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On the Property of Aristophanes

19.1I find myself greatly embarrassed by this trial, gentlemen of the jury, when I consider that if I fail to speak with effect today not only I but my father besides will be held to be guilty, and I shall be deprived of the whole of my possessions. It is necessary therefore, even if I have no natural aptitude for the task, to defend my father and myself as best I can. 19.2You see, of course, the artifice and the alacrity of my enemies; of these there is no need to speak; whereas everyone who knows me is aware of my inexperience. I shall therefore beg of you the just and easy favor of hearing us with the same absence of anger as when you listened to our accusers. 19.3For the man who speaks in his defence, even if you give him an impartial hearing, must needs be at a disadvantage: those people have laid their schemes long before, and without any danger to themselves have delivered their accusation; whereas we are contending amid fear and slander and the gravest danger. It is reasonable, therefore, that you should feel more kindness for those who are making their defence. 19.4For I think you all know that there have been many cases in the past of men bringing forward a number of formidable accusations, who have been convicted then and there of lying on such clear evidence that they left the court detested by all who had been present; while others again, after bearing false witness and causing people to be unjustly put to death, have been condemned too late for it to be of any use to their victims. 19.5So, when many cases of this sort have occurred, as I am told, it is reasonable that you, gentlemen, should wait till we have had our say before you accept the statements of our. accusers as trustworthy. I myself am told, and I think most of you know also, that slander is the most dangerous thing on earth. 19.6This is especially to be observed when a number of persons are brought to trial on the same charge. For, as a rule, the last to be judged are let off, since your anger has then ceased, and as you listen to them you willingly admit their disproofs. note

19.7Reflect therefore that Nicophemus and Aristophanes were put to death without trial, note before anyone could come to their aid as the proof of their guilt was being made out. For nobody even saw them again after their arrest, since their bodies were not even delivered for burial: so awful has their calamity been that, in addition to the rest, they have suffered this privation also. 19.8But from that business I will now pass, as I can do no good there. Far more miserable, in my opinion, are the children of Aristophanes: for, having done no wrong to anyone in either private or public affairs, not only have they been bereft of their patrimony in violation of your laws, but their one remaining hope, of being reared with the means of their grandfather, has been placed in this serious predicament. 19.9Moreover we, bereft of our kinsfolk, bereft of the dowry, note and compelled to rear three small children, are attacked besides by base informers, and are in danger of losing what our ancestors bequeathed to us after they had acquired it by honest means. Yet, gentlemen, my father in all his life spent more on the State than on himself and his family,—twice the amount that we have now, as he often reckoned in my presence. 19.10So you must not rashly convict of guilt the man who spent little on himself, but a great deal on you each year; you ought rather to condemn all those persons who have made a habit of squandering both their patrimony and whatever they can get from elsewhere on the most disgraceful pleasures. 19.11It is difficult indeed, gentlemen, to defend oneself against an impression which some people have received of the property of Nicophemus, and in face of a scarcity of money that is now felt in the city, and when our contention is against the Treasury. Nevertheless, even in these circumstances, you will easily perceive that the accusations are not true; and I request you with all the insistence in my power to give us a kindly hearing to the end, and to deliver the verdict that you may esteem best for you and most agreeable to your oaths.

