Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 55 Dem. 56 (Greek) >>Dem. 57

Against Dionysodorus

56.1I am a sharer in this loan, men of the jury. We, who have engaged in the business of overseas trade and put our money in the hands of others, have come to know one thing very clearly: that in all respects the borrower has the best of us. He received the money in cash which was duly acknowledged, and has left us on a scrap of paper note which he bought for a couple of coppers, his agreement to do the right thing. We on our part do not promise to give the money, we give it outright to the borrower. 56.2What, then, do we rely upon, and what security do we get when we risk our money? We rely upon you, men of the jury, and upon your laws, which ordain that all agreements into which a man voluntarily enters with another shall be valid. But in my opinion there is no use in your laws or in any contract, if the one who receives the money is not thoroughly upright in character, and does not either fear you note or regard the rights of the one making the loan. 56.3Now Dionysodorus here does neither the one nor the other, but has come to such a pitch of audacity, that although he borrowed from us three thousand drachmae upon his ship on the condition that it should sail back to Athens, and although we ought to have got back our money in the harvest-season of last year, he took his ship to Rhodes and there unladed his cargo and sold it in defiance of the contract and of your laws note; and from Rhodes again he despatched his ship to Egypt, and from thence back to Rhodes, and to us who lent our money at Athens he has up to this day neither paid back our money nor produced to us our security. 56.4Nay, for two years now he has been using our money for his profit, keeping the loan and the trade and the ship that was mortgaged to us, and notwithstanding this he has come into your court, intending plainly to get us fined with the sixth part of the damages, note and to put us in prison, note besides robbing us of our money. We therefore, men of Athens, beg and implore you one and all to come to our aid, if you find that we are being wronged. But first I want to explain to you how the loan was contracted; for thus it will be easiest for you also to follow the case.

56.5This Dionysodorus, men of Athens, and his partner Parmeniscus came to us last year in the month Metageitnion, note and said that they desired to borrow money on their ship on the terms that she should sail to Egypt and from Egypt to Rhodes or Athens, and they agreed to pay the interest for the voyage to either one of these ports. 56.6We answered, men of the jury, that we would not lend money for a voyage to any other port than Athens, and so they agreed to return here, and with this understanding they borrowed from us three thousand drachmae on the security of their ship for the voyage out and home; and they entered into a written agreement to these terms. In the contract Pamphilus here was named the lender; but I, although not mentioned, was a sharer in the loan.

And first the clerk shall read to you the agreement.Agreement

56.7In accordance with this agreement, men of the jury, Dionysodorus here and his partner Parmeniscus, when they had got the money from us, despatched their ship from Athens to Egypt. Parmeniscus sailed in charge of the ship; Dionysodorus remained at Athens. All these men, I would have you know, men of the jury, were underlings and confederates of Cleomenes, the former ruler of Egypt, note who from the time he received the government did no small harm to your state, or rather to the rest of the Greeks as well, by buying up grain for resale and fixing its price, and in this he had these men as his confederates. 56.8Some of them would despatch the stuff from Egypt, others would sail in charge of the shipments, while still others would remain here in Athens and dispose of the consignments. Then those who remained here would send letters to those abroad advising them of the prevailing prices, so that if grain were dear in your market, they might bring it here, and if the price should fall, they might put in to some other port. This was the chief reason, men of the jury, why the price of grain advanced; it was due to such letters and conspiracies. 56.9Well then, when these men despatched their ship from Athens, they left the price of grain here pretty high, and for this reason they submitted to have the clause written in the agreement binding them to sail to Athens and to no other port. Afterwards, however, men of the jury, when the ships from Sicily had arrived, and the prices of grain here were falling, and their ship had reached Egypt, the defendant straightway sent a man to Rhodes to inform his partner Parmeniscus of the state of things here, well knowing that his ship would be forced to touch at Rhodes. 56.10The outcome was that Parmeniscus, the defendant's partner, when he had received the letter sent by him and had learned the price of grain prevailing here, discharged his cargo of grain at Rhodes and sold it there in defiance of the agreement, men of the jury, and of the penalties to which they had of their own will bound themselves, in case they should commit any breach of the agreement, and in contempt also of your laws which ordain that shipowners and supercargoes shall sail to the port to which they have agreed to sail or else be liable to the severest penalties.

