Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 43 Dem. 44 (Greek) >>Dem. 45

Against Leochares

44.1It is the fault of Leochares, the defendant, men of the jury, that he is himself being brought to trial, and that I, despite my youth, am addressing you, for he claims the right to inherit what does not belong to him, and has made a false affidavit of objections before the archon in support of his claim. 44.2It was incumbent upon us—since the law grants the right of succession to those nearest of kin, and we are relatives of Archiades, who originally left the estate—not to suffer his house to become extinct, and others, who had no right whatever to it, to inherit his property; while the defendant, who was neither a son by blood of the deceased nor a son adopted according to your laws, as I shall show, has thus recklessly made a false affidavit, and is seeking to rob me of the inheritance. 44.3I beg you, men of the jury, to come to the aid of my father and myself, if our pleading shall seem just, and not suffer men who are poor and without influence to be crushed by the lawless men marshalled against us. For we have come before you relying upon the truth, well content if we are permitted to obtain our legal rights; while our adversaries have from the first never ceased to rely upon intrigue and the spending of money, and very naturally in my opinion; for they readily make expenditures from funds which belong to others, and so have provided themselves with a host of people who will speak in their behalf and give false testimony. 44.4My father here ( for the truth shall be told you) comes into court with manifest signs that he is, as you are all aware, a poor man, and that he knows nothing of pleading in court; for he has long been a public crier in Peiraeus, and this is not only a sign of the poverty which is common to man, but also of the fact that he has no time to meddle with the law; for a man so employed has to spend the whole day in the market-place. If you bear this in mind, you will be forced to conclude that, if we did not rely upon the justice of our cause, we should never have come before you at all.

44.5With reference to matters of this nature you will gain clearer information in the course of my address, but I think I must now inform you about the affidavit and the case at issue. If, men of the jury, Leochares, basing his defence upon the affidavit itself, were going to prove that he is the lawfully born son of Archiades, there would be no need of many words, nor any need that I should trace our family line back to its origin; 44.6but since the matters sworn to in the affidavit are of a different nature, and most of the arguments of our adversaries will be devoted to proving that they were adopted and should properly inherit the estate by right of descent as lawful children, it is necessary for this reason, men of the jury, to go back a little way and instruct you regarding the pedigree; for when you understand this matter clearly, there will be no danger of your being misled by their arguments. 44.7Very well then, the case before you is one to settle the title to an inheritance. Our claim to the estate is based upon descent, theirs upon adoption. We admit here in your presence that all adoptions, if rightly made in accordance with the laws, ought to be valid. Bear in mind, therefore, the bases upon which our respective claims rest, and if they prove to you that the laws grant what they have sworn in their affidavit, adjudge the estate to them. 44.8And even if they have not the support of the laws, but it seems to you that what they say is in accordance with justice and generosity, even so we withdraw our claim. However, that you may know that, while we are by descent the nearest of kin, we do not rest our case upon this alone, but upon all the other grounds as well, I will first instruct you regarding the family itself from which the inheritance comes; for I am sure that, if you follow with clear understanding this phase of the matter at issue, you will have no difficulty in grasping any of the other facts.

