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|Isoc. 16 (Greek)
noteSo then, concerning the team of horses note—that my father was in possession of them, not by having taken them away from Teisias, but by having purchased them from the Argive state—you have heard both the Argive ambassadors and the others conversant with the facts testify. But in just this same fashion all are accustomed maliciously to accuse me.16.2For they obtain leave to bring actions against me on private complaints, but make their accusations on behalf of the interests of the state, and they spend more time in slandering my father than they do in informing you with respect to their sworn charges; and so great is their contempt of the law that they claim personal satisfaction from me for the wrongs which, as they say, you suffered at my father's hands. 16.3But it is my opinion that charges involving the public interest have nothing to do with private suits; but as Teisias often reproaches me with my father's banishment, and is more zealous concerning your affairs than he is regarding his own, I must address my defense to these matters. Certainly I should be ashamed, if I were to seem to any of my fellow-citizens to have less concern for my father's good name than for my own peril. 16.4
Now so far as the older men are concerned, a brief statement could have sufficed: for they all know that the same men were responsible for the destruction of the democracy and for my father's exile; but for the benefit of the younger men, who have lived after the events and have often heard the slanderers, I will begin my exposition from an earlier time.16.5
Now the persons who first plotted against the democracy and established the Four Hundred, note inasmuch as my father, although he was repeatedly invited to join them would not do so, seeing that he was a vigorous opponent of their activities and a loyal supporter of the people, judged that they were powerless to upset the established order until he was removed out of their way.16.6And since they knew that in matters pertaining to the gods the city would be most enraged if any man should be shown to be violating the Mysteries, note and that in other matters if any man should dare to attempt the overthrow of the democracy, they combined both these charges and tried to bring an action of impeachment before the senate. They asserted that my father was holding meetings of his political club with a view to revolution, and that these members of the club, when dining together in the house of Pulytion, note had given a performance of the Mysteries. 16.7The city was greatly excited by reason of the gravity of the charges, and a meeting of the Assembly was hastily called at which my father so clearly proved that the accusers were lying that the people would have been glad to punish them, and furthermore elected him general for the Sicilian expedition. note Thereupon he sailed away, judging that he had been already cleared of their calumnies; but his accusers, having united the Council and having made the public speakers subservient to themselves, again revived the matter and suborned informers. 16.8Why need I say more? They did not cease until they had recalled my father from the expedition and had put to death some of his friends and had banished others from the city. But when he had learned the power of his enemies and the misfortunes of his friends, although he was of opinion that he was being grossly wronged because they would not try him when he was in Athens but were for condemning him in his absence, not even in these circumstances did my father see fit to desert to the enemy; 16.9on the contrary, even in exile he was so scrupulous to avoid injuring his city that he went to Argos and remained quietly there. But his enemies reached such a pitch of insolence that they persuaded you to banish him from Greece entirely, to inscribe his name on a column as a traitor, and to send envoys to demand his surrender by the Argives. And he, being at a loss to know what to do in the misfortunes which encompassed him and everywhere hemmed him in, as he saw no other means of safety, was compelled at last to take refuge with the Lacedaemonians. 16.10
These are the actual facts; but such an excess of insolence have my father's enemies that they accuse him, who was exiled in so illegal a manner as if he had committed outrageous crimes, and try to ruin his reputation by saying that he caused the fortification of Decelea, note and the revolt of the islands, and that he became the enemy's counsellor.16.11And sometimes they pretend to despise him, note saying that in no respect did he excel his contemporaries; yet at the present time they blame him for all that has happened and say that the Lacedaemonians have learned from him the art of war—they who can teach the rest of the world this accomplishment! As for me, if I had sufficient time, I could easily prove that some of those things he did justly, but that others are unjustly imputed to him. Yet the most shocking thing that could happen would be this—if, while after his exile my father was recompensed, I, because he was exiled, should be penalized. 16.12
I think, however, that in justice he should obtain from you a full pardon; for you, when banished by the Thirty Tyrants, note experienced the same misfortunes as he. Wherefore you should reflect how each of you was affected, what thoughts you each had, and what peril each would not have undergone so as to bring his own banishment to an end and to return to his native land, and to be avenged on those who banished him.16.13To what city, or friend, or stranger did you not apply, to entreat them to help you to get back to your country? From what effort did you abstain in your endeavors to be restored? Did you not seize the Piraeus and destroy the crops in the fields and harry the land and set fire to the suburbs and finally assault the walls? 16.14And so vehemently did you believe that these actions were justifiable that you were more indignant with those of your fellow-exiles who were inactive than with those who had been the authors of your misfortunes. It is not fair, therefore, to censure those who wanted the same things which you desired, nor yet to regard all those men as base who, when they were exiles, sought to return, but much more should you condemn those oligarchs who, remaining in Athens, did deeds which deserved the penalty of exile; nor is it fair that you, in judging what sort of citizen my father was, should begin at the time when he had no art in the city's affairs; 16.15on the contrary, you should look to that earlier time and observe how he served the people before his exile, and call to mind that with two hundred heavy-armed soldiers he caused the most powerful cities in the Peloponnesus to revolt from the Lacedaemonians, note and brought them into alliance with you, and in what perils he involved the Lacedaemonians themselves, and how he behaved as general in Sicily. For these services he is deserving of your gratitude; but for that which happened when he was in misfortune it is those who banished him whom you would justly hold responsible. 16.16
