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Against Eratosthenes

12.1The difficulty that faces me, gentlemen of the jury, is not in beginning my accusation, but in bringing my speech to an end: so enormous, so numerous are the acts they have committed, that neither could lying avail one to accuse them of things more monstrous than the actual facts, nor with every desire to speak mere truth could one tell the whole; of necessity either the accuser must be tired out or his time must run short. 12.2It seems to me that our positions will be the reverse of what they were in former times: for previously the accusers had to explain their enmity towards the defendants; but in the present case inquiry must be made of the defendants as to the motive of their enmity towards the city in committing such audacious offences against her. It is not, in deed, from any lack of private enmities and sufferings that I make these remarks, but because of the abundant reasons that all of us have for anger on personal grounds, or in the interest of the public. 12.3Now as for myself, gentlemen, having never engaged in any suit either on my own account or on that of others, I have now been compelled by what has occurred to accuse this man: hence I have been often overcome with a great feeling of despondency, from a fear lest my inexperience might cause me to fail in making a worthy and able accusation on my brother's and on my own behalf. Nevertheless I will try to inform you of the matter from the beginning, as briefly as I can.

12.4My father Cephalus was induced by Pericles to come to this country, note and dwelt in it for thirty years: never did he, any more than we, note appear as either prosecutor or defendant in any case whatever, but our life under the democracy was such as to avoid any offence against our fellows and any wrong at their hands. 12.5When the Thirty, by the evil arts of slander-mongers, were established in the government, and declared that the city must be purged of unjust men and the rest of the citizens inclined to virtue and justice, despite these professions they had the effrontery to discard them in practice, as I shall endeavor to remind you by speaking first of my own concerns, and then of yours. 12.6Theognis and Peison note stated before the Thirty that among the resident aliens that there might be some who were embittered against their administration, and that therefore they had an excellent pretext for appearing to punish while in reality making money; in any case, the State was impoverished, and the government needed funds. 12.7They had no difficulty in persuading their hearers, for those men thought nothing of putting people to death, but a great deal of getting money. So they resolved to seize ten, of whom two should be poor men, that they might face the rest with the excuse that the thing had not been done for the sake of money, but had been brought about in the interest of the State, just as if they had taken some ordinary reasonable action. 12.8They apportioned the houses among them, and began their visits: they found me entertaining guests, and after driving these out they handed me over to Peison. The others went to the factory note and proceeded to make a list of the slaves. I asked Peison if he would save me for a price: 12.9he assented, on condition that it was a high one. So I said that I was prepared to give him a talent of silver, and he agreed to my proposal. I knew well, indeed, that he had no regard either for gods or for men; but still, in the circumstances, I thought it imperative to get him pledged. 12.10When he had sworn, invoking annihilation upon himself and his children if he did not save me on receipt of the talent, I went into my bedroom and opened the money-chest. Peison noticed it and came in; on seeing its contents he called two of his underlings and bade them take what was in the chest. 12.11Since he now had, instead of the agreed amount, gentlemen, three talents of silver, four hundred cyzicenes, a hundred darics note and four silver cups, I begged him to give me money for my journey; but he declared that I should be glad enough to save my skin. 12.12As Peison and I were coming out, we were met by Melobius and Mnesitheides, note who were on their way from the factory: they lighted upon us just at the door, and asked where we were going. Peison declared that he was off to my brother's, for the purpose of examining the property in that house also. So they bade him go his way, but told me to follow along with them to Damnippus's house. 12.13Peison came up and urged me to keep silent and have no fear, as he was coming on to that place. There we found Theognis guarding some others; they handed me over to him, and went off again. Situated as I was I decided to take a risk, since death was already my portion. 12.14I called Damnippus and said to him: “You are in friendly relations with me, and I have come into your house; I have done no wrong, but am being destroyed for the sake of my money. This being my plight, exert your own utmost efforts for my salvation.” He promised to do so; and he decided that he had better mention it to Theognis, as he believed that he would do anything for an offer of money. 