19.12Now I will inform you, in the first place, of the way in which they note became connected with us. Conon, who was in command of operations around the Peloponnese, note and who had formed a friendship long before with my father when he equipped a warship, requested him to bestow my sister on her suitor, the son of Nicophemus. 19.13My father, finding that these people had been accredited by Conon, and were of proved respectability and—at that time at least note—in the good graces of the city, was persuaded to bestow her: he did not know the slander that was to follow. It was a time when anyone among you would have deemed it desirable to be connected with them; for it was not done for the sake of money, as you may readily judge from my father's whole life and conduct. 19.14When he was of age, he had the chance of marrying another woman with a great fortune; but he took my mother without a portion, merely because she was a daughter of Xenophon, note son of Euripides, a man not only known for his private virtues but also deemed worthy by you of holding high command, so I am told. 19.15Again, my sisters he refused to certain very wealthy men who were willing to take them without dowries, because he judged them to be of inferior birth: he preferred to bestow one upon Philomelus of Paeania, note whom most men regard as an honorable rather than a wealthy man, and the other upon a man who was reduced to poverty by no misdemeanor,—his nephew, Phaedrus note of Myrrhinous, note—and with her a dowry of forty minae; and he later gave her to Aristophanes with the same sum. 19.16Besides doing this, when I could have obtained a great fortune he advised me to take a lesser one, so long as I felt sure of allying myself with people of an orderly and self-respecting character. So now I am married to the daughter of Critodemus of Alopece, note who was killed by the Lacedaemonians after the sea-fight at the Hellespont. note 19.17Now I submit, gentlemen of the jury, that a man who has himself married a portionless woman, who has bestowed large sums with his two daughters, and who has accepted a small dowry for his son, ought surely in reason to be credited with allying himself to these people without a thought of money.

19.18Nay, more, Aristophanes, although he was now married, must have preferred to be intimate with many people rather than my father, as may readily be conceived. For there was a great difference both in his age and still more in his nature. It was my father's way to mind his own business; whereas Aristophanes sought to concern himself not only with private but also with public affairs, and whatever money he had he spent in the pursuit of glory. 19.19You will perceive the truth of what I say from his actual conduct. First, when Conon wanted to send someone to Sicily, note he offered himself and went off with Eunomus, who was a friend and guest of Dionysius, and who had rendered a great many services to your people, as I have been told by those who were with him at the Peiraeus. 19.20The voyage was undertaken in hopes of persuading Dionysius to connect himself by marriage with Evagoras, note and to become an enemy of the Lacedaemonians and a friend and ally of your city. This they set out to do amid many dangers arising from the sea and from the enemy, and they prevailed on Dionysius not to send some warships which he had then prepared for the Lacedaemonians. 19.21Next, when the envoys had arrived from Cyprus to procure our assistance, note his ardent energy knew no bounds. You had granted them ten warships, and had voted all the material, but they were in need of money for the dispatch of the fleet. They had brought but scanty funds with them, and they required a great deal more: for they had to hire not only men to work the ships but light infantry also, and to purchase arms. 19.22Well, it was Aristophanes who personally supplied most of their funds: as he had not enough, he persuaded his friends with entreaties and guarantees, and he took forty minae which he had in deposit at his house for his brother on the father's side, and applied the money to that purpose. The day before he put to sea, he called on my father and pressed him for the loan of such money as he had; for some more was required, he said, to pay the light infantry. We had seven minae in the house: he took these and applied them also. 19.23What man, think you, who was ambitious of glory, and was receiving letters from his father that told him he would lack for nothing in Cyprus, and had been elected ambassador and was about to sail to Evagoras, would have left behind anything that he possessed, and not have rather gratified that ruler by supplying everything that he could, with a view to a handsome return? Now, to show the truth of all this, please call Eunomus.Testimony

Please call the other witnesses also.Witnesses

19.24You hear them testify, not only that they lent the money at his request, but also that they have been repaid; for it was conveyed to them in the warship.

Well now, it is easily concluded from my argument that in such emergencies he was not likely to spare his own resources. But the strongest evidence is this: 19.25Demus, son of Pyrilampes, note who was equipping a warship for Cyprus, requested me to go to Aristophanes; he said he had received a gold cup as a credential from the Great King, and would give it to Aristophanes in pledge for sixteen minae, so as to have means for equipping his warship; when he got to Cyprus, he would redeem it with a payment of twenty minae, since on the strength of that credential he would then obtain plenty of goods and also money all over the continent. 19.26Then Aristophanes, on hearing this proposal from Demus and a request from me,—although he was to have the gold cup in his hands and receive four minae as interest,— said that it was impossible, and he swore that he had already gone elsewhere to borrow more for these foreigners; since, but for that, nobody alive, he declared, would have been more delighted than he to take that credential forthwith and to comply with our request. 19.27To show the truth of this, I will produce to you witnesses.Witnesses

