Lysias, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Lys.].
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Against Theomnestus 1

10.1I believe that I shall not be at a loss for witnesses, gentlemen of the jury: for I see many of you in this place of judgement who were present at the time when Lysitheus was prosecuting Theomnestus for speaking before the people, since he had lost the right to do so by having cast away his armour. Now it was during that trial that he asserted that I had billed my own father. 10.2If he accused me of having killed his own, I should forgive him his statement, regarding him as an insignificant and worthless person; nor, if I had heard him apply any other forbidden term to me, should I have taken steps against him, since I consider it a mark of a mean and too litigious person to go to law for slander. 10.3But in the present case I feel it would be disgraceful, as it concerns my father, who has deserved so highly both of you and of the State,—not to take vengeance on the man who has made that statement; and I wish to know from you whether he will be duly punished, or whether he alone of the Athenians has the privilege of doing and saying whatever he pleases in defiance of the laws.

10.4My age, gentlemen, is thirty-two, and your return to the city note was nineteen years ago. It will be seen, therefore, that I was thirteen when my father was put to death by the Thirty. At that age I neither knew what an oligarchy was, nor would have been able to rescue him from the wrong that he suffered. note 10.5Besides, I could have had no true motive in the monetary way for making designs upon him: for my elder brother Pantaleon took over everything, and on becoming our guardian he deprived us of our patrimony; so that I have many good reasons, gentlemen, for wishing my father alive. Now, although it is necessary to mention those reasons, there is no need to dwell on them at length; for you all know well enough that I am speaking the truth. Nevertheless I will produce witnesses to those facts.Witnesses

10.6Well, it may be, gentlemen, that he will make no defence on these points, but will state again to you what he had the boldness to say before the arbitrator note—that it is not a use of a forbidden word to say that someone has killed his father, since the law does not prohibit that, but does disallow the use of the word “murderer.” 10.7For my part, gentlemen, I hold that your concern is not with mere words but with their meaning, and that you are all aware that those who have killed someone are murderers, and that those who are murderers have killed someone. For it was too much of a task for the lawgiver to write all the words that have the same effect; but by mentioning one he showed his meaning in regard to them all. 10.8For I presume, Theomnestus, you would not go so far, while expecting to get satisfaction from a man who called you a father-beater or a mother-beater, as to consider that he should go unpunished for saying that you struck your male or your female parent because he had spoken no forbidden word! 10.9And I should be glad if you would tell me this, since of this affair you are a past master, both in action and in speech: if a man said that you had cast your shield (in the terms of the law it stands,—“if anyone asserts that a man has thrown it away, he shall be liable to penalty”), would you not prosecute him? Would you be content, if someone said you had cast your shield, to make nothing of it, because casting and throwing away are not the same thing? 10.10Nay, if you were one of the Eleven, note you would refuse to accept a prisoner arrested on the charge of having pulled off the accuser's cloak or stripped him of his shirt: by that same rule, you would rather let him go, because he was not called a clothes-stealer! Or if somebody were seized for the abduction of a child, you would declare him to be no kidnapper, since your contention will be about words, and you will have no thought to spare for deeds,—the objects for which words are everywhere made! 10.11Then, again, consider this, gentlemen,—for I believe that this man, from indolence and enervation, has not even gone up to attend the Areopagus note: you all know that in that place, when they try cases of murder, they do not use this term in making the sworn statements, but the one which was used for slandering me; the prosecutor swears that the other party has killed, and the defendant that he has not killed. 10.12Well now, it would be absurd to acquit the doer of the deed when he declared he was a murderer, on the ground that the prosecutor deposed on oath that the defendant killed. And is not this the same thing as what this man's plea will amount to? Why, you have taken proceedings yourself against Lysitheus for slander, because he said that you had cast your shield: yet there is nothing in the terms of the law about casting, whereas, if anyone says, that a man has thrown away his shield, it imposes a penalty of five hundred drachmae. note 10.13How monstrous it is, then, that when you have to avenge yourself on your enemies for slander you take the laws in the sense that I do now, but when you slander another in defiance of the laws you claim to escape punishment! Tell me, are you so clever that you are able to turn the laws about to suit your pleasure, or so powerful that you suppose that the people whom you have wronged will never get their revenge? 10.14And then, are you not ashamed of such a senseless vagary as to presume on advantages due to you, not for any services done to the State, but for your unpunished offences? Please read me the law.Law

10.15Well, gentlemen, I think you have all perceived that my statement is correct, whereas this man is so stupid that he cannot understand a word that is said. So I would like to avail myself of some other laws for his instruction on these points, in the hope that even now, on the dais, note he may learn a lesson, and may henceforward cease from his vexatious proceedings against us. Please read me those ancient laws of Solon. 10.16Law

“He shall have his foot confined in the stocks for five days, if the court shall make such addition to the sentence.” The “stocks” there mentioned, Theomnestus, are what we now call “confinement in the wood.” So if a person confined should on his release accuse the Eleven, at their public examination, of having him confined, not in the stocks, but in the wood, they would take him for an idiot, would they not? Read another law. 10.17Law
“He shall vow by Apollo and give security. If he dreads the course of justice, let him flee.”