12.15While he was in conversation with Theognis—I happened to be familiar with the house, and knew that it had doors front and back—I decided to try this means of saving myself, reflecting that, if I should be unobserved, I should be saved; while, if I were caught, I expected that, should Theognis be induced by Damnippus to take money, I should get off none the less, but should he not, I should be put to death just the same. 12.16With these conclusions I took to flight, while they were keeping guard over the courtyard door: note there were three doors note for me to pass through, and they all chanced to be open. I reached the house of Archeneos the ship-captain, and sent him into town to inquire after my brother: on his return he told me that Eratosthenes had arrested him in the street and taken him off to prison. 12.17Thus apprised of his fate, I sailed across on the following night to Megara. Polemarchus received from the Thirty their accustomed order to drink hemlock, with no statement made as to the reason for his execution: still less was he allowed to be tried and defend himself. 12.18And when he was being brought away dead from the prison, although we had three houses amongst us, they did not permit his funeral to be conducted from any of them, but they hired a small hut in which to lay him out. We had plenty of cloaks, yet they refused our request of one for the funeral; but our friends gave either a cloak, or a pillow, or whatever each had to spare, for his interment. 12.19They had seven hundred shields of ours, they had all that silver and gold, with copper, jewellery, furniture and women's apparel beyond what they had ever expected to get; also a hundred and twenty slaves, of whom they took the ablest, delivering the rest to the Treasury; and yet to what extremes of insatiable greed for gain did they go, in this revelation that they made of their personal character! For some twisted gold earrings, which Polemarchus's wife had in her possession when she first came into his house, were taken out of her ears by Melobius. 12.20And not even in respect of the smallest fraction of our property did we find any mercy at their hands but our wealth impelled them to act as injuriously towards us as others might from anger aroused by grievous wrongs. This was not the treatment that we deserved at the city's hands, when we had produced all our dramas for the festivals, note and contributed to many special levies; note when we showed ourselves men of orderly life, and performed every duty laid upon us; when we had made not a single enemy, but had ransomed many Athenians from the foe. Such was their reward to us for behaving as resident aliens far otherwise than they did as citizens! 12.21For they sent many of the citizens into exile with the enemy; they unjustly put many of them to death, and then deprived them of burial; many who had full civic rights they excluded from the citizenship; and the daughters of many they debarred from in tended marriage. 12.22And they have carried audacity to such a pitch that they come here ready to defend themselves, and state that they are guilty of no vile or shameful action. I myself could have wished that their statement were true; for my own share in that benefit would not have been of the smallest. 12.23But in fact they have nothing of the sort to show in regard either to the city or to me: my brother, as I said before, was put to death by Eratosthenes, who was neither suffering under any private wrong himself, nor found him offending against the State, but merely sought to gratify his own lawless passions. 12.24I propose to put him up on the dais and question him, gentlemen of the jury. For my feeling is this: even to discuss this man with another for his profit I consider to be an impiety, but even to address this man himself, when it is for his hurt, note I regard as a holy and pious action. So mount the dais, please, and answer the questions I put to you.

12.25Did you arrest Polemarchus or not?—I was acting on the orders of the government, from fear.—Were you in the Council-chamber when the statements were being made about us?—I was.—Did you speak in support or in opposition of those who were urging the death sentence?—In opposition.—You were against taking our lives?—Against taking your lives.—In the belief that our fate was unjust, or just?—That it was unjust.

12.26So then, most abandoned of mankind, you spoke in opposition to save us, but you helped in our arrest to put us to death! And when our salvation depended on the majority of your body, you assert that you spoke in opposition to those who sought our destruction; but when it rested with you alone to save Polemarchus or not, you arrested him and put him in prison. So then, because you failed to help him, as you say, by your speech in opposition, you claim to be accounted a good citizen, while for having apprehended him and put him to death you are not to give satisfaction to me and to this court!

