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Against Alcibiades 1

14.1I do not believe, gentlemen of the jury, that you desire to hear any excuse for the action of those who have resolved to accuse Alcibiades: for from the outset he has shown himself so unworthy of the citizenship that it is the duty of anyone, even in the absence of a personal wrong suffered at his hands, to regard him none the less as an enemy because of the general tenor of his life. 14.2His offences are not slight or entitled to indulgence, nor do they offer a hope of his reform in the future: they have been committed in such a manner, and have carried villainy to such lengths, that even his enemies feel ashamed for some of the things on which he prides himself. Yet I, gentlemen, since our fathers were previously at feud, and since my long-standing sense of his rascally character has now been increased by maltreatment at his hands, will try with your aid to make him pay the penalty for all that he has done. 14.3The main indictment has been sufficiently delivered by Archestratides; for he has exhibited the laws and produced witnesses to everything. But on certain points that he has omitted I will give you particular information.

14.4Now it is reasonable, gentlemen of the jury, that men who are now trying such a case for the first time since we settled the peace note should act not merely as jurors, but in fact as law-makers. For you know well that your decision upon these cases will determine the attitude of the city towards them for all time. And it is the duty, in my opinion, alike of a loyal citizen and of a just juror to put such constructions on the laws as are likely to be of benefit to the city in the future. 14.5For some are bold enough to assert that nobody can be chargeable with desertion or cowardice, since no battle has taken place; that the law merely provides for a court-martial on anyone who, from cowardice, has deserted the ranks and retreated while the rest were fighting. But the provisions of the law apply not only to such a case, but also to that of anyone who fails to appear in the infantry lines. Please read the law.Law

14.6You hear, gentlemen, how it covers both alike,—those who retreat to the rear during battle, and those who do not appear in the infantry lines. And consider who they are that are bound to appear. Are they not all persons who have reached the proper age? Are they not those whom the generals have enrolled? 14.7I believe, gentlemen, that he is the one citizen who is liable to the full scope of the law: for he would with justice be convicted of refusing duty, because after being enrolled as a foot-soldier he did not march out with you; of desertion, because he alone of the whole force did not present himself for the formation of the ranks; and of cowardice, because, when it was his duty to share the danger with the infantry, he chose to serve in the cavalry. 14.8They say, indeed, that he will resort to the defence that, since he was in the cavalry, he was doing no wrong to the State. But in my opinion you would find just cause for indignation against him in the fact that, although the law provides that anyone who serves in the cavalry without having passed his scrutiny note shall be disfranchised, he had the audacity to serve in the cavalry without having passed his scrutiny. Now, please, read the law.Law

14.9This man, then, carried roguery to such a length, and was so contemptuous of you and so timorous of the enemy, so desirous of serving in the cavalry and so heedless of our laws, that he recked nought of the risks involved, and preferred the prospect of being disfranchised, having his property confiscated and being liable to all the statutory penalties, to that of taking his place with the citizens and serving as an infantryman. 14.10There were others who had never before served in the infantry, but had always been cavalrymen and had inflicted many losses on the enemy: yet they did not venture to mount their horses, from fear of you and of the law. For they had shaped their plans on the prospect, not of the city's destruction, but of its deliverance, its ascendancy and its retaliation upon wrongdoers. But Alcibiades was rash enough to mount, though he is no supporter of the people, nor had seen service in the cavalry before, nor is qualified for it now, nor had passed your scrutiny: he presumed that the city would be without the power to do justice upon wrongdoers. 14.11You must reflect that, if men are to be permitted to do whatever they please, it is useless to have your code of laws, your Assemblies, or your election of generals. And I wonder, gentlemen, at anyone considering it right, when a man has retired, at the approach of the enemy, from his post in the first rank to a place in the second, to convict him of cowardice, and then, if a man has appeared in the cavalry when his post was in the infantry, to grant him a pardon! 14.12And besides, gentlemen, I conceive that your judgement is given, not merely with a view to the offenders, but also for the reformation of all other insubordinate persons. Now, if you punish men who are unknown, not one among the rest will be improved; for nobody will know the sentences that you have passed: but if you inflict the penalty on the most conspicuous offenders, everyone will be apprised, and so the citizens, with this example before them, will be improved. 14.13Again, if you condemn this man, not only will the people of our city know, but our allies also will take notice and our enemies will be informed; and they will hold our city in much higher regard if they see that you are especially indignant at this kind of offence, and that those who are insubordinate in war obtain no pardon. 14.14And reflect, gentlemen, that some of the soldiers were sick, while others lacked the necessaries of life, and that the former would have been glad to remain for treatment in their cities, and the latter to retire home and attend to their own affairs; others would have liked to serve as light-armed troops, or else to take their risk with the cavalry. 14.15But still, you did not venture to desert your ranks or choose what was most agreeable to yourselves, but were far more afraid of the city's laws than of the danger of meeting the foe. All this you should remember when you give your vote today, and so make evident to all that any Athenians who do not wish to do battle with the enemy will suffer sorely at your hands.

