should examine the defendant and the rights of the present case as carefully as you would scrutinize a private debt. Suppose then that A accused B of owing him money, and B denied it. If the registered terms of the loan were still to be read, or if the pillars which marked the mortgaged property were still standing, you would clearly regard as impudent the man who denied the transaction; but if it was shown that these proofs no longer existed, then you would regard the accuser as impudent. That is natural. 25.70Well, of Aristogeiton's debt to the State the terms still exist, namely the laws under which all defaulters are registered; and the pillar is the wooden table of the law deposited in the temple of the Goddess. Now if these have been destroyed and the debt wiped out, we are talking nonsense, or rather telling lies; but if they are still in existence and will remain valid until he pays his debt, then there is no truth in his plea, but he is committing a serious crime in trying to suppress the rights of the State. 25.71For the point to be argued and decided is not whether all his debts are unpaid, but whether he is still in debt. Otherwise it would be hard on those who are registered for a debt of one drachma, if their indebtedness is to tell against them, because they have done some trifling wrong or even no wrong at all, whereas if a man has committed serious wrongs, he is to regain his civic rights by paying one or two instalments. Moreover, there are three distinct debts registered and forming the ground of the information. Two Aristogeiton has entered in the register; note the third he has not registered, but he is prosecuting Aristo of Alopece for malicious entry.

25.72“Yes,” says he, “for he has registered my name as a debtor unjustly.” Of course it is evident that you have a right to satisfaction for this; but then you ought first to give satisfaction and abide by the penalty you have brought on yourself. Or again, for what do you expect to obtain satisfaction? If you are at liberty to do everything that other citizens do, how are you wronged? 25.73I beg the jury in Heaven's name to consider this point also. If he convicts Aristo of malicious intent, what will it mean? His name, of course, will be erased and Aristo's substituted, because that is the law. Good! Then henceforward will this man, whose name has been erased, be a State-debtor, and will the other man, registered as a debtor, retain his full citizenship? That is what follows from the defendant's claim, for if he is not a debtor when his name has been registered, then, when his name has been erased, he will obviously be a debtor. But that is absolutely untrue. No; when his name is erased, then he will be no longer a debtor. In that case the defendant is a debtor now. note

25.74Again; if Aristo is acquitted, to whom is the State to look for compensation for the defendant's illegal acts? And what about the men whose execution and imprisonment he tries to procure, as he bustles to and fro in the court? How will they recover their lives or escape from the sufferings they have already endured? For this man, to whom the laws refuse a share in our common everyday privileges, is the cause of intolerable wrongs to others by methods that are neither correct nor constitutional nor convenient. 25.75When I see all this, I wonder what meaning you attach to the phrase “upside down.” Is it for the earth to be up there and the stars down here? That is impossible, and let us hope it always will be. But when those who have no rights enjoy rights at your pleasure, when villainy is honored and virtue spurned, when justice and expediency are sacrificed to personal spite, then we must suppose that the universe has indeed been turned upside down.

25.76I have before now seen men on their trial, who were being convicted by the actual facts and were unable to prove their innocence, taking refuge some of them in the respectability and moderation of their lives, others in the achievements or public services of their ancestors, or in similar pleas, by which they succeeded in moving their judges to compassion and goodwill. But I cannot see that any one of these topics offers an easy path for the defendant; there is nothing before him but precipices, ravines, and gulfs. 25.77What true plea can he find? Something perhaps that his father did? But you yourselves condemned that father to death in these very courts as a detected rascal who deserved his doom. Or perhaps, if there is a difficulty about his father, he will appeal to the sobriety and respectability of his own life. What life? Where has he lived it? For the life that you have all seen him leading is not of that description. 25.78“But, my dear sir, he will rely on public services.” When and where performed? His father's? Why, there are none. His own? You will find record of delations, arrests, informations—but no services. Or perhaps, putting these aside, his numerous and highly respectable kinsmen will come forward and beg him off. But there are none and never were. How could there be, when he is not even a free-born citizen? 25.79No; I am wrong. He has a brother, who is present here in court and who brought that precious action against him. What need to say anything about him? He is own brother to the defendant, born of the same father and mother, and, to add to his misfortunes, he is his twin. It was this brother—I pass over the other facts—who got possession of the drugs and charms from the servant of Theoris of Lemnos, the filthy sorceress whom you put to death on that account with all her family. 25.80She gave information against her mistress, and this rascal has had children by her, and with her help he plays juggling tricks and professes to cure fits, being himself subject to fits of wickedness of every kind. So this is the man who will beg him off! This poisoner, this public pest, whom any man would ban at sight as an evil omen rather than choose to accost him, and who has pronounced himself worthy of death by bringing such an action.

