Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 57 Dem. 58 (Greek) >>Dem. 59

Against Theocrines

58.1Inasmuch as my father, men of the jury, through this man Theocrines was brought to disaster in his relations to the state and condemned to pay a fine of ten talents, and as this fine has been doubled, so that we have not the slightest hope of deliverance, I have thought it my duty to lodge this criminal information with a view to taking vengeance upon the defendant with your aid, without taking into consideration my youth or anything else. 58.2For my father, men of the jury, whose wishes have guided me in all that I have done, declared to all his acquaintances what a misfortune it would be if I should let slip the time in which, thanks to his being still alive, note I have the right to avenge myself on this man, and should make an excuse of my inexperience and my youth, and so look idly on while my father has been deprived of everything, and while Theocrines continues to write indictments contrary to the laws and to harass many citizens with baseless and malicious actions, when he has no right to do so. 58.3I, therefore, beg you all, men of Athens, and beseech you to listen to me with goodwill, first, because I am engaging in this contest to help my father and in obedience to his wishes; and secondly, because I am both young and without experience, so that I must count myself fortunate if, because your goodwill is at hand to help me, I shall be able to show what this fellow has done; 58.4and in addition to these reasons, since I, men of the jury, have been betrayed (for the truth shall be told you) by persons in whom I trusted because of their enmity to the defendant, men who after hearing the facts and promising to stand by me, have now left me in the lurch, note and have come to terms with the defendant in this suit of mine; so that I shall have no one even as a fellow-pleader, unless someone from among my own kinsmen shall come to my aid.

58.5This man was liable to many criminal informations, and has transgressed all the laws which bear upon these matters; but the most unheard of among his acts we found to be the denunciation which he lodged concerning the merchant ship; so that my father put this at the head of the criminal information which he gave me. First, then, the clerk shall read to you the law regarding those who lodge denunciations and do not carry them through, but compromise in defiance of the laws. For it is with this, I think, that I ought to begin my speech. Then will follow the denunciation itself which the defendant lodged against Micon.


58.6This law, men of the jury, expressly prescribes for those who undertake either to prefer indictments or lodge denunciations or do any other of the acts specified in the law, the conditions under which each one of these things is to be done. These are, as you have heard from the law itself, that, if a man prosecutes and does not receive the fifth part of the votes, note he shall pay a fine of a thousand drachmae, and if he does not prosecute, Theocrines, he shall pay another thousand, to the end that no one may bring forward baseless charges, or with impunity make profit for himself or compromise the interests of the state.

I declare, then, that in accordance with this criminal information Theocrines is liable for having denounced Micon of Cholleidae, note and then having accepted money and sold the case instead of prosecuting it. 58.7I believe that I shall prove this clearly. And yet, men of the jury, Theocrines and his clique have gone to all lengths in tampering with the witnesses, and trying to induce them by threats and by bribes not to give testimony. Nevertheless, if you will give me the aid which you are bound to give, and will bid them, or rather join with me in compelling them, either to testify, or to disclaim knowledge under oath, and will not allow them to talk at random, the truth will be brought to light.

Read, then, first the denunciation and then the depositions.Denunciation

58.8This denunciation, men of the jury, was lodged by the defendant after he had cited Micon to appear. It was received by Euthyphemus, the secretary of the overseers of the port, and was exposed to public view for a long time in front of the meeting-place of the board, until this fellow was bribed to allow it to be crossed out, just when the magistrates were summoning him for the preliminary hearing.