14.16I believe, gentlemen, that on the point of law and on the actual fact they will have nothing to say; but they will stand up here to beg him off and plead with you, claiming that you ought not to convict of such utter cowardice the son of Alcibiades, since that person has been the source of so many benefits,—instead of so much harm! Nay, if you had put that man to death at this man's age, the first time that you caught him offending against you, the city would have escaped her great disasters. 14.17And I feel it will be extraordinary, gentlemen, if, after condemning that person himself to death, you acquit on his account the son with guilt upon him,—this son who had not the courage himself to fight in your ranks, and whose father thought fit to march in those of the enemy. When this person, as a child, had not yet shown what kind of man he would be, he came near being handed over to the Eleven note on account of his father's offences; and now that you are acquainted with the roguery which this man has added to his father's exploits, will you think proper to pity him on his father's account? 14.18Is it not monstrous, gentlemen, that these people should be so fortunate, when taken in transgression, as to come off safe on account of their birth, while we, if we had met with the misfortune as a result of their insubordination, would be unable to retrieve a single man from the enemy even on the plea of your ancestors' high achievements? 14.19And yet these have been numerous, important and advantageous to all the Greeks, and utterly unlike the conduct of these men towards the city, gentlemen of the jury. If they are more valued for trying to save their friends, clearly you on your part will be more honored for seeking to punish your enemies.

14.20And I expect you, gentlemen, if some of his relatives attempt to beg him off, to be indignant that they were not at pains to entreat him—or, having entreated, were unable to prevail on him—to do what the city enjoined, but are endeavoring to persuade you that you should not punish wrongdoers. 14.21If, again, some of the magistrates come to his support, so as to make a display of their own power, and to enjoy the glory of being able to save even obvious offenders, you ought to observe, in the first place, that if everyone had shown the same character as Alcibades there would have been no need of our generals,—for they would have had nobody to lead,—and secondly, that it is much more their duty to accuse deserters from the ranks than to speak in defense of such creatures. For what hope can we have that the others will comply with the orders issued by the generals,when these lend their authority to the attempt to save the insubordinate? 14.22 Now my claim is this: if those who speak as intercessors for Alcibiades can prove that he has been on service in the infantry, or was a cavalryman duly approved on scrutiny, he should be acquitted; but if, for want of any justification, they demand a favor for themselves, you should remember that they are teaching you to break your oath and disobey the laws, and that their excessive zeal in the support of wrongdoers will make many people aspire to the same conduct.

14.23What surprises me most of all, gentlemen, is that any of you can think it right that Alcibiades should be saved on account of his supporters, instead of perishing on account of his villainy. And of that you ought to be told, so that you may understand how unreasonable it would be for you to acquit him on the ground that, though guilty of these offences, in all else he had shown himself a loyal citizen. For the rest of his actions would justify you in condemning him to death. 14.24It is your duty to be informed of them; for you allow those speaking in defence to discourse on their own merits and on the services rendered by their ancestors, and therefore it is fair that you should listen also to accusers when they expose the many crimes that the defendants have committed against you, and the many evils that their ancestors have brought about. 14.25When this man was a child, he was seen by a number of people at the house of Archedemus the Blear-eyed, note who had embezzled not a little of your property, drinking the while he lay at length under the same cloak; he carried on his revels till daylight, keeping a mistress when he was under age, and imitating his ancestors, in the belief that he would not achieve distinction in his later years unless he could show himself an utter rascal in his youth. 14.26He was sent for by Alcibiades, note since his outrageous conduct was becoming notorious. And indeed, what ought you to think of the character of the man whose practices were such as to discredit him even in the eyes of the great ringleader in those ways? He conspired with Theotimus against his father, and betrayed Orni note to him: but he, when he had gained possession of the stronghold, after abusing him in the flower of youth, ended by imprisoning him and holding him to ransom. But his father felt so deep a hatred of him that he declared that even though he should die he would not recover his bones. 14.27When his father was dead note Archebiades, who had become his lover, obtained his release. Not long afterwards, having diced away his fortune, he took ship at White Cliff, note and attempted to drown his friends at sea. 14.28Well, to relate all the offences that he has committed, gentlemen, either against the citizens, or against foreigners, or in his dealings with his own relations or with ordinary people, would be a lengthy affair; but Hipponicus assembled a number of witnesses note and put away his wife, stating that this man had been entering his house, not as her brother, but as her husband. 14.29And after committing offences of this sort, and being guilty of such a number of monstrous and grievous crimes, he is heedless alike of the past and of the future; when he ought to have been the most orderly of citizens, so as to excuse by his own life the offences of his father, he attempts to outrage others, as though he might succeed in imparting to his neighbors some tiny share of his own store of infamies, —and that, too, when he is the son of Alcibiades, 14.30who induced the Lacedaemoniains to fortify Decelea, note who sailed to rouse the islands to revolt, who became a promoter of mischief to our city, and who marched more often in the ranks of the enemy against his native land than those of his fellow-citizens against them! For those actions it is your duty, as it is also of those who are to come after you, to take vengeance on anyone of this family who falls into your hands. 14.31Yet it is a constant habit of his to say that it is unfair, when his father on returning home received gifts from the people, note that he should find himself unjustly discredited on account of his father's exile. But in my opinion it would be monstrous if, after depriving the father of those gifts as having been unjustly bestowed, you should acquit this man, though a wrongdoer, on the ground of good service done to the city by his father.

