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Second Philippic

6.1Whenever, men of Athens, we are discussing Philip's intrigues and his violations of the peace, I observe that all the speeches on our side are manifestly inspired by justice and generosity, and those who denounce Philip are all felt to be saying exactly the right thing; but of the much needed action, which alone would make the speeches worth hearing, little or nothing ensues. 6.2Unfortunately all our national affairs have now reached to such a pass, that the more completely and manifestly Philip is convicted of violating the peace with us and of plotting against the whole of Greece, the more difficult it is to suggest the right course of action. 6.3The reason, Athenians, is this. Though all who aim at their own aggrandizement must be checked, not by speeches, but by practical measures, yet, in the first place, we who come before you shrink from any definite proposal or advice, being reluctant to incur your displeasure; we prefer to dilate on Philip's shocking behavior and the like topics; and, secondly, you who sit here are indeed better equipped than Philip for making speeches about justice and for appreciating them in the mouth of another, but, when it comes to hindering the accomplishment of his present plans, you remain utterly inactive. 6.4The result is, I suppose, inevitable and perhaps reasonable. Where either side devotes its time and energy, there it succeeds the better—Philip in action, but you in argument. So if you still think it enough to employ the sounder arguments, that is easy; your task entails no trouble. 6.5But if you have to devise means whereby our present fortunes shall be repaired, and their further decline shall not take us completely by surprise, and we shall not be confronted by a mighty power which we shall be unable even to withstand, then our method of deliberation must be changed, and all who speak and all who listen must choose the best and safest policy instead of the easiest and most agreeable.

6.6In the first place, Athenians, if anyone views with confidence the present power of Philip and the extent of his dominions, if anyone imagines that all this imports no danger to our city and that you are not the object of his preparations, I must express my astonishment, and beg you all alike to listen to a brief statement of the considerations that have led me to form the opposite conclusion and to regard Philip as our enemy. Then, if you think me the better prophet, adopt my advice; if you prefer those who have so confidently trusted him, give them your allegiance. 6.7Now I, men of Athens, reason thus. What did Philip first get under his control after the Peace? Thermopylae and the Phocian government. Well, what did he make of these? He chose to act in the interests of Thebes, not of Athens. And why so? Because, I believe, guided in his calculations by ambition and the desire of universal dominion, regardless of the claims of peace and quietness and justice, 6.8he rightly saw that to our city and our national character he could offer nothing, he could do nothing, that would tempt you from selfish motives to sacrifice to him any of the other Greek states, but that you, reverencing justice, shrinking from the discredit involved in such transactions, and exercising due and proper forethought, would resist any such attempt on his part as stoutly as if you were actually at war with him. 6.9But as to the Thebans, he believed—and the event justified him—that in return for benefits received they would give him a free hand for the future and, so far from opposing or thwarting him, would even join forces with him, if he so ordered. Today, on the same assumption, he is doing the Messenians and the Argives a good turn. That, men of Athens, is the highest compliment he could pay you. 6.10For by these very acts you stand judged the one and only power in the world incapable of abandoning the common rights of the Greeks at any price, incapable of bartering your devotion to their cause for any favor or any profit. And it was natural that he should form this opinion of you and the contrary opinion of the Argives and Thebans, because he not merely looks to the present, but also draws a lesson from the past. 6.11For I suppose he learns from history and from report that your ancestors, when they might, at the price of submission to the Great King, have become the paramount power in Greece, not only refused to entertain that proposal, conveyed to them by Alexander, an ancestor of Philip's line, but chose to quit their homes and endure every hardship, and thereafter wrought those deeds which all men are always eager to relate, though no one has ever been able to tell them worthily; and therefore I shall not be wrong in passing them over, for they are indeed great beyond any man's power of speech. On the other hand, he learns that the ancestors of these Thebans and Argives either fought for the barbarians or did not fight against them. 6.12He knows, then, that they both will pursue their private interests, irrespective of the common advantage of the Greeks. So he thought that if he chose you, he would be choosing friends, and that your friendship would be based on justice; but that if he attached himself to the others, he would find in them the tools of his own ambition. That is why, now as then, he chooses them rather than you. For surely it is not that he regards their fleets as superior to ours, nor that, having discovered some inland empire, he has abandoned the seaboard with its harbors, nor yet that he has a short memory for the speeches and the promises that gained for him the Peace. note

6.13But it may be urged, by someone who claims to know all about it, that he acted on that occasion, not from ambition or from any of those motives with which I find fault, but because the claims of the Thebans were more just than ours. Now that is precisely the one argument that he cannot use now. What! The man who orders the Lacedaemonians to give up their claims to Messene, how could he pretend that he handed over Orchomenus and Coronea to Thebes because he thought it an act of justice?