To prove that these statements of mine are true, call first Euthyphemus, who was secretary of the board.Deposition

58.9Now read the deposition of those who saw the denunciation exposed to view.Deposition

Call now also the overseers of the port and Micon himself, against whose ship Theocrines lodged the denunciation; and read their depositions.Depositions

58.10Therefore, men of the jury, that Theocrines did lodge a denunciation against the ship of Micon, and that the denunciation was exposed for a long time to public view, and again that, when summoned to the preliminary hearing, he did not answer, nor did he prosecute the case, you have heard from witnesses who were in the best position to know the truth. And that he is liable, not to the fine of a thousand drachmae merely, but also to arrest and to the other punishments which the law declares shall be inflicted upon anyone who prefers baseless charges against merchants and ship-owners, you will readily learn from the law itself. 58.11For the proposer of this law, in his desire that those of the merchants who were guilty of wrongdoing should not go unpunished, and that those who were innocent should not be annoyed, absolutely forbade a person of this sort to make denunciations unless he were confident that he could prove in your court that the things charged in his denunciation had actually taken place; but that if any one of those who bring baseless charges should transgress this law, he should be liable to criminal information and arrest.

However, read them the law itself; for it will explain the matter more clearly than I can do.Law

58.12You hear, men of the jury, the penalties which the laws ordain for the one who brings baseless charges. Well then, if Micon has done any of the acts which Theocrines in his denunciation charged him with doing, and Theocrines has compromised the matter and come to terms with the man, he is guilty of a crime against you all, and would justly be fined a thousand drachmae. But if Micon sailed to a port to which he might legitimately sail (let the defendant choose either alternative), and Theocrines none the less denounces and summons him, he is bringing a baseless charge against the ship-owners, and has violated not only the former law, but also the one just read, and has convicted himself of dishonesty both in his words and in his actions. 58.13For what man would have desisted from an honest course of action by which he would have received the share of the money which the law allows, and have rather chosen to make a trifling gain by a compromise and render himself amenable to these laws, when, as I said just now, he might have received half the sum involved in the denunciation? No man in the world would have done so, men of the jury, unless he were conscious that he was bringing baseless and malicious charges.

58.14These are two laws, then, which this man, who indicts others for illegal acts, has himself violated. There is a third law also, which enacts that any one of the citizens who pleases may lodge criminal informations against those who owe money to the treasury, or if any man is indebted to Athena or to any one of the rest of the gods, or of the eponymous heroes. note In this class the defendant will be shown to belong; for he owes, and has not paid, seven hundred drachmae, which he was condemned at the audit to pay to the eponymus of his tribe.

Read that part of the law.Law

58.15Stop reading. Do you hear, fellow, what it says?—“or to any one of the eponymous heroes.”

Read the deposition of the members of the tribe.Deposition

It is likely indeed, men of the jury, that the defendant would have regard for few persons and for those who spend most of their time at sea, as Micon does, when he felt neither fear nor shame in the presence of his tribesmen, in the first place, when administering their public business in such a way that they convicted him of embezzlement, and in the second place, although he had been fined and knew well that the laws forbade him to prefer indictments until he should pay, when defying the laws and holding that, while other state-debtors could exercise no public function, he had the right to be superior to the laws. 58.16He will, to be sure, assert that it is his grandfather and not himself who is entered on the register as a debtor to the state, and in regard to this will talk at length to prove that it is he. I myself cannot say with certainty which of the two it is; but supposing it to be as he will claim, I think that you will be under far greater obligation to convict him, if this is the case. 58.17For if his grandfather was a state-debtor long ago and the law ordains that he be his grandfather's heir—if, though he long ago lost the right to prefer indictments, he still continued to prefer them; and if he is going to assume that he ought to be acquitted just because he is a scoundrel of the third generation, there will be no justice in his plea, men of the jury.

To prove that it is admitted by Theocrines himself that this debt is his own and that he arranged with the members of the tribe on behalf of his brother and himself for its payment, and that no jury which has regard to its oath could honorably hold that this criminal information is without foundation, take, please, the bill which Scironides introduced in the meeting of the tribe. 58.18For this man Theocrines came forward, admitted the debt and in the presence of the members of the tribe promised to pay it, when he saw that we were coming up and were planning to take a copy of what stood written in the register.Decree

With much better reason, men of Athens, would you commend the members of the tribe Leontis, who compelled Theocrines to pay the seven minae, than this fellow himself.

