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

20.1In my opinion it is not the name of the Four Hundred that should incense you, but the actions of some of their number. For there were some who had insidious designs: but the rest were resolved to do no harm either to the city or to any amongst you; they entered the Council-chamber with loyal thoughts, and the defendant, Polystratus, is one of that section. 20.2He was chosen by his tribesmen for the soundness of his views in regard to his township and also towards your people: yet they accuse him of disloyalty to your people, after he has been chosen by his tribesmen, who can best discern the character of this or that person amongst them. 20.3And what reason could he have had for courting an oligarchy? Because he was of an age to achieve success amongst you as a speaker, or because he had such bodily strength as might encourage him to commit an outrage on any of your people? But you see of what age he is: it is one that fits him rather to restrain others from such proceedings. 20.4To be sure, if a man has been disfranchised for some misdemeanor in the past, and so has courted a change in the constitution, he may be led by his past offences to seek his personal interest; but this man had committed no such offence as might lead him to hate your people in his own interest or in that of his children. One of these was in Sicily, the others were in Boeotia; so it was no interest of theirs that he should court a change in the constitution. 20.5They do accuse him of having held many magistracies, but nobody is able to show that he was a bad magistrate. My own opinion is that it is not men of his character who are guilty of wrong in such situations, but some holder of a few offices who has not held them for the best advantage of the city. For our city was not betrayed by her good magistrates, but by her dishonest ones. 20.6This man, first of all, as a magistrate in Oropus, note neither betrayed you nor set up a new constitution when everyone else in office utterly betrayed their trust. They did not stay for the reckoning, thus convicting themselves of guilt; whereas he, feeling himself innocent, comes up for punishment! 20.7The guilty are smuggled out by their accusers in return for payment; but those from whom they can get no profit they expose as guilty. They make similar accusations against those who have proposed some motion in the Council and against those who have not. But this man has not even proposed one motion regarding your people; 20.8and I presume that these persons deserve no ill-treatment at your hands on the ground that, while they were loyal to you, they did not incur the enmity of that party. note For those who spoke in opposition to them were either exiled or put to death, so that whoever did aspire to oppose them in your interest was invariably deterred by fright or by the slaughter of their victims. 20.9Hence in most cases they completely lost heart, since those who were not banished were executed. Those among them who engaged to obey and refrain from plotting and reporting, they placed in power. Thus a change of government would have been no easy thing for you. It is not fair, then, to punish people for matters in which they showed their loyalty to you. 20.10And I consider it monstrous that the same treatment meted out to those who proposed measures concerning your people that were not to its highest advantage should also be applied to the man who proposed nothing, and who in seventy years has committed no offence against you, let alone eight days! Those who spent their whole lives in knavery have appeared as honest men before the auditors, because they have tampered with their accusers; while those who were always honest towards you—they are the knaves.