44.9To go back to the beginning, men of the jury, there were born to Euthymachus, of Otrynê, note three sons, Meidylides and Archippus and Archiades, and a daughter whose name was Archidicê. After the death of their father the brothers gave Archidicê in marriage to Leostratus of Eleusis note ; of the three brothers Archippus lost his life at Methymna note while serving as trierarch, and Meidylides not long afterward married Mnesimache, the daughter of Lysippus of Crioa. note 44.10To him there was born a daughter, Cleitomachê by name, whom he wished to give in marriage to his own brother, who was still unmarried; but since Archiades declared that he did not wish to marry, and for this reason allowed the property to remain undivided, and lived by himself in Salamis, Meidylides at length gave his daughter in marriage to Aristoteles of Pallenê, note my grandfather. Of them were born three sons, Aristodemus here, my father, and Habronichus, my uncle, and Meidylides, who is now dead. Our right of inheritance, based on kinship in the family to which the estate belongs, is, men of the jury, substantially this. 44.11For we are the nearest of kin to Archiades in the male line, and, as we deemed it right according to this law that we should inherit his estate, and not allow the family to be brought to extinction, we brought suit for the inheritance before the archon. Our opponents, who hold the property without right, have now filed an affidavit of objections, basing their entire claim upon adoption, but alleging also that they are near of kin. 44.12Now, with regard to this adoption, we will show you plainly later on what its character was; but with reference to blood relationship, I must prove to you that they are not nearer of kin than we. One thing is admitted, that in the matter of inheritance males and those descended from males have the precedence, for the law explicitly gives the inheritance as their due to the nearest of kin in the male line, when there are no children. Well, it is we who answer this description; for Archiades is admitted to have died without issue, and we are the nearest of kin to him in the male line. 44.13And furthermore, we are also his nearest of kin in the female line; for Meidylides was the brother of Archiades, and the daughter of Meidylides was the mother of my father, so that Archiades, for whose inheritance we are now prosecuting our claim, is uncle ( their fathers having been brothers) to the mother of my father, having this relationship in the male line, not in the female line. But Leostratus here is in kinship further removed, and is related to Archiades on the female side; for the mother of Leocrates, the father of the defendant, was niece to the Archiades in question and to Meidylides, as descendants of whom we claim the right to win the inheritance.

44.14First, men of the jury, to prove that our pedigree is as I have stated, the clerk shall read you the depositions, and thereafter the law itself which awards inheritances to the families and to those nearest of kin in the male line. For, I take it, these are the essential points in the case and the matters upon which you cast your vote under oath.

Call the witnesses up here, please, and read the law.Witnesses

44.15Matters concerning their pedigree and concerning ours, men of the jury, stand thus, and so it is right that those who have proved on the basis of the affidavits themselves that they are nearer of kin, should have the inheritance, and that the madness of the one who made the affidavit of objections should not prove stronger than your laws. For if they lay stress on the adoption, the nature of which I shall make clear to you, yet surely after the death without issue of the adopted son, when the house up to the filing of our suit had become extinct, it is right that those who are nearest of kin should receive the inheritance, and that you should give your aid, not to those citizens who are able to get up the strongest backing, but to those who are suffering wrong. 44.16If it had been in our power, after setting forth matters regarding the pedigree and the affidavit itself, to leave the platform, and to have no need of further words, since practically the most important arguments would have been advanced, we should not trouble you further. But since our opponents will not rely upon the laws, but through having forestalled us and got some control of the situation long ago, and through having entered into possession of the estate, will use these facts as proofs, and declare that they are the heirs, it is perhaps necessary to discuss these matters as well, and to prove that of all humankind our opponents are the most arbitrary.