6.14“But,” it will be urged (for there is this excuse left), “he was forced to yield against his better judgement, finding himself hemmed in between the Thessalian cavalry and the Theban heavy infantry.” Good! So they say he is waiting to regard the Thebans with suspicion, and some circulate a rumor that he will fortify Elatea. note 6.15That is just what he is “waiting” to do, and will go on “waiting,” in my opinion. But he is not “waiting” to help the Messenians and Argives against the Lacedaemonians: he is actually dispatching mercenaries and forwarding supplies, and he is expected in person with a large force. What! The Lacedaemonians, the surviving enemies of Thebes, he is engaged in destroying; the Phocians, whom he has himself already destroyed, he is now engaged in preserving! And who is prepared to believe that? 6.16For my part I do not believe that Philip, if he acted in the first place reluctantly and under compulsion, or if he were now inclined to throw the Thebans over, would be persistently opposing their enemies. But if we may judge from his present conduct, it is plain that on that occasion also he acted from deliberate choice, and everything, if correctly observed, points to the fact that all his intrigues are directed against Athens. 6.17And today at any rate this policy is in a measure forced upon him. For observe! He wants to rule, and he has made up his mind that you, and you only, are his rivals. He has long injured you; of nothing is he more conscious than of that. For it is by holding the cities which are really yours that he retains safe possession of all the rest, and he feels that if he gave up Amphipolis and Potidaea, his own country would not be safe for him. 6.18He knows, then, these two facts—that he is intriguing against you and that you are aware of it. Assuming that you are intelligent, he thinks you are bound to hate him, and he is on the alert, expecting some blow to fall, if you can seize an opportunity and if he cannot get in his blow first. 6.19That is why he is wide awake and ready to strike, and why he is courting certain people to the detriment of our city—Thebans, I mean, and those Peloponnesians who share their views. He imagines that their cupidity will lead them to accept the present situation, while their natural dullness will prevent them from foreseeing anything that may follow. Yet men of even moderate intelligence might perceive some clear indications, which I had occasion to point out to the Messenians and the Argives, and which may perhaps with advantage be repeated to you.

6.20“Can you not imagine,” I said, addressing the Messenians, “how annoyed the Olynthians would have been to hear a word said against Philip in the days when he was handing over to them Anthemus, to which all the former kings of Macedonia laid claim, when he was making them a present of Potidaea, expelling the Athenian settlers, and when he had taken upon himself the responsibility of a quarrel with us and had given them the territory of Potidaea for their own use? Do you imagine they expected to be treated as they have been, or would have believed anyone who suggested it? 6.21Nevertheless,” said I, “after a brief enjoyment of other men's territory, they have long been robbed by Philip of their own, expelled with contumely, not merely vanquished but betrayed, bought and sold by their own country-men. For truly such close communications with tyranny corrupt good constitutions. 6.22And what of the Thessalians? Do you imagine,” I said, “that when he was expelling their despots, or again when he was presenting them with Nicaea and Magnesia, they ever dreamed that a Council of Ten note would be established among them, as it is today, or that the same man who restored to them the Amphictyonic meeting at Thermopylae would also appropriate their own peculiar revenues? Impossible! But so it came to pass, as all men may know. 6.23You,” I said, “gaze with wonder at Philip as he gives away this and promises that, but if you are truly wise, pray that you may never find that he has deceived and cozened you. Verily,” I said, “there are manifold means devised by states for protection and safety—stockades, ramparts, fosses and the like. 6.24And all these are wrought by hand and entail expense. But there is one common bulwark which the instinct of sensible men possesses within itself, a good and safe one for all, but invaluable for democracies against tyrants. And what is that bulwark? It is mistrust. Guard that; hold fast to that. If you preserve it, no harm can touch you. 6.25What is your object?” I said. “Freedom. Then do you not see that Philip's very titles are utterly irreconcilable with that? For every king, every despot is the sworn foe of freedom and of law. Beware,” said I, “lest, seeking to be rid of war, you find a master.”