56.11We on our part, as soon as we learned what had taken place, were greatly dismayed at his action, and went to this man, who was the prime mover in the whole plot, complaining angrily, as was natural, that although we had expressedly stipulated in the agreement that the ship should sail to no other port than to Athens, and had lent our money on this condition, he had left us open to suspicion with people who might wish to accuse and say that we also had been partners to the conveyance of the grain to Rhodes; and complaining also that he and his partner, despite their agreement to do so, had not brought the ship back to your port. 56.12When, however, we made no headway in talking about the agreement and our rights, we demanded that he at any rate pay us back the amount loaned with the interest as originally agreed upon. But the fellow treated us with such insolence as to declare that he would not pay the interest stipulated in the agreement. “If, however,” he said, “you are willing to accept the interest calculated in proportion to the voyage completed, I will give you,” said he, “the interest as far as Rhodes; but more I will not give.” Thus he made a law for himself and refused to comply with the just terms of the agreement.

56.13When we said that we could not acquiesce in anything like this, considering that, were we to do so, it would be an admission that we too had been engaged in conveying grain to Rhodes, he became even more insistent, and came up to us, bringing a host of witnesses, asserting that he was ready to pay us the principal with interest as far as Rhodes; not that he had any more intention to pay, men of the jury, but suspecting that we should be unwilling to accept the money on account of the charges to which our action might give rise. The result made this clear. 56.14For when some of your citizens, men of Athens, who chanced to be present advised to accept what was offered and to sue for the amount under dispute, but not to admit the reckoning of the interest to Rhodes until the case should be settled we agreed to this. We were not unaware, men of the jury, of our rights under the agreement, but we thought it better to suffer some loss and to make a concession, so as not to appear litigious. But when the fellow saw that we were on the point of accepting his offer, he said, “Well, then, cancel the agreement.” “We cancel the agreement? 56.15Indeed we will not. However, as far as concerns any money you may pay we will in the presence of the banker agree to annul the agreement; but cancel it in its entirety we will not, until we get a verdict on the matters under dispute. For what just plea shall we have, or on what can we rely when we come to a contest at law, whether we have to appear before an arbitrator or before a court, if we have cancelled the agreement on which we rely for the recovery of our rights?” 56.16Such was our answer to him, men of the jury, and we demanded of this fellow Dionysodorus that he should not disturb or annul the agreement which these men themselves admitted to be binding, but that in regard to the amount he should pay us what he himself acknowledged to be due and to leave the settlement of the sum under dispute (with the understanding that the money was available) to the decision of one or more arbitrators, as he might prefer, to be chosen from among the merchants of this port. Dionysodorus, however, would not listen to anything of this sort, but because we refused to accept what he agreed to pay and cancel the agreement altogether, he has for two years kept and made use of our capital; 56.17and what is the most outrageous thing of all, men of the jury, the fellow himself gets maritime interest note from other people from our money, lending it, not at Athens or for a voyage to Athens, but for voyages to Rhodes and Egypt, while to us who lent him money for a voyage to your port he thinks he need do nothing that justice demands

To prove that I am speaking the truth, the clerk shall read you the challenge which I gave Dionysodorus concerning these matters.Challenge

56.18This challenge, then, we tendered to this Dionysodorus again and again, and we exposed the challenge to public view over a period of many days. He, however, declared that we must be absolute simpletons, if we supposed him to be senseless enough to go before an arbitrator—who would most certainly condemn him to pay the debt—when he might come into court bringing the money with him, and then, if he could hoodwink you he would go back keeping possession of what was another's, and if he could not, he would then pay the money. Thus he showed that he had no confidence in the justice of his case, but that he wished to make trial of you.