44.17To go back to the beginning, men of the jury, Meidylides and Archiades gave their sister in marriage to Leostratus of Eleusis; and after a time from this sister of theirs, thus given in marriage, there was born Leocrates, the Iather of the defendant Leostratus; observe how distantly related he is to Archiades, regarding whom they have filed the affidavit of objections. When matters were as I have stated, Archiades did not marry, but his brother Meidylides, the grandfather of my father here, did marry. 44.18They made as yet no division of the property, but, both having enough to live on, Meidylides continued to live in the city, and Archiades made his home in Salamis. Not long afterward, when Meidylides, my father's grandfather, happened to go on a journey out of the country, Archiades fell sick, and died during the absence of Meidylides, being still unmarried. What is the proof of this? A maiden bearing an urn for water note stands upon the tomb of Archiades. 44.19At this juncture Leocrates, the father of Leostratus here, on the pretext of his relationship on the female side, got himself adopted as son to Archiades, and so entered into possession of the estate, as though he had been adopted by Archiades during his lifetime. When Meidylides returned, he was incensed at what had been done, and was in a mood to enter suit against Leocrates; but under the persuasion of his relatives and their pleas that he should suffer Leocrates to remain in the family as the son by adoption of Archiades, he yielded the point,—not through losing his case in court, but absolutely through being deceived by these men here and partly also through giving way to the persuasion of his relatives. 44.20After this experience Meidylides died, and Leocrates continued in possession of the estate of Archiades, and conducted himself as heir for many years, as being his adopted son; and we, on our part, inasmuch as Meidylides had made this concession, refrained from action. No long time afterwards, however,—and now, men of the jury, pay close heed to what I am about to say— 44.21Leocrates, who had become son by adoption to Archiades, himself returned to the Eleusinians, to whom he originally belonged, leaving Leostratus here in the family as a lawfully born son. Even then we did not as yet disturb any of the arrangements regarding the estate, but continued as before. 44.22Well now, Leostratus here, although he was an adopted son and had been left in the family of Archiades, himself returned, as his father had done, to the Eleusinians, leaving in his place a lawfully born son, and, in defiance of the laws, setting up the original adoption as valid through the lives of three persons. 44.23For how could it be other than contrary to the laws, when one, being himself an adopted son, returned to his original family leaving adopted sons in his place? That is what Leostratus has done up to this day, and by this means they think to rob us of our inheritance, making profit from the estate of Archiades, and supporting their children by it, and always returning from it to the estate of their fathers, keeping that intact, while spending the other.

44.24Nevertheless, although matters were in this condition, as I have told you, we submitted to everything. Until when? Until Leocrates, who had been left by Leostratus in the house as a son, died without issue. But since he died without issue, we, who are nearest of kin to Archiades, claim to inherit the property; and we claim that the defendant cannot, in order to rob us of what is ours, give an adopted son to the dead man who was himself adopted. 44.25For if Leocrates had himself adopted a son during his lifetime, even though the action was contrary to law, we should have made no protest; but since he had no son born to him, nor had adopted one during his lifetime, and as the law gives inheritances to the nearest of kin, how can it be other than right that we should not be robbed of this inheritance, to which we have a double title? 44.26For we are nearest of kin to Archiades, to whom the property originally belonged, and also to the adopted Leocrates; for his father, seeing that he has returned to the Eleusinians, note no longer retained his legal relationship, whereas we, to whose family he had come to belong, had the closest relationship, being children of that father's first cousin. So, if you like, we claim the inheritance as kinsmen of Archiades, or, if you like it better, as kinsmen of Leocrates; for since he died without issue, no one is nearer of kin than we. 44.27So far as you are concerned, Leostratus, the family has become extinct; for you sought to maintain a relationship with the property, not with those who adopted you. After the death of Leocrates, so long as no one laid claim to the estate, you sought to get no one adopted as a son to Archiades; but now that we have come forward as kinsmen, then you get one adopted, that you may get possession of the property. And you declare that Archiades, into whose house you were adopted, had no property, yet you file an affidavit of objections against us, seeking to exclude his acknowledged kindred. If there is nothing in the estate, wherein do you suffer loss, if we inherit this nothing? 44.28But the fact is, men of the jury, that his impudence and greed are such that he thinks it is legitimate for him to return to the Eleusinians and retain the estate of his fathers, and at the same time to be master of that into which he was introduced by adoption, there being no son in the family. And all this he easily managed, for over us, who are poor men and men without influence, he has a great advantage, since he is able to spend what belongs to others. I consider, therefore, that it is your duty, men of the jury, to give aid to us who are not seeking to gain an advantage over others, but who are content if we are allowed to win our legal rights. 44.29For what are we to do, men of the jury? When the adoption has been continued through three persons, and the one last left in the family has died without issue, are we not at the last to recover what is our own? Well then, having this just claim, we brought suit for the inheritance before the archon. But this fellow Leochares here, having lightly sworn a false affidavit, thinks that he has the right to rob us of the inheritance in defiance of all the laws.

