|Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].
|Dem. 25 (Greek)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
25.42But 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
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
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
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
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
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
DepositionWhat 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.
25.63Are you not ashamed then, men of
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
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
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
25.92Therefore the one thing left, men of
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.].
|Dem. 25 (Greek)