25.81What help, then, remains for him, Athenians? The help, I suppose, that comes to all defendants alike from the natural temper of the jury, the help that no man on his trial provides for himself, but that each of you brings with him from home to the court—I mean pity, pardon, benevolence. But of such help religion and justice alike demand that this unclean wretch should receive no share. Why? Because whatever law each man's nature prompts him to apply to his neighbors, that law it is only fair that they should apply to him. 25.82What law do you think Aristogeiton applies to all other men, and what are his wishes concerning them? Does he wish to see them enjoying prosperity, happiness and good fame? If so, what becomes of his livelihood? For he thrives on the misfortunes of others. Therefore he likes to see everyone involved in trials, lawsuits and vile charges. That is the crop he sows; that is the trade he plies. Men of Athens, what sort of man deserves to be called the complete villain, the thrice-accursed, the common foe, the universal enemy, against whom one prays that the earth may neither yield him fruit nor receive him after death? Is it not such a man as this? That is my opinion. 25.83What pardon, what pity did the victims of his blackmail obtain from him, the men whose execution he was always demanding in your courts—yes, even before the first verdict was decided? note Those against whom this wretch showed such cruelty and bitterness were saved from death by the righteous conduct of those of you who had been allotted to try their case, who acquitted the men he was falsely accusing and withheld from him the necessary fifth part of the votes. 25.84But his bitterness, cruelty and blood-thirstiness were displayed and proved. The sight of the children of some of the defendants and their aged mothers standing in court did not move him to pity? And do you, Aristogeiton, look for pardon? Whence? From whom? Are your children to be pitied? Far from it. You have yourself thrown away their right to pity; nay, you have destroyed it once for all. Do not then seek anchorage in harbors that you have yourself blocked up and filled with stakes; for that is unfair.

25.85If you heard the slanderous language that he used against you, as he paraded the market-place, you would hate him even more than you do, and with justice. For he says there are many men in debt to the treasury, and all of them in the same case as himself. I admit that these unfortunate men are “many,” though there are but a couple of them; for every state-debtor is one too many, note and no others ought to be in debt to the State. But I solemnly swear that their case is not the same as the defendant's, nor anything like it, but quite the contrary. Look at it in this way. 25.86And do not imagine, Athenians, that I am debating the point with you, as if you were debtors to the treasury. That is not so, and I hope it never may be; it is no idea of mine. But if any of you has a friend or acquaintance among the debtors, I propose to show you that for that friend's sake he ought to hate the defendant.

My first reason is that honest folk, who are hampered by security for others and kind offices and private debts involving no wrong to the State, but who happen to have been unlucky, are placed by him in the same infamous category as himself, contrary to what is right and fitting. 25.87When you, Aristogeiton, were convicted of a breach of the constitution for having moved that three citizens should be executed without trial, and you escaped with a fine, though you ought to have suffered the extreme penalty, there is no parallel, not the slightest, between your case and that of a man who has gone bail for a friend and then finds himself unable to pay an unexpected fine. My second reason is that the bond of mutual kindness, which you yourselves naturally preserve towards one another, is broken and destroyed by Aristogeiton, as far as in him lies. You will understand this from what I am going to say. For you, Athenians, observing what I have called the natural bond of mutual kindness, live as a corporate body in this city just as families live in their private homes. 25.88How then do such families live? Where there is a father and grown-up sons and possibly also grandchildren, there are bound to be many divergent wishes; for youth and age do not talk or act in the same way. Nevertheless whatever the young men do, if they are modest, they do in such a way as to avoid notice; or if this is impossible, at any rate they make it that such was their intention. The elders in their turn, if they see any lack of moderation in spending or drinking or amusement, manage to see it without showing that they have seen it. The result is that everything that their various natures suggest is done, and done satisfactorily. 25.89And that is just how you, men of Athens, live in this community on humane and brotherly principles, one class watching the proceedings of the unfortunate in such a way that, as the saying runs, “seeing, they see not; hearing, do not hear”; while the others by their behavior show that they are both on their guard and alive to a sense of shame. Hence it is that that general harmony, which is the source of all our blessings, is firmly established in our city. 25.90Those feelings, so happily implanted in your nature and your habits, Aristogeiton would change and remove and overturn. What every other citizen does with as little noise as possible, he performs, one might almost say, with a peal of bells hung about his neck. Neither the president nor the crier nor the chairman nor the tribe on duty can control him. 25.91So when any of you, annoyed at his outrageous conduct, cries, “To think that he should act like this, and he a debtor to the treasury!” the reply is, “What! Is not So-and-so a debtor too?”—each man suggesting his personal enemy. Thus his wickedness is the cause of the scandals which are circulated about men who do not resemble him.