6.26That is what I said to them, and they shouted their approval; and they heard many other speeches from the envoys, both in my presence and again later, as it seems; but they are none the more likely to do without Philip's friendship and Philip's promises. 6.27And, indeed, it is not strange that Messenians and other Peloponnesians should sometimes act against their better judgement; but you, who know, both from your own intelligence and from our speeches, how you are compassed about with plots and snares, you will, as it seems to me, find to your surprise that through having done nothing in time, you have submitted to everything. So much does the pleasure and ease of the moment prevail over that which at some future time is likely to be advantageous.

6.28On your practical measures you will, if you are wise, deliberate hereafter by yourselves note; at present I will suggest the immediate answer which it would be proper for you to adopt.Answer

It would indeed have been fair, men of Athens, to call upon those who conveyed to you Philip's promises, note on the strength of which you were induced to conclude the Peace. 6.29For I should never myself have consented to serve on the embassy, nor would you, I am sure, have suspended military operations, if you had imagined that Philip after securing peace would act as he has done; but his words at the time were very different from his present actions. Yes, and there are others who ought to be called upon. Whom do I mean? The men who, when peace was made and when I, returning from the second embassy—that sent to administer the oaths—found that the state was being imposed upon, and spoke out and protested and refused to give up Thermopylae and the Phocians— 6.30the men, note I say, who told you that I, being a water-drinker, was naturally a disagreeable, cross-grained fellow, and that Philip, if he got through the Pass, would do just what you would pray for, would fortify Thespiae and Plataea, and humble the Theban pride, and dig a trench across the Chersonese note at his own charges, and restore to you Euboea and Oropus in lieu of Amphipolis. All this was said from this very platform, as I am sure you recollect, although you are not remarkable for keeping in mind those who injure you. 6.31And the crowning disgrace is that your posterity also is bound by the same peace which these hopes prompted you to conclude; so completely were you led astray. Why do I mention this now and assert that these men ought to be called upon? I vow that I will boldly tell you the whole truth and keep nothing back. 6.32It is not that by descending to abuse I may lay myself open to retaliation in your presence, note while I give those who from the first have fallen foul of me an excuse for making further profit out of Philip. Nor do I wish to indulge in idle talk. But I think that one day Philip's policy will cause you more distress than it does now, 6.33for I see the plot thickening. I hope I may prove a false prophet, but I fear the catastrophe is even now only too near. So when you can no longer shut your eyes to what is happening, when you do not need me or someone else to tell you, but can all see for yourselves and be quite certain that all this is directed against you, then I expect you will be angry and exasperated. 6.34Yes, I am afraid that, since the ambassadors have kept silence about the services for which they know they have been bribed, those who are trying to repair some of the losses that these men have caused may chance to fall under your displeasure; for I observe that people vent their wrath as a rule, not on those who are to blame, but chiefly on those who are within their reach. 6.35Now therefore, while the danger is in the future and is gathering head, while we can still hear one another speak, I want to remind each one of you, however clearly he knows it, who it is that persuaded you to abandon the Phocians and Thermopylae, the command of which gave Philip the command also of the road to Attica and the Peloponnesus, and who it is that has forced you to take counsel, not for your rights and interests abroad, but for your possessions here at home and for the war in Attica, a war which will bring distress on every one of us, when it does come, but which really dates from that very day. 6.36For if you had not been hoodwinked then, there would be no anxiety in Athens, because Philip could never, of course, have gained command of the sea and reached Attica with his fleet, nor could he have marched past Thermopylae and Phocis, but either he would have acted fairly and observed the Peace by keeping quiet, or he would have been instantly engaged in a war similar to that which made him so anxious for the Peace.

6.37Enough has now been said by way of reminder. May all the gods forbid that my warnings should ever be brought to the sternest test! For I would not willingly see one man suffer, even though he deserve to perish, if his punishment involves the danger and the damage of all.

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