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<<Dem. 53 Dem. 54 (Greek) >>Dem. 55

Against Conon

54.1With gross outrage I have met, men of the jury, at the hands of the defendant, Conon, and have suffered such bodily injury that for a very long time neither my relatives nor any of the attending physicians thought that I should survive. Contrary to expectation, however, I did recover and regain my strength, and I then brought against him this action for the assault. All my friends and relatives, whose advice I asked, declared that for what he had done the defendant was liable to summary seizure as a highwayman, or to public indictments for criminal outrage note; but they urged and advised me not to take upon myself matters which I should not be able to carry, or to appear to be bringing suit for the maltreatment I had received in a manner too ambitious for one so young. I took this course, therefore, and, in deference to their advice, have instituted a private suit, although I should have been very glad, men of Athens, to prosecute the defendant on a capital charge. 54.2And for this you will all pardon me, I am sure, when you hear what I have suffered. For, grievous as was the injury which at that time fell to my lot, it was no more so than the subsequent insults of the defendant. I ask as my right, therefore, and implore you all without distinction, to listen with goodwill, while I tell you what I have suffered, and then, if you think that I have been the victim of wrongful and lawless acts, to render me the aid which is my due. I shall state to you from the beginning each incident as it occurred in the fewest words I can.

54.3Two years ago I went out to Panactum, note where we had been ordered to do garrison duty. The sons of the defendant, Conon, encamped near us, as I would to heaven they had not done; for our original enmity and our quarrels began in fact just there. How these came about, you shall hear. These men used always to spend the entire day after luncheon in drinking, and they kept this up continually as long as we were in the garrison. We, on our part, conducted ourselves while in the country just as we were wont to do here. 54.4Well, at whatever time the others might be having their dinner, these men were already drunk and abusive, at first toward our body-slaves, but in the end toward ourselves. For, alleging that the slaves annoyed them with smoke while getting dinner, or were impudent toward them, or whatever else they pleased, they used to beat them and empty their chamber-pots over them, or befoul them with urine; there was nothing in the way of brutality and outrage in which they did not indulge. When we saw this, we were annoyed and at first expostulated with them, but they mocked at us, and would not desist, and so our whole mess in a body—not I alone apart from the rest—went to the general and told him what was going on. 54.5He rebuked them with stern words, not only for their brutal treatment of us, but for their whole behavior in camp; yet so far from desisting, or being ashamed of their acts, they burst in upon us that very evening as soon as it grew dark, and, beginning with abusive language, they proceeded to beat me, and they made such a clamor and tumult about the tent, that both the general and the taxiarchs note came and some of the other soldiers, by whose coming we were prevented from suffering, or ourselves doing, some damage that could not be repaired, being victims as we were of their drunken violence. 54.6When matters had gone thus far, it was natural that after our return home there should exist between us feelings of anger and hatred. However, on my own part I swear by the gods I never saw fit to bring an action against them, or to pay any attention to what had happened. I simply made this resolve—in future to be on my guard, and to take care to have nothing to do with people of that sort.

I wish in the first place to bring before you depositions proving these statements, and then to show what I have suffered at the hands of the defendant himself, in order that you may see that Conon, who should have dealt rigorously with the first offences, has himself added to these far more outrageous acts of his own doing.Depositions

54.7These, then, are the acts of which I thought proper to take no account. Not long after this, however, one evening, when I was taking a walk, as my custom was, in the agora with Phanostratus of Cephisia, note a man of my own age, note Ctesias, the son of the defendant, passed by me in a drunken state opposite the Leocorion, note near the house of Pythodorus. At sight of us he uttered a yell, and, saying something to himself, as a drunken man does, in an unintelligible fashion, passed on up, toward Melitê. note Gathered together there for a drinking bout, as we afterwards learned, at the house of Pamphilus the fuller, were the defendant Conon, a certain Theotimus, Archeblades, Spintharus, son of Eubulus, Theogenes, son of Andromenes, and a number of others. Ctesias made them all get up, and proceeded to the agora. 54.8It happened that we were turning back from the temple of Persephonê, note and on our walk were again about opposite the Leocorion when we met them. When we got close to them one of them, I don't know which, fell upon Phanostratus and pinned him, while the defendant Conon together with his son and the son of Andromenes threw themselves upon me. They first stripped me of my cloak, and then, tripping me up they thrust me into the mud and leapt upon me and beat me with such violence that my lip was split open and my eyes closed; and they left me in such a state that I could neither get up nor utter a sound. As I lay there I heard them utter much outrageous language, 54.9a great deal of which was such foul abuse that I should shrink from repeating some of it in your presence. One thing, however, which is an indication of the fellow's insolence and a proof that the whole affair has been of his doing, I will tell you. He began to crow, mimicking fighting cocks that have won a battle and his fellows bade him flap his elbows against his sides like wings. After this some people who happened to pass took me home stripped as I was, for these men had gone off taking my cloak with them. When my bearers got to my door, my mother and the women servants began shrieking and wailing, and it was with difficulty that I was at length carried to a bath. There I was thoroughly bathed, and shown to the surgeons.