Remember, too, I beg you, the many benefits he conferred upon the city after his return from exile, and, even before that time, the state of affairs here when you received him back: the democracy had been overthrown, note the citizens were in a state of civil war, the army was disaffected toward the government established here, and both parties had reached such a state of madness that neither had any hope of salvation.16.17For the one party note regarded those who were in possession of the city as greater enemies than the Lacedaemonians note and the other were making overtures to the Spartan forces in Decelea, judging that it was preferable to hand over their country to its enemies rather than to give a share in the rights of citizenship to those who were fighting for the city. 16.18Such was the state of mind of the citizens: the enemy was in control of land and sea; your financial resources were exhausted, while the Persian king was supplying them with funds; furthermore, ninety ships had come from Phoenicia note to Aspendus note and were prepared to aid the Lacedaemonians. By so many misfortunes and such perils was the city beset 16.19when the army summoned my father, and he did not treat them with disdain in their plight, nor did he rebuke them for the past, nor did he deliberate about the future; on the contrary, he chose at once to suffer any misfortune with his country rather than to enjoy prosperity with the Lacedaemonians, and he made it manifest to all that he was warring on those who had banished him and not on you, and that his heart was set on a return to Athens and not on her ruin. 16.20Having thrown in his lot with you, he persuaded Tissaphernes note not to furnish the Lacedaemonians with money, checked the defection of your allies, distributed pay from his own resources to the soldiers, restored political power to the people, reconciled the citizens, and turned back the Phoenician fleet. 16.21As to his later services, it would be an arduous task to enumerate them one by one—all the ships of war that he subsequently captured, or the battles that he won, or the cities he took by storm or by persuasion made your friends. But although innumerable dangers beset the city at that time, never did the enemy erect a trophy of victory over you while my father was your leader. 16.22
I am aware that I am omitting many of my father's exploits as your general; I have not recounted them in detail because nearly all of you recall the facts. But my father's private life they revile with excessive indecency and audacity, and they are not ashamed, now that he is dead, to use a license of speech concerning him which they would have feared to employ while he lived.16.23Nay, they have come to such a pitch of folly that they think they will win repute with both you and with the world at large if they indulge in the wildest possible abuse of him; as if all did not know that it is in the power of the vilest of men to abuse with insulting words, not only the best of men, but even the gods. 16.24Perhaps it is foolish for me to take to heart all that has been said; nevertheless, I desire very much to recount to you my father's private pursuits, going back a little to make mention of his ancestors, that you may know that from early times our standing and services have been the greatest and most honorable among the citizens of Athens. 16.25
My father on the male side belonged to the Eupatrids, note whose noble birth is apparent from the very name. On the female side he was of the Alcmeonidae, note who left behind a glorious memorial of their wealth; for Alcmeon note was the first Athenian to win at Olympia with a team of horses, and the goodwill which they had toward the people they displayed in the time of the tyrants. For they were kinsmen of Pisistratus note and before he came to power were closest to him of all the citizens, but they refused to share his tyranny; on the contrary, they preferred exile rather than to see their fellow-citizens enslaved.16.26And during the forty years note of civic discord the Alcmeonidae were hated so much more bitterly than all other Athenians by the tyrants that whenever the tyrants had the upper hand they not only razed their dwellings, but even dug up their tombs note; and so completely were the Alcmeonidae trusted by their fellow-exiles that they continued during all that time to be leaders of the people. At last, Alcibiades and Cleisthenes note—the former my great-grandfather on my father's side, the latter my father's maternal great-grandfather—assuming the leadership of those in exile, restored the people to their country, and drove out the tyrants. 16.27And they established that democratic form of government which so effectively trained the citizens in bravery that single-handed they conquered in battle note the barbarians who had attacked all Greece and they won so great renown for justice that the Greeks voluntarily put in their hands the dominion of the sea; and they made Athens so great in her power and her other resources that those who allege that she is the capital of Greece note and habitually apply to her similar exaggerated expressions appear to be speaking the truth. 16.28
