Redevoeringen, Lysias (445-380 v. Chr.): redevoeringen XXV en XXXIV

Defense Against a Charge of Subverting the Democracy (XXV)

I can find full excuse for you, gentlemen of the jury, if on hearing such statements and remembering past events you are equally incensed against all those who remained in the city. But I am surprised at my accusers: they neglect their own concerns to attend to those of others, and now, though they know for certain who are guilty of nothing and who have committed many offences, they seek to persuade you into holding this same opinion about us all.

Now, if they conceive that they have charged me with everything that the city has suffered at the hands of the Thirty, I consider them to be speakers of no ability; for they have not mentioned so much as a small fraction of what has been perpetrated by those men. But if their statements imply that I had any connection with those things, I shall prove that their words are nothing but lies, and that on my part I behaved as the best citizen in the Peiraeus would have done, if he had remained in the city.

I beg you, gentlemen, not to share the views of the slander-mongers. Their business is to inculpate even those who have committed no offence, --for it is out of them especially that they would make money,1 --while yours is to allow an equal enjoyment of civic rights to those who have done no wrong; for in this way you will secure to the established constitution the greatest number of allies.

And I claim, gentlemen, if I am found to have been the cause of none of our disasters, but rather to have performed many services to the State with both my person and my purse, that at any rate I should have that support from you which is the just desert, not merely of those who have served you well, but also of those who have done you no wrong.

Now, I consider that I have a strong justification in the fact that, if my accusers were able to convict me of wrongdoing in private life, they would not charge me with the misdeeds of the Thirty: they would not see occasion to traduce others on the score of what those persons have perpetrated, but only to requite the actual wrongdoers. But in fact they conceive that your resentment against those men is sufficient to involve in their ruin those who have done no harm at all.

I, however, hold that, just as it would be unfair, when some men have been the source of many benefits to the city, to let others carry off the reward of your honors or your thanks, so it is unreasonable, when some have continually done you harm, that their acts should bring reproach and slander upon those who have done no wrong. The city has enough enemies already existing, who count it a great gain to have people brought up on slanderous charges.

I will now try to explain to you who of the citizens are inclined, in my view, to court oligarchy, and who democracy. This will serve as a basis both for your decision and for the defence that I shall offer for myself; for I shall make it evident that neither under the democracy nor under the oligarchy has my conduct suggested any inclination to be disloyal to your people.

Now, first of all, you should reflect that no human being is naturally either an oligarch or a democrat: whatever constitution a man finds advantageous to himself, he is eager to see that one established; so it largely depends on you whether the present system finds an abundance of supporters. That this is the truth, you will have no difficulty in deducing from the events of the past.

For consider, gentlemen of the jury, how many times the leaders of both governments1 changed sides. Did not Phrynichus, Peisander and their fellow demagogues, when they had committed many offences against you, proceed, in fear of the requital that they deserved, to establish the first oligarchy? And did not many of the Four Hundred, again, join in the return of the Peiraeus party, while some, on the other hand, who had helped in the expulsion of the Four Hundred, actually appeared among the Thirty? Some, too, of those who had enlisted for Eleusis marched out with you to besiege their own comrades!

There is thus no difficulty in concluding, gentlemen, that the questions dividing men are concerned, not with politics, but with their personal advantage. You should therefore apply this test in the probation of your citizens: examine their use of the citizenship under the democracy, and inquire whether they stood to benefit by a change in the government. In this way you will most justly form your decision upon them.

Now, in my opinion, all those who had been disfranchised under the democracy, or deprived of their property, or subjected to any other misfortune of the sort, were bound to desire a different system, in the hope that the change would be some benefit to themselves. But in the case of those who have done the people many good services, and never a single hurt, and who deserve your grateful favors instead of punishment for what they have achieved, it is not fair to harbor the slanders aimed at them, not even if all who have charge of public affairs allege that they favor oligarchy.

Now I, gentlemen of the jury, never suffered any misfortune during that time, either private or public, which could lead me, through eagerness to be relieved of present ills, to court a change in our system. I have equipped a warship five times, fought in four sea-battles, contributed to many war levies, and performed my other public services as amply as any citizen.

But my purpose in spending more than was enjoined upon me by the city was to raise myself the higher in your opinion, so that if any misfortune should chance to befall me I might defend myself on better terms. Of all this credit I was deprived under the oligarchy; for instead of regarding those who had bestowed some benefit on the people as worthy recipients of their favors, they placed in positions of honor the men who had done you most harm, as though this were a pledge by which they held us bound. You ought all to reflect on those facts and refuse to believe the statements of these men: you should rather judge each person by the record of his actions.

For I, gentlemen, was not one of the Four Hundred: I challenge anyone who wishes amongst my accusers to come forward and convict me of this. Neither, again, will anyone prove that, when the Thirty were established, I sat on the Council or held any office. Surely, if I chose not to hold office when I could have done so, I deserve to be honored by you today. If, on their part, the men who were in power at that time preferred not to give me a place in the government, could I find a more signal proof than this of the falsehood of my accusers?

