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11 On the Estate of Hagnias

11.hypothesisA certain Hagnias had several cousins, namely, Theopompus, his brother Stratocles, Stratius, and Eubulides. When he was at the point of death he adopted a daughter, stipulating in his will that, if anything should happen to her, the estate should pass to Glaucon, who was his half-brother, his mother's son. After making these arrangements he died; and the daughter received the inheritance and then herself died. Eubulides having also died, his daughter brought an action against Glaucon and was awarded the estate. After this, Stratocles and Stratius having died, Theopompus, acting alone, brought a suit against her and was awarded the estate. It is against him that the son of his brother Stratocles brings an action through a guardian, alleged that the inheritance belongs in equal shares to Theopompus and to his brother's son. The discussion turns on a point of fact. 11.1Laws

I have read you the laws because my opponent bases on the first of them the claim of the child to half the estate—a claim which is false. Hagnias, it is true, was not our brother; but in the matter of a brother's property the law note has given the right of inheritance first to brothers and nephews provided they are on the father's side; for they are related to the deceased in the nearest degree. 11.2In default of these, the law next names sisters by the same father and their issue. If these fail, it gives the right of succession as next-of-kin to the third degree, namely, first cousins on the father's side including their children. If this degree is also lacking, the law goes back and gives the succession to the relatives of the deceased on his mother's side on the same principles as originally regulated the rights of inheritance by the relatives on the father's side. 11.3These are the only rights of next-of-kin which the framer of the law recognizes; the wording which he employs is briefer than my paraphrase, but he shows his intention quite clearly in the text of the law. This child does not possess a single one of these titles as next-of-kin to Hagnias, but is outside all relationship. In order that you may know exactly upon what points you are going to give your verdict, I challenge my opponent to state, without superfluous words, in which of the above-mentioned degrees of relationship this child stands to the former tenant of the estate. If he can be shown to be in any way related, I willingly concede that half the estate is his. 11.4If, on the other hand, he cannot prove the existence of any such relationship, surely he will be clearly convicted of bringing a vexatious suit against me and of trying to deceive you in contravention of the laws. I intend, therefore, to make him stand up before you and to interrogate him, reading out the text of the law. You will thus learn whether, or no, the child has any right to the fortune of Hagnias. (To the Clerk) Please take these laws; and (to his opponent) you, come up here, since you are so clever at misrepresentation and at distorting the laws. Read on.Laws

11.5Stop. I wish to question you. Is the child a brother of Hagnias, or a nephew, the son of a brother or sister, or a first cousin, or the child of a first cousin on his mother's or his father's side? Which of these titles, which are regarded by the law as constituting kinship, does he possess? And beware of saying that he is my nephew; for it is not a question now of my estate, for I am still alive. If I had died without issue and he were claiming my property, it would be quite fitting that he should give this reply to one who interrogated him. On the present occasion, however, it is the half of Hagnias's estate that you say belongs to the child; you must, therefore, define the degree of relationship which unites him to Hagnias. Tell these gentlemen, therefore, what it is.

11.6You observe that he cannot define the relationship, but gives any sort of answer rather than the information which you require. Yet one who is acting in good faith ought not to be embarrassed, but ought to be able to answer immediately, and not only so but also swear an oath and produce witnesses about the degree of relationship, so that you might have attached greater credence to what he said. As it is, regarding matters about which he has given no answer, produced no witnesses, sworn no oath and quoted no law, he thinks that you, who have sworn to give your verdict according to the laws, ought to believe him and illegally condemn me in this criminal suit. This is the wicked and shameless sort of scoundrel that he is. 11.7I have no intention of following his example; instead, I shall state my degree of relationship and the basis of my claim to the estate, and I shall prove, in such a manner as to win your assent, that the child and the former claimants against me for the estate are all outside the limits of kinship. I must state the facts from the beginning; for you will thus recognize my claim as next-of-kin and see that my opponent has no title to the succession.

