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1.hypothesisAfter the disaster of
1.1Justice towards you, Athenians, and reverence for the gods, shall mark the opening of my speech against Leocrates, now here on trial; so may Athena and those other gods and heroes whose statues are erected in our city and the country round receive this prayer. If I have done justly to prosecute Leocrates, if he whom I now bring to trial has been a traitor to their temples, shrines and precincts, a traitor to the honors which your laws ordain and the sacrificial rituals which your ancestors have handed down, 1.2may they make me on this day, in the interest of the city and its people, a worthy accuser of his crimes; and may you, who in your deliberation now are defending your fathers, wives and children, your country and your temples, who hold at the mercy of your vote one who has betrayed all these things, be inexorable judges, now and in future, towards all who break the laws on such a scale as this. But if the man whom I am now bringing to trial neither betrayed his country nor forsook his city and its temples, I pray that he may be saved from danger by the gods and you, the members of the jury.
1.3Gentlemen, it is a privilege for the city to have within it those who prosecute transgressors of the law, and I could wish to find among the public an appropriate sense of gratitude. In fact the opposite is true, and anyone who takes the personal risk of unpopularity for our common good is actually regarded as an interferer rather than a patriot, which makes neither for justice nor the state's advantage. For the things which in the main uphold our democracy and preserve the city's prosperity are three in number: 1.4first the system of law, second the vote of the jury, and third the method of prosecution by which the crimes are handed over to them. The law exists to lay down what must not be done, the accuser to report those liable to penalties under the law, and the juryman to punish all whom these two agencies have brought to his attention. And thus both law and jury's vote are powerless without an accuser who will hand transgressors over to them. 1.5I myself, Athenians, knew that Leocrates avoided the dangers to which his country called him and deserted his fellow citizens. I knew that he had utterly disregarded your authority and was chargeable with all the articles of the indictment. Therefore I instituted these proceedings. It was not out of hatred in the least nor with the slightest wish to be contentious that I undertook this trial; but I thought it monstrous to allow this man to push into the market place and share the public sacrifices, when he had been a disgrace to his country and to you all. 1.6A just citizen will not let private enmity induce him to start a public prosecution against one who does the state no harm. On the contrary, it is those who break his country's laws whom he will look on as his personal enemies; crimes which affect the public will, in his eyes, offer public grounds for enmity towards the criminals.
1.7All public trials should therefore rank as important, but particularly this present one, in which you are about to cast your vote. For when you give a verdict on a charge of illegal proposals you merely rectify one single error, and in preventing the intended measure your scope depends upon the extent to which the decree in question will harm the city. But the present case is not concerned with some trifling constitutional issue, nor yet with a moment of time; our city's whole life is at stake, and this trial will leave a verdict to posterity to be remembered for all time. 1.8So dangerous is the wrong which has been done and so far-reaching that no indictment adequate could be devised, nor have the laws defined a punishment for the crimes. What punishment would suit a man who left his country and refused to guard the temples of his fathers, who abandoned the graves of his ancestors and surrendered the whole country into the hands of the enemy? The greatest and final penalty, death, though the maximum punishment allowed by law, is too small for the crimes of Leocrates. 1.9The reason why the penalty for such offences, gentlemen, has never been recorded is not that the legislators of the past were neglectful; it is that such things had not happened hitherto and were not expected to happen in the future. It is therefore most essential that you should be not merely judges of this present case but lawmakers besides. For where a crime has been defined by some law, it is easy, with that as a standard, to punish the offender. But where different offences are not specifically included in the law, being covered by a single designation, and where a man has committed crimes worse than these and is equally chargeable with them all, your verdict must be left as a precedent for your successors. 1.10I assure you, gentlemen, that if you condemn this man you will do more than merely punish him; you will be giving all younger men an incentive to right conduct. For there are two influences at work in the education of the young: the punishments suffered by wrongdoers and the reward available to the virtuous. With these alternatives before their eyes they are deterred by fear from the one and attracted by desire for honor to the other. You must therefore give your minds to the trial on hand and let your first consideration be justice.