12.27And further, supposing he is truthful in asserting that he spoke in opposition, observe that there is no reason to credit his plea that he acted under orders. For I presume it was not where the resident aliens were concerned that they sought to put him to the proof. note And then, who was less likely to be given such orders than the man who was found to have spoken in opposition and to have declared his opinion? For who was likely to be less active in this service than the man who spoke in opposition to the object that they had at heart? 12.28Again, the rest of the Athenians have a sufficient excuse, in my opinion, for attributing to the Thirty the responsibility for what has taken place; but if the Thirty actually attribute it to themselves, how can you reasonably accept that? 12.29For had there been some stronger authority in the city, whose orders were given him to destroy people in defiance of justice, you might perhaps have some reason for pardoning him; but whom, in fact, will you ever punish, if the Thirty are to be allowed to state that they merely carried out the orders of the Thirty? 12.30Besides, it was not in his house, but in the street, where he was free to leave both him and the decrees of the Thirty intact, note that he apprehended him and took him off to prison. You feel anger against everyone who entered your houses in search either of yourselves or of some member of your household: 12.31yet, if there is to be pardon for those who have destroyed others to save themselves, you would be more justified in pardoning these intruders; for it was dangerous for them not to go where they were sent, and to deny that they had found the victims there. But Eratosthenes was free to say that he had not met his man, or else that he had not seen him for these were statements that did not admit of either disproof or inquisition; so that not even his enemies, however they might wish it, could have convicted him. 12.32If in truth, Eratosthenes, you had been a good citizen, you ought far rather to have acted as an informant to those who were destined to an unjust death than to have laid hands on those who were to be unjustly destroyed. But the fact is that your deeds clearly reveal the man who, instead of feeling pain, took pleasure in what was being done; so that this court should take its verdict from your deeds, not from your words. 12.33They should take what they know to have been done as evidence of what was said at the time, since it is not possible to produce witnesses of the latter. For we were restricted, not merely from attending their councils, but even from staying at home; and thus they have the licence, after doing all possible evil to the city, to say all possible good about themselves. 12.34That one point, however, I do not contest; I admit, if you like, that you spoke in opposition. But I wonder what in the world you would have done if you had spoken in favour, when in spite of your alleged opposition you put Polemarchus to death.

Now I would ask the court, even supposing that you had happened to be brothers or sons of this man, what would you have done? Acquitted him? For, gentlemen, Eratosthenes is bound to prove one of two things,—either that he did not arrest him, or that he did so with justice. But he has admitted that he laid hands on him unjustly, note so that he has made your verdict on himself an easy matter. 12.35And besides, many foreigners as well as townsfolk have come here to know what is to be your judgement on these men. The latter sort, your fellow-citizens, will have learnt before they leave, either that they will be punished for their offences, or that, if they succeed in their aims, they will be despots of the city, but, if they are disappointed, will be on an equality with you. As for all the foreigners who are staying in town, they will know whether they are acting unjustly or justly in banning the Thirty from their cities. For if the very people who have suffered injury from them are to let them go when they have hold of them, of course they will consider it a waste of pains on their own part to keep watch on your behalf. 12.36And how monstrous it would be, when you have punished with death the commanders who won the victory at sea note—they said that a storm prevented them from picking up the men in the water, but you felt that you must make them give satisfaction to the I valor of the dead—if these men, who as ordinary persons used their utmost endeavors towards your defeat in the sea-fights, note and then, once established in power, admit that of their own free will they put to death many of the citizens without a trial,—if these men, I say, and their children are not to be visited by you with the extreme penalty of the law!