56.19You have heard, then, men of the jury, what Dionysodorus has done; and as you have heard I fancy you have long been amazed at his audacity, and have wondered upon what in the world he relies in coming into court. For is it not the height of audacity, when a man who has borrowed money from the port of Athens, 56.20and has expressly agreed in writing that his ship shall return to your port, or that, if she does not, he shall pay double the amount, has not brought the ship to the Peiraeus and does not pay his debt to the lenders; and as for the grain, has unladed that and sold it at Rhodes, and then despite all this dares to look into your faces? 56.21But hear what he says in reply to this. He alleges that the ship was disabled on the voyage from Egypt, and that for this reason he was obliged to touch at Rhodes and unlade the grain there. And as a proof of this he states that he chartered ships from Rhodes and shipped some of his goods to Athens. This is one part of his defence, and here is another. 56.22He claims that some other creditors of his have agreed to accept from him interest as far as Rhodes, and that it would be hard indeed if we should not make the same concession that they have made. And thirdly, besides all this, he declares that the agreement requires him to pay the money if the ship arrives safely, but that the ship has not arrived safely in the Peiraeus. To each of these arguments, men of the jury, hear the just answer that we make.

56.23In the first place, when he says that the ship was disabled, I think it is plain to you all that he is lying. For if his ship had met with this mishap, she would neither have got safely to Rhodes nor have been fit for sailing afterwards. But in fact it is plain that she did get safe to Rhodes and was sent back from thence to Egypt, and that at the present time she is still sailing everywhere except to Athens. And yet is it not outrageous that, when he has to bring his ship back to the port of Athens, he says she was disabled, but when he wants to unlade his grain at Rhodes, then that same ship is seen to be seaworthy?

56.24Why, then, he says, did I charter other ships and tranship my cargo and despatch it here to Athens? Because, men of Athens, neither the defendant nor his partner was owner of the entire cargo, but, I fancy, the supercargoes who were on board despatched their own goods hither, in other bottoms necessarily, seeing that these men had cut short the voyage before the ship reached her destination. As for the goods, however, which were their own, they did not ship these in their entirety to Athens, but sought out what ones had advanced in price. 56.25For why, pray, was it that, when you had hired other bottoms, as you say, you did not tranship the entire cargo of your vessel, but left the grain there in Rhodes? Because, men of the jury, it was to their interest to sell the grain in Rhodes; for they heard that the price had fallen here in Athens, but they shipped to you the other goods, from which they hoped to make a profit. When, then, Dionysodorus, you talk about the chartering of the vessels, you give proof, not that your ship was disabled, but that it was to your advantage to do so.

56.26Concerning these matters, then, what I have said is sufficient, but in regard to the creditors, who, they say, consented to accept from them the interest as far as Rhodes, this has nothing to do with us. If any man has remitted to you any part of what was due him, no wrong is suffered by either party to the arrangement. But we have not remitted anything to you, nor have we consented to your voyage to Rhodes, nor in our judgement is anything more binding than the agreement. 56.27Now what does the agreement say, and to what port does it require you to sail? From Athens to Egypt and from Egypt to Athens; and in default of your so doing, it requires you to pay double the amount. If you have done this, you have committed no wrong; but if you have not done it, and have not brought your ship back to Athens, it is proper that you should suffer the penalty provided by the agreement; for this requirement was imposed upon you, not by some other person, but by yourself. Show, then, to the jury one or the other of two things—that our agreement is not valid, or that you are not required to do everything in accordance with it. 56.28If certain people have remitted anything in your favor, and have been induced on one ground or another to accept interest only as far as Rhodes, does it follow that you are doing no wrong to us, your agreement with whom you have broken in having your ship put into Rhodes? I do not think so. For this jury is not now deciding upon concessions made to you by others, but upon an agreement entered into by you yourself with us. For that the remission of the interest, supposing that it actually took place, as these men allege, was to the advantage of the creditors, is plain to every one of you. 56.29For those who lent their money to these men for the outward voyage from Egypt to Athens, when they reached Rhodes and this man put into that port, suffered no loss, I take it, by remitting the interest and receiving the amount of their loan at Rhodes, and then putting the money to work again for a voyage to Egypt. No; this was more to their advantage than to continue the voyage to this port. 56.30For voyaging from Rhodes to Egypt is uninterrupted, and they could put the same money to work two or three times, whereas here they would have had to pass the winter and to await the season for sailing. These creditors therefore have reaped an additional profit, and have not remitted anything to these men. With us, however, it is not a question of the interest merely, but we are unable to recover even our principal.