1.11In my speech also justice shall come first; on no occasion will I have recourse to falsehoods or irrelevance. Most of the speakers who come before you behave in the strangest possible manner, either giving you advice from the platform on public affairs or wasting their charges and calumnies on any subject except the one on which you are going to vote. Either course is easy, whether they choose to express an opinion on questions about which you are not deliberating or else to invent a charge to which no one is going to reply. 1.12But it is wrong that they should ask for justice from you when you give your vote and yet be unjust themselves in handling the prosecution. And yet the blame for this is yours, gentlemen; for you have granted this freedom to speakers appearing before you, although you have, in the council of the Areopagus, the finest model in
1.14A further point for you to notice, gentlemen, is this: the trial of Leocrates is not comparable with that of other ordinary men. For if the defendant were unknown in
1.16I am asking you, Athenians, to listen to my accusation to the end and not to be impatient if I begin with the history of
1.20But before the witnesses come up I want to say a few words to you. You are well acquainted, gentlemen, with the tricks of defendants and with the requests made by others asking pardon for them. You know too well that desire for bribes and favors induces many witnesses to forget what they know, to fail to appear, or to contrive some other excuse. Ask the witnesses therefore to come up without hesitation and not to put offered favors before your interests and the state. Ask them to pay their country the debt of truth and justice which they owe and not to follow the example of Leocrates by failing in this duty. Otherwise let them swear the oath of disclaimer with their hands on the sacrifice. note If they refuse both these alternatives, we will summons them in the interest of yourselves, our laws and our democracy. Read the evidence.
1.21To resume then, gentlemen. After this, time passed, merchant ships from
1.24Now hear how Philomelos of Cholargus and Menelaus, once an envoy to the King, received from Amyntas forty minas owed them.
Please take the evidence of Timochares who bought the slaves from Amyntas for thirty-five minas, and also his agreement.
1.25You have heard the witnesses, gentlemen. What I am now going to say will give you good reason for indignation and hatred of this man Leocrates. For he was not content simply to remove his own person and his goods. There were the sacred images of his family which his forbears established and which, in keeping with your customs and ancestral tradition, they afterwards entrusted to him. These too he had sent to
1.28Consider these further proofs that my inquiry into this question has been just; for it is my opinion that in dealing with such serious crimes you must base your vote, not on conjecture, but on certainty; and that witnesses must prove their good faith before, not after, they give their evidence. I submitted to the defence a written challenge on all these points and demanded the slaves of Leocrates for torture, according to the right procedure for making challenges. Please read the challenge.
1.29You hear the challenge, gentlemen. By the very act of refusing to accept this Leocrates condemned himself as a traitor to his country. For whoever refuses to allow the testing of those who share his secrets has confessed that the charges of the indictment are true. Every one of you knows that in matters of dispute it is considered by far the justest and most democratic course, when there are male or female slaves, who possess the necessary information, to examine these by torture and so have facts to go upon instead of hearsay, particularly when the case concerns the public and is of vital interest to the state. note 1.30Certainly I cannot be called unjust in my prosecution of Leocrates. I was even willing at my own risk to let the proof rest on the torture of his male and female slaves, but the defendant, realizing his guilt, rejected the offer instead of accepting it. Add yet, gentlemen, the male and female slaves of Leocrates would have been far readier to deny any of the real facts than to invent lies against their master. 1.31Apart from this, Leocrates will presently proclaim that he is a simple citizen and is falling a prey to the cunning of an orator and false informer. But I am sure you all know well the characteristic behavior of those unscrupulous men who try to lay false information; for when they choose their part they look for vantage-points on which to quibble against those on trial, whereas the man whose aims in going to law are honest, who brings proofs to bear against those who come under the herald's curse, note does just the opposite, as I myself am doing. 1.32Look at the present case yourselves in this way. Which people could not have been misled by cunning or a deceptive argument? The male and female slaves. Naturally, when tortured, they would have told the whole truth about all the offences. But it was just these persons whom Leocrates refused to hand over, though they were his and no one else's. 1.33On the other hand which people could he probably impose upon by arguments, appealing to their softer side by his tears and so winning their sympathy? The jury. Leocrates, the betrayer of his country, has come into court with only one fear, namely that the witnesses who by certain proofs expose the criminal will be produced from the same household as the man whom they expose. What was the use of pretexts, pleas, excuses? Justice is plain, the truth easy and the proof brief. 1.34If he admits that the articles of the indictment are true and right, why does he not suffer punishment as the laws require? But if he claims that they are false, why has he not handed over his male and female slaves? When a man is up for treason he should submit his slaves for torture, without evading a single one of the most searching tests. 1.35Leocrates did nothing of the sort. Though he has condemned himself as a traitor to his country, a traitor to his gods and to the laws, he will ask you when you vote to contradict his own admissions and his own evidence. How can it be right, when a man has refused a fair offer and in many other ways also has robbed himself of the means of defence, for you to let him mislead your judgement on crimes to which he has confessed?
1.36So much for the challenge and the crime. I think you have been shown well enough, gentlemen, that that part is beyond dispute. I want now to remind you what emergencies, what great dangers the city was facing when Leocrates turned traitor to it. Please take the decree of Hyperides, clerk, and read it.