12.37Now I, gentlemen, might almost claim that the accusations you have heard are sufficient: for I consider that an accuser ought to go no further than to show that the defendant has committed acts that merit death; since this is the extreme penalty that we have power to inflict upon him. So I doubt if there is any need to prolong one's accusation of such men as these; for not even if they underwent two deaths for each one of their deeds could they pay the penalty in full measure. 12.38And note that he cannot even resort to the expedient, so habitual among our citizens, of saying nothing to answer the counts of the accusation, but making other statements about themselves which at times deceive you; they represent to you that they are good soldiers, or have taken many vessels of the enemy while in command of war-ships, or have won over cities from hostility to friendship. 12.39Why, only tell him to point out where they killed as many of our enemies as they have of our citizens, or where they took as many ships as they themselves surrendered, or what city they enlisted to compare with yours which they enslaved. 12.40Nay, indeed, did they despoil the enemy of as many arms as they stripped from you? Did they capture fortifications to compare with those of their own country which they razed to the ground? They are the men who pulled down the forts around Attica, and made it evident to you that even in dismantling the Peiraeus they were not obeying the injunctions of the Lacedaemonians, but were thinking to make their own authority the more secure.

12.41I have often wondered, therefore, at the audacity of those who speak in his defence, except when I reflect that the same men who commit every sort of crime are wont also to commend those who act in a similar way. 12.42For this is not the first occasion of his working in opposition to your people in the time of the Four Hundred note also, seeking to establish an oligarchy in the army, he abandoned the war-ship which he was commanding and fled from the Hellespont with Iatrocles and others whose names I have no call to mention. On his arrival here he worked in opposition to those who were promoting a democracy. I will present you with witnesses to these facts.Witnesses
12.43Now his life in the interval I will here pass over: but when the sea-fight note took place, with the disaster that befell the city, and while we still had a democracy (at this point they started the sedition), five men were set up as overseers note by the so-called “club men,” to be organizers of the citizens as well as chiefs of the conspirators and opponents of your common wealth; and among these were Eratosthenes and Critias. 12.44They placed tribal governors over the tribes, and directed what measures should be passed by their votes and who were to be magistrates; and they had absolute powers for any other steps that they chose to take. Thus by the plotting, not merely of your enemies, but even of these your fellow-citizens, you were at once prevented from passing any useful measure and reduced to a serious scarcity. 12.45For they knew perfectly well that in other conditions they could not get the upper hand, but that if you were in distress they would succeed. And they supposed that in your eagerness to be relieved of your actual hardships you would give no thought to those that were to follow. 12.46Now, to show that he was one of the overseers, I will offer you witnesses; not the men who then acted with him,—for I could not do that,—but those who heard it from Eratosthenes himself: 12.47yet truly, if they were sensible, note they would be bearing witness against those persons, and would severely punish their instructors in transgression; instead of holding themselves bound by their oaths to the detriment of the citizens, if they were sensible they would make light of breaking those oaths for the advantage of the city. So much then, I would say in regard to them: now call my witnesses. Go up on the dais.Witnesses
12.48You have heard the witnesses. Finally, when he was established in power, he had a hand in no good work, but in much that was otherwise. Yet, if he was really a good man, it behoved him in the first place to decline unconstitutional powers, or else to lay information before the Council exposing the falsity of all the impeachments, and showing that Batrachus and Aeschylides, so far from giving true information, were producing as impeachments the fabrications of the Thirty, devised for the injury of the citizens. 12.49Furthermore, gentlemen, anyone who was ill-disposed towards your people lost nothing by holding his peace: for there were other men to speak and do things of the utmost possible detriment to the city. As for the men who say they are well-disposed, how is it that they did not show it at the moment, by speaking themselves to the most salutary purpose and deterring those who were bent on mischief?

12.50He could say, perhaps, that he was afraid, and to some of you this plea will be satisfactory. Then he must take care that he is not found to have opposed the Thirty in discussion: otherwise the fact will declare him an approver of their conduct who was, moreover, so influential that his opposition would bring him to no harm at their hands. He ought to have shown this zeal in the interest rather of your safety than of Theramenes, who has committed numerous offences against you. 12.51No, this man considered the city his enemy, and your enemies his friends; both of these points I will maintain by many evidences, showing that their mutual disputes were not concerned with your advantage but with their own, in the contest of their two parties note as to which should have the administration and control the city. 12.52For if their quarrel had been in the cause of those who had suffered wrong, at what moment could a ruler have more gloriously displayed his own loyalty than on the seizure of Phyle by Thrasybulus? note But, instead of offering or bringing some aid to the men at Phyle, he went with his partners in power to Salamis and Eleusis, and haled to prison three hundred of the citizens, and by a single resolution note condemned them all to death.