Now this friendship with the people, which was, as I have shown, so ancient, genuine, and based upon services of the greatest importance, my father inherited from his ancestors. My father himself was left an orphan (for his father note died in battle at Coronea note) and became the ward of Pericles, whom all would acknowledge to have been the most moderate, the most just, and the wisest of the citizens. For I count this also among his blessings that, being of such origin, he was fostered, reared, and educated under the guardianship of a man of such character.16.29When he was admitted to citizenship, he showed himself not inferior to those whom I have mentioned, nor did he think it fitting that he should lead a life of ease, pluming himself upon the brave deeds of his ancestors; on the contrary, from the beginning he was so fired with ambition that he thought that even their great deeds should be held in remembrance through his own. And first of all, when Phormio note led a thousand of the flower of Athenian soldiers to Thrace, note my father served with this expedition, and so distinguished himself in the perilous actions of the campaign that he was crowned and received a full suit of armour from his general. 16.30Really what is required of the man who is thought worthy of the highest praise? Should he not, when serving with the bravest of the citizens, be thought worthy of the prize of valor, and when leading an army against the best of the Greeks in all the battles show his superiority to them? My father, then, in his youth did win that prize of valor and in later life did achieve the latter. 16.31
After this he married my mother note; and I believe that in her he also won a glorious prize of valor. For her father was Hipponicus, note first in wealth of all the Greeks and second in birth to none of the citizens, most honored and admired of his contemporaries. The richest dowry and fairest reputation went with his daughter's hand; and although all coveted union with her, and only the greatest thought themselves worthy, it was my father whom Hipponicus chose from among them all and desired to make his son-in-law.16.32
About the same time my father, seeing that the festival assembly at Olympia was beloved and admired by the whole world and that in it the Greeks made display of their wealth, strength of body, and training, and that not only the athletes were the objects of envy but that also the cities of the victors became renowned, and believing moreover that while the public services performed in Athens redound to the prestige, in the eyes of his fellow-citizens, of the person who renders them, expenditures in the Olympian Festival, however, enhance the city's reputation throughout all Greece,16.33reflecting upon these things, I say, although in natural gifts and in strength of body he was inferior to none, he disdained the gymnastic contests, for he knew that some of the athletes were of low birth, inhabitants of petty states, and of mean education, but turned to the breeding of race-horses, which is possible only for those most blest by Fortune and not to be pursued by one of low estate, and not only did he surpass his rivals, but also all who had ever before won the victory. 16.34For he entered a larger number of teams in competition than even the mightiest cities had done, and they were of such excellence that he came out first, second, and third. note Besides this, his generosity in the sacrifices and in the other expenses connected with the festival was so lavish and magnificent that the public funds of all the others note were clearly less than the private means of Alcibiades alone. And when he brought his mission to an end he had caused the successes of his predecessors to seem petty in comparison with his own and those who in his own day had been victors to be no longer objects of emulation, and to future breeders of racing-steeds he left behind no possibility of surpassing him. 16.35With regard to my father's services here in Athens as choregus and gymnasiarch and trierarch note I am ashamed to speak; for so greatly did he excel in all the other public duties that, although those who have served the state in less splendid fashion sing their own praises therefor, if anyone should on my father's behalf ask for a vote of thanks even in recognition of services as great as his, he would seem to be talking about petty things. 16.36
As regards his behavior as a citizen—for neither should this be passed over in silence—just as he on his part did not neglect his civic duties, but on the contrary, to so great a degree had proved himself a more loyal friend of the people than those who had gained the highest repute, that while, as you will find, the others stirred up sedition for selfish advantage, he was incurring danger on your behalf. For his devotion to the democracy was not that of one who was excluded from the oligarchy, but of one who was invited to join it: indeed, time and again when it was in his power as one of a small group, not only to rule the rest, but even to dominate them, he refused, choosing rather to suffer the city's unjust penalties rather than to be traitor to our form of government.16.37Of the truth of these statements no one would have convinced you as long as you still continued to be governed as a democracy; but as it was, the civil conflicts which arose clearly showed who were the democrats and who the oligarchs, as well as those who desired neither rgime, and those who laid claim to a share in both. In these uprisings your enemies twice exiled my father: on the first occasion, no sooner had they got him out of the way than they abolished the democracy; on the second, hardly had they reduced you to servitude than they condemned him to exile before any other citizen; 16.38so exactly did my father's misfortunes affect the city and he share in her disasters. And yet many of the citizens were ill disposed toward him in the belief that he was plotting a tyranny; they held this opinion, not on the basis of his deeds, but in the thought that all men aspire to this power and that he would have the best chance of attaining it. Wherefore you would justly feel the greater gratitude to him because, while he alone of the citizens was powerful enough to have this charge note brought against him, he was of opinion that as regards political power he should be on an equality with his fellow-citizens. 16.39