44.30First, then, to prove that what we have stated about the adoptions and the pedigree of these men is true, and that the water-bearer does stand upon the tomb of Archiades, we wish to read to you these depositions. After that we will instruct you plainly regarding the remaining matters as well, and so convict our opponents of having sworn a false affidavit.

Take, please, the depositions of which I speak.Depositions

44.31Such is the real meaning of this affair, men of the jury, and such the legal rights of inheritance, plainly stated; and you have also heard what amounts to a summary of all that has been done from the start. But I consider it necessary to tell you also of what they have done since the suit for the inheritance was instituted, and the manner in which they have treated us; for in my opinion no other people have ever in an inheritance suit been dealt with in a manner so contrary to law as we have been. 44.32For when Leocrates died, and his funeral had taken place, and we went to take possession of his property, since he had died without issue and unmarried, Leostratus here ejected us, declaring that it belonged to him. Now his preventing us from performing any of the proper rites for the deceased is perhaps to be excused, seeing that he was his father, although the act was contrary to law; for it is proper that the care of the funeral should be committed to the natural father, but, next after him, also to us the members of the family to whom the deceased was related by virtue of the adoption. 44.33But after the funeral rites were finished, what law will be found to justify him, when the family was extinct, in driving us, the nearest of kin, from the estate of the deceased? Because, they will say, he was father to the dead man. Yes, but he had returned to the family of his fathers, and was no longer master of the estate over which he had left his son in charge. Otherwise what is the use of the laws? 44.34Well, after our ejectment had taken place ( to omit most of the details) we brought suit for the inheritance before the archon, inasmuch as the deceased had no son, as I stated, and had not adopted any according to the laws. After this, Leostratus here made a deposit for costs, as being the son of the aforesaid Archiades, not taking into account that he had returned to the Eleusinians, or that adopted children are made such, not by themselves but by those who adopt them. 44.35But the truth is, I presume his one simple idea was that he must by fair means or foul lay claim to the property of others. And first he had the audacity to go and enroll himself on the assembly list note of the Otrynians, although he was an Eleusinian, and managed to put this through; then, before his name was entered on the adult register note of the Otrynians, he sought to claim a share in the public benefits in flagrant defiance of law, because of his greed for gain. 44.36We, seeing what was going on, called witnesses and put a stop to it, holding the view that it was necessary that the right of inheritance should first be decided in your court before anyone should be named as the adopted son of Archiades. He was thwarted then, and convicted in the presence of many witnesses of fraudulent action, both in the matter of the list, and in the assembly for the election of the deme's officers, yet nevertheless he persisted in trying to force his way in, and by his intrigues to prove himself stronger than your laws. What is the proof of this? 44.37He got together some of the Otrynians with the demarch, and persuaded them at the opening of the adult register to inscribe his name. And after that on the occasion of the great Panathenaea note at the time of the distribution, he came to get his admission fee, and when the other demesmen were receiving it, he demanded that it be given him also, and that he should be entered on the register under the name of Archiades. But when we entered a solemn protest, and all the others declared that what he was doing was an outrage, he went away without either having his name inscribed or receiving the admission fee.

44.38Now do you not think that a man, who in defiance of your decree claimed the right to receive the admission fee before his name had been inscribed on the list of the Otrynians, belonging as he did to another deme, would lay claim to an inheritance in defiance of the laws? Or when a man, before the court has rendered its decision, schemes to get advantages so unjust, can you think it reasonable to assume that he relies upon the justice of his case? For he, who fraudulently claimed the right to receive the admission fee, has now obviously practised the same design regarding the inheritance. 44.39Nay more, he even deceived the archon, when he made his deposit for costs to thwart us, and in his counter-statement declared that he was an Otrynian, when he was in fact a demesman among the Eleusinians. When, however, he failed in all these schemes, at the last election of officers the fellow got together some of the demesmen, and demanded that he be registered as the adopted son of Archiades. 44.40Again we protested that the demesmen should give their votes only when the inheritance suit should have been decided, and not before; and to this they agreed, not on their own responsibility, but out of respect for the laws; for it seemed to them an outrageous thing that a man who had made a deposit for costs in an inheritance suit, should get himself adopted as a son while the matter was still undecided; but the thing which this fellow Leostratus contrived after this is the most outrageous of all.