20.11Now, in their previous prosecution, among other lying charges that they made against my father, they stated that Phrynichus note was a relation of his. Well, let anyone, if he pleases, bear witness, in the time allowed for my speech, that there was kinship with Phrynichus. But, of course, their accusation was a lie. Nor, indeed, was he a friend of his by upbringing; for Phrynichus was a poor man, and kept sheep in the fields, while my father was being educated in town. 20.12On attaining manhood he looked after his farm, while Phrynichus came to town and became a slander-monger; so that the characters of the two were not at all compatible. And when Phrynichus had to pay a fine to the Treasury, my father did not bring him his contribution of money: yet it is in such cases that we see the best proof of a man's friends. If he was of the same township, that is no reason why my father deserves to suffer,— 20.13unless you also are guilty because he is your fellow-citizen. Where could you find a better friend of the people than the man who, after you had decreed that the government be entrusted to Five Thousand, proceeded as Registrar to make a list of nine thousand, his purpose being to risk no quarrel with any of his townsmen, but to enter the names of anyone who wished to be included; and then, if in some cases there was a disability, to do it as a favour. Well, the democracy is not upset by those who increase the number of the citizens, but by those who reduce it. 20.14He was unwilling either to take the oath or to make up the list: they compelled him by the imposition of fines and penalties. When he was thus compelled, and had taken the oath, after sitting for only eight days in Council he took ship to Eretria, note and in the sea-fights there he showed no craven heart: he came home wounded, just when the revolution had taken place. And this man, who had neither proposed any motion nor sat in Council for more than eight days, was sentenced to pay that large sum, while many of those who had spoken in opposition to you, and had continued in Council throughout, have been acquitted. 20.15I speak not in envy of their case, but in pity for ours: some who were thought guilty have been begged off by persons whose administration evinced their zeal in your cause; others who were guilty bought off their accusers, and were not so much as thought guilty. Our plight, therefore, would be quite unaccountable. 20.16They accuse the Four Hundred of criminal conduct: yet you were yourselves persuaded by them to hand over the government to the Five Thousand, and if you, being so many yourselves, were persuaded, why should not each one of the Four Hundred have yielded likewise? Nay, it is not these who are guilty, but the men who were deceiving you to your hurt. The defendant shows his loyalty to you by this fact among many,—that, if he did have revolutionary designs upon your people, he would never have taken ship and gone off within eight days of taking his seat in Council. 20.17But, it night be said, he took ship in the quest of gain, like some people who went raiding and robbing. Well, nobody can cite any case of his keeping property of yours: no, they accuse him of anything rather than his use of his office. The prosecution at the time in no way showed their loyalty to the democracy, nor supported it; but now that the democracy is its own most loyal friend, their support is given nominally to you, but actually to themselves. 20.18And do not be surprised, gentlemen of the jury, that he was fined such a large sum. For they found him without support, and obtained his conviction by accusations brought against both him and us. For, in his case, even if a man had evidence to give in his favor, he was prevented by the terror inspired by the accusers, whereas, in theirs, men were ready, through terror, to give even false evidence for them. 20.19How monstrous, gentlemen, would be our fate if, although the men who are unable to deny their possession of your money are acquitted by you on the intercession of a friend, we who have shown our personal zeal in your people's cause, and whose father, too, has done you no wrong, are not to obtain your grace! If some foreigner had come and either asked you for money or claimed to be recorded as your benefactor, you would have granted his request; and will you not grant to us, that we ourselves should have civic rights among you? 20.20If there have been cases of disloyalty to your government or of the proposal of an improper motion, it is not the absent who are to blame for these things, since you have absolved even those who were present. For, even when one of our citizens here persuades you with mischievous advice, it is not you who are to blame, but your deceiver. 20.21But those men, note convicting themselves of guilt in advance, have taken themselves off in order to escape punishment: while any others who were guilty,—though in a less degree than they, but still guilty,—are moved by their fear at once of you and of their accusers to take the field instead of staying at home, in order that they may either mollify you or prevail on them. 20.22The defendant, having done you no wrong, has submitted himself to justice immediately after those events, when your memory of what occurred was freshest, and he could best be put to the proof: he trusted in his own innocence and in the success which justice would award him in his trial. That he was a friend of the people, I will prove to you. 20.23First of all, how many were the campaigns in which he served without once shirking his duty, can be told, from personal knowledge, by his fellow-townsmen. Then, when he might well have put his fortune away out of sight and refused to help you, he preferred that you should have cognizance of it, in order that, even if he chose to play the knave, he could have no chance, but must contribute to the special levies and perform his public services. He also placed us in a position to be most helpful to the State. 20.24He sent me away to Sicily, but I was not note to you; so the cavalry should know what kind of spirit I showed as long as the army was safe: but when it was destroyed and I escaped to Catana, note I used that town as a base for depredations by which I harried the enemy, so that from the spoil more than thirty minae were apportioned as the tithe for the goddess note and enough to deliver all the soldiers who were in the hands of the enemy. 20.25And when the Cataneans compelled me to serve in the cavalry, I did so, and shirked no danger there either; so that everyone must know what kind of spirit I showed on service both with the cavalry and with the infantry. I will provide you with my witnesses to these facts.Witnesses