58.19There is now a fourth law (for I admit that I have looked closely into most of the things which the defendant has done) according to which this Theocrines owes five hundred drachmae, since his father had not paid a fine of that amount to which he had been sentenced for having sought to maintain that the maid-servant of Cephisodorus was a free woman. note No; he fixed things with Ctesicles, the speech-writer, who was acting in the matter for his opponents, in such a way that he should neither pay the damages nor be listed on the acropolis as a debtor to the state. 58.20Despite this fact, I maintain that Theocrines still owes the money according to the law. For if Ctesicles, the resident alien, did make an agreement with this fellow, as one scoundrel with another, that one sentenced to pay the fine in accordance with the law should not be handed over to the collectors, the state should not on that account be robbed of the penalties imposed by the laws. No indeed; it is right for the parties in a suit to make whatever arrangement they may mutually agree upon in private affairs, but in matters which concern the public they must act as the law ordains.

58.21Read, please, the law which declares that anyone who is adjudged to have wrongfully asserted the freedom of a slave shall pay half the sum assessed into the public treasury, and then read also the deposition of Cephisodorus.Law

Now read that law also, which declares that a man shall be regarded as a debtor from the day on which he incurs the fine, whether he has been entered on the public register or not.Law

58.22In what other way, men of the jury, could an honest prosecutor show that the criminal information has been rightly brought against this Theocrines, and that he is liable, not only to the fine of a thousand drachmae, which forms the basis of the information, but to many other penalties as well? To my mind there is no other way. For surely you cannot expect that Theocrines will himself admit the indebtedness to your treasury and say that the criminal information has been lodged against him with justice. On the contrary, he will say anything rather than this. He will bring forward all manner of charges, alleging that a cabal is working against him, and that he has come into this danger because of the indictments which he has preferred for illegal actions. 58.23For this is the last resource of those convicted on the facts of the case—to invent charges and excuses which will make you forget the question before you and give attention to arguments which are alien to the accusation. But I, men of the jury, if I had seen in the laws which have just been read a clause to this effect: “these provisions regarding those who bring malicious charges shall be in force unless Theocrines, a criminal information having been laid against him, shall see fit to denounce Thucydides note or Demosthenes or any other of the men in public life,” I should have kept quiet; but as it is, I find that no such excuse is taken into consideration in the laws, nor is it new, so that those now hearing it for the first time should pay attention to it; on the contrary it has been used ten thousand times by people on trial. 58.24I am also told, men of the jury, by those who are older than I, that it is proper that in no case whatever should pardon be shown to one who transgresses the laws, but if pardon is to be shown, it should not be to those who are habitual offenders or to those who betray the laws for a bribe (surely not that!) but to those who through their own inexperience unintentionally transgress some provision of the law. No man, I take it, would say that Theocrines here belongs to this latter class, but on the contrary that there is no provision of the law with which he is not acquainted.

58.25You must, therefore, watch him, and have regard neither to my words nor to those which will be spoken by his side. For it is not right that those who sit here to defend the laws should pay attention to long speeches and accusations, but only to those which you will all easily follow, and by the help of which you will be thought by all the citizens to have decided this information in a manner worthy of the laws. You should ask in plain terms, “What do you mean, Theocrines, and all you who follow the same pursuits as he does? Do you demand that we who have sworn that we will give our verdict according to the laws shall vote contrary to the laws because of your speeches? 58.26Do you demand this, when Micon, against whom Theocrines filed his denunciation but did not proceed with it, has given evidence before us, and has made himself responsible to these jurors?—when the secretary acknowledges that he received the denunciation from the defendant, and has been made responsible by the deposition which was read a little while ago?—when, furthermore, the overseers of the port have, unwillingly, to be sure, yet nevertheless, given the same testimony as the others?-and when, in addition to all this, testimony is given, as you heard a little while ago, by those who saw the denunciation exposed to public view, and who went before the magistrates?” No; men of the jury, that would not be right.