To prove that these statements of mine are true, I shall call before you the witnesses who attest them.Witnesses

54.10It happened, men of the jury, that Euxitheus of Cholleidae, note who is here in court and is a relative of mine, and with him Meidias, on their way back from a dinner somewhere, came up to me, when I was now near my home, followed after me as I was borne to the bath, and were present when men brought the surgeon. I was so weak, that, as it was far for me to be carried from the bath to my home, those who were with me decided to carry me to the house of Meidias for that night; and so they did.

Now let the clerk take the depositions establishing these facts, that you may understand that a host of people know what outrage I suffered at the hands of these men.Depositions

Take now the deposition of the surgeon also.Deposition

54.11At that time, then, as the immediate result of the blows and the maltreatment I received, I was brought into this condition, as you hear from my own lips, and as all the witnesses who saw me at the time have testified. Afterwards, although the swellings on my face and the bruises, my physician said, did not give him great concern, continuous attacks of fever ensued and violent and acute pains throughout all my body, but especially in my sides and the pit of my stomach, and I was unable to take my food. 54.12Indeed, the surgeon said that, if a copious hemorrhage had not spontaneously occurred, while my agony was extreme and my attendants were at their wits' end, I should have died of internal suppuration; but as it was, this loss of blood saved me.

To prove now that these statements of mine are true, and that from the blows which these men dealt me there resulted an illness so severe that it brought me to the point of death. Read the depositions of the surgeon and of those who came to see me.Depositions

54.13That the wounds I received, then, were not slight or trifling, but that I was brought near to death by the outrage and brutality of these men, and that the action which I have entered is far more lenient than the case deserves, has been made clear to you, I think, on many grounds. I fancy, however, that some of you are wondering what in the world there can be that Conon will have the audacity to say in reply to these charges. I wish, therefore, to tell you in advance the defence which I hear he is prepared to make. He will try to divert your attention from the outrage and the actual facts, and will seek to turn the whole matter into mere jest and ridicule. 54.14He will tell you that there are many people in the city, sons of respectable persons, who in sport, after the manner of young men, have given themselves nicknames, such as Ithyphalli or Autolecythi, note and that some of them are infatuated with mistresses; that his own son is one of these and has often given and received blows on account of some girl; and that things of this sort are natural for young men. As for me and all my brothers, he will make out that we are not only drunken and insolent fellows, but also unfeeling and vindictive. note

54.15For myself, men of the jury, deeply indignant though I am at what I have suffered, I should feel no less indignation at this, and should count myself the victim of a fresh outrage, if you will pardon the strong expression, if this fellow Conon shall be deemed by you to be speaking the truth about us, and you are to be so misguided as to assume that a man bears the character which he claims for himself or which someone else accuses him of possessing, and respectable people are to derive no benefit from their daily life and conduct. 54.16No man in the world has ever seen us drunken or committing outrages, and I hold that I am doing nothing unfeeling in demanding to receive satisfaction according to the law for the wrongs I have suffered. This man's sons are welcome, so far as I am concerned, to be Ithyphalli and Autolecythi; I only pray the gods that these things and all things like them may recoil upon Conon and his sons; 54.17for they are those who initiate one another with the rites of Ithyphallus, and indulge in acts which decent people cannot even speak of without deep disgrace, to say nothing of performing them.

