|4. Demosthenes, Orations, 13.32, 19.70-19.71, 21.104, 21.108-21.121, 22.5, 22.8, 22.36-22.37, 22.68, 23.97
Tagged with subjects: • Boule, Demosthenes as councillor • Boule, Midias in • Boule, crown for • Boule, curse at meetings • Boule/Council • Council (boule) • Council, cf. Boule councilors/bouleutai • boule • hieropoioi, of Boule
Found in books: Gygax (2016) 225, 245; Liddel (2020) 112; Martin (2009) 39, 41, 44, 45, 46, 74, 122, 128, 211, 215; Mikalson (2016) 62; Riess (2012) 24, 40
|13.32. Such, in consequence, is the state of our public affairs that if anyone read out your resolutions and then went on to describe your performances, not a soul would believe that the same men were responsible for the one and for the other. Take for instance the decrees that you passed against the accursed Megarians, Neither this nor the following allusion can be determined with certainty. when they appropriated the sacred demesne, that you should march out and prevent it and forbid it; in favour of the Phliasians, when they were exiled the other day, that you should help them and not give them up to their murderers, and should call for volunteers from the Peloponnese . |
19.70. To show you that this man is already accursed by you, and that religion and piety forbid you to acquit one who has been guilty of such falsehoods,—recite the curse. Every meeting of the Assembly and of the Council opened with a form of prayer, which included a curse on the enemies of the state and was recited by the marshal ( κῆρυξ ) at the dictation of an under-clerk. The curse has nowhere been preserved, but a parody will be found in Aristoph. Thes. 331 ff. Take and read it from the statute: here it is. (The Statutory Commination is read) This imprecation, men of Athens, is pronounced, as the law directs, by the marshal on your behalf at every meeting of the Assembly, and again before the Council at all their sessions. The defendant cannot say that he is not familiar with it, for, when acting as clerk to the Assembly and as an officer of the Council, he used to dictate the statute to the marshal. 19.71. Would you not have acted absurdly and preposterously if today, when the power is in your own hands, you should preclude yourselves from doing what you enjoin, or rather require, the gods to do on your behalf; if you should yourselves release a man whom you have implored them to extirpate along with his household and his kindred? Never! Leave the undetected sinner to the justice of the gods; but about the sinner whom you have caught yourselves, lay no further injunctions on them.
21.104. But I will now relate a serious act of cruelty committed by him, men of Athens, which I at least regard as not merely a personal wrong but a public sacrilege. For when a grave criminal charge was hanging over that unlucky wretch, Aristarchus, the son of Moschus, at first, Athenians, Meidias went round the Market-place and ventured to spread impious and atrocious statements about me to the effect that I was the author of the deed; next, when this device failed, he went to the relations of the dead man, who were bringing the charge of murder against Aristarchus, and offered them money if they would accuse me of the crime. He let neither religion nor piety nor any other consideration stand in the way of this wild proposal: he shrank from nothing.
21.108. While the clerk is finding the statute, men of Athens, I wish to address a few words to you. I appeal to all of you jurymen, in the name of Zeus and all the gods, that whatever you hear in court, you may listen to it with this in your minds: What would one of you do, if he were the victim of this treatment, and what anger would he feel on his own account against the author of it? Seriously distressed as I was at the insults that I endured in the discharge of my public service, I am far more seriously distressed and indigt at what ensued. 21.109. For in truth, what bounds can be set to wickedness, and how can shamelessness, brutality and insolence go farther, if a man who has committed grave-yes, grave and repeated wrongs against another, instead of making amends and repenting of the evil, should afterwards add more serious outrages and should employ his riches, not to further his own interests without prejudice to others, but for the opposite purpose of driving his victim into exile unjustly and covering him with ignominy, while he gloats over his own superabundance of wealth? 21.110. All that, men of Athens, is just what has been done by Meidias. He brought against me a false charge of murder, in which, as the facts proved, I was in no way concerned; he indicted me for desertion, having himself on three occasions deserted his post; and as for the troubles in Euboea—why, I nearly forgot to mention them!-troubles for which his bosom-friend Plutarchus was responsible, he contrived to have the blame laid at my door, before it became plain to everyone that Plutarchus was at the bottom of the whole business. 21.111. Lastly, when I was made senator by lot, he denounced me at the scrutiny, and the business proved a very real danger for me; for instead of getting compensation for the injuries I had suffered, I was in danger of being punished for acts with which I had no concern. Having such grievances and being persecuted in the way that I have just described to you, but at the same time being neither quite friendless nor exactly a poor man, I am uncertain, men of Athens, what I ought to do. 21.112. For, if I may add a word on this subject also, where the rich are concerned, Athenians, the rest of us have no share in our just and equal rights. Indeed we have not. The rich can choose their own time for facing a jury, and their crimes are stale and cold when they are dished up before you, but if any of the rest of us is in trouble, he is brought into court while all is fresh. The rich have witnesses and counsel in readiness, all primed against us; but, as you see, my witnesses are some of them unwilling even to bear testimony to the truth. 