1.37You hear the decree, gentlemen. It provided that the Council of Five Hundred should go down to the
1.46I wish to say a few words more about these men, gentlemen, and I ask you to listen and not regard such pleas as out of keeping with public trials. For the praise of brave men provides an unanswerable refutation of all whose conduct is opposed to theirs. And it is fair too that that praise which is to them the only reward for danger should be remembered at the public trials in which the entire city shares, since it was for her safety as a whole that they forfeited their lives. 1.47Those men encountered the enemy on the borders of
1.52You should bear in mind, gentlemen, that it is not even in your power, unless you go beyond your rights, to acquit this man Leocrates, since his offence has had judgement passed upon it and a vote of condemnation too. For the council of the Areopagus;—(No one need interrupt me. That council was, in my opinion, the greatest bulwark of the city at the time;)—seized and executed men who then had fled from their country and abandoned it to the enemy. You must not think, gentlemen, that these councillors who are so scrupulous in trying other men for homicide would themselves have taken the life of any citizen unlawfully. 1.53Moreover you condemned Autolycus note and punished him because, though he himself had faced the dangers, he was charged with secretly sending his wife and sons away. Yet if you punished him when his only crime was that he had sent away persons useless for war, what should your verdict be on one who, though a man, did not pay his country the price of his nurture? The people also, who looked with horror upon what was taking place, decreed that those who were evading the danger which their country's defence involved were liable for treason, meriting in their belief the extreme penalty. 1.54When therefore certain actions have been censured by the most impartial council and condemned by you who were the judges appointed by lot, when they have been recognized by the people as demanding the severest punishment, will you give a verdict which opposes all these views? If you do, you will be the most unconscionable of men and will have few indeed ready to risk themselves in your defence.
1.55It is now clear, gentlemen, that Leocrates is liable under all the articles of the indictment. He will, I gather, try to mislead you by saying that it was merely as a merchant that he departed on this voyage and that the pursuance of this calling took him from his home to
1.59He will perhaps in his impetuosity raise the argument, suggested to him by certain of his advocates, that he is not liable on a charge of treason, since he was not responsible for dockyards, gates or camps nor in fact for any of the city's concerns. My own view is that those in charge of these positions could have betrayed a part of your defences only, whereas it was the whole city which Leocrates surrendered. Again, it is the living only whom men of their kind harm, but Leocrates has wronged the dead as well, depriving them of their ancestral rites. 1.60Had the city been betrayed by them it would have been inhabited though enslaved, but left as this man left it, it would have been deserted. Moreover, after suffering hardships cities may well expect to see a change to better times, but with complete destruction even the hopes common to every city are taken from them. A man, if he but lives, has still a prospect of change from evil fortunes, but at his death there perishes with him every means by which prosperity could come. And so it is with cities; their misfortune reaches its limit when they are destroyed. 1.61Indeed, the plain fact is that for a city destruction is like death. Let us take the clearest illustration. Our city was enslaved note in earlier times by the tyrants and later by the Thirty, when the walls were demolished by the Spartans. Yet we were freed from both these evils and the Greeks approved us as the guardians of their welfare. 1.62Not so with any city which has ever been destroyed. First, though it is to quote a rather early case, remember
1.63Perhaps one of his advocates will dare to belittle the offence and say that none of these misfortunes could have resulted from the action of one man. They are not ashamed to make before you the kind of plea for which they deserve to die. For if they admit that he deserted his country, once they have granted this, let them leave it to you to determine the seriousness of the offence; and even if he has committed none of these crimes, surely it is madness to say that this one man could cause no harm. 1.64Personally, gentlemen, I think the opposite is true: the safety of the city rested with this man. For the city's life continues only if each one guards her by personally doing his duty and if a man neglects his duty in a single aspect, he has, unwittingly, neglected it entirely. But it is easy, gentlemen, to ascertain the truth by referring to the attitude of the early lawgivers. 1.65It was not their way, when prescribing the death penalty for the thief who stole a hundred talents, to approve a punishment less severe for one who took ten drachmas. Again with sacrilege: for a great offence they inflicted death, and for a small one too they had no milder punishment. They did not differentiate between him who killed a slave and him who killed a free man, by fining one and outlawing the other. 1.66For all breaches of the law alike, however small, they fixed upon the death penalty, making no special allowances, in their assessment of the magnitude of crimes, for the individual circumstances of each. On one point only they insisted: was the crime such that, if it became more widespread, it would do serious harm to society? And it is absurd to face this question in any other way. Just imagine, gentlemen. Suppose someone had entered the Metroon note and erased one law and then excused himself on the grounds that the city was not endangered by the loss of just this one. Would you not have killed him? I think you would have been justified in doing so, at least if you intended to save the other laws. 1.67The same applies here: you must punish this man with death if you intend to make the other citizens better, oblivious of the fact that he is only one. You must consider the act. There are not many like him. In my opinion we have our good fortune to thank for that; but Leocrates, I think, deserves a more severe punishment on this account, since he alone of his fellow citizens sought safety for himself rather than for the city.