Because of the multitude of things that might be said on my father's behalf I am at a loss which of them it is appropriate to mention on the present occasion and which should be omitted. For always the plea that has not yet been spoken seems to me of greater importance than the arguments which have already been presented to you. And I believe that it is obvious to everyone that he must needs be most devoted to the welfare of the city who has the greatest share in her evil fortunes as well as in her good.16.40Well then, when Athens was prosperous, who of the citizens was more prosperous, more admired, or more envied than my father? And when she suffered ill-fortune, who was deprived of brighter hopes, or of greater wealth, or of fairer repute? Finally, when the Thirty Tyrants established their rule, while the others merely suffered exile from Athens, was he not banished from all Greece? Did not the Lacedaemonians and Lysander note exert themselves as much to cause his death as to bring about the downfall of your dominion, in the belief that they could not be sure of the city's loyalty if they demolished her walls note unless they should also destroy the man who could rebuild them? 16.41Thus it is not only from his services to you, but also from what he suffered on your account, that you may easily recognize his loyalty. For it is self-evident that it was the people he was aiding, that he desired the same form of government as yourselves, that he suffered at the hands of the same persons, that he was unfortunate when the state was unfortunate, that he considered the same persons as you his enemies and friends, that in every way he exposed himself to danger either at your hands, or on your account, 16.42or on your behalf, or in partnership with you, being as a citizen quite unlike Charicles, note my opponent's brother-in-law, who chose to be a slave to the enemy, yet claimed the right to rule his fellow-citizens; who, when in exile, was inactive, but on his return was ever injuring the city. And yet how could one prove himself to be a baser friend or a viler enemy? 16.43And then do you, Teisias, his brother-in-law and a member of the Council in the time of the Thirty Tyrants, have the hardihood to rake up old grudges against those of the other side, and are you not ashamed to be violating the terms of the amnesty which permits you to reside in the city, nor do you even reflect that, whenever the decision shall be made to exact punishment for past crimes, it is you who are menaced by danger more speedy and greater than mine? 16.44For surely they will not inflict punishment on me for my father's acts and at the same time pardon you for the crimes you yourself have committed! No, assuredly it will not be found that your pleas in extenuation are anything like his! For you were not banished from your native land, but on the contrary you were a member of the government; you did not act under compulsion, but you were a willing agent; it was not in self-defense, but on our own initiative, that you were wronging your fellow-citizens, so that it is not fitting that you should be permitted by them even to enter a plea in your defense. 16.45
But on the subject of the political misdeeds of Teisias, very likely some day at his trial I shall have the opportunity of speaking at greater length. But as for you, men of the jury, I beg you not to abandon me to my enemies nor entangle me in the net of irremediable misfortunes. For even now I have had sufficient experience of evils, since at my birth I was left an orphan through my father's exile and my mother's death; and I was not yet four years of age when I was brought into peril of my life owing to my father's exile;16.46and while still a boy I was banished from the city by the Thirty. And when the men of the Piraeus note were restored, and all the rest recovered their possessions, I alone by the influence of my personal enemies was deprived of the of the land which the people gave us as compensation for the confiscated property. note And after having already suffered so many misfortunes and having twice lost my property, note I am now the defendant in an action involving five talents. note And although the complaint involves money, the real issue is my right to continue to enjoy citizenship. 16.47For although the same penalties are prescribed for all by our laws, yet the legal risk is not the same for all; on the contrary, the wealthy risk a fine, but those who are in straitened circumstances, as is the case with me, are in danger of disfranchisement, and this is a misfortune greater, in my opinion, than exile; for it is a far more wretched fate to live among one's fellow-citizens deprived of civic rights than to dwell an alien among foreigners. 16.48I entreat you, therefore, to aid me and not to suffer me to be despitefully treated by my personal enemies, or to be deprived of my fatherland, or to be made notorious by such misfortunes. The facts in the case would of themselves justly win for me your pity, even if I have not the power by my words to evoke it, since pity truly should be felt for those who are unjustly brought to trial, who are fighting for the greatest stakes, whose present condition is not in accordance with their own worth or with that of their ancestors, seeing that they have been deprived of immense wealth and have experienced life's greatest vicissitudes. 16.49
Although I have many reasons for lamenting my fate, I am especially indignant for these reasons: first, if I must be punished by this man, who should justly be punished by me; second, if I shall lose my civic rights by reason of my father's victory at Olympia, when I see other men richly rewarded for such a victory note;16.50and, in addition, if Teisias, a man who never did the city any good, is to remain powerful in the democracy just as he was in the oligarchy, whereas I, who injured neither party, am to be ill-treated by both; and finally, if, while in all other matters your actions are to be the opposite of those of the Thirty, you shall in regard to me show the same spirit as they, and if I, who then lost my fatherland in company with you, shall now be deprived of it by you.
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|Isoc. 16 (Greek)