56.31Do not, then, listen to him, when he seeks to hoodwink you, and brings before you his transactions with other creditors, but refer him to the agreement and to the rights growing out of it. It remains for me to interpret this matter for you, and the defendant insists upon this very thing, stating that the agreement requires him to repay the loan only if the ship arrives safe. We also maintain that this should be so. 56.32But I should be glad to ask you yourself, Dionysodorus, whether you are speaking of the ship as having been lost, or as having arrived safe. For if the ship has been wrecked and is lost, why do you keep on disputing about the interest and demanding that we accept interest as far as Rhodes? For in that case we have not the right to recover either interest or principal. But if the ship is safe and has not been wrecked, why do you not pay us the money which you agreed to pay? 56.33In what way, men of Athens, can you be most convincingly assured that the ship has reached port safe? In the first instance by the mere fact that she is now at sea, and less clearly by the statements made by these men themselves. For they ask us to accept payment of the principal and a certain portion of the interest, thus implying that the ship has reached port safe, but has not completed her entire voyage. 56.34Now consider, men of Athens, whether it is we who are abiding by the requirements of the contract, or whether it is these men, who have sailed, not to the port agreed upon, but to Rhodes and Egypt, and who, when the ship has reached port safe and has not been lost, claim to be entitled to an abatement of the interest, although they have broken the agreement, and have themselves made a large profit by the carrying of grain to Rhodes, and by keeping and making use of our money for two years. 56.35What they are doing is indeed an unheard-of thing. They offer to pay us the principal of our loan, thus implying that the ship has reached port safe, but they claim the right to rob us of our interest on the ground that she has been wrecked. The agreement, however, does not say one thing about the interest and another about the principal of the loan, but our rights are the same for both and our means of recovery the same.

56.36Please read the agreement again.Agreement

From Athens to Egypt and from Egypt to Athens.

You hear, men of Athens. It says “From Athens to Egypt and from Egypt to Athens.”

Read the rest.Agreement

And if the ship arrives safe at Peiraeus . . .

56.37Men of Athens, it is a very simple thing for you to reach a decision in this suit, and there is no need of many words. That the ship has reached port safe, and is safe, is admitted by these men themselves; for otherwise they would not be offering to pay the principal of the loan and a portion of the interest. She has not, however, been brought back to the Peiraeus. It is for this reason that we, the creditors, claim that we have been wronged, and regarding this we are bringing suit, that, namely she did not make the return voyage to the port agreed upon. 56.38Dionysodorus, however, claims that he is doing no wrong because of this very fact, since he is not bound to pay the interest in its entirety inasmuch as the ship did not complete her voyage to Peiraeus. But what does the agreement say? By Zeus it is not at all what you say, Dionysodorus. No; it declares that if you do not pay both the principal and interest, or if you fail to present the security, plain to see and unimpaired, or if in any other respect you violate the agreement, you are required to pay double the amount.

Read, please, that clause of the agreement.Statement

And if they shall not produce the security, plain to see and unimpaired, or if in any respect they shall violate the agreement, they shall pay double the amount.