1.68Nothing angers me so much, gentlemen, as to hear some person among his supporters saying that to have left the city is not treason, since your ancestors once left it when they crossed to
1.75Consider too what your traditional views have been in this respect and what your present feelings are. It is as well that I should remind you though you know already. For by Athena, in the ancient laws and in the principles of those who drew them up in the beginning we have indeed a panegyric on the city. You have but to observe them to do right and all men will respect you as worthy of her. 1.76There is an oath which you take, sworn by all citizens when, as ephebi, note they are enrolled on the register of the deme, not to disgrace your sacred arms, not to desert your post in the ranks, but to defend your country and to hand it on better than you found it. If Leocrates has sworn this oath he has clearly perjured himself and, quite apart from wronging you, has behaved impiously towards the god. But if he has not sworn it, it becomes immediately plain that he has been playing tricks in the hope of evading his duty; and for this you would be justified in punishing him, on your own and Heaven's behalf. 1.77I want you to hear the oath. Read, clerk.
I will not bring dishonor an my sacred arms nor will I abandon my comrade wherever I shall be stationed. I will defend the rights of gods and men and will not leave my country smaller, when I die, but greater and better, so far as I am able by myself and with the help of all. I will respect the rulers of the time duly and the existing ordinances duly and all others which may be established in the future. And if anyone seeks to destroy the ordinances I will oppose him so far as I am able by myself and with the help of all. I will honor the cults of my fathers. Witnesses to this shall be the gods Agraulus, Hestia, Enyo, Enyalius, Ares, Athena the Warrior, Zeus, Thallo, Auxo, Hegemone, Heracles, and the boundaries of my native land, wheat, barley, vines, olive-trees, fig-trees. . . . note
It is a fine and solemn oath, gentlemen; an oath which Leocrates has broken in all that he has done. How could a man be more impious or a greater traitor to his country? How could he disgrace his arms more than by refusing to take them up and resist the enemy? Is there any doubt that a man has deserted the soldier at his side and left his post, if he did not even offer his person for enlistment?1.78How could anyone have defended the rights of men and gods who did not face a single danger? What greater treachery could he have shown towards his country, which, for all that he has done to save it, is left at the mercy of the enemy? Then will you not kill this man who is answerable for every crime? If not, whom will you punish? Those guilty of only one such act? It will be easy then to commit serious offences among you, if you show that the smaller ones arouse your anger more.
1.79There is a further point which you should notice, gentlemen. The power which keeps our democracy together is the oath. For there are three things of which the state is built up: the archon, the juryman and the private citizen. Each of these gives this oath as a pledge, and rightly so. For human beings have often been deceived. Many criminals evade them, escaping the dangers of the moment, yes, and even remaining unpunished for these crimes for the remainder of their lives. But the gods no one who broke his oath would deceive. No one would escape their vengeance. If the perjured man does not suffer himself, at least his children and all his family are overtaken by dire misfortunes. 1.80It was for this reason, gentlemen of the jury, that all the Greeks exchanged this pledge at
I will not hold life dearer than freedom nor will I abandon my leaders whether they are alive or dead. I will bury all allies killed in the battle. If I conquer the barbarians in war I will not destroy any of the cities which have fought for
Greecebut I will consecrate a tenth of all those which sided with the barbarian. I will not rebuild a single one of the shrines which the barbarians have burnt and razed but will allow them to remain for future generations as a memorial of the barbarians' impiety.
1.82They stood by this oath so firmly, gentlemen, that they had the favor of the gods on their side to help them; and, though all the Greeks proved courageous in the hour of danger, your city won the most renown. Your ancestors faced death to save the city from shame; nothing could then be worse than for you to pardon those who have disgraced her and allowed our national glory, won through many hardships, to perish by the wickedness of men like this.
