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8 On The Estate of Ciron

8.hypothesisCiron having died without legitimate offspring, his nephew, the son of his brother, claimed his estate and took over the property from the widow. After this the speaker of the present oration indicts the nephew, alleging that he himself is a son of Ciron's daughter and that the wife of the deceased designedly handed over the estate to the nephew with the intention of giving him a part and appropriating the remainder. Such is the subject; the discussion turns on a question of fact, the point at issue being whether the claimant is a legitimate grandson of Ciron or not. A further question is also involved, namely, one of qualification: for the nephew argued that, even if we grant that his opponent's mother is a legitimate daughter of Ciron, since she is dead and it is her son who now claims, the nephew, the son of a brother, ought to have preference over a daughter's issue under the law which ordains that the descendants of males have precedence over those of females. The speaker with great skill completely ignores this law and bases his case upon the different qualifications of the parents, showing that, in as much as a daughter is nearer in kin to the deceased than a brother, so her son has a stronger claim than a brother's son. It is a strong case in equity but a weak case in law. The working out of the various topics is carried out with Isaeus's usual skill.

8.1It is impossible, gentlemen, not to feel indignation against men who not only have the impudence to claim the property of others but also hope by their arguments to abolish the rights which the laws confer; and this is what our opponents are now trying to do. For, though our grandfather Ciron did not die childless but has left us behind him, the sons of his legitimate daughter, yet our opponents claim the estate as next-of-kin and insult us by alleging that we are not the issue of his daughter, and indeed that he never had a daughter at all. 8.2The reason of their acting thus is their avarice, and the high value of the estate which he has left behind him and which they have taken by force and still hold; and they have the impudence both to assert that he has left nothing and at the same time to lay claim to the estate. 8.3Now you must not imagine that my real opponent in this case is the man who has brought the suit claiming the estate; no, it is Diocles of Phlya, surnamed Orestes. note He it is who has suborned our opponent to cause us trouble by trying to deprive us of the fortune which our grandfather left us at his death and exposing us to these dangers, in order that he may not have to give back any of it, if you listen to him and are misled by his words. 8.4Such being their machinations, you must be informed of all the facts, in order that, being well aware of all that has happened, you may give your verdict with perfect knowledge of them. If, therefore, you have ever listened with scrupulous attention to any other case, I beg you to give like attention to this case, as indeed justice demands. Though lawsuits abound in our city, yet it will be shown that no parties have ever claimed the property of others with greater impudence and effrontery than my opponents. 8.5It is a difficult task therefore, gentlemen, for one who is wholly without experience of litigation, when such important interests are at stake, to contend against fabricated stories and witnesses whose evidence is false; yet I have great hopes that I shall obtain my rights from you, and that I shall myself speak sufficiently well at least to state what those rights are, unless some such chance should befall me as it is now my lot to anticipate. note I beg you, therefore, gentlemen, to listen to me with goodwill, and, if I seem to have been wronged, to aid me to obtain my rights.

8.6First, then, I shall prove to you that my mother was Ciron's legitimate daughter; for events which have happened long ago I shall rely on report and statements which have been heard by witnesses, while for events within living memory I shall employ witnesses who know the facts, and proofs which are better than any evidence. When I have established this, I shall then show that we have a better claim to Ciron's estate than our opponents. Starting, therefore, from the point at which they began their narrative of the events, I, too, shall try and put my version before you.