12.53After we had come to the Peiraeus, and the commotions had taken place, and the negotiations were in progress for our reconciliation, we were in good hopes on either side of a settlement between us, as both parties made evident. 12.54For the Peiraeus party, having got the upper hand, allowed the others to move off: these went into the town, drove out the Thirty except Pheidon and Eratosthenes, and appointed their bitterest enemies as leaders, judging that the same men might fairly be expected to feel both hate for the Thirty and love for the party of the Peiraeus. 12.55Now among these note were Pheidon, Hippocles, and Epichares of the district of Lamptra, with others who were thought to be most opposed to Charicles and Critias and their club: but as soon as they in their turn were raised to power, they set up a far sharper dissension and warfare between the parties of the town and of the Peiraeus, 12.56and thereby revealed in all clearness that their faction was not working for the Peiraeus party nor for those who were being unjustly destroyed; and that their vexation lay, not in those who had been or were about to be put to death, but in those who had greater power or were more speedily enriched. 12.57For having got hold of their offices and the city they made war on both sides,—on the Thirty who had wrought every kind of evil, and on you who had suffered it in every way. And yet one thing was clear to all men,—that if the exile of the Thirty was just, yours note was unjust while if yours was just, that of the Thirty was unjust; for it was not as answerable for some other acts that they were banished from the city, but simply for these. 12.58It ought therefore to be a matter for the deepest resentment that Pheidon, after being chosen to reconcile and restore you, joined in the same courses as Eratosthenes and, working on the same plan, was ready enough to injure the superior members of his party on your account, but unwilling to restore the city to you who were in unjust exile: he went to Lacedaemon, and urged them to march out, insinuating that the city would be falling into the hands of the Boeotians, with other statements calculated to induce them. 12.59Finding that he could not achieve this,—whether because the sacred signs impeded, or because the people themselves did not desire it,—he borrowed a hundred talents for the purpose of hiring auxiliaries, and asked for Lysander to be their leader, as one who was both a strong supporter of the oligarchy and a bitter foe of the city, and who felt a special hatred towards the party of the Peiraeus. 12.60Bent on our city's destruction, they hired all and sundry, and were enlisting the aid of cities and finally that of the Lacedaemonians and as many of their allies as they could prevail upon and thus they were preparing, not to reconcile, but to destroy the city, had it not been for some loyal men, to whom I bid you declare, by exacting requital from your enemies, that they no less will get your grateful reward. 12.61But these facts you comprehend of yourselves, and I doubt if I need provide any witnesses. Some, however, I will; for not only am I in need of a rest, but some of you will prefer to hear the same statements from as many persons as possible.Witnesses
12.62By your leave, I will inform you also about Theramenes, as briefly as I can. I request you to listen, both in my own interest, and in that of the city; and one thing let no one imagine,—that I am accusing Theramenes when it is Eratosthenes who is on his trial. For I am told that he will plead in defence that he was that man's friend, and took part in the same acts. 12.63Why, I suppose, if he had been in the government with Themistocles he would have been loud in claiming that he worked for the construction of the walls, note when he claims that he worked with Theramenes for their demolition? For I do not see that there is any parity of merit between them. The one constructed the walls against the wish of the Lacedaemonians, whereas the other demolished them by beguilement of the citizens. 12.64Thus the reverse of what was to be expected has overtaken the city. For the friends of Theramenes deserved no less to perish with him, except such as might be found acting in opposition to him: but here I see them referring their defence to him, and we have his associates attempting to win credit as though he had been the author of many benefits, and not of grievous injuries. 12.65He, first of all, was chiefly responsible for the former oligarchy, note by having prompted your choice of the government of the Four Hundred. His father, who was one of the Commissioners, note was active in the same direction, while he himself, being regarded as a strong supporter of the system, was appointed general by the party. 12.66So long as he found favour, he showed himself loyal; but when he saw Peisander, Callaeschrus and others getting in advance of him, and your people no longer disposed to hearken to them, immediately his jealousy of them, combined with his fear of you, threw him into co-operation with Aristocrates. 