1.83Consider, gentlemen: you are the only Greeks for whom it is impossible to ignore any of these crimes. Let me remind you of a few past episodes; and if you take them as examples you will reach a better verdict in the present case and in others also. The greatest virtue of your city is that she has set the Greeks an example of noble conduct. In age note she surpasses every city, and in valor too our ancestors have no less surpassed their fellows. 1.84Remember the reign of Codrus. note The Peloponnesians, whose crops had failed at home, decided to march against our city and, expelling our ancestors, to divide the land amongst themselves. They sent first to
1.90Yet he contended (and perhaps he will say this to you now also) that he would not have faced this trial if he had been conscious of committing a crime like this. As if all thieves and temple-robbers did not use this argument! It is an argument which goes to prove their shamelessness rather than the fact of their innocence. That is not the point at issue; we need the assurance that he did not sail, that he did not leave the city or settle at
When gods in anger seek a mortal's harm,unknown
First they deprive him of his sanity,
And fashion of his mind a baser instrument,
That he may have no knowledge when he errs.
1.93Who does not know the fate of Callistratus, note which the older among you remember and the younger have heard recounted, the man condemned to death by the city? How he fled and later, hearing from the god at
1.94It is my belief, gentlemen, that the guidance of the gods presides over all human affairs and more especially, as is to be expected, over our duty towards our parents, towards the dead and towards the gods themselves. For in our dealings with those to whom we owe our being, at whose hands we have enjoyed the greatest benefits, it is the utmost sacrilege that we should fail, not merely to do our duty, but even to dedicate our lives to their service. 1.95Let me take an illustration. There is a story that in
1.98Here is another story, gentlemen. Again I shall be speaking of our ancestors, since it is only right that you should hear of the deeds in which they took a pride and give them your approval. The tradition is that Eumolpus, the son of Poseidon and Chione, came with the Thracians to claim this country during the reign of Erechtheus who was married to Praxithea, the daughter of Cephisus. note 1.99As a large army was about to invade their country, he went to
Speech from EuripidesEuripides
He wins men's hearts who with a ready hand
Confers his favors; he who in the doing
Delays and falters is less generous.
But I consent to give my child to die
For many reasons: first there is no state
I count more worthy to accept my gift
Athens, peopled by no alien race.
For we are of this soil, while other towns,
Formed as by hazard in a game of draughts,
Take their inhabitants from diverse parts.
He who adopts a city, having left
Some other town, resembles a bad peg
Fixed into wood of better quality,
A citizen in name but not in fact.
And secondly: it is that we may guard
Our country and the altars of the gods
That we get children for ourselves at all.
This city, though it bears a single name,
Holds many people in it. Should I then
Destroy all these, when it is in my power
To give one girl to die on their behalf?
The mere ability to count, and tell
The greater from the less, convinces me
That this, the ruin of one person's home,
Is of less consequence and brings less grief
Than would result if the whole city fell.
If I had sons at home instead of girls,
When hostile flames beset the city's walls,
Should I not send them forth into the fight,
Though fearing for them? May my children then
Fight also, vie with men, and not become
Mere shapes of vanity within the state.
And yet, when mothers send their sons to war
With tears, they often daunt them as they leave.
I hate the women who above all else
Prefer their sons to live and put this thought
Before their honor, urging cowardice.
But if they fall in battle they obtain
A common grave and glory which they share
With many others; whereas she, my child,
By dying for this city will attain
A garland destined solely for herself.
And she will save her mother and you too
And both her sisters. Is it right to scorn
Honors like these? Except in nature's way
This girl whom I shall give for sacrifice
To save her native land is not my own.
And if the city falls, what further chance
Shall I have left me to enjoy my child?
So far as rests with me, all shall be saved.
Let others rule in
Athens; I will be
Her savior, and without my wish no man
Shall harm what most concerns our common good,
The ancient laws our fathers handed down.
Eumolpus and his slavish Thracian train
Shall set no trident in our midst or deck
It round with garlands, where the olive tree
And Gorgon's golden head have been revered;
Nor shall Athena meet with utter scorn.
Come, citizens, and use my travail's fruit
To save yourselves and conquer, knowing well
That I could never hesitate to save
This city for the sake of one poor life.
My country, were the love of all your sons
As great as mine! You could not suffer ill,
And we possessing you would live secure.
1.101On these verses, gentlemen, your fathers were brought up. All women are by nature fond of children, but this one Euripides portrayed as loving her country more than her offspring and made it clear that, if women bring themselves to act like this, men should show towards their country a devotion which cannot be surpassed, not forsake it and flee, as Leocrates did, nor disgrace it before the whole of
1.102I want also to recommend Homer to you. In your fathers' eyes he was a poet of such worth that they passed a law that every four years at the Panathenaea he alone of all the poets should have his works recited note; and thus they showed the Greeks their admiration for the noblest deeds. They were right to do so. Laws are too brief to give instruction: they merely state the things that must be done; but poets, depicting life itself, select the noblest actions and so through argument and demonstration convert men's hearts. 1.103Thus Hector, while exhorting the Trojans to defend their country, speaks these words:
Fight on unresting by the ships; and if some meet their fateHom. Il. 15.494
By wound of dart, or battling hand to hand, then let them die.