20.26You have heard the witnesses, gentlemen of the jury. As to my disposition towards your people, I will make it plain to you. A Syracusan had arrived in that place with a form of oath, and was ready to administer it, and was approaching the people of the place one by one: note I at once spoke against him, and went and reported the matter to Tydeus; he summoned an Assembly, and there were speeches not a few. However, I will call witnesses to what I said myself.Witnesses

20.27Consider now the letter from my father, which he arranged to be conveyed to me, and say whether its contents were of good or evil import to your people. In it he had written concerning our domestic affairs, and further, that when things were going well in Sicily I should return. Now surely your interests and those of the people there were the same; so, if he had not been loyal to the State and to you, he would never have sent such a letter.

20.28Then again, as to my youngest brother, I will inform you of his disposition towards you. When a descent was made on us by the returning exiles, who not only wreaked here whatever damage they could, but also raided and harried you from their fortress, note he galloped out from the cavalry ranks and killed one of them. As witnesses to this I will produce to you the actual men who were present at the affair.Witnesses

20.29Of my eldest brother enough is known by his actual comrades in the campaign,—by any of you who were with Leon at the Hellespont,—for him to be accounted the equal of any man in spirit. Please come up here.Witnesses

20.30How, then, should we not obtain our reward from you, with such characters as those? Is our destruction to be justified by the slanders by which my father has been traduced to you, and are we to reap no benefit from the zeal that we have shown in the city's service? Nay, there would be no justice in it. Supposing that we ought to suffer on account of the slander aimed at him, we deserve, on account of that zeal of ours, to save both him and ourselves. 20.31For indeed it was not for the sake of money that we might get that we sought your good; our purpose was that, if we found ourselves in trouble, we might be saved by this plea, and might obtain our due reward at your hands. And for the sake of other people also you ought to be so disposed, recognizing that, whenever zeal is shown in your service, your support will be not merely for us,—for even before making any request you have proved our attitude towards you,—but you will make the others more zealous by your bestowal of merited favor in every case of service rendered to you. 20.32And avoid giving any kind of confirmation to those who repeat the most wicked of all sayings,—that ill-treated men have better memories than the well-treated. For who will keep a loyal heart, if those who harm you are to be preferred to those who help you? What you have to do, gentlemen, is this: 20.33your decision is to be taken on us, and not on our estate. For so long as there was peace, we had a material fortune and our father was skillful in his farming; but after the invasion of the enemy, we were deprived of the whole of it. So this was the very reason why we were zealous in your service: we knew that we had no funds from which we could pay a fine, but that our personal zeal in your service entitles us to get some recompense. 20.34And yet we find, gentlemen, that when someone puts forward his children with sobs and lamentations you take pity on the children for the disfranchisement that they will owe to him; and you overlook the fathers' transgressions on account of the children, of whom you cannot yet tell whether they will grow up to be good citizens or bad. But of us you can tell that we have zealously worked in your service, and that our father is clear of any transgression. Thus you are far more justified in showing favor to those whose work you have tested than to those of whom you cannot tell how they will shape in the future. 20.35And our position is the contrary of that of other people: for others seek your indulgence by producing their children; but we seek it by producing our father here and ourselves, begging you not to deprive us of the rights that we now enjoy, and so leave us, your fellow-citizens, without a city. Nay, pity both our father in his old age, and us. If you ruin us unjustly, what pleasure will there be for him in our society, or for us in company with each other, when we are unworthy both of you and of the city ? But all three of us beseech you to let us give yet greater proofs of our zeal. 20.36We beseech you, then, in the name of all that each of you holds dear,—if any have sons, pity us for their sake; if any is our equal, or our father's, in age, pity us and acquit us. And do not let your act frustrate our purpose of rendering service to the State. Dreadful would be our lot if, from the enemy, who might fairly have denied us safety, we yet obtained safety, but at your hands we shall fail to find salvation.



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