Lysias, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Lys.].
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Against The Subversion of the Ancestral Constitution

34.1At the very moment when we were supposing, men of Athens, that the disasters that have befallen her have left behind them sufficient reminders to the city to prevent even our descendants from desiring a change of constitution, these men are seeking to deceive us, after our grievous sufferings and our experience of both systems, with the selfsame decrees with which they have tricked us twice before. 34.2It is not at them that I wonder, but at you who listen to them, for being the most forgetful of mankind, or the readiest to suffer injury from such men as these; who shared by mere chance in the operations at the Peiraeus, but whose feelings were with the party of the town. What, I ask, was the object of returning from your exile, if by your votes you are to enslave yourselves? 34.3Now I, men of Athens, am not debarred on account either of means or of birth, but in both respects have the advantage of my opponents; and I consider that the only deliverance for the city is to let all Athenians share the citizenship. For when we possessed our walls, our ships, and money and allies, far from proposing to exclude any Athenian, we actually granted the right of marriage to the Euboeans. note Shall we debar today even our existing citizens? 34.4No, if you will be advised by me; nor, after losing our walls, shall we denude ourselves of our forces,—large numbers of our infantry, our cavalry and our archers: for, if you hold fast to these, you will make your democracy secure, will be more victorious over your enemies, and will be more useful to your allies. You are well aware that in the previous oligarchies of our time it was not the possessors of land who controlled the city: many of them were put to death, and many were expelled from the city; 34.5and the people, after recalling them, restored your city to you, but did not venture to participate in it themselves. Thus, if you take my advice, you will not be depriving your benefactors, so far as you may, of their native land, nor be placing more confidence in words than in deeds, in the future than in the past, especially if you remember the champions of oligarchy, who in speech make war on the people, note but in fact are aiming at your property; and this they will acquire when they find you destitute of allies.

34.6And then they ask us, when such is our plight, what deliverance there can be for the city, unless we do as the Lacedaemonians demand. But I call upon them to tell us what profit will accrue to the people if we obey their orders. If we do not, it will be far nobler to die fighting than to pass a manifest sentence of death upon ourselves. 34.7For I believe that if I can persuade you, the danger will be common to both sides note

And I observe the same attitude in both the Argives and the Mantineans, each inhabiting their own land,—the former bordering on the Lacedaemonians, the latter dwelling near them; in the one case, their number is no greater than ours, in the other it is less than three thousand. 34.8For their enemies know that, often as they may invade the territories of these peoples, as often will they march out to oppose them under arms, so that they see no glory in the venture: if they should be victorious, they could not enslave them, and if they should be defeated, they must deprive themselves of the advantages that they already possess. The more they prosper, the less is their appetite for risk. 34.9We also, men of Athens, held these views, when we had command over the Greeks; and we deemed it a wise course to suffer our land to be ravaged without feeling obliged to fight in its defence. For our interest lay in neglecting a few things in order to conserve many advantages. But today, when the fortune of battle has deprived us of all these, and our native land is all that is left to us, we know that only this venture holds out hopes of our deliverance. 34.10But surely we ought to remember that heretofore, when we have gone to the support of others who were victims of injury, we have set up many a trophy over our foes on alien soil, and so ought now to act as valiant defenders of our country and of ourselves: let us trust in the gods, and hope that they will stand for justice on the side of the injured. 34.11Strange indeed would it be, men of Athens, if after fighting the Lacedaemonians, in the time of our exile, to achieve our return, we should take to flight, when we have returned, to avoid fighting! And will it not be shameful if we sink to such a depth of baseness that, whereas our ancestors risked their all merely for the freedom of their neighbors, you do not dare even to make war for your own?



Lysias, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Lys.].
<<Lys. 33 Lys. 34 (Greek) >>Lys. 34

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