To fall in combat for your country's sake is no disgrace;
For wife and child will live unharmed, and home and plot last on,
If once the Achaeans leave and sail their ships to their own land.
1.104These are the lines, gentlemen, to which your forefathers listened, and such are the deeds which they emulated. Thus they developed such courage that they were ready to die, not for their country alone, but for the whole of
Nobly comes death to him who in the vanTyrtaeus
Fighting for fatherland has made his stand.
Shame and despite attend the coward's flight,
Who, leaving native town and fruitful land,
Wanders, a homeless beggar, with his kin,
True wife, old father, mother, tender child.
Unwelcome will he be where'er he goes,
Bowed dawn with hardship and by want defiled.
Bringing his house dishonor, he belies
His noble mien, a prey to fear and shame.
Thus roams the waif unpitied and unloved,
He and the line that after bears his name.
Be stalwart then. Think not of life or limb;
Shielding our land and children let us die.
Youths, brave the fight together. Be not first
To yield to craven cowardice and fly.
Make large your hearts within you. Undismayed
Engage in battle with grown men. Be bold;
And standing fast forsake not those whose feet
No longer keep their swiftness. Guard the old.
For shame it is to see an elder fall,
Down in the forefront, smitten in the strife,
Before the youths, with grey beard, hair grown white,
To breathe out in the dust his valiant life,
Clasping his bloody groin with clinging hands,
(Fit sight indeed to kindle wrath and shame!)
His body bared. But those whom youth's sweet flower
Adorns unfaded nothing can defame.
Honor of men is theirs, in life, and women's love;
Fair are they too when in the van laid low.
Then clench your teeth and, with both feet astride,
Firm planted on the ground withstand the foe.
1.108They are fine lines, gentlemen, and a lesson too for those who wish to heed them. Such was the courage of the men who used to hear them that they disputed with our city for supremacy; no matter for surprise, since the most gallant feats had been performed by either people. Your ancestors defeated the barbarians who first set foot in
Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,Simonides
That here obedient to their laws we lie.
Greece, subdued in fight
At Marathon the gilded Persians' might.
Dic, hospes, Spartae nos te hic vidisse iacentesSimonides
dum sanctis patriae legibus obsequimur.
1.110These are noble lines for us to remember, Athenians; they are a tribute to those whose deeds they record and an undying glory to the city. But Leocrates has not acted thus. Deliberately he sullied that honor which the city has accumulated from the earliest times. Therefore if you kill him all Greeks will believe that you too hate such acts as his. If not, you will rob your forbears of their long-lived renown, and will do grievous harm to your fellow citizens. For those who do not admire our ancestors will try to imitate Leocrates believing, that although among men of the past the old virtues had a place of honor, in your eyes shamelessness, treachery and cowardice are held in most esteem.
1.111If I am unable to show you what your attitude towards such men should be, remember your ancestors and the methods of punishment which they employed against them. Capable as they were of the noblest actions, they were no less ready to punish what was base. Think of them, gentlemen; think how enraged they were with traitors and how they looked on them as common enemies of the city. 1.112You remember when Phrynichus note was murdered at night beside the fountain in the osier beds by Apollodorus and Thrasybulus, who were later caught and put in the prison by the friends of Phrynichus. The people noted what had happened and, releasing the prisoners, held an inquiry after torture. On investigation they found that Phrynichus had been trying to betray the city and that his murderers had been unjustly imprisoned. 1.113They decreed publicly, on the motion of Critias, that the dead man should be tried for treason, and that if it were found that this was a tratior who had been buried in the country, his bones should be dug up and removed from
1.115You hear this decree, gentlemen. After it was passed your ancestors dug up the traitor's bones and cast them out of
Decree and Text of Inscription on the Pillar
1.119What is your impression of them, gentlemen? Had they the same attitude as yourselves towards wrongdoers? Or did they, by obliterating the memorial of the traitor, since they could not command his person, punish him with all the means at their disposal? The simple fact of melting down the bronze statue was not enough for them; they wished to leave to their successors a lasting memorial of their attitude to traitors.
1.120Let the jury hear the other decree, clerk, relating to the men who withdrew to Decelea note when the people were besieged by the Spartans, so that they will realize that the punishments inflicted by our ancestors on traitors were uniform and self-consistent. Read it.