58.27I am sure that the character of the defendant and his manner of life will not lead you to believe that the depositions which have been read are false. On the contrary, his character far more convincingly than the words which have been spoken proves Theocrines to be such as I portray him. For what is there that a scoundrel and a pettifogger would do that he has not done? Was it not because of his evil character that his brother, who held the office of judge note and who was guided by the defendant's advice, was brought into such bad repute with you, that, when you voted on the question of retaining the magistrates, note he was not only himself rejected, but caused the rejection of the entire board? And had it not been that through the prayers and entreaties of his fellow-judges and through their promise that Theocrines should never again come near the board you were persuaded to give them back their crowns, note would they not have incurred the deepest possible disgrace? 58.28To prove these facts there is no need of my calling witnesses before you, for you all know that in the archonship of Lyciscus note the Thesmothetae were deposed from office by vote of the popular assembly because of Theocrines. Remembering this, you ought to assume that he is no different now from what he was then.

Not long after he was removed from office, when his brother died by a violent death, Theocrines showed himself so utterly heartless toward him that, when he had made inquiry concerning those who had done the deed, and had learned who they were, he accepted a bribe, and let the matter drop. note 58.29His brother at the time of his death held the office of sacrificer, and this office Theocrines continued to fill in defiance of the laws, without having been designated by lot to assume the office or to fill the vacancy. He went around bewailing his brother's fate and declaring that he was going to summon Demochares before the Areopagus, until he made terms with those charged with the crime. An honorable man is he indeed, one whom you can trust, a man quite above the appeal of money! Why, even he would not claim that. Men say that whoever means to administer public affairs with justice and moderation should not have so many wants, but should be superior to all those things which lead people to spend on themselves all that they receive.

58.30Such, then, was his conduct where his brother was concerned; but it is worth your while to hear how he has managed affairs since he came forward in public life (for he declares that he loves you next after his own relatives). I will begin with his conduct toward us. In his accusation against my father, men of the jury, when he was prosecuting the indictment for illegality against him, he stated that a plot had been formed against the boy, note regarding whom the decree was drawn—the decree, that is, in which my father moved that maintenance in the Prytaneum note should be granted to Charidemus, son of Ischomachus. 58.31For Theocrines asserted that, if the boy should return to his father's house, he would be found to have lost all the estate which Aeschylus, his adoptive father, had given him. This assertion was false, for no such thing, men of the jury, has ever happened to any adopted person. He made the further assertion that Polyeuctus, the husband of the boy's mother, had been responsible for the whole scheme, since he wished to retain possession of the boy's property. The jurymen were incensed at his assertions and held that, while the decree itself and the grant were both legal, the boy would in fact be robbed of his estate; and they fined my father ten talents as being in the scheme with Polyeuctus, and gave credence to Theocrines as having come to the boy's defence. 58.32Such, or substantially such, were the proceedings in court. But when this worthy fellow saw that the people were filled with wrath, and that he himself had been believed, as one who was not wholly depraved, he summoned Polyeuctus before the archon and lodged an indictment against him for maltreatment of an orphan, and put the case in the hands of the assessor Mnesarchides. note When, however, he had received two hundred drachmae from Polyeuctus and had sold for a trifling sum those awful charges for which he had fixed the damages in my father's case at ten talents, he dropped the matter, withdrew the indictment, and left the orphan in the lurch.

Call, please, the witnesses who support these statements.Witnesses

58.33If now my father had been well-to-do, men of the jury, and able to provide a thousand drachmae, he would have got off entirely free from the indictment for illegality; for that was the sum the defendant demanded of him.

Call, please, Philippides of Paeania note to whom this fellow Theocrines made this statement, and the others who know that he made it.Witnesses

58.34That Theocrines, men of the jury, if he had been offered the thousand drachmae, would have withdrawn the indictment against my father, I think that you are all convinced, even if no witness had so testified. To prove, however, that he has summoned many other people and preferred indictments against them, and then has compromised the matter, and that he is in the habit of desisting from prosecution on receipt of small bribes, I shall call before you the very persons who paid him, in order that you may not believe him when he declares that it is he who keeps watch over those who propose illegal measures, and that when indictments for illegality are done away with it is the ruin of your democracy. (For it is in this way that all those who sell everything for money are in the habit of talking.)