14.32And then, gentlemen of the jury, besides other abundant reasons for which he ought to be convicted, there is the fact that he takes your valorous conduct as a precedent to justify his own baseness. For he has the audacity to say that Alcibiades has done nothing outrageous in marching against his native land, 14.33since you in your exile occupied Phyle, cut down trees and assaulted the walls, and by these acts of yours, instead of bequeathing disgrace to your children, you won honor in the eyes of all the world; as though there were no difference in the deserts of men who used their exile to march in the ranks of the enemy against their country, and those who strove for their return while the Lacedaemonians held the city! 14.34And again, I think it must be obvious to all that these others sought to return that they might surrender the command of the sea to the Lacedaemonians, and gain the command of you for themselves; whereas your democracy, on its return, expelled the enemy and liberated even those of our citizens who desired to be slaves. So that there is no such parallel between the actions of the two parties as he seeks to draw. 14.35But despite the many grievous disasters that are upon his head he prides himself on his father's villainy, and tells us that the man was so mighty that he has been the author of all the troubles that have befallen our city. And yet, what man is there so ignorant of his own country's affairs that cannot, if he chooses to be a villain, inform the enemy of the positions that ought to be occupied, point out the forts that are ill-guarded, instruct them in the weaknesses of the State, and indicate the allies who desire to secede? note 14.36For if during his exile it was his power that enabled him to injure the city, how was it that, having obtained his return by deceiving you and being in command of many ships of war, he had not power enough to expel the enemy from our land or to regain for you the friendship of the Chians whom he had alienated, or to do you any other useful service? 14.37Thus there is no difficulty in concluding that on the score of power he had no particular advantage, but that in foul play he stood first of his fellows. For he took upon him to indicate to the Lacedaemonians the points in your affairs which he knew to be in a bad way; but, when he had the duty of holding the command, he was powerless to do them any harm. After undertaking that, for his sake, the king would provide us with money, he embezzled more than two hundred talents of our city's funds. 14.38So sensible was he of his numerous offences against you that, for all his power of speech, his friends, and his acquisition of wealth, he never once ventured to come under an inquiry, but condemned himself to exile, and preferred to become a citizen of Thrace and any sort of city rather than belong to his own native land. Finally, gentlemen, he outdid his former villainy by daring, with Adeimantus, to surrender the ships to Lysander. note 14.39So, if anyone among you feels pity for those who lost their lives in the sea-fight, or is ashamed for those who were enslaved by the enemy, or resents the destruction of the walls, or hates the Lacedaemonians, or feels anger against the Thirty, he should hold this man's father responsible for all these things, and reflect that it was Alcibiades, his great-grand-father, and Megacles, his father's grandfather on the mother's side, whom your ancestors ostracized, note both of them twice, and that the older among you have condemned his father to death. 14.40Wherefore you ought now to condemn this man as one whom you have judged to be a hereditary enemy of the city, and to set neither pity nor forgiveness nor any favour above the established laws and the oaths that you have sworn.

14.41And you should ask yourselves, gentlemen, what reason you could have for sparing such men as these. Is it because, unfortunate though their public career has been, they are otherwise orderly persons, who have lived sober lives? Have not most of them been prostitutes, while some have lain with their sisters, and others have had children by their daughters; 14.42others, again, have performed Mysteries, mutilated the Hermae, and committed profanity against all the gods and offences against the whole city, showing injustice and illegality alike in their public treatment of their fellow-men and in their behavior to each other, refraining from no audacity, and unversed in no outrageous practice? Indeed, there is nothing that they have been spared, or have spared. For their propensity is to be ashamed of what is honorable, and to glory in what is base. 14.43It is true, gentlemen, you have acquitted ere now some persons though you held them guilty, because you supposed that they would be useful to you in the future. Well, what hope is there that the city will derive any benefit from this man, whom you will know for the worthless wretch he is, when he makes his defence, and whose villainy you have learnt from the general tenor of his life? 14.44But, what is more, even if he left the city he could do you no harm, craven and pauper that he is, with no ability for business, at feud with his own folk and hated by everyone else. 14.45So neither is there any reason here to be heedful of him: far rather should you make him serve as an example for all people, and particularly his friends, who refuse to do what is enjoined on them, who aspire to similar conduct, and who, misguided in their own concerns, harangue you upon yours.

14.46Now, I have made my accusation to the best of my ability. I am well aware that the rest of my hearers are wondering how I could have discovered the offences of these men with such precision, yet the accused is deriding me for having told but the smallest fraction of the crimes that lie at their door. 14.47You have therefore to reckon in with what has been told the tale of what has been omitted, and to be all the more for condemning him; you must reflect that he is liable to the charge preferred, and that it is a great blessing to the State that it should be relieved of this sort of citizen. Read them note the laws, the oaths and the charge preferred: bearing these in mind, they will vote what is just.Laws

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