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Aegineticus 19.1

I was of opinion, citizens of Aegina, that Thrasylochus had arranged his affairs so prudently that no one should ever come before a court to bring a suit in opposition to the will which he left. But since my adversaries have determined to contest a testament so purposefully drawn, I am compelled to try to obtain my rights from you. 19.2My feeling is unlike that of most men. For I see that others are indignant when they are unjustly involved in a law-suit, whereas I am almost grateful to my opponents for bringing me into this trial. note For if the matter had not been brought before a tribunal you would not have known of my devotion to the deceased, which led to my being made his heir; but when you learn the facts you will all perceive that I might justly have been thought worthy of even a greater reward. 19.3The proper course, however, for the woman who is laying claim to the property would have been, not to try to obtain from you the estate left by Thrasylochus, but to show that she also was devoted to him and on that ground thought fit to bring suit for it. But the truth is, she is so far from repenting of her misconduct towards Thrasylochus in his life-time, that now too that he is dead she is trying to annul his will and to leave the home without heirs. 19.4And I am astonished that those who are acting in her behalf think this action is reputable, just because, if they fail to win, they will need to pay no penalty. For my part, I think that it will be a severe penalty, if, having been convicted of making a wrongful claim, they shall thereafter suffer in your esteem. However, you will know the baseness of these men from their very acts when you have heard to the end what they have done; and I shall begin the recital of them at the point from which, in my opinion, you will be able to learn most quickly the matters at issue. 19.5

Thrasyllus, the father of the testator, had inherited nothing from his parents; but having become the guest-friend of Polemaenetus, the soothsayer, he became so intimate with him that Polemaenetus at his death left to him his books on divination and gave him a portion of the property which is now in question. 19.6Thrasyllus, with these books as his capital, practised the art of divination. He became an itinerant soothsayer, lived in many cities, and was intimate with several women, some of whom had children whom he never even recognized as legitimate, and, in particular, during this period he lived with the mother of the complainant. 19.7When he had acquired a large fortune and yearned for his fatherland, he left this woman and the others as well, and debarking at Siphnos married a sister of my father. Thrasyllus himself was indeed the leading citizen in wealth, but he knew that our family was likewise pre-eminent in lineage and in general standing; 19.8and he cherished so warmly my father's affection for him that at the death of his wife, who was without children, he remarried, taking as wife my father's cousin, as he did not wish to dissolve the affinity with us. But after he had lived with her for only a short time, he suffered the same bereavement as his former wife. 19.9After this he married a woman of Seriphos, belonging to a family of greater consequence than might be expected of a native of their island. note Of this marriage were born Sopolis, Thrasylochus, and a daughter, who is my wife. These were the only legitimate children left by Thrasyllus and he made these his heirs when he died. 19.10Thrasylochus and I, having inherited from our fathers a friendship the intimacy of which I have recently mentioned, made the bond still closer. For during our childhood we were fonder of each other than of our brothers, and we would perform no sacrifice, make no pilgrimage, and celebrate no festival except in one another's company; and when we reached manhood we never opposed one another in any action undertaken, for we not only shared our private concerns but also held similar sentiments regarding public affairs, and we had the same intimates and guest-friends. 19.11And why need I speak further of our intimacy at home? note In truth, not even in exile did we care to be apart. Finally, when Thrasylochus was striken with the wasting disease and suffered a long illness—his brother Sopolis had previously died note and his mother and sister had not arrived note—seeing him so completely destitute of companionship I nursed him with such unremitting care and devotion that he thought he could never repay me with a gratitude adequate to my services; 19.12Nevertheless he left nothing undone to reward me, and when he was in a grievous condition and had given up all hope of life, he summoned witnesses, made me his adoptive son, and gave me his sister and his fortune.

Please take the will. The Will

Read to me also the law of Aegina; for it was necessary that the will be drawn in accordance with this law, since we were alien residents of this island. Law 19.13

It was in accordance with this law, citizens of Aegina, that Thrasylochus adopted me as his son, for I was his fellow-citizen and friend, in birth inferior to no one of the Siphnians, and had been reared and educated very much as he himself had been. I therefore do not see how he could have acted more consistently with the law, since the law insists that persons of the same status may be adopted.

Please take also the law of Ceos, note under which we were living. Law 19.14

If ,therefore, citizens of Aegina, my opponents were refusing to recognize the validity of these laws, but were able to produce in support of their case the law of their own country, their conduct would have been less astonishing. But the truth is that their own law is in agreement with those already read.