44.41For when he failed to get his own name inscribed, he entered his own son Leochares as an adopted son of Archiades, in defiance of all the laws, before the scrutiny note of the deme had taken place. But Leochares had not yet been introduced to the clansmen of Archiades; yet when his name had been entered on the list of the deme, only then did Leostratus, by bringing influence to bear upon a certain member of the clan, get the name inscribed upon the clan register. note 44.42And after that, in his affidavit before the archon he inscribed Leochares as being the lawfully born son of the man who had been dead many years past—Leochares, who had been registered with the clan only a day or two before! So it results that they both lay claim to the inheritance; for Leostratus here made the deposit for costs in the inheritance suit as being the lawfully born son of Archiades, and Leochares here has filed the affidavit, as being the lawfully born son of the same father! 44.43And in neither case is it to a living man, but to one that is dead, that each of them makes himself an adopted son! But in our opinion, men of the jury, you ought, when you shall have cast your vote concerning the present case, then, and not till then, to find from among us, who are nearest of kin, an adopted son for the deceased, in order that the family may not become extinct.

44.44First, men of the jury, to prove that Leostratus here has returned to the Eleusinians from the demesmen of Otrynê, leaving a lawfully born son in the family of Archiades; and that his father at an earlier date had done this same thing; and that the son so left has died without issue; and that the one who has now sworn the affidavit was enrolled among the demesmen before he had been enrolled among the members of the clan—to prove these facts the clerk shall read you the depositions of the members of the clan and of the deme; and in proof of all the other things I have mentioned which these men have done I shall produce testimony concerning each several fact.

Please call the witnesses to come forward.Witnesses

44.45All the facts of the case, then, you have heard, men of the jury, all that took place at the first in connection with this inheritance, and all that occurred subsequently, as soon as we commenced our suit. It remains to speak of the affidavit itself and the laws in accordance with which we claim to inherit; and furthermore, if the water holds out and we shall not be troubling you too much, to refute the arguments which our opponents are going to advance, proving to you that they are neither just nor sound. And first let the clerk read the affidavit; and I beg you to give it close attention; for it is regarding this that your votes are presently to be cast.Affidavit

44.46Well, then, the defendant has sworn, as you have heard, “ that the inheritance of Archiades is not open to litigation, since he has children lawfully born and rightfully established according to the statute.” Let us, then, inquire if there are any, or if the defendant has sworn to what is false. The aforesaid Archiades, whose estate is in question, adopted as his son the grandfather of the one who has now sworn this affidavit; he, leaving a lawfully born son, Leostratus, the father of the defendant, returned to the Eleusinians. 44.47After this, Leostratus here himself returned to the house of his fathers, leaving a son in the adoptive house; and the son whom he left, and who was the last of all the adopted children, has died without issue, so that the house thereby becomes extinct and the inheritance has reverted again to those originally nearest of kin. 44.48How, then, could Archiades still have any sons, as the affidavit claims, when it is admitted that his adopted children returned to their original family and the last one left has died without issue? It follows, then, of necessity that the family is extinct. But when the family is extinct, there cannot be lawfully born sons still living. The fellow, then, has sworn that non-existent persons exist, and has written in the affidavit “ since he has children,” alleging that he himself is one of them. 44.49But surely, when he says “ lawfully born and rightfully established according to the statute,” he is quibbling and defying the laws. For the “ lawfully born” exists, when it is born of the body; and the law bears testimony to this, when it says, “ Lawfully born are children of a woman whom her father or brother or grandfather has given in marriage.” But “ rightfully established” the lawgiver understood of adoptions, considering that when a man, being childless and master of his property, adopts a son, this action ought to be rightful. Well, our opponent says that Archiades had no son of the body, but in the affidavit he has sworn to the words “ since there are lawfully born children,” thus making a sworn statement that is contrary to the truth. 44.50He admits that he is an adopted son, yet it is manifest that he was not adopted by the dead man himself; so how can you claim that this status is “ rightfilly established according to the statute” ? Because, he will say, he was registered as the son of Archiades. Yes, by the arbitrary act of these men, and that only the other day, when the suit for the estate had already been instituted. Surely it is not right for a man to regard as evidence his own illegal act. 44.51For is it not an outrageous thing, men of tlie jury, that he should state—as he will presently in his speech—that he is an adopted son, while in his affidavit he did not dare to write this? Or that, while in the affidavit the protest is made as though for a son of the body, the speech that will presently be made will be on behalf of an adopted son? If they are going to make their defence conflict with the affidavit, surely either what they say, or what they swore, is false. It was with good reason that they did not add to the affidavit mention of the adoption, for in that case they would have had to add the words “ adopted by so-and-so.” But Archiades never did adopt them; they adopted themselves, in order to rob us of the inheritance.