12.67Desiring to be reputed loyal to your people, he accused Antiphon and Archeptolemus, his best friends, and had them put to death; and such was the depth of his villainy that, to make credit with those men, note he enslaved you, while also, to make credit with you, he destroyed his friends. 12.68Held in favour and the highest estimation, he who by his own choice offered to save the city, by his own choice destroyed it, asserting that he had discovered a capital and most valuable expedient. He undertook to arrange a peace without giving any hostages or demolishing the walls or surrendering the ships: he would tell nobody what it was, but bade them trust him. 12.69And you, men of Athens, while the Council of the Areopagus were working for your safety, and many voices were heard in opposition to Theramenes, were aware that, though other people keep secrets to baffle the enemy, he refused to mention amongst his own fellow citizens what he was going to tell the enemy: yet nevertheless you entrusted to him your country, your children, your wives and yourselves. 12.70Not one of the things that he undertook did he perform, but was so intent on his object of subduing and crippling the city that he induced you to do things which none of the enemy had ever mentioned nor any of the citizens had expected: under no compulsion from the Lacedaemonians, but of his own accord, he promised them the dismantling of the Peiraeus walls and the subversion of the established constitution; for well he knew that, if you were not utterly bereft of your hopes, you would be quick to retaliate upon him. 12.71Finally, gentlemen, he kept the Assembly from meeting until the moment mentioned by the enemy had been carefully watched for by him, and he had sent for Lysander's ships from Samos, and the enemy's forces were quartered in the town. 12.72And now, with matters thus arranged, and in the presence of Lysander, Philochares and Miltiades, note they called the Assembly to a debate on the constitution, when no orator could either oppose them or awe them with threats, while you, instead of choosing the course most advantageous to the city, could only vote in favour of their views. 12.73Theramenes arose, and bade you entrust the city to thirty men, and apply the system propounded by Dracontides. note But you, not withstanding your awkward plight, showed by your uproar that you would not do as he proposed for you realized that you had to choose between slavery and freedom in the Assembly that day. 12.74Theramenes, a gentlemen (I shall cite your own selves as witnesses to this), said that he recked naught of your uproar, since he knew of many Athenians who were promoting the same kind of scheme as himself, and that his advice had the approval of Lysander and the Lacedaemonians. After him Lysander arose and said, when he had spoken at some length, that he held you guilty of breaking the truce, and that it must be a question, not of your constitution, but of your lives, if you refused to do as Theramenes demanded. 12.75Then all the good citizens in the Assembly, perceiving the plot that had been hatched for their compulsion, either remained there and kept quiet, or took themselves off, conscious at least of this,—that they had voted nothing harmful to the city. But some few, of base nature and noxious counsels, raised their hands in favour of the commands that had been given. 12.76For the order had been passed to them that they were to elect ten men whom Theramenes indicated, ten more whom the overseers, just appointed, should demand, and ten from amongst those present. They were so aware of your weakness, and so sure of their own power, that they knew beforehand what would be transacted in the Assembly. 12.77For this you should rely, not on my word, but on that of Theramenes; since everything that I have mentioned was stated by him in his defence before the Council, note when he reproached the exiles with the fact that they owed their restoration to him, and not to any consideration shown by the Lacedaemonians, and reproached also his partners in the government with this,—that although he had been himself responsible for all that had been transacted in the manner that I have described, he was treated in this fashion,—he who had given them many pledges by his actions, and to whom they were plighted by their oaths. 12.78And it is for this man, responsible as we find him for all these and other injuries and ignominies, late as well as early, great as well as small, that they note are going to have the audacity to proclaim their friendship; for Theramenes, who has suffered death, not as your champion, but as the victim of his own baseness, and has been justly punished under the oligarchy—he had already caused its ruin—as he would justly have been under democracy. Twice over note did he enslave you, despising what was present, note and longing for what was absent, note and, while giving them the fairest name, note setting himself up as instructor in most monstrous acts.

