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Against Callicles

55.1There is after all, men of Athens, nothing more vexatious than to have a neighbor who is base and covetous; the very thing which has fallen to my lot. For Callicles, having set his heart on my land, has pestered me with malicious and baseless litigation: in the first place he suborned his cousin to claim my property, 55.2but the claim was proved manifestly false, and I got the better of that intrigue; then, again, he secured two awards against me for default, one in an action brought in his own name for one thousand drachmae, and another in an action which he persuaded his brother Callicrates, who is here in court, to bring. I beg you all to listen to me, and to give me your attention, not because I am going to show myself an able speaker, but in order that you may learn from the facts themselves, that I am manifestly the victim of a malicious and baseless suit.

55.3A single plea, men of Athens, I bring before you to answer all the arguments of these men, a just one. My father built the wall around this land almost before I was born, while Callippides, the father of these men was still living, and was my father's neighbor (and of course he knew the facts better than these men do), and when, moreover, Callicles was already a grown man, and was living at Athens; 55.4and my father lived on more than fifteen years longer, and their father as many. In all these years no one ever came to object or make complaint (and yet of course it often rained then, just as it does now); no one made any opposition at the start, as he would have done, if my father by walling in his land had caused injury to anyone; nor did anyone forbid him, or protest against his action. 55.5And yet, Callicles, when you saw that the watercourse was being dammed, you people might, I suppose, have gone at once to my father and complained angrily, and said to him, “Teisias, what is this that you are doing? Are you damming the watercourse? Why, then the water will burst through on to our land.” In that case, if he had seen fit to desist, you and I would be having no quarrel with one another; or, if he paid no heed, and any such mischief resulted, you would have been able to avail yourself of those who were present as witnesses. 55.6And, by heaven, you ought to have satisfied all men that there was a watercourse, that you might have shown, not by your mere statement, as is the case now, but on a basis of fact, that my father was guilty of wrongdoing. Yet no one of these men ever thought of doing any such thing. For, had you done this, you would not have got an award for default against me, as you now have, nor would you have gained anything by your malicious charges; 55.7for if you had at that time brought a witness and appealed to his testimony, he would now have proved from his own knowledge precisely how the several matters stood, and would have refuted these men who are so glib with their testimony. But, I fancy, you have all come to despise one so young as I am, and so inexperienced in affairs. But, men of Athens, I adduce their own acts as the strongest evidence against them all; for how is it that not one of them ever protested, or lodged a complaint, or even uttered a word of censure, but they were content to submit to this injury?

55.8Well, I think that what I have said is by itself a sufficient answer to their shameless claims; but that you may be assured, men of Athens, on other grounds as well that my father committed no wrong in walling in the land, and that these men have uttered nothing but falsehoods, I shall try to explain to you even more clearly. 55.9That the land is our private property is admitted by these men themselves, and this being the case, men of Athens, if you could see the place, you would know at once that their suit is groundless. For this reason I wanted to refer the case to impartial persons who know the locality, but these men refused, although they now try to maintain that they wished it. This, too, will be made clear to you all in a moment; but give close heed, men of Athens, I beg you in the name of Zeus and the gods! 55.10For the space between my property and theirs is a road, and as a hilly country encircles them, unluckily for the farms, the water that flows down runs, as it happens, partly into the road, and partly on to the farms. And in particular, that which pours into the road, whenever it has free course, flows down along the road, but when there is any stoppage, then it of necessity overflows upon the farms. 55.11Now this particular piece of land, as it happened, was inundated after a heavy downpour had occurred. As a result of neglect, when my father was not yet in possession of the land, but a man held it who utterly disliked the neighborhood, and preferred to live in the city, the water overflowed two or three times, wrought damage to the land, and was more and more making itself a path. For this reason my father, when he saw it (so I am informed by those acquainted with the circumstances), inasmuch as the neighbors also began to encroach upon the property and walk across it, built around it this enclosing wall. 55.12To prove that I am speaking the truth in this, I shall bring before you as witnesses those who know the facts, and circumstantial evidence, men of Athens, far stronger than any testimony. Callicles says that I am doing him an injury by having walled off the watercourse; but I shall show that this is private land and no watercourse. 55.13If it were not admitted to be our private property, we should perhaps be guilty of this wrongdoing, if we had fenced off a piece of public land; but as it is, they do not dispute this, and on the land there are trees planted, vines and figs. Yet who would think of planting these in a watercourse? Nobody, surely. Again, who would think of burying his own ancestors there? No one, I think, would do this either. 55.14Well, both these things have been done. For not only were the trees planted before my father built the wall, but the tombs are old, and were built before we acquired the property. Yet, since this is the case, what stronger argument could there be, men of Athens? The facts afford manifest proof.