58.35Call, please, Aristomachus, son of Critodemus, of Alopecê, note for it is he who paid—or rather in whose house were paid—the mina and a half to this man who cannot be bribed, in the matter of the decree which Antimedon proposed on behalf of the people of Tenedos. noteDeposition

Read also in sequence the other depositions of the same sort, and that of Hypereides note and Demosthenes. For this goes beyond all else—that the fellow should be most glad, by selling indictments to get money from men, from whom no one else would think of demanding it. noteDepositions

58.36Well, he will presently say that the criminal information has been lodged against him for this purpose, that he may not proceed with the indictment which he preferred against Demosthenes or with that against Thucydides; for he is a clever fellow at lying and at saying what lacks all foundation. I have looked into this matter also, men of the jury, and will show you that the state suffers not the slightest harm, whether the decree of Thucydides is ratified, or whether it is annulled. And yet it is not right to bring up a defence of this sort before men who have sworn to give a verdict according to the laws. You will, however, presently learn from the indictment itself, that it is merely a pretext to offset the criminal information.

Read these indictments. noteIndictments

58.37Whether the decrees stand as they are, men of the jury, or are annulled (for it makes no difference to me), what does the state either gain or lose? Nothing, in my opinion. They say that the men of Aenos note pay no heed to our state, and that this has come about because of this fellow Theocrines. For being harassed by the false and malicious charges of this man at the time when some of them were turning to Philip and others to Athens, and learning that the decree which Charinus had previously indicted had again been indicted as illegal,—the decree, that is, which Thucydides proposed and which had to do with their contribution note; and learning furthermore that no conclusion was being reached in the matter, 58.38but that, while the people were ready to grant that the Aenians should pay the contribution which they had agreed upon with the general Chares, this abominable fellow had taken upon himself to carry on the same practices as the traitor Charinus—learning all this, I say, they took the course which necessity forced upon them, and chose the least of the evils before them. Yet what must we assume their sufferings at the hands of those who were preferring indictments here to have been, when it seemed to the Aenians preferable to revolt from us, to receive a garrison, and to be subject to barbarians? But you alone, I think, are able to endure the wickedness of these men, you alone, and no one besides among all the Greeks!

58.39That you ought not, then, whether on account of the indictments which have been read, or for any other reason, to acquit Theocrines in defiance of all the laws concerning criminal informations, is reasonably clear from what has been said. I think, however, men of the jury, that you are not aware of the excuses of these men, of their accusations, and their pretended enmities. 58.40For you have not infrequently seen them in the court-rooms and on the platform, declaring that they are personal foes to one another, but in private following the same pursuits and sharing the profits; at one time reviling and abusing one another in foulest terms, and a little later associating in family festivals with these same people, and taking part in the same sacrifices. And not one of these things is perhaps to be wondered at. For the men are by nature base, and they see that you accept such excuses; so what is to prevent their using them and trying to deceive you? 58.41For my part I hold that it is absolutely your duty, men of the jury, to fix your attention on the matter at issue and on nothing else, and then, if my plea seems to you just and in accordance with law, to give me your support, caring nothing for the fact that it is not Demosthenes who prefers the charges, but a mere stripling. You are bound also to hold that the laws are not more binding when one presents them to you carefully in rhetorical language than when they are recited in the speech of every day. No; they are the same laws; and you should all the more readily give aid to the young and inexperienced, since they are less likely to lead you astray. 58.42For that the case is the exact opposite of what my opponent asserts,—that it is not he, but I, who am the victim of a cabal, and that, after certain persons had declared that they would aid me in my suit, I have been betrayed because of the cliques formed by these men,—all this will be made clear to you in the following way. Let the crier here call Demosthenes. He will not come forward. The reason is, not that I have been induced by certain persons to lodge criminal information against this man, but that he and the one just now mentioned have come to terms with one another. To prove that this is true, I will compel to testify both Cleinomachus, who brought them together, and Eubulides, who was with them in Cynosarges note; 58.43and I will further produce what you will all acknowledge when you have heard it, to be, not a weaker, but a stronger proof that my statement is true. For Theocrines here, when prosecuting for illegal action this abominable person, as he will presently call him, and the one who is the cause of his present troubles, openly discharged him from the indictment, in which he had fixed the penalty at ten talents. How? By doing nothing startling, but the very thing that others of his stamp have done. When the indictment was called, someone filed an affidavit for postponement, declaring that Demosthenes was ill—Demosthenes, who was going about and abusing Aeschines. This enemy of his, then, this fellow has let off, and he neither at the time filed a counter-affidavit, nor did he subsequently call the case for trial. Are not these men manifestly hoodwinking you, when you entertain the idea that they are personal foes?