So then, that Aristophanes did not leave any silver or gold is easily concluded from what I have stated and from these testimonies. Of fine note bronze plate he possessed but little: when he was entertaining the envoys of Evagoras, he had to use what he could borrow. The list of the pieces that he left shall be read to you.Inventory of Bronze Plate

19.28Perhaps to some of you, gentlemen of the jury, they appear few: but bear in mind the fact that before Conon won his victory at sea, note Aristophanes had no land except a small plot at Rhamnus. note Now the sea-fight occurred in the archonship of Eubulides; 19.29and in four or five years it was a difficult thing, gentlemen, when he had no wealth to start with, to be twice a producer of tragedies, on his father's account as well as his own; to equip a warship for three years in succession; to have been a contributor to special levies on many occasions; to purchase a house for fifty minae; and to acquire more than three hundred plethra note of land. Do you suppose that, besides doing all this, he must have left many personal effects? 19.30Why, even people credited with long-established wealth may fail to produce any that are of value: for at times, however much one may desire it, one cannot buy things of the sort that, once acquired, will be a permanent source of pleasure. 19.31Again, consider this: in all other cases where you have confiscated the property, not merely have you had no sale of furniture, but even the doors were torn away from the apartments; whereas we, as soon as the confiscation was declared and my sister had left the place, posted a guard in the deserted house, in order that neither door-timber nor utensils nor anything else might be lost. Personal effects were realized to the value of over a thousand drachmae, 19.32—more than you had received in any previous instance. Moreover, we now repeat our former offer to pledge ourselves to the Commissioners, in the most binding terms available to man, that we hold no part of Aristophanes' estate, but are owed from it the dowry of my sister and seven minae which he got from my father at his departure. 19.33Could human beings have a more miserable fate than to lose their own property, and then to be supposed to hold that of the mulcted party? And the greatest hardship of all for us will be that, having taken charge of my sister and her many children, we must rear them with no means available even for ourselves, if you deprive us of what we now have.

19.34I adjure you, by the Olympian gods, gentlemen, just consider it in this way: suppose that one of you had happened to bestow his daughter or his sister on Timotheus, note son of Conon, and during his absence abroad Conon was involved in some slander and his estate was confiscated, and the city received from the sale of the whole something less than four talents of silver. Would you think it right that his children and relatives should be ruined merely because the property had turned out to be but a trifling fraction of the amount at which it stood in your estimation? 19.35But of course you are all aware that Conon held the command, and Nicophemus carried out his instructions. Now it is probable that Conon allotted to others but a small proportion of his prizes; so that if it be thought that Nicophemus's gains were great, it must be allowed that Conon's were more than ten times greater. 19.36Furthermore, there is no evidence of any dispute having occurred between them; so probably in regard to money they agreed in deciding that each should leave his son with a competence here, note while keeping the rest in his own hands. note For Conon had a son and a wife in Cyprus, and Nicophemus a wife and a daughter, and they also felt that their property there was just as safe as their property here. 19.37Besides, you have to consider that, even if a man had distributed among his sons what he had not acquired but inherited from his father, he would have reserved a goodly share for himself note; for everyone would rather be courted by his children as a man of means than beg of them as a needy person.

19.38So, in this case, if you should confiscate the property of Timotheus,—which Heaven forbid, unless some great benefit is to accrue to the State,—and you should receive a less amount from it than has been derived from that of Aristophanes, would this give you any good reason for thinking that his relatives should lose what belongs to them? No, it is not reasonable, gentlemen of the jury: 19.39for Conon's death and the dispositions made under his will in Cyprus have clearly shown that his fortune was but a small fraction of what you were expecting. He dedicated five thousand staters note in offerings to Athene and to Apollo at Delphi; 19.40to his nephew, who acted as guardian and manager of all his property in Cyprus, he gave about ten thousand drachmae; to his brother three talents; and to his son he left the rest,—seventeen talents. The round total of these sums amounts to about forty talents. 19.41And nobody can say that there was malversation, or that the accounts were not fairly rendered: for he made his dispositions himself in his illness, while his mind was sound. Please call witnesses to this.Witnesses