But what has all this to do with me? Why, for my part, I am amazed if they have discovered any excuse or pretext which will make it possible in your court for any man, if convicted of assault and battery, to escape punishment. The laws take a far different view, and have provided that even pleas of necessity shall not be pressed too far. For example (you see I have had to inquire into these matters and inform myself about them because of the defendant), 54.18there are actions for evil-speaking; and I am told that these are instituted for this purpose—that men may not be led on, by using abusive language back and forth, to deal blows to one another. Again, there are actions for battery; and these, I hear, exist for this reason—that a man, finding himself the weaker party, may not defend himself with a stone or anything of that sort, but may await legal redress. Again, there are public prosecutions for wounding, to the end that wounds may not lead to murder. 54.19The least of these evils, namely abusive language, has, I think, been provided for to prevent the last and most grievous, that murder may not ensue, and that men be not led on step by step from vilification to blows, from blows to wounds, and from wounds to murder, but that in the laws its own penalty should be provided for each of these acts, and that the decision should not be left to the passion or the will of the person concerned.

54.20This, then, is what is ordained in the laws; but if Conon says, “We belong to a club of Ithyphalli, and in our love-affairs we strike and throttle whom we please,” are you, then, going to let him off with a laugh? I think not. No one of you would have been seized with a fit of laughter, if he had happened to be present when I was dragged and stripped and maltreated, when I was borne home on a litter to the house which I had left strong and well, and my mother rushed out, and the women set up such a wailing and screaming (as if someone had died in the house) that some of the neighbors sent to inquire what it was that had happened. 54.21Speaking broadly, men of the jury, I hold it right that no man should have any excuse or immunity to rely on, when he is brought before you, so valid that he is to be permitted to commit outrage; but if allowance is to be made for anyone, it should be for those only who commit an act of this sort in the folly of youth,—it is for these, I say, that such indulgence should be reserved, and even in their case it should not extend to the remission of the penalty, but to its mitigation. 54.22But when a man over fifty years of age in the company of younger men, and these his own sons, not only did not discourage or prevent their wantonness, but has proved himself the leader and the foremost and the vilest of all, what punishment could he suffer that would be commensurate with his deeds? For my part, I think that even death would be too mild. Why, if Conon had committed none of the acts himself, but had merely stood by while his son Ctesias did what he is himself proved to have done, you would regard him with loathing, and rightly. 54.23For if he has trained up his sons in such fashion that they feel no fear or shame while committing in his presence crimes for some of which the punishment of death is ordained, what punishment do you think too severe for him? I think these actions are a proof that he has no reverence for his own father; for if he had honored and feared him, he would have exacted honor and fear from his own children.

54.24Now take the statutes, that concerning assault and that concerning highway robbers. You will see that the defendant is amenable to them both. Read.Laws

By both these statutes, then, the defendant Conon is amenable for what he has done; for he committed both assault and highway robbery. If I on my part have not chosen to proceed against him under these statutes, that should fairly prove that I am a peaceful and inoffensive person, not that he is any the less a villain. 54.25And, assuredly, if anything had happened to me, note he would have been liable to a charge of murder and the severest of penalties. At any rate the father of the priestess at Brauron, note although it was admitted that he had not laid a finger on the deceased, but had merely urged the one who dealt the blow to keep on striking, was banished by the court of the Areopagus. And justly; for, if the bystanders, instead of preventing those who through the influence of drink or anger or any other cause are undertaking to act lawlessly, are themselves to urge them on, there is no hope of safety for one who falls in with lawless rascals; he may be sure that he will be maltreated until they grow weary as was the case with me.