8.7My grandfather Ciron, gentlemen, married my grandmother, his first cousin, herself the daughter of his own mother's sister. She did not live long with him; she bore my mother, and died after four years. My grandfather, being left with an only daughter, married the sister of DiocIes as his second wife, who bore him two sons. He brought up his daughter in the house with his wife and her children, 8.8and while the latter were still alive, he gave her in marriage, when she reached the proper age, to Nausimenes of Cholargus, giving her a dowry of twenty-five minae including raiment and jewelry. Three or four years later Nausimenes fell ill and died without leaving any issue by our mother. My grandfather received her back again—without, however, recovering the dowry which he had given, owing to the embarrassed condition of Nausimenes' affairs—and gave her in a second marriage to my father with a dowry of one thousand drachmae. 8.9How is one to prove clearly that all these events occurred in face of the imputations which our opponents are now uttering? I sought and discovered a way. Whether my mother was or was not the daughter of Ciron, whether she lived in his house or not, whether he did or did not on two occasions give a feast in honor of her marriage, and what dowry each of her husbands received with her—all these things must necessarily be known to the male and female slaves who belonged to Ciron. 8.10Wishing, therefore, in addition to the witnesses which I already had, to obtain proof of these facts by evidence given under torture note—in order that the veracity of my witnesses might be tested before, and not after, they gave their evidence, and so your belief in them might be confirmed note—I demanded that our opponents should surrender the male and female slaves to be put to the question on these points and any others of which they had cognizance. 8.11My adversary, however, who will presently demand that you shall believe his witnesses, refused the examination under torture. Yet, if he shall be shown to have refused my request, what remains to be thought of his witnesses except that they are giving false evidence, since he has refused so decisive a method of testing them? In my opinion no other conclusion is possible. But to prove that what am saying is true, please first take and read this deposition.Deposition

8.12You Athenians hold the opinion that both in public and in private matters examination under torture is the most searching test; and so, when you have slaves and free men before you and it is necessary that some contested point should be cleared up, you do not employ the evidence of free men but seek to establish the truth about the facts by putting the slaves to torture. This is a perfectly reasonable course; for you are well aware that before now witnesses have appeared not to be giving true evidence, whereas no one who has been examined under torture has ever been convicted of giving false evidence as the result of being tortured. 8.13And will my opponent, the most impudent of men, demand that you shall believe his fictitious stories and lying witnesses, while he thus declines so sure a method of proof? Our conduct has been quite different. Seeing that we first demanded that recourse should be had to examination under torture on the points about which evidence was to be given, and my opponent refuses to allow this, under these conditions we shall consider that you ought to believe our witnesses. Take, therefore, these depositions and read them to the court.Depositions

8.14Who are likely to be best acquainted with the events of the distant past? Obviously those who were intimate with my grandfather; they, then, have given evidence of what was told them. Who must necessarily know the facts about the giving of my mother in marriage? Those who betrothed her and those who were present when they betrothed her; the relatives, then, of Nausimenes and of my father have given their evidence. Who know best that my mother was brought up in Ciron's house and was his legitimate daughter? The present claimants clearly give evidence of the truth of these facts by their action in declining to put the slaves to torture. Thus, I think, you have much better reason for disbelieving their witnesses than mine.

8.15Now there are other proofs which we can bring forward to show that we are the children of Ciron's daughter. For, as was natural, seeing that we were the sons of his own daughter, Ciron never offered a sacrifice without our presence; whether he was performing a great or small sacrifice, we were always there and took part in the ceremony. And not only were we invited to such rites but he also always took us into the country for the Dionysia, 8.16and we always went with him to public spectacles and sat at his side, and we went to his house to keep all the festivals; and when he sacrificed to Zeus Ctesius note—a festival to which he attached a special importance, to which he admitted neither slaves nor free men outside his own family, at which he personally performed all the rites—we participated in this celebration and laid our hands with his upon the victims and placed our offerings side by side with his, and took part in all the other rites, and he prayed for our health and wealth, as he naturally would, being our grandfather. 8.17Yet if he had not regarded us as his daughter's children and seen in us his only surviving lineal descendants, he would have done none of these things but would have placed at his side my opponent, who now claims to be his nephew. And that I am telling the truth on all these points is well known to my grandfather's attendants, whom my opponent refused to give up to be questioned; the same facts are perfectly well known to some of his intimate friends also, whose evidence I will produce. Please take and read the depositions.Depositions