56.39Have you, then, at any place whatever produced the ship plain to see since the time you received the money from us? And yet you yourself admit that she is safe. Or have you ever since that time brought her back to the port of Athens, though the agreement expressly stipulates that you shall bring your ship back to the Peiraeus, and produce her plain to see before the lenders? 56.40This is an important point, men of Athens. Just observe the extravagance of his statement. The ship was disabled, so he says, and for this reason he brought her into the port of Rhodes. Well, then, after that she was repaired and became fit for sea. Why, then, my good fellow, did you send her off to Egypt and to other ports, but have never up to this day sent her back to Athens, to us your creditors, to whom the agreement requires you to produce the ship, plain to see and unimpaired, and that too although we made demand upon you again and again and challenged you to do so? 56.41No; you are so bold or rather so impudent, that, while under the agreement you owe us double the amount of our loan, you do not see fit to pay us even the accrued interest, but bid us accept interest as far as Rhodes, as if your command ought to prove of more force than the agreement; and you have the insolence to declare that the vessel did not arrive safe at the Peiraeus; for which you might with justice be condemned to death by the jurors. 56.42For who other than this fellow is to blame, men of the jury, if the ship did not arrive safe at the Peiraeus? Are we to blame, who lent our money expressly for a voyage to Egypt and to Athens, or is it the fault of this fellow and his partner, who after borrowing money on these terms, that the vessel should return to Athens, then took her to Rhodes? And that they did this of their own will and not of necessity is clear on many grounds. 56.43For if what occurred took place against their will, and the ship was really disabled, afterwards, when they had repaired the ship, they would surely not have let her for a voyage to other ports, but would have despatched her to Athens to make amends for the involuntary accident. As it is, however, they have not only made no amends, but to their original wrongdoings they have added others greater far, and have come here to contest the suit as it were in a spirit of mockery, assuming that it will rest with them, if you give judgement against them, merely to pay the principal and interest. 56.44Do not you, then, men of Athens, suffer men of this stamp to have their own way, nor allow them to ride on two anchors, with the hope that, if they are successful, they will retain what belongs to others, and if they are not able to hoodwink you, they will merely pay the bare amount which they owe; but inflict upon them the penalties provided in the agreement. For it would be an outrageous thing, when these men have themselves in writing imposed upon themselves a penalty of double the amount, if they commit any breach of the agreement, that you should be more lenient toward them; especially when you have yourselves been wronged no less than we.

56.45Our claims in the matter, therefore, are few and easy to be remembered. We lent this fellow Dionysodorus and his partner three thousand drachmae for a voyage from Athens to Egypt and from Egypt to Athens; we have not received either principal or interest, but they have kept our money and had the use of it for two years; they have not even to this day brought the ship back to your port, nor produced it plain to see. The agreement, however, declares, that if they fail to deliver up the ship plain to see they shall pay double the amount, and that the money may be recovered from either one or both of them. 56.46These are the just claims with which we have come before you demanding to recover our money through your help, since we cannot get it from these men themselves. Such is the statement of our case. These men, however, while they admit that they borrowed the money and have not paid it back, contend that they are not bound to pay the interest stipulated in the agreement, but the interest as far as Rhodes only, which they made no part of their contract, and to which we have not consented. 56.47Perhaps, men of Athens, if we were trying the case in a Rhodian court, these men might get the better of us, seeing that they have taken grain to Rhodes and sailed in their ship into that port; as it is, however, since we have come before Athenians and our contract called for a voyage to your port, we hold it right that you should give no advantage to men who have wronged you as well as ourselves.

56.48Besides this, men of Athens, you must not forget that, while you are today deciding one case alone you are fixing a law for the whole port, and that many of those engaged in overseas trade are standing here and watching you to see how you decide this question. For if you hold that contracts and agreements made between man and man are to be binding, and show no leniency towards those who transgress them, lenders will be more ready to risk their money, and the business of your port will be increased. 56.49But if shipowners, after engaging in written contracts to sail to Athens, are to be permitted to put their ships into other ports, giving out that they have been disabled, or advancing other pretexts such as these of which Dionysodorus has availed himself, and to reduce the interest in proportion to the length of the voyage which they say they have made instead of paying it according to the agreement, there will be nothing to prevent the voiding of all contracts. 56.50For who is going to be willing to risk his money, when he sees that written agreements are of no force, but that arguments such as these prevail and that the claims of wrongdoers take precedence over what is right? Do not permit this, men of the jury, for it is not to the interest of the mass of your people any more than of those engaged in trade, who are a body of men most useful to your public at large and to the individuals who have dealings with them. For this reason you should be careful of their interests.

I, for my part, have said all that I could; but I desire also to have one of my friends speak in my behalf.

Come forward, Demosthenes.

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