44.52Now is not their next proceeding absurd as well as outrageous?—that Leostratus here should have made his deposit for costs in the inheritance suit before the archon, as being the son of Archiades ( while he was an Eleusinian, and Archiades of the deme Otrynê) , but that someone else should have sworn the affidavit, as you see for yourselves, alleging that he, too, was a son of Archiades? To which of the two should you pay attention, as telling the truth? 44.53This very thing is the strongest proof of the falsehood of the affidavit—that it is not the same person who makes the claim about the same matter. And this is not strange for, I fancy, when Leostratus here made his deposit in the inheritance suit against us, the one who has now sworn the affidavit had not yet registered himself as a member of the deme. We should therefore be most cruelly treated if you should believe an affidavit made after the suit was begun.

44.54Nay more, Leochares has in the affidavit sworn to facts actually older than himself. For how could a person who was not yet a member of the house of Archiades when this suit for the inheritance was instituted, know anything about these matters? Moreover, if he had sworn it of himself alone, there would have been some sense in his action; he would have written what was false, but nevertheless his statement would have concerned one of an age to know. But as it is, he has written that the aforesaid Archiades had lawfully born sons, meaning, of course, his own father and the one made such by the original adoption, not taking cognizance of the fact that they had returned to their original family. It follows, then, of necessity that he has sworn to events older than himself, and not to things which have happened in his own day. Are you, then, to credit one who has dared a thing like that, as though he were speaking the truth? 44.55Ah, but he will say that he has heard from his father the facts to which he has sworn. But the law does not admit hearsay evidence, save in the case of deceased persons; whereas this fellow has dared to swear to acts done by his father, while that father is still alive. Then again, why did Leostratus here inscribe on the affidavit the name, not of himself, but of the defendant? For the older facts should have been sworn to by the older man. It was, he might say, because I have had this youth adopted as son to Archiades. 44.56Well then, you who had him adopted and concocted the whole affair ought to have rendered an account of it, and made yourself responsible for what you have done. You ought absolutely to have done so. But you evaded this, and wrote over the affidavit the name of your son here, who knew nothing of the matter. You see, then, men of the jury, that the statements in the affidavit are false, and they are admitted by these men themselves to be so. Why, it would even be right for you to refuse to listen to this man Leostratus, when he presently undertakes to make statements to which he did not venture to swear in the affidavit.

44.57Furthermore, that affidavits of objection are of all forms of trial the most unjust, and that those having recourse to them are most deserving of your resentment, one can see very clearly from the following facts. In the first place, they are not necessary as the other forms of procedure are, but they are instituted by the will and desire of the one swearing to them. note If in the matter of disputed claims there is no other way of getting a judgement than by such an affidavit, it is perhaps necessary to make one. 44.58But, if it is possible without an affidavit of objections to obtain a hearing before all tribunals, is not the use of one a mark of recklessness and utter desperation? For the lawgiver did not make it obligatory on the contending parties, but granted them the privilege of putting in such an affidavit, if they chose, as though he were testing the character of each one of us, to see how we stand with reference to a reckless procedure. note 44.59Further, if it rested with those who file these affidavits, there would be neither courts of justice nor trials; for the nature of affidavits of objections is to bIock all these things and to prevent all cases from being brought into the court-room—at least so far as the will of the one swearing the affidavit goes. Therefore I think we should regard such people as the common enemies of all men, and that they should never receive any indulgence when they are on trial before you; for each one of them comes into court, not under compulsion, but having chosen to incur the risk of the oath.