11.8Hagnias, Eubulides, Stratocles, Stratius, the brother of Hagnias's mother, and I, gentlemen, are all the children of cousins, our fathers having been cousins, the children of brothers by the same father. When Hagnias was preparing to set out as ambassador on that mission note which had such favorable results for the city, he did not leave his possessions, in case anything happened to him, to us, his nearest relatives, but adopted a niece; and if anything happened to her, he devised his property to Glaucon, his half- brother on his mother's side. These dispositions he embodied in a will. 11.9After some interval of time Eubulides died. The daughter whom Hagnias had adopted also died, and Glaucon received the estate in accordance with the will. We never for a moment thought of contesting Hagnias's will, but considered that his intentions regarding his own property ought to be carried into effect, and by these we abode. But the daughter of Eubulides, with the assistance of her confederates, laid claim to the estate and obtained it, having gained an action against those who based their rights on the will. She was outside the prescribed degree of kinship, but hoped, it seems, that we should not bring an action against her, because we had not contested the will either. 11.10But we—that is to say, Stratius, Stratocles, and myself—since the estate had now become adjudicable to the next-of-kin, note all prepared to bring a suit. However, before the hearing of the case, Stratius and Stratocles both died; and thus I am the only surviving relative on the father's side, being the son of a cousin and the only person to whom, according to the law, the estate could pass, all the other relatives having died who possessed the same degree of kinship as myself. 11.11But, it may be asked, how are you to know that I possess the rights of a next-of-kin, while the children of the other cousins, including this child, did not possess them? The law itself will make this clear. It is universally admitted that the rights as next-of-kin belong to cousins on the father's side, including their children, but the point which we have now to examine whether the law grants these rights to our children also. Take, therefore, the law and read it to the court.Law
[If there is no relative on the father's side as far as the degree of the children of cousins, then the right of inheritance passes to the mother's side in the same order of succession.]

11.12Mark you, gentlemen, the legislator did not say that, in default of heirs on the father's side up to the degree of cousin's children, the rights descend to the latter's children; no, in default of us note, he gives the inheritance to the relatives of the deceased on his mother's side, namely, to brothers and sisters and their children, and so on, in the same order as was laid down before. But he has placed our children outside the right of succession. How, then, can those to whom, even if I were dead, the law does not award Hagnias's estate, imagine that, while I am alive and have a legal right to the property, they themselves can have any title as next-of-kin? Their claim is quite preposterous. 11.13Indeed, if the right of succession is not possessed by those whose fathers stood in the same degree of relationship as myself, neither is it possessed by this child; for his father stood in the same degree as they. Is it not, therefore, outrageous, that, whereas the laws have thus explicitly given me the right of inheritance and have placed my opponents outside the requisite degree of kinship, this fellow should dare to play these pettifogging tricks and, at the moment when I was laying claim to the estate, should think fit, not to bring an action against me and pay the necessary deposit—this being the proper moment to have the question settled, if his claims were well-founded—but to annoy me in the name of this child and make me run the most serious risks? 11.14His charge is not concerned note with money which admittedly belongs to the child, nor can he say that I have received any such money—if I had administered any property in the manner in which he has done, I should deserve to be prosecuted; no, in bringing this kind of suit he has designs upon property which you, after permitting anyone who wished to dispute my claim to it, assigned by your verdict to me. Such is the extent of his impudence.

11.15From what I have already said I think that you fully recognize that I am doing no wrong to the child and that I am not in the least degree guilty of these charges; but you will, I think, understand this still more exactly from the rest of my story, and, in particular, when you have heard how the adjudication to me of the inheritance took place. When I brought the action claiming the inheritance, neither did my opponent, who is now bringing an impeachment against me, think fit to make the necessary deposit on behalf of the child, nor did the sons of Stratius, who stand in the same relationship as the child, <either for this> note or for any other reason think that they had any right to the money; 11.16for my opponent would not be troubling me now, if I had allowed him to dissipate the child's property and had not opposed him. These men, then, as I have said, knowing that they were outside the requisite degree of relationship, kept quiet; but those who were acting on behalf of the daughter of Eubulides, who stands in the same degree of relationship as the child and the sons of Stratius, and the legal representatives of Hagnias's mother, were disposed to contest my claim. 11.17They found it so difficult to know what to say in their written counter-claim about the degree of relationship, that the woman who was in possession of the estate and those who were seeking to explain her kinship, when they lied, were easily convicted by me of daring to put in writing what was not true; and those who were supporting Hagnias's mother, who stands in the same degree of relationship as I do (being sister of Stratius) but who is excluded by the law which ordains that the males shall have the preference, omitted all reference to this point, and, thinking to gain an advantage over me, described her as the mother of the deceased—the nearest possible relationship by blood, but admittedly conferring no rights as next-of-kin. 11.18Having thus described myself as the son of a cousin and having proved that these women were not within the requisite degree of kinship, I thus had the estate adjudicated to me by you; and her former success against those who claimed on the basis of the will was of no avail to the woman who was in possession of the inheritance, nor did it avail the other woman that she was mother of the deceased who left the estate, but those who were trying the case attached so much importance to justice and their oaths that they gave their verdict in favor of me, whose claim was in conformity with the law. 11.19Yet since I thus triumphed over these women by proving that they were not within the requisite degree of kinship to Hagnias; and since my present opponent did not venture to go to law with me, claiming half the estate for the child; and since the sons of Stratius, who stand in the same degree of kinship as this child, do not even now think of bringing a suit against me for the estate; and since I am in possession of the estate by your adjudication; and since I can prove that my opponent even at the present time cannot state what relationship the child possesses which confers rights as next-of-kin to Hagnias—what further information do you require, and what more do you wish to hear on the subject? Since I regard you as men of good sense, I think that what I have said is sufficient.