Please take this document. Law 19.15

What argument is left to them, therefore, since they themselves admit that Thrasylochus left the will and that they can cite no law in their favor, whereas all support my case—first, the law which is valid among you who are to adjudge the case, next, the law of Siphnos, the fatherland of the testator, and finally the law of the country of my opponents? And yet from what illegal act do you think these persons would abstain, inasmuch as they seek to persuade you that you should declare this will valid, although the laws read as you have heard and you have taken oath to cast your votes in conformity with them? 19.16

On the issue itself I consider that I have adduced sufficient proof; but that no one may think that my possession of the inheritance rests upon feeble grounds, or that this woman had been kindly in her behavior toward Thrasylochus and is being defrauded of his fortune, I wish also to discuss these matters. For I should be ashamed in behalf of the deceased unless you were all convinced that his actions were strictly in accordance, not only with the law, but also with justice. 19.17And I believe that proof of this is easy. There was, in truth, this great difference between us—that this woman, who bases her contention on the ground of relationship, never ceased to be at variance with the testator and evilly-disposed toward him and toward Sopolis and their mother, whereas I shall be shown to have been the most deserving of all his friends, not only in my relations with Thrasylochus and his brother, but also with regard to the estate in controversy. 19.18

It would be a long story to tell of the events of long ago; but when Pasinus note took Paros, it chanced that my friends had the greatest part of their fortune deposited as a pledge with my guest-friends there; for we thought that this island was by far the safest. When they were at their wits' end and believed that their property was lost, I sailed thither by night and got their money out at risk of my life; 19.19for the country was occupied by a garrison, and some of the exiles from our island participated in the seizure of the city, and these, in one day and with their own hands, had slain my father, my uncle, my brother-in-law and, in addition, three cousins. However, I was deterred by none of these risks, but I took ship, thinking I ought to run the risk as much for my friends' sake as for my own. 19.20Afterwards when a general flight from the city note ensued, accompanied by such confusion and fear that some persons were indifferent even to the fate of their own relations, I was not content, even in these misfortunes, merely to be able to save the members of my own household, but knowing that Sopolis was absent and Thrasylochus was in feeble health, I helped him to convey from the country his mother, his sister, and all his fortune. And yet who with greater justice should possess this fortune than the person who then helped to save it and now has received it from its legitimate owners? 19.21

I have related the adventures in which I incurred danger indeed, yet suffered no harm; but I have also to speak of friendly services I rendered him which involved me in the greatest misfortunes. For when we had arrived at Melos, and Thrasylochus perceived that we were likely to remain there, he begged me to sail with him to Troezen note and by all means not to abandon him, mentioning his bodily infirmity and the multitude of his enemies, saying that without me he would not know how to manage his own affairs. 19.22And although my mother was afraid because she had heard that Troezen was unhealthy and our guest-friends advised us to remain where we were, nevertheless we decided that we ought to satisfy his wish. No sooner had we arrived at Troezen than we were attacked by illnesses of such severity that I barely escaped with my own life, and within thirty days I buried my young sister fourteen years of age, and my mother not five days therereafter. In what state of mind do you think I was after such a change in my life? 19.23I had previously been inexperienced in misfortune and I had only recently suffered exile and living an alien among foreigners, and had lost my fortune; in addition, I saw my mother and my sister driven from their native land and ending their lives in a foreign land among strangers. No one could justly begrudge it me, therefore, if I have received some benefit from the troublesome affairs of Thrasylochus; for it was to gratify him that I went to live in Troezen, where I experienced misfortunes so dire that I shall never be able to forget them. 19.24

Furthermore, there is one thing my opponents cannot say of me—that when Thrasylochus was prosperous I suffered all these woes, but that I abandoned him in his adversity. For it was precisely then that I gave clearer and stronger proof of my devotion to him. When, for instance, he settled in Aegina and fell ill of the malady which resulted in his death, I nursed him with a care such as no one else I know of has ever bestowed upon another. Most of the time he was very ill, yet still able to go about; finally he lay for six months bedridden. 19.25And no one of his relations saw fit to share with me the drudgery of caring for him; no one even came to see him with the exception of his mother and sister; and they made the task more difficult; for they were ill when they came from Troezen, so that they themselves were in need of care. But although the others were thus indifferent, I did not grow weary nor did I leave the scene, but I nursed him with the help of one slave boy; 19.26for no one of the domestics could stand it. For being by nature irascible, he became, because of his malady, still more difficult to handle. It should not occasion surprise, therefore, that these persons would not remain with him, but it is much more a cause for wonder that I was able to hold out in caring for a man sick of such a malady; for he was filled with pus for a long time, and was unable to leave his bed; 19.27and his suffering was so great that we did not pass a single day without tears, note but kept up our lamentations both for the hardships we both had to endure, and for our exile and our isolation. And there was no intermission at any time; for it was impossible to leave him or to seem to neglect him—to me this would have seemed more dreadful than the woes which afflicted us. 19.28