21.113. One might harp on these grievances till one was weary, I suppose; but now recite in full the law which I began to quote. Read. The Law If any Athenian accepts a bribe from another, or himself offers it to another, or corrupts anyone by promises, to the detriment of the people in general, or of any individual citizen, by any means or device whatsoever, he shall be disfranchised together with his children, and his property shall be confiscated. 21.114. This man, then, is so impious, so abandoned, so ready to say or do anything, without stopping for a moment to ask whether it is true or false, whether it touches an enemy or a friend, or any such question, that after accusing me of murder and bringing that grave charge against me, he suffered me to conduct initiatory rites and sacrifices for the Council, and to inaugurate the victims on behalf of you and all the State; 21.115. he suffered me as head of the Sacred Embassy to lead it in the name of the city to the Nemean shrine of Zeus; he raised no objection when I was chosen with two colleagues to inaugurate the sacrifice to the Dread Goddesses. The Eumenides (Furies), whose sanctuary was a cave under the Areopagus. Would he have allowed all this, if he had had one jot or tittle of proof for the charges that he was trumping up against me? I cannot believe it. So then this is conclusive proof that he was seeking in mere wanton spite to drive me from my native land. 21.116. Then, when for all his desperate shifts he could bring none of these charges home to me, he turned informer against Aristarchus, aiming evidently at me. To pass over other incidents, when the Council was in session and was investigating the murder, Meidias came in and cried, Don’t you know the facts of the case, Councillors? Are you wasting time and groping blindly for the murderer, when you have him already in your hands? -meaning Aristarchus. Won’t you put him to death? Won’t you go to his house and arrest him? 21.117. Such was the language of this shameless and abandoned reptile, though only the day before he had stepped out of Aristarchus’s house, though up till then he had been as intimate with him as anyone could be, and though Aristarchus in the day of his prosperity had often importuned me to settle my suit with Meidias out of court. Now if he said this to the Council, believing that Aristarchus had actually committed the crime which has since proved his ruin, and trusting to the tale told by his accusers, yet even so the speech was unpardonable. 21.118. Upon friends, if they seem to have done something serious, one should impose the moderate penalty of withdrawing from their friendship; vengeance and prosecution should be left to their victims or their enemies. Yet in a man like Meidias this may be condoned. But if it shall appear that he chatted familiarly under the same roof with Aristarchus, as if he were perfectly innocent, and then uttered those damning charges against him in order to involve me in a false accusation, does he not deserve to be put to death ten times—no! ten thousand times over? 21.119. I am going to call the witnesses now present in court to prove that my version of the facts is correct; that on the day before he told that tale to the Council, he had entered Aristarchus’s house and had a conversation with him; that on the next day-and this, men of Athens, this for vileness is impossible to beat—he went into his house and sat as close to him as this, and put his hand in his, in the presence of many witnesses, after that speech in the Council in which he had called Aristarchus a murderer and said the most terrible things of him; that he invoked utter destruction on himself if he had said a word in his disparagement; that he never thought twice about his perjury, though there were people present who knew the truth, and he actually begged him to use his influence to bring about a reconciliation with me. 21.120. And yet, Athenians, must we not call it a crime, or rather an impiety, to say that a man is a murderer and then swear that one has never said this to reproach a man with murder and then sit in the same room with him? And if I let him off now and so stultify your vote of condemnation, I am an innocent man apparently; but if I proceed with my case, I am a deserter, I am accessory to a murder, I deserve extermination. I am quite of the contrary opinion, men of Athens . If I had let Meidias off, then I should have been a deserter from the cause of justice, and I might reasonably have charged myself with murder, for life would have been impossible for me, had I acted thus. 21.121. And now please call the witnesses to attest the truth of these statements also. The Witnesses We, Lysimachus of Alopece, Demeas of Sunium, Chares of Thoricus, Philemon of Sphetta, Moschus of Paeania, know that at the date when the indictment was presented to the Council charging Aristarchus, the son of Moschus, with the murder of Nicodemus, Meidias, who is now being tried at the suit of Demosthenes, for whom we appear, came before the Council and stated that Aristarchus, and no one else, was the murderer of Nicodemus, and he advised the Council to go to the house of Aristarchus and arrest him. This he said to the Council, having dined on the previous day with Aristarchus in our company. We also know that Meidias, when he came from the Council after making this statement, again entered the house of Aristarchus and shook hands with him and, invoking destruction on his own head, swore that he had said nothing in his disparagement before the Council, and he asked Aristarchus to reconcile Demosthenes to him.