11.20My opponent, thinking nothing of telling any lie whatever and considering that his own rascality does him no harm, dares to utter many calumnies against me, with which I will deal presently. In particular, he now alleges that Stratocles and I made a compact, when we were about to engage in the suit about the inheritance, though of those who had prepared to put in a claim we were the only persons for whom such a mutual agreement was impossible. 11.21The daughter of Eubulides and the mother of Hagnias, in an action against me, since they were not claiming on the same grounds, might have made an agreement, that if one of them were successful, she should give a share to the defeated claimant; for the votes accorded to each of them would be placed in different urns. But with us it was quite otherwise; we stood in the same relationship and were making two separate claims, each to have half the estate; and when two claimants found their claims on the same grounds, only one voting urn is employed, so that it would be impossible for one to be unsuccessful and the other successful, but we both ran the same risk, so we could not possibly have made any compact or agreement about the inheritance. 11.22But when Stratocles died before the actions claiming half the estate, which we were each bringing, could come on, and so there was no further question of his participating in the estate, nor had this child of his any title owing to the law, but the whole inheritance devolved upon me as next-of-kin, if I could defeat those who are now in possession, then and not till then does my opponent devise and invent these fictions, expecting easily to mislead you by these stories. That no such compact was possible but that all the details of procedure are already provided for, can easily be seen from the law. Please take and read it to the court.Law

11.23Does it appear to you that the law gives any liberty for a concerted arrangement? Or are not its provisions in an exactly contrary sense, since, even if a previous arrangement existed, it expressly ordains that each party shall bring an action for his own share, and prescribes a single voting-urn, when the two parties base their claims on the same ground, and makes this the system of adjudication? But my opponent, in spite of these legal provisions and the impossibility of a preconcerted arrangement, has had the impudence to invent this lie against all common sense. 11.24But he has not stopped there; he has also invented the most inconsistent story possible, to which, gentlemen, please give your close attention. He declares that I agreed, if I won my case against the present possessors of the estate, to give the child a half-share of the inheritance. Yet if the child had any right to a share in virtue of his relationship, as my opponent declares, what need was there for this agreement between me and them? For the half of the estate was adjudicable to them just as much as to me, if what they say is true. 11.25If, on the other hand, they had no claim by right of kinship, why should I have agreed to give them a share, when the laws have given me the right of succession to the whole estate? Was it then impossible for me to make my claim without their consent? But the law gives full liberty to anyone who likes to make a claim, so that they could not possibly make this allegation. Did I then require some evidence from them material to my case, in default of which I was unlikely to secure the adjudication of the estate? No, I was claiming by right of kinship, not of testamentary disposition, so that I had no need of witnesses. 11.26And indeed, if it was impossible for me to have made an arrangement with Stratocles in his lifetime; if his father did not bequeath the estate to him, since he never had any of it adjudicated to him; if it was unlikely that I should have agreed to give the child half the inheritance; and since you awarded me the estate by your adjudication and my opponents brought no action at the time and have never yet thought of disputing the estate—how can you believe their allegations to be true? In my opinion you cannot possibly do so.