12.79Well, I have dealt sufficiently with Theramenes in my accusation. You now have reached the moment in which your thoughts must have no room for pardon or for pity; when you must punish Eratosthenes and his partners in power. You should not show your superiority to the city's foes in your fighting merely to show your inferiority to your own enemies in your voting. 12.80Nor must you feel more gratitude to them for what they say that they mean to do than anger for what they have done; nor, while taking your measures against the Thirty in their absence, note acquit them in their presence; nor in your own rescue be more lax than fortune who has delivered these men into the hands of the city.

12.81Such is the accusation against Eratosthenes and those friends of his, on whom he will fall back in his defence, as his abettors in these practices. Yet it is an unequal contest between the city and Eratosthenes: for whereas he was at once accuser and judge of the persons brought to trial, we to-day are parties engaged in accusation and defence. 12.82And whereas these men put people to death untried who were guilty of no wrong, you think fit to try according to law the persons who destroyed the city, and whose punishment by you, even if unlawfully devised, would still be inadequate to the wrongs that they have committed against the city. For what would they have to suffer, if their punishment should be adequate to their actions? 12.83If you put them and their children to death, should we sufficiently punish them for the murder of our fathers, sons and brothers whom they put to death untried? Or again, if you confiscated their material property, would this be compensation either to the city for all that they have taken from her, or to individuals for the houses that they pillaged? 12.84Since therefore, whatever you might do, you could not exact from them an adequate penalty, would it not be shameful of you to disallow any possible sort of penalty that a man might desire to exact from these persons?

But, I believe, he would have the audacity for anything, when he has come here today, before judges who are no other than the very persons who have been maltreated, to submit his defence to the actual witnesses of the man's own villainy: so profound is either the contempt that he has conceived for you or the confidence that he has placed in others. 12.85For both possibilities you ought to be on the watch, reflecting that, as they would have been unable to do what they did without the cooperation of others, so they would not now have ventured into court unless they expected to be saved by those same persons who have come here, not to support these men, but in the belief that there will be a general indemnity alike for their past actions and for whatever they may want to do in the future, if you let slip from your grasp the authors of our direst misery. 12.86But you may well wonder, besides, whether those who intend to take their part will petition you in the character of loyal gentlemen, making out that their own merit outweighs the villainy of these men,—though I could have wished them as zealous for the salvation of the State as these men were for its destruction, or whether they will rely on their skilful oratory for putting in a defence and making out that the actions of their friends are estimable. Yet on your behalf not one of them has ever attempted to mention merely your just rights.

12.87Now it is worth observing how the witnesses, in testifying for these men, accuse themselves: they take you to be singularly forgetful and simple, if they believe that by means of you, the people, they will save the Thirty with impunity, when owing to Eratosthenes and his partners in power it was dangerous even to conduct funerals of the dead. 12.88Yet these men, if they escape, will be able again to destroy the city; whereas those whom they destroyed, having lost their lives, can no longer look for satisfaction from their enemies. Then is it not monstrous that the friends of those who have been unjustly put to death were destroyed with them, and yet the very men who destroyed the city will have many people, I imagine, to conduct their funerals, since so many are making efforts to shield them? 12.89Moreover, I am sure it was far easier to speak in opposition to them on the subject of your sufferings than it is now in defence of what they have done. We are told, indeed, that of the Thirty Eratosthenes has done the least harm, and it is claimed that on this ground he should escape; but is it not felt that for having committed more offences against you than all the other Greeks he ought to be destroyed? 12.90It is for you to show what view you take of those practices. If you condemn this man, you will declare your indignation at the things that have been done; but if you acquit him, you will be recognized as aspirants to the same conduct as theirs, and you will be unable to say that you are carrying out the injunctions of the Thirty, 12.91since nobody today is compelling you to vote against your judgement. So I counsel you not to condemn yourselves by acquitting them. Nor should you suppose that your voting is in secret for you will make your judgement manifest to the city.