44.60Well then, that the affidavit is false, you have learned pretty definitely from the statements contained in it and from the arguments which you have heard. But that the laws also give us this inheritance as our right, men of the jury, I wish to prove in a few words—not as though this had not been made clear to you in what I said at the outset, but that you may the better bear in mind the justice of our case, and so meet the false statements of our opponents.

44.61To sum up the matter briefly, we, since we are the nearest of kin in the male line to Archiades, to whom this estate belonged, and since of the persons whom he adopted some have gone back to the family of their fathers, and the one last left had died without issue,—in these circumstances, we, I say, claim to inherit. 44.62We are not depriving Leostratus of any property ( for these men hold what is their own) , but we claim the estate left by Archiades, which is ours according to the laws. For the law, men of the jury, ordains that males and the sons of males should have precedence; and such we are. Archiades had no children, and we are the ones nearest of kin to him. 44.63Further, it is surely not just that an adopted son should bring other sons into a family by adoption; he may leave in it children born to him, but in default of these he must restore the inheritance to those related by blood. That is what the laws ordain.

For is it not plain that each one of you is excluded from the right of inheritance by direct descent, if this licence be granted to children by adoption? For you see that most people who adopt children do so through being cajoled by flattery and often in a spirit of contentiousness caused by family quarrels. But if an adopted son is to be permitted in defiance of the law to adopt whomsoever he pleases, inheritances will never be given to blood-relations. 44.64It was to guard against this that the lawgiver forbade a person who was himself adopted to create a son by adoption. In what manner did he declare his view regarding this? When he says “ a man may return to his own family, leaving behind him a lawfully born son” he makes it plain, I take it, that it is not lawful for him to adopt; for it is impossible for a man to leave behind him a lawfully born son, unless he have a son born of his body. But you, Leostratus, claim the right to bring an adopted son into the inheritance of the dead man, who had himself been adopted into our family, just as though you were taking possession of your own property, and not that which the law declares shall be given to the nearest of kin.

44.65For ourselves, men of the jury, if the deceased had adopted anyone, even though the law does not allow it, we should have submitted; or, if he had left a will, we should also have been ready to abide by that; for from the beginning this has been our position; we made no objection to their holding the property and returning to their original family in whatever manner they pleased. 44.66Now, however, that the affair has at length been exposed both by these men themselves and by the laws, we hold that it is right for us to inherit the estate of Archiades, and that the son to be adopted should come from us who have not been adopted before, and not from them. For it was just, in my opinion, that the lawgiver, as he laid upon the nearest of kin the duty of relieving the misfortunes of their relatives, and of giving in marriage their women-folk, so also has given to these same people as their due the right of inheriting and of sharing in the good things. 44.67But that which is the most significant thing, and the thing best known to you, is this: the law of Solon does not allow an adopted son even to dispose by will of the property in the family into which he comes by adoption. And there is good reason for this, in my view; for a person who comes by legal adoption into possession of the property of another, ought not to deal with it as if it were his own private estate. No, he should act consistently with the laws, and do in each particular what the laws prescribe. 44.68“All those who had not been adopted,” says the lawgiver, note“ at the time when Solon entered upon office, may bequeath their property by will, as they see fit,” thus indicating that those who were adopted might not so dispose of theirs, but that they might return to their families in their lifetime, leaving a lawfully born son in their place; otherwise, in case of death, they must give back the property to those who from the first were relatives of the adoptive father.

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