8.18But it is not only from these proofs that our mother is clearly shown to be the legitimate daughter of Ciron; but there is also the evidence of our father's conduct and the attitude adopted by the wives of his fellow-demesmen towards her. When our father took her in marriage, he gave a wedding-feast and invited three of his friends as well as his relatives, and he gave a marriage-banquet to the members of his ward according to their statutes. 8.19Also the wives of the demesmen afterwards chose our mother, together with the wife of Diocles of Pithus, to preside at the Thesmophoria note and to carry out the ceremonies jointly with her. Again, our father at our birth introduced us to the members of his ward, having declared on oath, in accordance with the established laws, that he was introducing the children of an Athenian mother duly married; and none of the wardsmen made any objection or disputed the truth of his statements, though they were present in large numbers and always look carefully into such matters. 8.20Yet do not for a moment suppose, that, if our mother had been such as our opponents allege, our father would have either given a wedding-feast or provided a marriage-banquet and not rather hushed up the whole matter; or that the wives of the other demesmen would have chosen her to celebrate the festival with the wife of Diocles and given the sacred objects into her hands and not rather entrusted this office to some other woman; or that the wardsmen would have admitted us and not rather objected and justified their objection, if it had not been universally admitted that our mother was a legitimate daughter of Ciron. As it was, owing to the notoriety of the fact and its recognition by so many persons, no such question was raised from any quarter. Now call the witnesses to prove the truth of these statements.Witnesses

8.21Furthermore, gentlemen, the conduct of Diocles on the occasion of our grandfather's death clearly shows that we were acknowledged as the grandchildren of Ciron. I presented myself, accompanied by one of my relatives, a cousin of my father, to convey away the body with the intention of conducting the funeral from my own house. I did not find Diocles in the house, and I entered and was prepared to remove the body, having bearers with me for this purpose. 8.22When, however, my grandfather's widow requested that the funeral should take place from that house, and declared that she would like herself to help us to lay out and deck the corpse, and entreated me and wept, I acceded to her request and went to my opponent and told him in the presence of witnesses that I would conduct the funeral from the house of the deceased, since Diocles' sister had begged me to do so. 8.23Diocles, on hearing this, made no objection, but asserting that he had actually bought some of the requisites for the funeral and had himself paid a deposit for the rest, demanded that I should pay him for these, and arranged to recover from me the cost of the objects which he had purchased and to produce those who had received the deposit for the objects for which he alleged that he had paid a deposit. Immediately afterwards he casually remarked that Ciron had left nothing at all, although I had not said a single word about his money. 8.24Yet had I not been Ciron's grandson, he would never have made these arrangements with me, but would rather have said, “Who are you? What right have you to carry out the burial? I do not know you: you shall not set foot in the house.” This is what he ought to have said, and what he has now instigated others to say. As it was, he said nothing of the kind, but only told me to bring the money next morning. And to prove the truth of these statements, please summon the witnesses.Witnesses

8.25Diocles was not the only person who made no such objections at the time; the present claimant to the estate was also silent and is now making his claim because he has been suborned by Diocles. Though Diocles refused to accept the money which I brought and alleged next day that he had received payment from my opponent, yet I was not prevented from attending the burial but joined in all the ceremonies, the expenses of the funeral, so far from being paid by my opponent or Diocles, being defrayed from the property left by the deceased. 8.26Yet if Ciron had not really been my grandfather, it was the duty of my opponent to repulse me and reject me and prevent me from taking part in the burial. My position with regard to him was quite a different one: for I allowed him, as my grandfather's nephew, to share in all the rites, but he ought never to have allowed me to do so, if what they now have the audacity to say were true. 8.27But he was so overawed by his knowledge of the true facts, that at the tomb, when I spoke and accused Diocles of detaining the property and of having suborned him to dispute the inheritance, he did not venture to utter a sound or say a word of what he now has the impudence to assert. And to prove that I am telling the truth, please call the witnesses to these events.Witnesses

8.28What ought to induce you to believe the statements which you have heard? Ought not the evidence of witnesses to induce you to do so? I certainly think so. But what entitles you to believe the witnesses? Is it not the confirmation of their evidence under torture? It seems only reasonable. But what entitles you to disbelieve the statements of my opponents? Is it not their refusal to put the matter to the test? This is an absolutely necessary conclusion. How then could anyone prove that my mother is a legitimate daughter of Ciron more clearly than by the method which I am adopting? 8.29For events in the distant past I furnished hearsay evidence vouched for by witnesses; where living witnesses are available, I produced those who are familiar with the facts, who knew perfectly well that my mother was brought up in Ciron's house, that she was regarded as his daughter, and that she was twice betrothed and twice married; I further showed that on all these points my opponents have refused to allow the evidence of slaves under torture, who knew all the facts. By the gods of Olympus, I could not possibly give stronger proofs than these, and I think that those which I have produced are sufficient.