1.121You hear this decree too, gentlemen. It says that they condemned any who moved to Decelea in war-time and laid it down that those who were caught returning should be led by any Athenian who cared to do so to the Thesmothetae who should take them into custody and hand them over to the executioner. note If they dealt thus with men who merely changed their place in
1.122You ought also to hear the decree relating to the man executed in
1.123What is your view, gentlemen? Do you think that if you wish to emulate your forefathers, it is in keeping to allow Leacrates to live? When they dispatched like that one who merely betrayed with his lips a city already desolate, how ought you, whose city prospered at the time, to treat the man who did in very fact desert it? Ought you not to outdo them in severity? When they chastised so sternly those who tried to rob them of the security which the people offered, note how ought you to treat a traitor to the people's own safety? And if they, from considerations of honor only, took vengeance on criminals in this way, how should you react when your country is at stake?
1.124These instances suffice to show you the attitude of our ancestors towards those who broke the city's laws. Nevertheless I want also to remind you of the pillar in the Council Chamber which commemorates traitors and enemies of democracy. For if my point is backed by frequent illustrations, I am rendering your verdict easy. After the rule of the Thirty, your fathers, who had suffered from citizens what no other Greek had ever thought fit to inflict and had barely managed to return to their country, barred all the paths to crime, having learnt by experience the principles and methods followed by men who wished to overthrow democracy. 1.125For they established it by decree and oath that anyone who found a person aspiring to tyranny or attempting to betray the city or overthrow the democracy should be guiltless if he killed him. note They thought it better that imagined culprits should perish than that they themselves should have a real experience of slavery, holding that citizens must simply live in such a manner as to avoid the very suspicion of any of these crimes. Please take the decree.
1.126These words, gentlemen, they inscribed on the pillar, erecting it in the Council Chamber as a reminder to those who daily met in council over affairs of state what their attitude to men like this should be, and hence they swore a common oath to kill them if they saw them even contemplating such conduct. Naturally enough. For where other offences are concerned, the punishment should follow on the crime; but in cases of treason or the overthrow of a democracy it should precede it. If you let slip the moment when the criminals are contemplating some treasonable act against their country, you cannot afterwards bring them to justice for their crimes, since by then they are too powerful to be punished by those whom they have wronged.
1.127Let this foresight, gentlemen, and these actions be the inspiration to you that they should. Remember, when you vote, the temper of your forbears, and urge each other to bring in today, before you leave the court, a verdict modelled to their pattern. You have memorials, you have examples of the punishments they meted out, embodied in the decrees concerning criminals. You have sworn in the decree of Demophantus to kill the man who betrays his country, whether by word or deed, hand or vote. I say “you”; for you must not think that, as heirs to the riches bequeathed by your ancestors, you can yet renounce your share in their oaths or in the pledge your fathers gave as a security to the gods, thereby enjoying the prosperity of their city.
1.128Your city was not alone in dealing thus with traitors. The Spartans were the same. Please do not think me tedious, gentlemen, if I allude often to these men. We shall be well advised to take examples of just conduct from a city which has good laws, and so be surer that each of you will give a just verdict in keeping with his oath. The Spartans, you remember, caught their king Pausanias trying to betray
The Law of the Spartans
1.130See what an admirable law this is, gentlemen, and how expedient it would be for other peoples too besides the Spartans. The fear of one's own community is a strong thing and will compel men to face danger against an enemy; no one will forsake his country in times of peril when he sees that a traitor is punished with death. No one will turn coward when his city needs him, if he knows that the punishment in store for him is this. For death is the one fitting penalty for cowardice; since, when men know that there are two alternative dangers of which they must face one, they will choose to meet the enemy far rather than stand out against the law and their fellow citizens.
1.131Leocrates is much more deserving of death than deserters from the army. They return to the city ready to defend it or to meet disaster in company with their fellow citizens, while he fled from his country and provided for his own safety, not daring to protect his hearth and home. He alone of men has betrayed even the natural ties of kinship and blood which the unthinking beasts themselves hold dearest and most sacred. 1.132Birds at least, which by nature are best fitted for a swift escape, can be seen accepting death in defence of their brood. Hence the words of the old poets:
Nor does the wild fowl let another's broodunknown
Be laid within the nest that she has built.
1.135I am amazed at the advocates who are going to defend him. Whatever justification, I wonder, will they find for his acquittal? Will it be his friendship with themselves? In my own view they are not entitled to indulgence but deserve to die for daring to be intimate with him. Though their attitude was not obvious, before Leocrates acted as he did, it is clear to everyone now, since they maintain their friendship with him, that they uphold the same principles as he does and should therefore far rather be required to plead their own defence than be allowed to win your pardon for him.