54.26I wish now to tell you what they sought to do at the arbitration; for from this you will perceive their utter insolence. They spun out the time till past midnight, refusing to read the depositions or to put in copies; leading to the altar one at a time our witnesses who were present and putting them on oath; writing depositions which had nothing to do with the case (for instance “that Ctesias was the son of Conon by a mistress, and that he had been treated thus and so” note)—a course of action, men of the jury, which I assure you by the gods roused resentment and disgust in the mind of every one present; and finally they were disgusted at themselves. 54.27Be that as it may, when they had had their fill and were tired of acting thus, they put in a challenge with a view to gaining time and preventing the boxes from being sealed, offering to deliver up certain slaves, whose names they wrote down, to be examined as to the assault. And I fancy that their defence will hinge chiefly upon this point. I think, however, that you should all note one thing—that if these men tendered the challenge in order that the inquiry by the torture should take place, and had confidence in this method of proof, they would not have tendered it when the award was now just being announced, when night had fallen and no further pretext was left them; no, 54.28before the action had been brought, while I was lying ill and not knowing whether I should recover, and was denouncing the defendant to all who came to see me as the one who dealt the first blow and was the perpetrator of most of the maltreatment I received,—it was then, I say, that he would have come to my house without delay, bringing with him a number of witnesses; it was then that he would have offered to deliver up his slaves for the torture, and would have invited some members of the Areopagus to attend; for if I had died, the case would have come before them. 54.29But if he was unaware of this situation, and having this proof, as he will now say, made no preparation against so serious a danger, surely when I had left my sick bed and summoned him, he would at our first meeting before the arbitrator have shown himself ready to deliver up the slaves. But he did nothing of the kind.

To prove that I am speaking the truth, and that the challenge was tendered merely for the sake of gaining time, read this deposition. It will be clear from this.Deposition

54.30With regard to the examination by the torture, then, bear these facts in mind: the time when the challenge was tendered, his evasive purpose in doing this, and the first occasions, in the course of which he showed that he did not wish this test to be accorded him, and neither proposed it nor demanded it. Since, however, he was convicted on all these points before the arbitrator, just as he is now, and proved manifestly guilty of all the charges against him, he puts into the box a false deposition, 54.31and writes at the head of it as witnesses the names of people whom I think you will know well when you hear them— “Diotimus, son of Diotimus, of Icaria, note Archebiades, son of Demoteles, of Halae, note Chaeretimus, son of Chaerimenes, of Pithus, note depose that they were returning from a dinner with Conon, and came upon Ariston and the son of Conon fighting in the agora, and that Conon did not strike Ariston,” 54.32—as though you would believe them off-hand, and would have no regard to the truth of the matter that, to begin with, Lysistratus and Paseas and Niceratus and Diodorus, who have expressly testified that they saw me being beaten by Conon, stripped of my cloak, and suffering all the other forms of brutal outrage I experienced—men, remember, who were unacquainted with me and who happened on the affair by chance—that these men, I say, would never in the world have consented to give testimony which they would have known to be false, if they had not seen the maltreatment which I received; and, secondly, that I myself, if I had not been thus treated by the defendant, should never have let off men who are admitted by my opponents themselves to have struck me, and have chosen to proceed first against the one who never laid a finger on me. 54.33Why should I? No; the man who was first to strike me and from whom I suffered the greatest indignity, he it is whom I am suing, whom I abhor, and whom I am now prosecuting. My words, then, are all true and are proved to be so, whereas the defendant, if he had not brought forward these witnesses, had, I take it, not an argument to advance, but would have had silently to undergo an immediate conviction. But it stands to reason, that these men, who have been partners in his drinking bouts and have shared in many deeds of this sort, have given false testimony. If matters are to come to this pass, if once certain people shall prove shameless enough to give manifestly false testimony, and there shall be no advantage in the truth, it will be a terrible state of things.

54.34Ah but, they will say, they are not people of that sort. I am inclined to think, however, that many of you know Diotimus and Archebiades and Chaeretimus, the grey-headed man yonder, men who by day put on sour looks and pretend to play the Spartan note and wear short cloaks and single-soled shoes, but when they get together and are by themselves leave no form of wickedness or indecency untried. 54.35And these are their brilliant and vigorous pleas, “What! Are we not to give testimony for one another? Isn't that the way of comrades and friends? What is there that you really fear in the charges he will bring against you? Do some people say they saw him being beaten? We will testify that he wasn't even touched by you. That his cloak was stripped off? We will testify that they had done this first to you. That his lip has been sewn up? We will say that your head or something else has been broken.” 54.36But I bring forward surgeons also as witnesses. This, men of the jury, is not the case with them, but except what is deposed by themselves they will have not a single witness against me. But Heaven knows I could not tell you how great and how reckless a readiness you may expect on their part to perpetrate anything whatever.