19.42Why, surely anyone, gentlemen, before the amounts of the two had been revealed, would have thought that the property of Nicophemus was a mere fraction of that of Conon. Now, Aristophanes had acquired a house with land for more than five talents, had produced dramas on his own account and on his father's at a cost of five thousand drachmae, note and had spent eighty minae note on equipping warships; 19.43on account of the two, no less than forty minae have been contributed to special levies; for the Sicilian expedition he spent a hundred minae, note and for commissioning the warships, when the Cypriots came and you gave them the ten vessels, he supplied thirty thousand drachmae note to pay the light infantry and purchase their arms. The total of all these sums amounts to little short of fifteen talents. 19.44Hence you can have no reason to lay blame on us, since the property of Conon, which is admitted to have been fairly accounted for by the owner himself, and was thought to be many times more than that of Aristophanes, is found to be less than thrice the amount of his. And we are omitting from the calculation all that Nicophemus held himself in Cyprus, where he had a wife and a daughter.

19.45I claim, therefore, gentlemen of the jury, that after having produced such an abundance of weighty proofs we ought not to be unjustly ruined. I have been told by my father and other elderly people that you have had similar experiences in the past of being deceived in the fortunes of many men who were supposed to be wealthy while they lived, but whose death showed your supposition to be wide of the mark. 19.46For example, Ischomachus during his life was considered by everyone to own more than seventy talents, as I am told: his two sons, on his death, had less than ten talents to divide between them. Stephanus, son of Thallus, was reported to own more than fifty talents; but when he died his fortune was found to be about eleven talents. 19.47Again, the estate of Nicias was expected to be not less than a hundred talents,— most of it in his house; but when Niceratus note was dying, he said that he in his turn was not leaving any silver or gold, and the property that he left to his son is worth no more than fourteen talents. 19.48Then Callias, note son of Hipponicus, just after his father's death, was thought to have more in his possession than any other Greek, and the story goes that his grandfather valued his own property at two hundred talents; yet his ratable property stands today at less than two talents. And you all know how Cleophon note for many years had all the affairs of the State in his hands, and was expected to have got a great deal by his office; but when he died this money was nowhere to be found, 19.49and moreover his relatives both by blood and by marriage, in whose hands he would have left it, are admittedly poor people. So it is evident that we have been greatly deceived both in men of hereditary riches and in those who have recently gained a name for wealth. The cause of this, in my opinion, is that people make light of stating that such an one has got many talents by his office. As to the common statements about dead people, I am not so much surprised, since there is no disproof to fear from them; but what of the lies with which they assail the living? 19.50Why, you yourselves were told of late in the Assembly that Diotimus note had got forty talents more from the ship-masters and merchants note than he himself admitted; and when he rendered an account on his return, and was indignant at being slandered in his absence, nobody put that matter to the proof, although the State was in need of money, 19.51and he was ready to show his accounts. Just imagine what the position would have been if, after all the Athenians had been told that Diotimus had forty talents, something had then happened to him before he reached our shores. His relatives would then have been in the gravest danger, if they had been obliged to defend themselves against that monstrous slander without any knowledge of the facts of the case. So, for your being deceived in many people even now, and indeed for the ruin that some have unjustly incurred, you have to thank those who make light of telling lies and are bent on bringing malicious charges against their fellows. 19.52For I suppose you know that Alcibiades held command for four or five years note in succession, keeping the upper hand and winning victories over the Lacedaemonians: the cities thought well to give him twice as much as any other commander, so that some people supposed that he had more than a hundred talents. But when he died note he left evidence that this was not true: for he bequeathed a smaller fortune to his children than he had inherited himself from his guardians.