1.136I believe myself that if the dead really do have any knowledge of earthly affairs, his own father, now no more, would be a sterner judge than any other; since he it was whose bronze statue Leocrates left behind him in the temple of Zeus the Savior, abandoned to the enemy for them to steal or mutilate. He turned that statue, which his father erected as a memorial of his own uprightness, into an object of reproach, since it commemorates a man now famed as father of a son like this. 1.137It is with this in mind, gentlemen, that many have approached me and asked why I did not include in the indictment the charge that he had betrayed his father's statue, dedicated in the temple of Zeus the Savior. Gentlemen, I fully realized that this offence called for the most severe punishment, but I did not think it right, when prosecuting the defendant for treason, to add the name of Zeus the Savior to the bill of indictment.
1.138What astounds me most of all is, that though you are dealing with men who have no ties of blood or friendship with him but who always champion defendants for a fee, you do not realize that they deserve to feel your anger in its fullest violence. If they and their kind defend the criminals it is proof that they would associate themselves with the actual crimes. It is to defend you, in the interests of democracy and law, not to oppose you, that a speaker should have acquired his skill.
1.139Some of them indeed are no longer using arguments to try to deceive you; they will even cite their own public services in favor of the defendants. These I particularly resent. For having performed the services for the advancement of their own families, they are now asking you for public token of thanks. Horsebreeding, note a handsome payment for a chorus, and other expensive gestures, do not entitle a man to any such recognition from you, since for these acts he alone is crowned, conferring no benefit on others. To earn your gratitude he must, instead, have been distinguished as a trierarch, or built walls to protect his city, or subscribed generously from his own property for the public safety. These are services to the state: 1.140they affect the welfare of you all and prove the loyalty of the donors, while the others are evidence of nothing but the wealth of those who have spent the money. I do not believe that anyone has done the city so great a service that he can claim the acquittal of traitors as a special privilege for himself; nor do I believe that anyone, with ambitions for the city's honor, is so unthinking as to help Leocrates, by whom he, first and foremost, had those ambitions frustrated; unless indeed such people have interests other than their country's.
1.141Though it may not be customary at any other time for members of the jury to set their wives and children beside them in the court, at least in a trial for treason this practice ought to have been sanctioned, so as to bring into full view all those who shared in the danger, as a reminder that they had not been thought deserving of the pity which is their universal right, and make the jury reach a sterner verdict on the man who wronged them. Since, however, custom and tradition have not sanctioned this and you must act on their behalf, at least avenge yourselves upon Leocrates by putting him to death, and so report to your own wives and children that when you had their betrayer in your power you took vengeance upon him. 1.142It is an outrageous scandal for Leocrates to think that he, the runaway, should take his place in the city of those who stood their ground, the deserter among men who fought in battle, the one who left his post among those who saved their country; it is outrageous that he is returnIng to have access to your cults and sacrifices, to your market, your laws and constitution, when to save these from destruction a thousand of your citizens fell at
1.146Before I leave the platform I want to add a few remarks and to read you the decree relating to piety which the people drew up. It has a message for you who are on the point of giving your verdict. Please read it.
My part consists in exposing one who is doing away with all these principles, to you who are empowered to chastise him it remains for you, as a service to yourselves and Heaven, to take vengeance on Leocrates. For while crimes remain untried the guilt rests with those who committed them, but once the trial has taken place it falls on all who did not mete out justice. Do not forget, gentlemen, that each of you now, though giving his vote in secret, will openly proclaim his attitude to the gods.1.147I believe, gentlemen, that all the greatest and most atrocious crimes are today included within the scope of your single verdict; for Leocrates can be shown to have committed them all. He is guilty of treason, since he left the city and surrendered it to the enemy; guilty of overthrowing the democracy, because he did not face the danger which is the price of freedom; guilty of impiety, because he has done all in his power to have the sacred precincts ravaged and the temples destroyed. He is guilty too of injuring his forbears, for he effaced their memorials and deprived them of their rites, and guilty of desertion and refusal to serve, since he did not submit his person to the leaders for enrollment. 1.148Shall this man then find someone to acquit him or pardon his deliberate misdeeds? Who is so senseless as to choose to save Leocrates at the cost of leaving his own security at the mercy of men who wish to be deserters, to choose to pity him at the cost of being killed himself without pity by his enemies, or to grant a favor to the betrayer of his country and so expose himself to the vengeance of the gods?
1.149My task has been to assist my country, its temples and its laws. I have conducted the trial rightly and justly without slandering the private life of the defendant or digressing from the subject of my indictment. It is now for each of you to reflect that the absolver of Leocrates condemns his country to death and slavery, that of the two caskets before you one stands for treason and the other for deliverance, that the votes cast into one are given for the destruction of your country and the rest for safety and prosperity in
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