25.92Therefore the one thing left, men of Athens, for those who wish to get rid of this man, now that they can charge him with a clear and manifest offence against the laws, is, if possible, to punish him with death, or, if not, to impose such a money fine as he will not be able to pay. For depend upon it, there is no other way to be rid of him. 25.93Among other men, Athenians, you may see the best and most respectable ready at the prompting of nature to do what is right; those who are worse men, but are not classed as the very bad, are careful of offending, because they are afraid of you and are sensitive to disgrace and reproach; the utterly wicked, the moral lepers, as we call them, are said to be taught wisdom only by suffering. 25.94Now here is Aristogeiton, who has so far outstripped all men in wickedness that his punishments have not disciplined him and he is once more detected in the same illegal and rapacious acts. Also he is the more deserving of your anger now than before, inasmuch as previously it was only by moving decrees that he ventured to transgress the laws, but now he transgresses them in every possible way—by accusations, by public speeches, by calumnies, by demanding the death penalty, by impeaching and maligning the fully qualified citizens, when he himself is a state-debtor. For nothing is more abominable than that. 25.95Surely, then, to admonish such a fellow is madness. A man who never yielded or shrank before the storm of protest with which the whole Assembly admonishes those who offend it, would readily heed the protest of an individual! His case is incurable, men of Athens, quite incurable. Just as physicians, when they detect a cancer or an ulcer or some other incurable growth, cauterize it or cut it away, so you ought all to unite in exterminating this monster. Cast him out of your city; destroy him. Take your precautions in time and do not wait for the evil consequences, which I pray may never fall either on individuals or on the community. 25.96Let me put it in this way. Perhaps none of you has ever been bitten by an adder or a tarantula, and I hope he never may be. All the same, whenever you see such creatures, you promptly kill them all. In just the same way, men of Athens, whenever you see a false accuser, a man with the venom of a viper in his nature, do not wait for him to bite one of you, but always let the man who comes across him exact punishment.

25.97Lycurgus did well to call Athena and the Mother of the gods to witness. But I will invoke your ancestors and the virtues of your ancestors, whose memory time has not effaced. It is right that I should do so; for their policy was not to lend themselves to cooperation with the worst of rascals and false accusers, not to foster the mutual jealousy that lurks within doors, but to honor those public and private men who were wise and good, and to loathe and chastise those who were wicked and unscrupulous; and that was how they all became competitors in the rivalry of noble deeds.

25.98One more thing I have to say before I sit down. You will soon be leaving this court-house, and you will be watched by the bystanders, both aliens and citizens; they will scan each one as he appears, and detect by their looks those who have voted for acquittal. What will you have to say for yourselves, Athenians, if you emerge after betraying the laws? With what expression, with what look will you return their gaze? 25.99How will you make your way to the Sanctuary of the Mother-goddess, note if you wish to do so? For surely you will never go individually to consult the laws as if they were still valid, unless you have now collectively confirmed them before you depart. How on the first of each month will you climb the Acropolis and pray for blessings on the State and on yourselves, when the defendant and his worthy father are registered there, note and you have given your verdict clean against your oaths and the documents there preserved? 25.100Or what will you say, Athenians, what will you say, if someone detects and questions those of you who have voted for acquittal? What will you answer? That you were satisfied with him? But who will dare to say that? Who will choose to inherit this fellow's wickedness, with the execration and infamy that it entails? Will each of you deny that he acquitted him? In that case you will have to invoke a curse on the acquitters, as a guarantee from each of you that he was not himself one of them. 25.101What need to do this, when you can keep your lips undefiled, and can all of you pray for every blessing upon all, both on yourselves and on all other citizens and, I may add, on all aliens and women and children? For the evil influence of the defendant has.extended, yes, extended to all classes, and all alike are anxious to be rid of his wickedness and to see that he has paid the penalty.

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