8.30But to continue; let me next prove to you that I have a better right than my opponent to Ciron's fortune. I suppose that you admit in principle as a self-evident fact that those who are descended from the same stock as Ciron are not nearer in right of succession than those who are descended from him. (How, indeed, could they be, since the former are called collateral kinsmen, the latter lineal descendants of the deceased?) Since, however, even though this is so, they have the impudence to dispute my right, we will explain the point in greater detail from the actual laws. 8.31Supposing that my mother, Ciron's daughter, were still alive and that her father had died intestate and that my opponent were his brother and not his nephew, he would have the right to claim the daughter in marriage, but he could not claim the estate, which would go to the children born of their marriage when they had completed two years after puberty; for this is what the laws ordain. Since, then, the children, and not my opponent himself, would have become masters of her property if she were alive, it is obvious, since she is dead and has left children, namely, my brother and myself, that we, and not our opponents, have the right to succeed to the estate.

8.32This is the clear intention not only of this law but also of that dealing with the neglect of parents. For if my grandfather were alive and in want of the necessities of life, we, and not our opponent, would be liable to prosecution for neglect. For the law enjoins us to support our parents, meaning by “parents” father, mother, grandfather, and grandmother, and their father and mother, if they are still alive; for they are the source of the family, and their property is transmitted to their descendants, and so the latter are bound to support them even if they have nothing to bequeath to them. How then can it be right that, if they have nothing to leave, we should be liable to prosecution for neglecting them, yet that, if they have something to leave, our opponent should be the heir and not we? Surely it cannot be right.

8.33I will now institute a comparison with the nearest collateral relative and question you on the various degrees of relationship; note for this is the easier way of making the matter clear to you. Is Ciron's daughter or his brother the nearer of kin to him? Clearly his daughter; for she is his issue, while the brother is only born of the same stock. Next, is the brother nearer of kin or the daughter's children? Certainly the daughter's children; for they are lineal descendants and not mere collaterals. If then our rights are so far superior to those of a brother, a fortiori we are still more to be preferred to our opponent, who is only a nephew. 8.34But I am afraid of seeming tiresome in repeating truths so universally recognized; for you all inherit the property of your fathers, grandfathers, and remoter ancestors by the incontrovertible title of lineal descent, and I do not know that such a case as the present has ever been brought against anyone before. I shall therefore read the law about the neglect of parents and then try and show you the motives which led to the whole affair.Law