Read the depositions.Depositions

58.44It is not right, then, men of the jury, that you any more than we should listen to those who will declare that they are going to speak in the interest of Theocrines because of their enmity to Demosthenes. No; if they are in truth enemies of Demosthenes, you should bid them bring their indictments against him, and not permit him to propose illegal decrees. These people too are clever, and you are more apt to give them credence. They will not, however, take the course which I mention. For what reason? Because they claim to be at war with one another, although they are not at war.

58.45With reference to the enmity of these people you could give me more exact information than I can give you. I should be glad, however, to ask Theocrines in your presence, if only he would give me an honest answer, what he would have done—he who declares that he has been assigned the duty of putting a stop to the proposers of illegal decrees—if anyone, after speaking to the whole body of citizens in the assembly and winning their assent, had proposed a decree, permitting those who had lost their civic rights and those indebted to the public treasury to indict, denounce, and lodge criminal informations—in a word to do all the things which the law now forbids them to do— 58.46would he have indicted for illegality the one who proposed that decree, or would he not? If he says he would not, how can you believe him when he states that he is on the watch for those who propose illegal decrees? And if he would have brought in an indictment, is it not an outrageous thing, that when another proposed the bill, he should prevent its being finally enacted, to the end that all should not have this privilege, and should put a stop to the matter by preferring an indictment, plainly writing by its side the words of the laws; 58.47and yet should now, without having won the people's consent or made the matter public, himself continue to prefer indictments, when the laws forbid him to do so? And he will say presently that he is being abominably treated if he is not to be allowed to continue to do this, and will rehearse the penalties provided by the laws, to which he will be liable, if convicted. Is it not an outrage that he should flout the laws, but claim that there has been granted to him by you a privilege so great that no one else has dared even to ask for it?

58.48That in regard to the criminal information, therefore, neither Theocrines nor anyone of those who speak in his behalf will have any just argument to advance, I take it you are all pretty well assured. I fancy, however, that they will try to maintain that criminal informations may not be lodged against those who are not registered on the Acropolis, note and that it is not right to consider those as debtors whose names no one has given over to the collectors, 58.49just as though you were unaware of the law which declares a man a debtor from the day on which the penalty has been imposed or on which he has transgressed the law or the decree; or as if it were not clear to everybody that there are many ways in which people who wish to obey the laws become debtors to the treasury and meet the obligation. This is plain from the law itself.

Take this law again, please.Law

Do you hear, you abominable beast, what the statute says? “From the day on which the penalty shall be imposed or on which he transgresses the law.”

58.50I hear that they are going to produce also that law which ordains that, in the interest of those who are inscribed on the register, whatever portion of the debt be paid shall be erased, and they will ask how men are to make erasures, when the debt has not even been entered on the register; as if you did not know that this statute has to do with debtors who are registered, while to those who are not registered but owe money that other law applies, which declares that one is a debtor from the day on which the penalty is incurred or on which he transgresses the law or the decree. 58.51Why, then, he will ask, do you not indict me for non-insertion in the register, seeing that I am a debtor, and not registered? Because the law ordains that indictments for non-insertion shall be lodged, not against those who are debtors and not registered, but against those who, although they have been registered and have not paid their debt, nevertheless have their names erased.