Now that you may know what sort of things they do as they go about—read them these depositions, and do you check the flow of the water.Depositions

54.37Well then, if people break into houses and beat those who come in their way, do you suppose they would scruple to swear falsely on a scrap of paper in the interest of one another—these men who are partners in such great and such reckless malignity and villainy and impudence and outrage? For I certainly think that all these terms fit the deeds they are in the habit of doing. And yet there are other deeds of theirs more dreadful even than these, though I should be unable to find out all who have suffered from them.

54.38The thing, however, which is the most impudent of all that he is going to do, as I hear, I think it better to warn you of in advance. For they say that he will bring his children, and, placing them by his side, will swear by them, imprecating some dread and awful curses of such a nature that a person who heard them and reported them to me was amazed. Now, men of the jury, there is no way of withstanding such audacity; for, I take it, the most honorable men and those who would be the last to tell a falsehood themselves, are most apt to be deceived by such people—not but that they ought to look at their lives and characters before believing them. 54.39The contempt, however, which this fellow feels for all sacred things I must tell you about; for I have been forced to make inquiry. For I hear, then, men of the jury, that a certain Bacchius, who was condemned to death in your court, and Aristocrates, the man with the bad eyes, and certain others of the same stamp, and with them this man Conon, were intimates when they were youths, and bore the nickname Triballi note; and that these men used to devour the food set out for Hecatê note and to gather up on each occasion for their dinner with one another the testicles of the pigs which are offered for purification when the assembly convenes, note and that they thought less of swearing and perjuring themselves than of anything else in the world. 54.40Surely Conon, a man of that sort, is not to be believed on oath; far from it indeed. No; the man who would not swear by any object which your custom does not recognize even an oath which he intended to observe, and would not even think of doing so by the lives of his children, but would suffer anything rather than that; and who, if forced to swear, will take only a customary oath, imprecating destruction upon himself, his race, and his house, is more to be believed than one who swears by his children or is ready to pass through fire. note I, then, who on every account am more worthy to be believed than you, Conon, offered to take the oath here cited, note not that through readiness to do anything whatsoever I might avoid paying the penalty for crimes which I had committed, as is the case with you, but in the interest of truth, and in order that I might not be subjected to further outrage, and as one who will not allow his case to be lost through your perjury.

Read the challenge.Challenge

54.41This oath I was at that time ready to take, and now, to convince you and those who stand gathered about, I swear by all the gods and goddesses that I have in very truth suffered at the hands of Conon this wrong for which I am suing him; that I was beaten by him, and that my lip was cut open so that it had to be sewn up, and that it is because of gross maltreatment that I am prosecuting him. If I swear truly, may many blessings be mine, and may I never again suffer such an outrage; but, if I am forsworn, may I perish utterly, I and all I possess or ever may possess. But I am not forsworn; no, not though Conon should say so till he bursts. 54.42Therefore, men of the jury, since I have shown you all the just arguments which I have to present, and have furthermore added an oath, it is but right that you should feel toward Conon on my behalf the same resentment which each one of you, had he been the victim, would have felt toward the one who did the wrong, and not to regard an act of this sort as a private matter which might fall to the lot of any man. No; whoever may be the victim, bear him aid and give him the redress that is his due, and loathe those who in the face of their crimes are bold and reckless, but when they are brought to trial are impudent villains, caring nothing for reputation or character or anything else, provided only they can escape punishment. 54.43Of course Conon will entreat you and wail aloud. But consider, which of us is more deserving of pity, a man who has suffered such treatment as I have at the hands of the defendant, if I am to go forth having met with the further disgrace of losing my suit, or Conon, if he is to be punished? Is it to the advantage of each one of you that a man be permitted to indulge in battery and outrage, or that he be not permitted? I certainly think he should not be. Well then, if you let him off, there will be many such; if you punish him, fewer.

54.44I might have much to say, men of the jury, about the services we have rendered you, I, and my father while he lived, both as trierarchs and in the army, and in performing whatever duty was laid upon us, and I could show that neither the defendant nor any of his sons have rendered any service; but the allowance of water is not sufficient nor is it at this time a question of such services. For, if it were indeed our lot to be by common consent regarded as more useless and more base than Conon, we are not, I suppose, to be beaten or maltreated.

I do not know what reason there is why I should say more; for I believe that nothing which I have said has escaped you. note

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