I wish I could make clearly apparent to you my conduct with respect to him; for in that case I think that you would not endure even a word from my opponents. The truth is, it is not easy to describe the duties involved in my care of the invalid, duties that were very hard, very difficult to endure, most disagreeably toilsome, and exacting an unremitting care. But do you yourselves consider what loss of sleep, what miseries are the inevitable accompaniment of a prolonged nursing of a malady like his. 19.29In truth, in my own case, I was reduced to such a condition that all my friends who visited me expressed fear that I too would perish with the dying man and they advised me to take care, saying that the majority of those who had nursed this disease themselves fell victims to it also. My reply to them was this—that I would much prefer to die than to see him perish before his fated day for lack of a friend to nurse him. 19.30

And although my behavior was as I have described, this woman has had the hardihood to contest with me his fortune, she who never even saw fit to visit him during his long illness, though she had daily information about his condition, and though the journey was easy for her. To think that they will now attempt to “brother” him, note as if the effect of calling the dead man by a mane of closer kinship would not be to make her shortcomings seem worse and more shocking! 19.31Why, when he was at the point of death, and when she saw all our fellow-citizens who were in Troezen sailing to Aegina to take part in his funeral, she did not even at that moment come, but was so cruel and heartless in conduct that while she did not see fit to come to his funeral, yet, less than ten days thereafter she arrived to claim the property he had left, as if she were related to his money and not to him! 19.32And if she will admit that her hatred for him was so bitter that this conduct was reasonable, then Thrasylochus would be considered not to have been ill-advised in preferring to leave his property to his friends rather than to this woman; but if there existed no variance between them and yet she was so neglectful of him and so unkind toward him, surely with greater justice would she be deprived of her own possessions than become heir to his. 19.33Bear in mind that, so far as she was concerned, he had no care during his illness, nor when he died was he thought worthy of the customary funeral rites, whereas it was through me that he obtained both. Surely you will justly cast your votes in favor, not of those who claim blood-relationship yet in their conduct have acted like enemies, but with much greater propriety you will side with those who, though having no title of relationship, yet showed themselves, when the deceased was in misfortune, more nearly akin than the nearest relatives. 19.34

My opponents say that they do not doubt that Thrasylochus left the will, but they assert that it is not honorable and proper. And yet, citizens of Aegina, how could anyone have given better or greater evidence of interest in the disposal of his own property? He did not leave his home without heirs and he has shown due gratitude to his friends and, further, he made his mother and his sister possessors, not only of their own property, but of mine also by giving the latter to me as wife and by making me, by adoption, the son of the former. 19.35Would he have acted more wisely if he had taken the alternative course—if he had failed to appoint a protector for his mother, and if he had made no mention of me, but had abandoned his sister to chance and permitted the name of his family to perish? 19.36

But perhaps I was unworthy of being adopted as a son by Thrasylochus and of receiving his sister in marriage. All the Siphnians would bear witness, however, that my ancestors were foremost of the citizens there in birth, in wealth, in reputation, and in general standing. For who were thought worthy of higher offices, or made greater contributions, or served as choregi note more handsomely, or discharged other special public services with greater magnificence? What family in Siphnos has furnished more kings? note 19.37Thrasylochus, therefore, even if I had never spoken to him, would reasonably have wished to give his sister to me just for these reasons; and I, even if I had not possessed any of these advantages, but had been the lowest of the citizens, would justly have been esteemed by him as deserving of the greatest recompenses by reason of the services I had rendered him. 19.38