8.35The property of Ciron, gentlemen, consisted of an estate at Phlya, easily worth a talent, two houses in the city, one near the sanctuary of Dionysus in the Marshes, note let to a tenant and worth 2000 drachmae, the other, in which he himself used to live, worth thirteen minae; he also had note slaves earning wages, two female slaves and a young girl, and the fittings of his private residence, worth, including the slaves, about thirteen minae. The total value of his real property was thus more than ninety minae; but besides this he had considerable sums lent out, of which he received the interest. 8.36It was to obtain this property that Diocles, together with his sister, carried on his plots for a long time, ever since the death of Ciron's sons. For he did not try to find another husband for her, although she was still capable of bearing children to another man; for he feared that, if she were separated from Ciron, the latter would resolve to dispose of his estate in the proper manner; note but he kept on urging her to remain with him, and to allege that she thought she was with child by him and then pretend that she had an accidental miscarriage, in order that he might be always hoping that a child would be born to him, and might not, therefore, adopt myself or my brother. Diocles also continually calumniated my father, alleging that he was intriguing against Ciron's property. 8.37So he gradually persuaded Ciron to let him handle all the sums owing to him, and the interest upon them, and to manage his real property, cajoling the old man by his attentions and flattery until he had all his estate in his grasp. But, although he knew that in accordance with my rights I should seek to be master of this property when my grandfather was dead, yet he did not try to prevent me from visiting him and paying him attentions and conversing with him (for he was afraid that Ciron might become exasperated and be angry with him); but he was all the time preparing a claimant to dispute my right to the property, promising him a small share, if he were successful, and securing the whole estate for himself, and not admitting even to his accomplice that my grandfather had any money to leave, but pretending that there was nothing. 8.38Immediately after Ciron's death he lost no time in making preparations for the funeral, the expenses of which he required me to pay, as you have heard the witnesses testifying; but he afterwards pretended that he had received the money from my opponent and refused any longer to accept payment from me, stealthily thrusting me aside, in order that it might appear that my opponent, and not I, was burying my grandfather. And when my opponent claimed this house and everything else that Ciron left behind him, although he said that he had left nothing, I did not think (and my friends agreed with me) that in these painful circumstances I ought to use violence and carry off my grandfather's body, but I took part in the rites and was present at the burial, the expenses of which were defrayed out of my grandfather's estate. 8.39Thus I acted in this manner under compulsion; but in order that they might gain no advantage over me by alleging to you that I bore no part of the funeral expenses, I consulted the interpreter of the sacred law and by his advice I paid for at my own expense and offered the ninth-day offerings in the most sumptuous manner possible, in order that I might confound their sacrilegious tricks, and that it might not seem that they had paid for everything and I for nothing, but that I might be thought to have done my share.

8.40Such in substance, gentlemen, are the events which have occurred and the causes of all this trouble. If you understood the impudence of Diocles and his behavior on all other occasions, you would have no difficulty in believing anything in my story. For the fortune which he now possesses, and with which he makes such a brave show, is not really his; for when his three half-sisters, the children of his mother, were left heiresses, he represented himself as the adopted son of their father, though the latter left no will to this effect. 8.41When the husbands of two of the sisters tried to obtain possession of their fortune, he imprisoned the husband of the eldest of them by walling him up note and by a plot deprived him of his civic rights, and though he was indicted for outrage he has not yet been punished. As for the husband of the next sister, he ordered a slave to kill him and smuggled away the murderer, and then threw the guilt upon his sister, 8.42and having terrified her by his abominable conduct he has robbed her son, whose guardian he became, of his property, and is still in possession of his land and has only given him some stony ground. To prove that what I say is true, his victims, though they are afraid of him, yet may perhaps be willing to support me by their evidence; otherwise, I will produce as witnesses those who know the facts. Please call them first.Witnesses

8.43This man, then, having shown himself so brutal and violent and having robbed his sisters of their fortune, is not content with the possession of their property, but, since he has not been punished, has now come forward to rob us of our grandfather's fortune; and having given our opponent—so we are informed—the paltry sum of two minae is exposing us to the risk of losing not only our property but also our fatherland. For if you are misled into the belief that our mother was not an Athenian citizen, neither are we citizens; for we were born after the archonship of Eucleides. note Can it be said, therefore, that the suit which he has trumped up against us is of only trifling importance? While our grandfather and our father were alive, no charge was ever brought against us and our rights were never impeached; 8.44but now that they are dead, even if we win our case, we shall always hear the stigma of having had our rights disputed, thanks to this accursed Orestes, note who, taken in adultery and having suffered the treatment which befits such evil-doers, note has not even so abandoned the practice, as those who know the facts can testify. You know now the character of this fellow, and you will learn about it in still greater detail, when our suit against him comes on. note 8.45But do not, I beg and implore you, allow me to be insulted and robbed in the matter of this money which my grandfather left, but help me as far as each of you is able. Ample proof is before you from depositions, evidence given under torture, and the laws themselves that we are the children of a legitimate daughter of Ciron and that we have a better right than our opponents to inherit our grandfather's property as his lineal descendants. 8.46Remember, therefore, the oaths under which you sit in judgement, the arguments which we have presented, and the laws, and give your verdict as justice demands.

I do not know of anything which I ought to add; for I think that nothing which I have said has escaped your attention. Now take the only remaining deposition, proving that Diocles was taken in adultery, and read it to the court.Deposition

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