|Hyperides, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Hyp.].
|Hyp. 3 (Greek)
When I told her what had happened and explained that Athenogenes was rude to me and unwilling to come to any reasonable agreement, she said that he was always like that and told me not to worry, as she would support me in everything herself.
Her manner when she said this could not have been more sincere, and she took the most solemn oaths to prove that she was thinking only of my welfare and was telling me the plain truth. So, to be quite honest with you, gentlemen of the jury, I took her at her word. That is how love, I suppose, upsets a man's natural balance when it takes a woman as its ally. She, at any rate, by this act of wholesale trickery pocketed, as a reward for her kindness, a further three hundred drachmas, ostensibly to buy a girl.
Perhaps there is nothing very surprising, gentlemen of the jury, in my having been taken in like this by Antigone, a woman who was, I am told, the most gifted courtesan of her time and who has continued to practise as a procuress . . . has ruined the house of . . . of the deme Chollidae which was equal to any. And yet if that was how she behaved on her own, what do you think her plans are now when she has taken Athenogenes into partnership, who is a speechwriter, a man of affairs and, most significant of all, an Egyptian?
At all events, to make a long story short, she finally sent for me again later and said that after a long talk with Athenogenes she had with difficulty managed to persuade him to release Midas and both his sons for me for forty minas. note She told me to produce the money as quickly as I could before Athenogenes changed his mind on any point.
After I had collected it from every source and been a nuisance to my friends I deposited the forty minas in the bank and came to Antigone. She brought us both together, Athenogenes and myself, and after reconciling us asked us to treat each other as friends in future. I consented to this and Athenogenes, the defendant, replied that I had Antigone to thank for what had passed. “And now,” he said, “I will show you how well I am going to treat you for her sake. note You are going to put down the money,” he went on, “for the liberation of Midas and his sons. Instead I will sell them to you formally as your own, so that no one shall interfere with, or seduce the boy, and also so that the slaves themselves shall abstain from being troublesome, for fear of the consequences.
But this is the chief advantage: under the present arrangement they would think that it was I who had freed them; whereas, if you buy them formally first and then liberate them afterwards at your leisure, they will be doubly grateful to you. However,” he said, “you will become responsible for what money they owe: a debt for some sweet oil to Pancalus and Procles note and any other sums which customers have invested in the perfumery in the ordinary course. It is a trifling amount and much more than counterbalanced by the stocks in the shop, sweet oil, scent-boxes, myrrh” (and he mentioned the names of some other things), “which will easily cover all the debts.”
There, so it seems, gentlemen of the jury, lay the catch, the real point of the elaborate plot. For if I used the money to buy their freedom I was simply losing whatever I gave him without suffering any serious harm. But if I bought them formally and agreed to take over their debts assuming, since I had no previous information, that these were negligible, he meant to set all his creditors and contributors note on me, using the agreement as a trap.
And that is just what he did. For when I accepted his proposals he immediately took a document from his lap and began to read the contents, which were the text of an agreement with me. I listened to it being read, but my attention was concentrated on completing the business I had come for. He sealed the agreement directly in the same house, so that no one with any interest in me should hear the contents, and added with my name that of Nicon of Cephisia.
We went to the perfumery and deposited the document with Lysicles of Leuconoe, and I put down the forty minas and so made the purchase. When this was settled I was visited by the creditors, to whom Midas owed money, and the contributors too, who talked things over with me. In three months all the debts had been declared, with the result that, including repayment of contributions, I owed, as I said just now, about five talents.
When I realized what a plight I was in, at long last I called together my friends and relatives and we read the copy of the agreement in which the names of Pancalus and Polycles note were expressly written with the statement that certain sums were owing to them for sweet oil. These were small amounts, and they were justified in saying that the oil in the shop was equal in value to the money. But the majority of the debts, including the largest, were not given specifically; they were mentioned as an unimportant item in a sort of footnote which ran:
“and any debt which Midas may owe to any other person.” Of the contributions one was noted of which three instalments for repayment were still outstanding. note This was given in the name of Dicaeocrates. But the others, on the strength of which Midas had acquired everything and which were of recent date, were not entered by him in the agreement but kept secret.
On thinking it over we decided to go to Athenogenes and broach the matter. We found him near the perfume stalls and asked him whether he was not ashamed of being a liar and trapping us with the agreement by not declaring the debts beforehand. He replied that he did not know what debts we meant and that we made no impression on him; he had in safe-keeping a document relating to me which covered the transaction. A crowd gathered and overheard the incident, as our altercation took place in the market. Although they gave him a slating and told us to arrest him summarily as a kidnapper, note we thought it best not to do so. Instead we summoned him before you, as the law permits. First of all then, the clerk shall read you the agreement; for you shall have the actual text of the document as evidence of the plot, for which Athenogenes and no other is to blame. Read the agreement.
Well, gentlemen of the jury, you have heard the facts in detail. But Athenogenes will presently tell you that in law whatever agreements one man makes with another are binding. note Yes, my friend, just agreements. But if they are unjust, the opposite is true: the law forbids that they be binding. I will quote the laws themselves to make this clearer to you. For you have reduced me to such a state of fear lest I shall be ruined by you and your craftiness that I have been searching the laws night and day and studying them to the neglect of everything else.
The first law, then, stipulates that people shall not tell lies in the market, which seems to me a most admirable provision. note Yet you lied in the middle of the market when you made the agreement to defraud me. But if you show that you declared to me beforehand the contributions and the debts, or that you wrote in the agreement the names of those whose existence I later discovered, I have no quarrel with you; I admit that I owe the money.