Now please take all these depositions, and read them.Depositions

55.15Men of Athens, you hear the depositions. Do they not appear to you to testify expressly that it is a place full of trees, and that it contains some tombs and other things which are to be found in most private pieces of land? Do they not prove also that the land was walled in during the lifetime of their father without opposition being made by these men or any other of the neighbors?

55.16It is worth your while, men of the jury, to hear some remarks also about the other statements made by Callicles. And first, consider whether any one of you has ever seen or heard of a watercourse existing by the side of a road. I think that in the whole country there is not a single one. For what could induce any man to make a channel through his private lands for water which would otherwise have gone rushing down a public road? 55.17And what one of you, whether in the country or the city would allow water passing along the highway to flow into his farm or his house? On the contrary, when it forces its way in, is it not our habit to dam or wall it off? But the plaintiff demands of me that I let the water from the road flow into my land, and, when it has passed beyond his, turn it back again into the road. Well then, the neighbor who farms the land next to his will make complaint; for it is plain that they too will have the same right to protest that the plaintiff has. 55.18But surely, if I am afraid to divert the water into the road, I should be a rash man indeed, if I were to turn it into land. For when I am being sued for penalty because the water flowing from the road spread over the plaintiff's land, what treatment in heaven's name must I expect to meet at the hands of those who suffer damage from the water overflowing from my own land? But if, once I have got the water on my property, I am not to be allowed to drain it off either into the road or onto private land, men of the jury, what course in the name of the gods remains for me? I take it, Callicles will not force me to drink it all up! 55.19Well then, after suffering these annoyances at their hands and many other grievous ones as well, I must be content, not indeed to win my suit, but to escape paying a further penalty! If, men of the jury, there had been a watercourse below me to receive the water, I should perhaps have been wrong in not letting it in on my land, just as on certain other farms there are recognized watercourses in which the first landowners let the water flow (as they do the gutter-drains from the houses), and others again receive it from them in like manner. But on the land in question no one gives the water over to me or receives it from me. How, then, can it be a watercourse? 55.20An overflow of water has ere now, I imagine, often done damage to many who have not guarded against it, just as it has in this case to the plaintiff. But this is the thing that is most outrageous of all, that Callicles, when the water overflows on his land, brings up huge stones and walls it off, but has brought suit for damages against me on the ground that my father was guilty of wrongdoing, because when the same thing happened to his land, he built an enclosing wall. And yet, if all those who have suffered loss because water has flooded their lands in this region are to bring suit against me, my fortune, even if multiplied many times, would not meet the costs. 55.21But these men are so different from the others, that, although they have suffered no damage, as I shall presently make clear to you, while many others have suffered damage in many grievous ways, they alone have had the effrontery to sue me. Yet anyone else would have had better reason to do this than they have; for even if they have suffered damage, it has been through their own fault, though they bring a malicious suit against me; whereas the others, not to speak of anything else, are open to no such imputation.

But that I may not speak confusedly of all matters at once, take, please, the depositions of the neighbors.Depositions

55.22Is it not, then, an outrageous thing, men of the jury, that, while these people have made no complaint against me, although they suffered such heavy damages, nor has anyone else of those who suffered misfortune, but they have accepted their lot, this man should bring a malicious suit? But that he is himself at fault, first in that he made the road narrower by extending his wall beyond the property line, in order to enclose the trees of the road, and, secondly, in that he threw the rubbish into it, from which actions it resulted that he made the road higher as well as narrower—of this you will presently gain clearer knowledge from the depositions. 55.23But I shall now endeavor to show you that he has brought a suit for such heavy damages against me without having suffered any loss or damage worthy of mention. Before they undertook this malicious action against me, my mother and theirs were intimate friends and used to visit one another, as was natural, since both lived in the country and were neighbors, and since, furthermore, their husbands had been friends while they lived. 55.24Well, my mother went to see theirs, and the latter told her with weeping what had happened, and showed her the effects; this, men of the jury, is the way in which I learned all the facts. And I am telling you just what I heard from my mother;—as I speak the truth, so may many blessings be mine; if I am lying, may the opposite befall me. She averred that she saw, and heard from their mother, that some of the barley got wet (she saw them drying it), but not so much as three medimni, note and about half a medimnus of wheat flour; also, she said, a jar of olive oil had tilted over, but had not been damaged. 55.25So trivial, men of the jury, was the loss that befell them, yet for this I am made defendant in a suit with damages fixed at a thousand drachmae! If he repaired an old wall, this surely ought not to be charged against me—a wall moreover which neither fell down nor suffered any damage. So, if I were to concede that I was to blame for everything that occurred, the things that got wet were these. 55.26But since in the beginning my father was within his rights in enclosing the land and these people never made any complaint during the lapse of so long a time, and the others who were severely damaged make no complaint any more than they; and since it is the custom of all of you to drain the water from your houses and lands into the road, and not, heaven knows, to let it flow in from the road, what need is there to say more? These facts of themselves make it clear that the suit against me is a baseless and malicious one, since I am guilty of no wrong, and they have not suffered the damage they allege.