22.5. There is one plea which he thinks a clever defence of the omission of the preliminary decree. There is a law, he says, that if the Council by its performance of its duties seems to deserve a reward, that reward shall be presented by the people. That question, he says, the chairman of the Assembly put, the people voted, and it was carried. In this case, he says, there is no need of a preliminary decree, because what was done was in accordance with law. But I take the exactly contrary view-and I think you will agree with me—that the preliminary decrees should only be proposed concerning matters prescribed by the laws, because, where no laws are laid down, surely no proposal whatever is admissible.
22.8. Coming now to the law which explicitly denies to the Council the right to ask a reward, if they have not built the warships, it is worth while to hear the defence that he will set up, and to get a clear view of the shamelessness of his behavior from the arguments that he attempts to use. The law, he says, forbids the Council to ask for the reward, if they have not built the ships. But, he adds, the law nowhere prohibits the Assembly from giving it. If I gave it at their request, my motion was illegal, but if I have never mentioned the ships in the whole of my decree, but give other grounds for granting a crown to the Council, where is the illegality of my motion?
22.36. But I am in a position to assert that the question does not concern the whole Council, but only Androtion and some others, who are the cause of the mischief. For should the Council receive no crown, who suffers disgrace, if he makes no speech and moves no resolution himself, and perhaps even does not attend most of the meetings? No one surely. The disgrace attaches to him who moves resolutions and meddles with politics and tries to impose his wishes on the Council; because it is through such men that the deliberations of the Council have proved undeserving of the crown. 22.37. And yet, even if we grant freely that the whole Council is on its trial, reflect how much more advantage you will gain if you condemn Androtion, than if you do not. If you acquit him, the talkers will rule in the Council chamber, but if you convict him, the ordinary members. For when the majority see that they have lost the crown through the misconduct of the orators, they will not leave the transaction of business in their hands, but will depend on themselves for the best advice. If this comes to pass, and if you are once rid of the old gang of orators, then, men of Athens, you will see everything done as it ought to be. For this, if for no other, reason you ought to convict.
22.68. If you had confessed, men of Athens, that you are a nation of slaves and not of men who claim empire over others, you would never have put up with the insults which he repeatedly offered you in the marketplace, binding and arresting aliens and citizens alike, bawling from the platform in the Assembly, calling men slaves and slave-born who were better men than himself and of better birth, and asking if the jail was built for no object. I should certainly say it was, if your father danced his way out of it, fetters and all, at the procession of the Dionysia. All his other outrages it would be impossible to relate; they are too numerous. For all of them taken together you must exact vengeance today, and make an example of him to teach the rest to behave with more restraint.
23.97. Every man keeps his oath who does not, through spite or favour or other dishonest motive, vote against his better judgement. Suppose that he does not apprehend some point that is explained to him, he does not deserve to be punished for his lack of intelligence. The man who is amenable to the curse is the advocate who deceives and misleads the jury. That is why, at every meeting, the crier pronounces a commination, not upon those who have been misled, but upon whosoever makes a misleading speech to the Council, or to the Assembly, or to the Court.''. None