Take the law, please, and read it.Law

58.52You hear the law, men of the jury, hear that it expressly declares that, if any one of those indebted to the treasury shall have his name erased without having discharged his debt to the state, an indictment for non-insertion in the register may be brought against him before the Thesmothetae, but not against a debtor who has not been registered. Against persons of this class it ordains that there shall be a criminal information and other legal penalties. But why do you, Theocrines, try to teach me all the ways in which one may avenge oneself upon one's enemies, instead of making a defence in the action in which you have come into court?

58.53Moerocles, note men of the jury, who proposed the decree against those who injure merchants, and who persuaded, not you alone, but your allies as well, to organize a sort of police to repress the wrongdoers, will not be ashamed presently on behalf of Theocrines to speak in opposition to his own decree. 58.54On the contrary, he will have the audacity to advise you that you ought not to punish, but to acquit, the one who has thus manifestly been convicted of lodging false denunciations against the merchants; as if his measures for purging the sea had no other purpose than that voyagers who had come safely through the dangers of the open sea might pay money to these people in the harbor; or as if it were any advantage to the merchants that, after completing a long voyage without mishap, they should fall into the hands of Theocrines. 58.55For my part, I think that, while the generals and those in command of your ships of war, and not you, are to blame for mishaps which occur during a voyage, yet for mishaps in the Peiraeus and before the magistrates you are to blame, since you have all these persons under your control. Wherefore it is even more necessary to watch those who transgress the laws here at home than those who fail to abide by your decrees abroad, in order that you may not yourselves be thought to look with complaisance upon what is going on and in a measure to connive at the doings of these men. 58.56For surely, Moerocles, we are not now going to exact ten talents from the Melians note in accordance with the terms of your decree, because they gave harborage to the pirates, and yet suffer this man to go free who has transgressed both your decree and the laws which maintain our state. And shall we prevent from wrongdoing the islanders, against whom we must man our ships in order to hold them to their duty, but you abominable creatures, upon whom these jurymen should inflict the penalty according to the laws, while they sit right here—shall we let you go? You will not, at least if you are wise.

Read the stelê. noteStele

58.57Regarding the laws, then, and the case before you I do not know what need there is to say more; for, I take it, you have been adequately informed. It is my purpose, after begging justice at your hands for my father and myself, to come down from the platform and trouble you no further. I felt, men of the jury, that it was my duty to come to my father's aid, and I thought that this course was just; so I lodged this criminal information, as I told you at the outset, 58.58although I knew well that those who wished to calumniate me would find words which would fling reproach upon my youth, while others would praise me and hold that I was acting wisely in seeking to take vengeance on the enemy of my father. However, I knew that, while the effect on my hearers would be as fortune might determine, I was none the less in duty bound to carry out the command laid upon me by my father, especially as it was a just one. 58.59For when, pray, should I come to his aid? Should it not be now, when the opportunity of avenging him in accordance with the laws is open to me, when I myself share in my father's misfortune, and he has been left desolate? This is precisely what has now come about. For, in addition to our other misfortunes, men of the jury, this too has befallen us: everybody urges us on, expresses sympathy for what has happened, says that we have been outrageously treated, and that the defendant is liable to the criminal information; yet no one of those who say these things is willing to cooperate with us or declares his readiness openly to incur the enmity of Theocrines. So true is it that with some people the love of right is not strong enough to lead them to speak out frankly. 58.60And, men of the jury, while many misfortunes have befallen us in a short period of time because of this fellow Theocrines, no one of them is more grievous than the present one, that, namely, my father, to whom the wrong was done and who could set forth to you the cruel and illegal acts of Theocrines, must keep silent (for the laws so bid), and I, who am unequal to all these tasks, must I do the talking; and whereas other youths of my age are aided by their fathers, my father now rests his hopes on me.