Here to “vow” is to “swear,” and “flee” is what we now call “run away.”Law
“Whosoever debars with his door, when the thief is within,”
—Here to “debar” is taken to be “shut out”; no dispute, now, on that score! 10.18Law
“Money shall be placed out at whatever rate the lender may choose.”
“Placed out” here, my fine fellow, is not a case of placing in the balance, but of drawing interest to such amount as one may choose. Once more, read the final clause of this same law.
10.19Law
“All women who ply about overtly,”
andLaw
“for hurt to a varlet the redress shall be double.”
Pay attention: “overtly” is “openly,” “ply about” is “walk about,” and a “varlet” is a “servant.”
10.20We have many other instances of the sort, gentlemen. But if he is not a numskull, I suppose he has realized that things are the same now as they were of old, but that in some cases we do not use the same terms now as we did formerly. And he will show as much, for he will leave the dais and depart in silence. 10.21If not, I beg you, gentlemen, to vote according to justice, reflecting that it is a far greater slur to be told that one has killed one's father than that one has thrown away one's shield. I, for one, would rather have cast any number of shields than entertain such thoughts regarding my father.

10.22Now this man, on a charge which was well-founded, but which involved less disaster to him, obtained not only your pity, but even the disfranchisement note of the witness for the prosecution. But I, who have seen him do that note which you likewise know, who have saved my own shield, who have been accused of a proceeding thus unholy and monstrous, and whose disaster will be overwhelming if he is acquitted, while his will be inconsiderable if he is convicted of slander,-am I not to obtain satisfaction from him? What imputation have you standing against me? 10.23Is it that I have been justly accused? No, not even yourselves can say so. That the defendant is a better man and of better birth than I? No; not he himself can claim this. That having thrown away my arms I am suing for slander a man who saved his? This is not the story that has been disseminated in the city. 10.24Remember that there you have presented him with a rich and goodly gift note in that respect, who would not pity Dionysius for the disaster that overtook him, after he had proved himself a man of the highest valor in times of danger, 10.25who on leaving the court remarked that that was our most calamitous campaign, in which many of us were killed, and those who saved their arms had been condemned for false witness at the suit of those who threw theirs away; and that it had been better for him to be killed on that day than return home to meet with such a fate? 10.26Do not, then, if you pity Theomnestus for the obloquy that he deserves, forgive him for outrages and expressions whereby he has broken the laws. For what greater misfortune could befall me, after I have had such shameful charges brought against me, and in relation to such a father? 10.27He was general many times, and shared your peril besides in many a conflict; neither did his person fall into the hands of the enemy, nor was he ever convicted by his fellow-citizens at any audit of his service, but at the age of sixty-seven he lost his life under the oligarchy for loyalty to your people. 10.28Is there not good cause to feel anger against the man who has made such statements, and to defend my father as included in this calumny? For what more distressing fate could overtake him than this,—after being slain by his enemies, to bear the reproach of having been destroyed by his children? Even now, gentlemen, the memorials of his valor are hanging in your temples, while those of this man's and his father's baseness are seen in the temples of the enemy, so ingrained is cowardice in their nature. 10.29And indeed, gentlemen, the taller and more gallant they are in looks, the more they are deserving of anger. For it is clear that, though strong in their bodies, they are ill in their souls.

10.30I hear, gentlemen, that he is resorting to the argument that he has made these statements in a fit of anger at my having borne witness to the same effect as Dionysius. But your reflection on this, gentlemen, must be that the lawgiver grants no indulgence to anger he punishes the speaker, unless he proves the truth of the statements that he has made. I myself have now borne witness twice in regard to this man; for I was not yet aware that you punished the persons who had seen the deed, but pardoned those who had done the throwing away.

10.31I doubt if on these points there is need to say any more. I request you to condemn Theomnestus, reflecting that no trial could be more serious for me than the present. For although I am now prosecuting for slander, yet at the same casting of your vote I am prosecuted for murdering my father,—I who alone, as soon as I was certified to be of age, note indicted the Thirty before the Areopagus. 10.32Remembering these reasons, vindicate me and my father, and also the established laws and the oaths that you have sworn.



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