19.53Well now, that such things were common in former times is easily judged. But they say that it is the best and wisest men who are most willing to change their minds. If, therefore, our statements are deemed to be reasonable and the proofs that we have adduced satisfactory, gentlemen of the jury, show your pity by all manner of means. For, grievous as was the weight of this slander, we always expected to conquer with the help of truth: but if you should altogether refuse to entertain our plea, we felt ourselves without a single hope of deliverance. 19.54Ah, by the Olympian gods, gentlemen, choose rather to deliver us with justice than to ruin us with injustice; and believe that those men speak the truth who, though keeping silent, show themselves throughout their lives self-respecting and just.

19.55In regard to the charge itself, and the manner in which they became our kinsmen, and the fact that Aristophanes' means were not sufficient for the expedition, but were supplemented by loans from others, you have heard our statements and testimonies: I propose next to tell you briefly about myself. I am now thirty years old, and never yet have I either had a dispute with my father or been the subject of a complaint from any citizen; and although I live near the market-place, I have never once been seen in either law-court or council-chamber until I met with this misfortune. 19.56So much let me say regarding myself: as to my father, since he has been treated as guilty in these accusations, forgive me if I mention what he has spent on the city and on his friends; I do this, not for mere vainglory, but to bring in as evidence the fact that the same man cannot both spend a great deal without compulsion and covet some of the public property at the gravest risk. 19.57There are, indeed, persons who spend money in advance, not with that sole object, but to obtain a return of twice the amount from the appointments which you consider them to have earned. note Now, not once did my father seek office, but he has discharged every duty in the production of dramas, has equipped a warship seven times, and has made numerous large contributions to special levies. That you on your part may be apprised of this, the record shall be read in detail.Public Services

19.58You hear, gentlemen of the jury, the whole series. For as many as fifty years my father performed services to the State, both with his purse and with his person. In all that time, with his reputation for ancestral wealth, he is not likely to have shunned any expense. However, I will strengthen the case for you with witnesses.Witnesses

19.59The sum total of them all is nine talents and two thousand drachmae. In addition, he also joined privately in portioning daughters and sisters of certain needy citizens: there were men whom he ransomed from the enemy, and others for whose funerals he provided money. He acted in this way because he conceived it to be the part of a good man to assist his friends, even if nobody was to know: but at this moment it is fitting that you should hear of it from me. Please call this and that person.Witnesses

19.60Well then, you have heard the witnesses; and now reflect that, although one might be able to adopt a feigned character for a short time, nobody in the world could keep his baseness secret for seventy years. Now, there are things for which it might perhaps be possible to reproach my father; but on the score of money there is no one, even among his enemies, who has ever dared to do so. 19.61It is not fair, then, to credit our accusers' words rather than the deeds that marked his whole life, or than time, which you are to regard as the clearest test of truth. If he had been of another stamp, he would not have left but a small remnant of his estate; for if you should now be utterly deceived by these people, and should confiscate our property, you would receive less than two talents. So not only with a view to repute, but also in respect of money, it is more to your advantage to acquit us; for you will get far more benefit if we keep it. 19.62Consider, as you survey the time that is past, all that is found to have been spent on the city: at this moment, too, I am equipping a warship from the residue; my father was equipping one when he died, and I will try to do what I saw him doing, and raise, by degrees, some little sums for the public services. Thus in reality it continues to be the property of the State, and while I shall not be feeling the wrong of having been deprived of it, you will have in this way more benefits than you would get by its confiscation. 19.63Moreover, you would do well to reflect on the kind of nature that my father possessed. In every single case where he desired to spend beyond what was necessary, it will be found that it was something designed to bring honor to the city also. For instance, when he was in the cavalry, he not only procured handsome mounts, but also won victories with race-horses at the Isthmus and Nemea, so that the city was proclaimed, and he himself was crowned. 19.64I therefore beg you, gentlemen of the jury, to remember these things, and also everything else that has been stated, and to support us, and not to suffer us to be annihilated by our enemies. In taking this course you will be voting what is just and also advantageous to yourselves.

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