55.27However, to prove to you that they have thrown the rubbish into the road, and by advancing the wall have made the road narrower; and furthermore that I tendered an oath to their mother, and challenged them to have my mother swear in the same terms. Take, please, the depositions and the challengeDepositions

55.28Could there, then, be people more shameless than these, or more plainly malicious pettifoggers—men who, after advancing their own wall and raising the level of the road, are suing others for damages, and that too for a fixed sum of a thousand drachmae, when they have themselves lost fifty at most? And yet consider, men of the jury, how many people in the farm-lands have suffered from floods in Eleusis note and in other places. But, good heavens, I take it each one of these is not going to claim the right to recover damages from his neighbors. 55.29And I, who might well be angry at their having made the road narrower and raised its level, keep quiet, while these men have such superabundance of audacity, it seems, that they even bring malicious suits against those whom they have injured! But surely, Callicles, if you have the right to enclose your land, we too had the right to enclose ours. And if my father wronged you by enclosing his, you are now wronging me by thus enclosing yours. 55.30For it is evident that, since you have built your obstructing wall with large stones, the water will flow back upon my land, and when it so chances, may with an unlooked-for rush throw down my wall. However, I do not on this account claim damages from these men, but I shall submit to the misfortune, and shall try to protect my own property. For I think the plaintiff is acting wisely in walling in his land, but when he brings suit against me, I hold that he is the basest of men and that some ailment has impaired his wits.

55.31Do not be surprised, men of the jury, at the eagerness of the plaintiff or even at his having dared to bring a false charge against me now. For in a previous instance also, when he induced his cousin to lay claim to my land, he produced an agreement which had never been made. And now he has obtained an award against me for default in a similar suit, entering in the indictment the name of Callarus, one of my slaves. For in addition to their other pieces of rascality they have devised this scheme as well—they bring this same suit against Callarus. 55.32And yet what slave would wall in his master's land without orders from his master? But having no other charge to bring against Callarus, they lodge suit against him regarding the wall which my father built more than fifteen years before his death. And if I give up my property, either by selling it to these men or by exchanging it for other land, Callarus is guilty of no wrong, but if I do not choose to give it up to them, then they are being wronged by Callarus in all manner of grievous ways, and they look out for an arbitrator who will adjudge the property to them, or for some sort of compromise by which they will get possession of it!

55.33Now, men of the jury, if those who lay plots against others and bring baseless suits are to have the best of it, all that I have said would prove of no avail; but if you abominate people of that sort, and vote as justice demands, then, as Callicles has suffered no loss and has in no way been wronged either by Callarus or by my father, I do not see what need there is of my saying more.

55.34To prove to you, however, that previously in his designs upon my property he got the help of his cousin, and that he has in his own person obtained an award against Callarus in another such suit—looking upon me with despite because I value the man highly,—and that he has again brought another suit against Callarus,—to prove all these things the clerk shall read you the depositions.Depositions

55.35Do not, then, men of the jury, I beg you in the name of Zeus and the gods, leave me as the prey of these men, when I have done no wrong. I do not care so much about the penalty, hard as that is on persons of small means; but they are absolutely driving me out of the deme by their persecution and baseless charges. To prove that I have done no wrong, I was ready to submit the matter for settlement to fair and impartial men who knew the facts, and I was ready to swear the customary oath; for I thought that would be the strongest proof I could bring before you, who are yourselves upon oath.

Please take the challenge and the remaining depositions.Challenge

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