58.61Seeing, then, that we are engaged in so unequal a contest, we beg you all to come to our aid and to make it clear to all men that, whether a boy or an old man, or one of any age, comes before you in accordance with the laws, he will obtain complete justice. The honorable course for you, men of the jury, is, not to put the laws or your own selves in the power of those who speak, but to keep the speakers in your power, and to make a distinction between those who speak well and lucidly, and those who speak what is just; for it is concerning justice that you have sworn to cast your votes. 58.62For no man surely will persuade you that there will be any lack of politicians like the defendant, or that the state will be less well administered because of that. Indeed the opposite is the case, as I hear from men older than myself. For they tell us that the state fared best when men of moderation and restraint were in public life. Would one find Theocrines and his fellows to be good counsellors? No; they say not a word in the assembly, but get money by indicting those who do speak there. 58.63And this is an extraordinary thing: they make their living by pettifoggery, yet they say they get nothing from the state, and, while they possessed nothing before coming to you, now that they are well-to-do they do not even feel grateful to you, but go about saying that the people are fickle and surly and thankless, as if you prospered because of these men, and not they because of the people! But after all it is natural for them to say this, when they see how easy-going you are. For you have never punished any one of them in the way his wickedness deserves, but you put up with their saying that the safety of the democracy comes from those who bring indictments and baseless actions; than whom no more pernicious class exists. 58.64For in what could anyone find these people useful to the state? They punish wrongdoers, it will be said, and through them the number of wrongdoers is lessened. Not so, men of the jury; it is even increased; for those who are minded to do evil, knowing that a portion of their gains must be given to these men, of necessity determine to exact more from the rest, that they may have enough to spend, not only upon themselves, but upon these men as well. 58.65Against all others who in their wrongdoing work harm upon those who come into contact with them men may protect themselves, some by setting a guard over their household effects, others by staying at home at night, so as to suffer no harm, and again, by taking precautions in one way or another men can guard against the plots of those who wish to work them harm; but against pettifoggers like this man—whither can one go to win security from them? The things which are a means of escape from other crimes are the stock-in-trade of these men—the laws, that is, the courts, witnesses, assemblies. It is here that they show their strength, counting as friends those who offer them money, and the quiet and wealthy people as their foes.

58.66Remember, therefore, men of the jury, the wickedness of these men, and remember also our ancestors, of whom Epichares, my grandfather, was victor in the foot-race for boys at Olympia and won a crown for the city, and enjoyed good report among your ancestors as long as he lived; whereas we, thanks to this god-detested fellow, have been deprived of our citizenship in that state 58.67in defence of which Aristocrates, son of Scelius, the uncle of my grandfather Epichares, whose name my brother here bears, performed many glorious deeds, when our country was at war with the Lacedaemonians. He razed to the ground Eetioneia, note into which Critias note and his faction were about to receive the Lacedaemonians, destroyed the fortress raised against us, and restored the people to their country, incurring himself dangers not like those which we are incurring, but dangers in which even disaster is glorious; and he put a stop to those who were plotting against you. 58.68For his sake, even if we had been like this fellow Theocrines, you would with good right have preserved us; to say nothing of our being better than he and of our pleading a cause which is just.

We will not burden you by constantly repeating these things, for the defendant has brought us into such plight that, as I said at the outset, we have no hope of sharing in that freedom of speech which is granted even to aliens. 58.69In order, therefore, that, if we get nothing else, we may at least have the satisfaction of seeing the defendant also reduced to silence, come to our aid; have pity on those of our family who have died for their country; compel Theocrines to make his defence on the questions raised by the indictment itself; and show yourselves as judges of his words such as he showed himself as our accuser. 58.70For he, after deceiving the jury, refused to propose any moderate penalty for my father, although I pleaded with him earnestly and clasped his knees in entreaty; but, as if my father had betrayed our country, he fixed the penalty at ten talents. We, therefore, beg and implore you: give us a just verdict.

Come to our aid, anyone who has anything to say, and plead for us. Mount the platform.

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