11.27Seeing that you might reasonably be astonished that they did not at the time bring a suit claiming half the estate, my opponent pretends that I was the cause of their not bringing a suit against the other parties, because I had agreed to give them a share and so they did not make the necessary deposit, while they allege that the laws forbade them to bring a suit against me on the ground that orphans may not bring actions against their guardians. Both these statements are untrue. 11.28For my opponent could not point to any law which forbids him to bring a private action against me on behalf of the child; for no law exists which is opposed to such a proceeding, but, just as the law has granted the right to bring a public indictment against me, so it has created the opportunity either for me or the child to bring a private suit. Again, it was not because I agreed to give them a share that they failed to bring an action against the other parties who were in possession of the estate, but because they had absolutely no right to this money. 11.29I am convinced that even had I agreed to let the child receive from me by the adjudication of the court a half of the inheritance, they would never have carried out this bargain or attempted to do so; they know perfectly well, that if, being outside the requisite degree of kinship, they had been in possession of anything which did not belong to them, they would have been easily deprived of it by the next-of-kin. For, as I said before, the law does not give any rights at all as next-of-kin to our children after us, but transfers them to the relatives of the deceased on his mother's side. 11.30In the first place, then, Glaucon, the brother of Hagnias, would have come forward, against whom they could not urge a claim of closer relationship; on the contrary, they would have been clearly shown to be outside the requisite degree of kinship. Next, if Glaucon had been unwilling to come forward, the mother of Hagnias and Glaucon would have done so, since she possessed a claim of kinship to her son, note and so, if she had engaged in a suit against those who possessed no title as next-of-kin, she would clearly have been awarded half the estate by you, since justice and the laws have given her a right to it. 11.31These, then, are the reasons why he did not bring an action, and it was not because he was prevented from doing so by me or by the laws; and these are the pretexts which he has invented for resorting to these vexatious proceedings against me, and it is upon the basis of them, that having brought a public indictment against me and slandering me, he hopes to obtain money and to deprive me of my guardianship. He thinks that he is managing very cleverly in employing these devices, because, if he is unsuccessful, he will lose nothing of his own, whereas, if he can carry out his wishes, he will henceforward be able to squander the child's property as well with impunity.

11.32You must, therefore, not listen to his arguments nor tolerate his utterance of them, nor allow the custom to grow up of bringing public actions about matters for which the laws have prescribed private suits. For the rights of the case are perfectly simple and easy to understand. After dealing briefly with them and leaving them stored in your memory, I will then turn to the rest of my defence against the charges brought against me. 11.33What then are the rights of the case and how do I define them? If my opponent declares that part of Hagnias's estate belongs to the child by right of kinship, let him bring an action before the archon claiming the half, and, if you decide in his favor, let him take it; for thus the laws ordain. But if he does not claim on these grounds but alleges that I agreed to give the child a share—though I declare that there is not a word of truth in his allegation—let him bring an action, and, if he can prove that I made such an agreement, let him secure the execution of it; for that is only right. 11.34But if he declares that the child cannot either claim a share from me at law or sue me for breach of contract, note let him name the law which prohibits this, and, if he can indicate it, let the child in these circumstances, too, receive the share of the estate. If, again, he contends that there is no need to have the half-share adjudicated or to go to law with me at all, but that this share already belongs to the child, let him make an application to the archon for its inclusion in the lease of the orphan's estate and let the lessee exact from me this portion as belonging to the child. 11.35Such are the essential rights of the case, and such the provisions of the laws, which do not, thank heaven, oblige me to submit to criminal trials in matters about which they have instituted private suits nor to run any personal risk because I refuse to share with the child this estate, which I received by your verdict when I won my case against those who were in possession. If I were holding any property which admittedly belonged to the child and had maladministered it to his detriment, then he would be justified in bringing this criminal charge against me, but not, by heaven, when it is a question of my own property.

11.36That my adversary has in this matter acted entirely unjustly, and that otherwise he has never spoken a word of truth, but has cleverly devised the whole plot from motives of self-interest, uttering calumnies, misinterpreting the laws and seeking to get the better both of you and of me contrary to justice—of all this, by heaven, you are, I think, well aware and all alike understand; and so I do not know what more I need say.

11.37I notice, gentlemen, that most of his speech is taken up with a discussion of my fortune and of that of the child; he represents the circumstances of the child as embarrassed, while he attributes to me a position of wealth and accuses me of baseness on the ground that I cannot bring myself to provide any of the four daughters of Stratocles with a dowry, although, according to his account, I am in possession of the child's property. 11.38I should like to deal with this point; for he hopes by his arguments to arouse in your minds a prejudice against me regarding the fortune which has accrued to me, and a feeling of pity in favor of the children, if they can be represented to you as reduced to poverty. You must not, therefore, be left in any ignorance on these points but must have an exact idea of them, so that you may understand that here, too, my opponent is lying, as he has lied about everything else. For, gentlemen, I would admit myself to be the basest of all men, if it could be shown that the affairs of Stratocles were left in a state of embarrassment at his death and that I, being myself in easy circumstances, gave not a thought to his children. 11.39But if he left them a fortune more considerable and better secured than my own and sufficient to endow his daughters fittingly without sensibly diminishing his son's wealth, and if I am so managing the property as greatly to increase it, surely I cannot reasonably be blamed for not giving them my own money as well; I rather deserve to be praised for preserving and increasing their fortune. That these statements are true, I shall easily prove to you. 11.40First, therefore, I will give you details about the property, and after that state the principles on which I think fit to administer the children's affairs. note