I believe, moreover, that in making this disposition of his estate he did what was most pleasing to his brother Sopolis also. For Sopolis also hated this woman and regarded her as ill-disposed toward his interests, whereas he valued me above all his friends. He showed this feeling for me in many ways and in particular when our companions in exile determined, with the help of their auxiliary troops, to capture the city. For when he was designated leader with full powers he both chose me as secretary and appointed me treasurer of all funds, and when we were about to engage in battle, he placed me next to himself. 19.39And consider how greatly he profited thereby; for when our attack on the city met with ill success, and the retreat did not succeed as we desired, and when he was wounded, unable to walk and in a faint condition, I and my servant carried him off on our shoulders to the ship. Consequently he often said to many persons that I was solely responsible for his coming through alive. 19.40Yet what greater benefaction than this could a man receive? Moreover, when he had sailed to Lycia and died there, this woman, a few days after the news of his death, was sacrificing and holding festival, and had no shame before his surviving brother, so little regard did she have for the dead man, but I instituted mourning for him in the custom prescribed for relatives. 19.41And it was my character and my affection for the two brothers that moved me to do all this and not any expectation of this trial; for I did not think that both would come to such an unhappy end that by dying without children they were going to oblige us to prove how each one of us had felt and acted toward them. 19.42

How this woman and myself conducted ourselves toward Thrasylochus and Sopolis you have, in the main heard; but perhaps they will have recourse to the one argument which remains to them—that Thrasyllus, the father of this woman, will feel that he is being dishonored (if the dead have any perception of happenings in this world) note when he sees his daughter being deprived of her fortune and me becoming the heir of what he had acquired. note 19.43But I am of opinion that it is proper for us to speak here, not concerning those who died long ago, but of those who recently left their heritage. As to Thrasyllus, he left as possessors of his estate the persons of his choice; and it is only just, then, that to Thrasylochus also the same privilege should be granted by you, and that not this woman, but those whom he designated in his will, should become the successors to the inheritance. However, I do not believe that I need evade the judgement of Thrasyllus. 19.44He would be, I think, the most harsh judge of all for her, if he knows how she has treated his children. If you should vote in accordance with the laws, he would be far from taking offense, but he would be far more incensed if he should see the testaments of his children annulled. If, for instance, Thrasylochus had given property to my family, they would have had reason to lay that up against him; as it is, he adopted into his own family, so that the plaintiffs have not received less than they gave. note 19.45Apart from this, it is reasonable to suppose that Thrasyllus, more than anyone else, was friendly toward those whose claims are based upon a testamentary gift. For he himself learned his art from Polemaenetus the soothsayer, and received his fortune, not through family relationship but through merit; surely, therefore, he would not complain if a man who had acted honorably toward his children should be regarded as deserving of the same reward as himself. 19.46You should call to mind also what I said in the beginning. For I pointed out to you that he esteemed relationship with our family so highly that he married the sister and then the cousin of my father. And yet to whom would he more willingly have given his own daughter in marriage than to that family from which he himself chose his wife? And from what family would he have more gladly seen a son adopted according to law than that from which he sought to beget children of his own body? 19.47

If therefore, you award the inheritance to me, you will stand well with Thrasyllus and with all others who have any proper interest in this matter; but if you permit yourselves to be deceived by the persuasion of this woman, not only will you do injury to me, but also to Thrasylochus, the testator, and to Sopolis, and to their sister, who is now my wife, and their mother, who would be the unhappiest of women if it should not be enough for her to have lost her children, but also must see this additional sorrow that their wishes are nullified, her family without an heir, and this woman, 19.48as she exults over her misfortunes, making good at law her claim to the property, while I am unable to obtain my just rights, although my treatment of her sons has been such that, if anyone should compare me—I will not say with this woman, but with any who have ever entered their claim to an inheritance on the strength of testamentary gift—I should be found to have been inferior to none in my conduct toward my friends. And yet men of my kind ought to be honored and esteemed rather than be robbed of the gifts which others have bestowed upon them. 19.49It is expedient, to, that you should uphold the law which permits us to adopt children and to dispose wisely of our property, reflecting that for men who are childless this law takes the place of children; for it is owing this law that both kinsmen and those who are not related take greater care of each other. 19.50

But that I may conclude and occupy no more time in speaking, pray consider how strong and how just are the claims with which I have come before you; there is, first, my friendship with those who have left the inheritance, a friendship of ancient origin, handed down from our fathers, and in all that time never broken; second, my many great acts of kindness done for them in their adversity; third, there is a will which my opponents themselves acknowledge; and lastly, the law, which supports the will, a law that in the opinion of all Greeks is regarded as wisely made. 19.51Of my statement the best proof is this—although the Greek states differ in opinion about many other enactments, they are of one accord concerning this one. I beg you, therefore, bearing in mind both these considerations and the others I have mentioned, to give a just verdict, and prove yourselves to be for me such judges as you would want to have for yourselves.

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