12.92But before I step down, I desire to recall a few facts to the minds of both parties that of the town and that of the Peiraeus—in order that you may take warning from the disasters brought upon you through the agency of these men, before you give your vote. In the first place, all you of the town party should consider that you were so oppressed by the rule of these men that you were compelled to wage against your brothers, your sons and your fellow-citizens a strange warfare in which your defeat has given you equal rights with the victors, whereas your victory would have made you the slaves of these men. 12.93They have enlarged their private establishments by means of their public conduct, while you find your's reduced by your warfare against each other: for they did not permit you to share their advantages, though they compelled you to share their ill-fame; and they carried disdain so far that, instead of enlisting your fidelity by a communication of their benefits, they thought to ensure your sympathy by a partnership in their scandals. 12.94In return, now that you feel secure, go to the limit of your powers, on your own behalf as on that of the Peiraeus party, in taking your vengeance. Reflect that in these men you found the most villainous of rulers; reflect that you now have the best men with you in tenure of our civic rights, in fighting the enemy, and in deliberating on affairs of State and remember the auxiliaries note whom these men stationed in the Acropolis as guardians of their dominion and of your slavery. 12.95I have much else to say to you, but I will say no more. And all you of the Peiraeus party, remember first the matter of the arms,—how after fighting many battles on foreign soil you were deprived of your arms, not by the enemy, but by these men, in a time of peace; and next, that you were formally banished from the city which your fathers bequeathed to you, and when you were in exile they demanded your persons from the various cities. 12.96In return you should feel the same anger as when you were exiles, and remember besides the other injuries that you suffered from these men, who with violent hands snatched some from the market-place, and some from the temples, and put them to death; while others they tore from their children, their parents and their wives, and compelled to self-slaughter, and then did not even allow them to be given the customary burial, conceiving their own authority to be proof against the vengeance of Heaven. 12.97As many as escaped death encountered danger in many places, and wandered to many cities, and were banished from each refuge: in want of subsistence, having left behind you your children either in your native land, now turned hostile, or else on foreign soil, you came, despite many adversities, to the Peiraeus. Beset by many great perils, you proved yourselves men of true valor, and liberated one party while restoring the other to their native land. 12.98If you had been unfortunate, and had failed of these achievements, in your turn you would have gone into exile through fear of more afflictions like the past, and owing to the methods of these men you would have found no shelter from your wrongs in either temples or altars, where even wrongdoers are secure. Of your children, as many as were here would have been foully assaulted by these men, while those in foreign parts would have been enslaved for petty debts, cut off from all possible assistance.

12.99But I have no wish to speak of things that might have befallen, when I find myself unable to recount what these men have actually done: that is a task, not for one accuser, nor for two, but for many. Nevertheless, of zeal on my part there has been no lack in defence of the temples which these men have either sold or defiled by their presence; in defence of the city which they abased; on behalf of the arsenals, which they demolished; and on behalf of the dead, whom you were unable to protect in life, and must therefore vindicate in death. 12.100I fancy that they are listening to us, and will know you by the vote that you give; they will feel that those of you who acquit these men will have passed sentence of death on them, while those who inflict the merited penalty will have acted as their avengers. I will here conclude my accusation. You have heard, you have seen, you have suffered; you have them: give judgement.

Lysias, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Lys.].
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