After this there is a second law, covering agreements between individuals, which states that whenever anyone sells a slave, he must declare in advance any physical disability from which the man suffers. Otherwise the slave in question can be returned to the vendor. And yet if a slave can be returned simply because of some weakness due to mischance which the master keeps secret at the time of the sale, how can you fail to take the responsibility for the crimes which you deliberately planned? But the epileptic slave does not involve the buyer in fresh expense, whereas Midas, whom you sold to me, has even lost my friends' money.
Consider the legal position, Athenogenes, as regards free persons as well as slaves. No doubt you know as everyone does that the children of married women are legitimate. Yet the mere act of betrothing a woman on the part of a father or brother was not enough for the lawmaker. On the contrary, he wrote expressly in the law note : “whomsoever any man has lawfully betrothed as wife, her children shall be legitimate”; not: “if any man has betrothed some other woman on the pretence that she is his daughter.” He lays it down that just betrothals shall be valid and unjust ones invalid.
Moreover the law dealing with wills is very similar to this. note It allows a man to bequeath his property as he wishes unless he is affected by old age, illness or insanity, and provided he is not influenced by a woman or imprisoned or otherwise coerced. But if even our own personal property cannot be administered according to an unjust will, surely Athenogenes who is disposing of my property through his agreement cannot enforce such terms.
Apparently if a man respects the wishes of his own wife in making his will it will be invalid. Then must I, who was influenced by the mistress of Athenogenes, accept the contract and be ruined too, note even though I can claim the very powerful help of the law, having been compelled by these people to conclude the agreement? Do you insist on the agreement when you and your mistress laid a trap for me to get it signed? In circumstances where the laws relating to conspiracy proclaim that you are guilty, are you expecting actually to make a profit? You were not content with the forty minas for the perfumery. No; you robbed me of a further five talents as though I were caught . . . note
the affairs of the market, but by simply waiting I discovered all the debts and loans in three months. Whereas this man had two generations of perfume sellers behind him; he used to sit in the market every day, was the owner of three stalls and had accounts submitted to him monthly and still he did not know his debts. Though an expert in other matters he was a complete simpleton in dealing with his slave, and though he knew, apparently, of some of the debts, he pleads ignorance of others—to suit his convenience.
In using an argument like this, gentlemen of the jury, he is accusing, not excusing, himself, since he is admitting that I need not pay the debts. For if he says that he did not know the full amount owing, surely he cannot claim that he informed me of the debts beforehand; and I am not bound to pay those of which the seller did not notify me. You knew that Midas owed this money, Athenogenes, as I think we all realize for several reasons, and chiefly because you summoned Nicon to give security for me note . . .
in this way. If ignorance prevented you from informing me in advance of all the debts, and if I thought when I concluded the agreement that your statement covered them all, which of us has to pay them? The subsequent purchaser, or the man who owned the business originally, when the money was borrowed? Personally I think that you are liable. But if it turns out that we disagree on this, let the law be our arbiter, which was made neither by lovers nor men with designs on other people's property but by that great democrat Solon.
He knew that sales are constantly taking place in the city and passed a law, which everyone admits to be just, stating that any offences or crimes committed by a slave shall be the responsibility of the master who owns him at the time. note This is only fair; for if a slave gains any success or brings in earnings, his owner enjoys the benefits. But you ignore the law and talk about agreements being broken. Solon did not consider that a decree, even when constitutionally proposed, should override the law. note Yet you maintain that even unjust agreements take precedence over all the laws.
Besides this, gentlemen of the jury, he was saying to my father and my other relatives that . . . note telling me to leave Midas for him instead of buying him, but that I refused and wanted to buy them all. I gather that he is even going to mention these points to you with the idea of convincing you of his moderation, if you please. He must think that he is going to address a set of fools who will not realize his effrontery.
You must hear what happened; for you will see that it fits in with the rest of their plot. He sent me the boy, whom I mentioned just now, with the message that he could not stay with me unless I freed his father and brother. When I had already agreed to put down the money for the three of them, Athenogenes approached some of my friends and said:
“Why does Epicrates want to give himself extra trouble when he could take the boy and use . . .?”
I am not a seller of perfume note and I do not practise any other trade. I simply farm the property which my father gave me, and I was landed in the purchase by these people. Which is more probable, Athenogenes, that I set my heart on your trade in which I was not proficient, or that you and your mistress had designs on my money? Personally, I think that you are indicated. Therefore, gentlemen of the jury, you could fairly excuse me for being cheated by . . . and for having had the misfortune to fall in with a man like this, but to Athenogenes . . .
all to be mine and the profits of the fraud to be his. . . . that I took Midas . . . whom he says he was reluctant to let go. But for the boy whom, we are told, he originally offered me for nothing, he has now been paid a far higher price than he is worth; and yet in the end the boy will not be my property but will be freed on the strength of your verdict. note
However I do not think myself that in addition to my other troubles I deserve to be disfranchised by Athenogenes. note For I should be receiving harsh treatment indeed, gentlemen of the jury, if . . . of the metics to come unguarded.
During the war against Philip he left the city just before the battle and did not serve with you at
Now take the evidence of the father-in-law note . . .
the way in which Athenogenes has plotted against me and also his behavior towards you. If a man has been vicious in his private life and given up hope of his city's safety; if he has deserted you and expelled the citizens from the town of his adoption, will you not punish him when he is in your power?
For my part, gentlemen of the jury, I beg you most earnestly to show me mercy. Remember in this trial that you ought to have pity . . . suffer nothing if he is convicted . . .
|Hyperides, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Hyp.].
|Hyp. 3 (Greek)