Stratocles and I had a patrimony sufficient to supply our needs but not large enough to defray the cost of public services. An indication of this is that each of us received a dowry of only 20 minae with his wife, and so small a dowry would not be given to a husband with a large fortune. 11.41Stratocles, however, happened to receive an addition of more than two and a half talents to his fortune; for Theophon, his wife's brother, at his death adopted one of his daughters and left her his property, consisting of land at Eleusis worth two talents, 60 sheep, 100 goats, furniture, a fine horse which he rode when he was a cavalry commander, and all the rest of his goods and chattels. 11.42Having had complete control of this property for nine whole years, he left a fortune of 5 talents 3000 drachmae, including his patrimony but excluding the fortune left to his daughter by Theophon. His property comprised land at Thria note worth two and a half talents, a house at Melite note which cost 3000 drachmae, and another at Eleusis which cost 500 drachmae. These made up his real property, the land being let at 12 minae and the houses at 3, a total of 15 minae; but he had also about 4000 drachmae lent out at interest, the yearly income of which, at a monthly rate of 9 obols, amounts to 720 drachmae. 11.43He thus had a total income of rather more than 20 minae. Besides this he left furniture, sheep, barley, wine, and fruits, the sale of which brought in 4900 drachmae; also 900 drachmae were found in the house. In addition his—that is the child's—mother included in the inventory made in the presence of witnesses sums lent without interest, which were recovered, amounting to nearly 1000 drachmae. I make no mention now of the other property which was left, but which my opponents refuse to disclose; I only include what was declared and admitted by them. Please call the witnesses in support of the above statements.Witnesses

11.44Stratocles' fortune amounts to even more than this; but I will deal later with my opponents embezzlements. Now to what does my fortune amount? I have a property at Oenoe worth 5000 drachmae and another at Prospalta worth 3000 drachmae and a house in Athens worth 2000 drachmae; to this must be added the estate left by Hagnias, worth about two talents; for I am sure that it would not fetch more than this. This gives a total of only three talents 4000 drachmae—110 minae less than the fortune of the child. 11.45I include in the reckoning the fortune of my son, who was adopted into another family, while I excluded from the child's fortune the property of Theophon, two and a half talents, which he left to his sister when he adopted her; for their family property could be easily reckoned at eight talents, but the money which came from Theophon has been reckoned separately. On my side, the estate left by Hagnias is not yet secured to me; for trials for perjury are still pending, 11.46and the law ordains that, if there is any conviction for perjury, the action claiming an estate must be heard over again. On the other hand, the child's fortune bequeathed to him by Stratocles is admitted and not contested. To prove that this is the amount of my property, including that of my son who has been adopted into another family, and that suits for perjury in connection with Hagnias's estate are still pending, take and read the depositions.Depositions

11.47Is the difference, then, trifling between our respective fortunes? Or rather, is it not so great that mine is nothing in comparison with that of the children of Stratocles? No credence must therefore be attached to the statements of my opponent, who, though so large a fortune has been left to the children, has dared to utter such lies with the object of discrediting me. According to his reckoning I have received three inheritances and am in enjoyment of a large fortune, but I hide my wealth in order that you may derive as little advantage from it as possible. note Those who have no just claims to urge on the facts are obliged to bring forward such arguments as will give them an advantage over their adversaries by calumniating them. 11.48But you all are my witnesses that my wife's brothers, Chaereleos and Macartatus, were not among those who supported public burdens but among those who possessed only slender fortunes. You know that Macartatus sold his land and bought a trireme which he manned and sailed away in it to Crete. The affair was no secret but even gave rise to a discussion in the Assembly, note since it was feared that he might bring about a state of war instead of peace between us and the Lacedaemonians. 11.49Chaereleos left the estate at Prospalta, which would not fetch more than 30 minae. The brother who left this estate happened to die before Macartatus, who in his turn perished with all the property which he took with him when he sailed away; for he lost the trireme and everything else in the war as well as his own life. The estate at Prospalta was left and passed to their sister, who is my wife, and I was persuaded by her to allow one of our two sons to be adopted into the family of Macartatus. note My object was not to avoid the performance of public services which the addition of this estate would involve; 11.50for my having allowed my son to be adopted made no difference, for indeed I performed public services note no less than before, but was among those who paid war contributions and carried out all the duties imposed by the state. My opponent, however, in representing me as a wealthy but unprofitable citizen is using these terms to calumniate me.

As the strongest argument of all, I will sum the matter up in a single proposal, which, I am sure, will appear to you to be just. I am willing to bring my whole estate into hotchpotch with that of the child, and let us each take half of the aggregate amount, whether it be large or small, so that neither party may have more than is fitting; but my opponent will never consent to this. note

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