Furthermore, gentlemen of the jury, you ought also to take account of the rest of my conduct. For amid the misfortunes of the city my behavior was such that, if everyone had been of one mind with me, not one of you would have experience of a single misfortune. I had no hand during the oligarchy, you will find, either in the arrest of anybody, or in taking vengeance upon any of my enemies, or in conferring a favor on any of my friends, --and in that there is nothing to wonder at, for at that time it was difficult to confer favors, though an act of mischief was easy for anyone who wished. Again, you will find that I did not place the name of a single Athenian on the black list,1 or obtain a decree of arbitration against anyone, or enrich myself by means of your misfortunes. Yet surely, if you are incensed against the authors of your past troubles, it is reasonable that those who have done no mischief should stand the higher in your opinion.

And indeed, gentlemen of the jury, I consider that I have given the democracy the strongest pledge of my attachment. For if I did no mischief at that time, when ample licence for it was allowed, surely I shall now make every effort to be a good citizen in the full knowledge that, if I am guilty of wrong, I shall incur immediate punishment. But in fact I have continually held to this resolve, --under an oligarchy, not to covet the property of others, and under a democracy, to spend my own upon you with zeal.

I consider, gentlemen, that you would not be justified in hating those who have suffered nothing under the oligarchy, when you can indulge your wrath against those who have done your people mischief; or in regarding as enemies those who did not go into exile instead of those who expelled you, or those who were anxious to save their own property instead of those who stripped others of theirs, or those who stayed in the city with a view to their own safety instead of those who took part in the government for the purpose of destroying others. If you think it your duty to destroy the men whom they passed over, not one of the citizens will be left to us.

You ought also to take account of this further point, gentlemen of the jury: you are all aware that under the previous democracy there were many in the ministry who robbed the Treasury; while some accepted bribes at your expense, and others by malicious informations estranged your allies.1 Now, if the Thirty had kept their punishments for these cases, you would have held them yourselves to be honest men: but when in fact you found them deliberately oppressing the people because of the offences of those persons, you were indignant; for you considered it monstrous that the crimes of the few should be spread over the whole city.

It is not right, therefore, that you should resort to those offences which you saw them committing, or regard those deeds, which you deemed unjust when done to you, as just when you do them to others. No: let your feeling towards us after your restoration be the same as you had towards yourselves in your exile; for by this means you will produce the utmost harmony amongst us, the power of the city will be at its highest, and you will vote for what will be most distressing to your enemies.

And you should reflect, gentlemen, on the events that have occurred under the Thirty, in order that the errors of your enemies may lead you to take better counsel on your own affairs. For as often as you heard that the people in the city were all of one mind, you had but slight hopes of your return, judging that our concord was the worst of signs for your exile: but as soon as you had tidings that the Three Thousand were divided by faction, that the rest of the citizens had been publicly banned from the city, that the Thirty were not all of one mind, and that those who had fears for you outnumbered those who were making war on you, you immediately began to look forward to your return and the punishment of your enemies. For it was your prayer to the gods that those men should do the things that you saw them doing, since you believed that the villainy of the Thirty would be far more useful for your salvation than the resources of the exiles for your return.

You ought therefore, gentlemen, to take the events of the past as your example in resolving on the future course of things, and to account those men the best democrats who, desiring your concord, abide by their oaths and covenants, because they hold this to be the most effective safeguard of the city and the severest punishment of her enemies. For nothing could be more vexatious to them than to learn that we are taking part in the government and to perceive at the same time that the citizens are behaving as though they had never had any fault to find with each other.

And you should know, gentlemen, that the exiles desire to see the greatest possible number of their fellow citizens not merely slandered but disfranchised; since they hope that the men who are wronged by you will be their allies, and they would gladly have the venal informers standing high in your esteem and influential in the city. For they judge the villainy of those creatures to be their own safeguard.

You will do well to remember also the events that followed the rule of the Four Hundred; for you will fully realize that the measures advised by these men have never brought you any advantage, while those that I recommend have always profited both parties in the State. You know that Epigenes, Demophanes and Cleisthenes, while reaping their personal gains from the city's misfortunes, have inflicted the heaviest losses on the public weal.

For they prevailed on you to condemn several men to death without trial, to confiscate unjustly the property of many more, and to banish and disfranchise other citizens; since they were capable of taking money for the release of offenders, and of appearing before you to effect the ruin of the innocent. They did not stop until they had involved the city in seditions and the gravest disasters, while raising themselves from poverty to wealth.

But your temper moved you to welcome back the exiles, to reinstate the disfranchised in their rights, and to bind yourselves by oaths to concord with the rest. At the end of it all, you would have been more pleased to punish those who traded in slander under the democracy than those who held office under the oligarchy. And with good reason, gentlemen: for it is manifest now to all that the unjust acts of rulers in an oligarchy produce democracy, whereas the trade of slanderers in the democracy has twice led to the establishment of oligarchy. It is not right, therefore, to hearken many times to the counsels of men whose advice has not even once resulted in your profit.

And you should consider that, in the Peiraeus party, those who are in highest repute, who have run the greatest risk, and who have rendered you the most services, had often before exhorted your people to abide by their oaths and covenants, since they held this to be the bulwark of democracy: for they felt that it would give the party of the town immunity from the consequences of the past,1 and the party of the Peiraeus an assurance of the most lasting permanence of the constitution.

For these are the men whom you would be far more justified in trusting than those who, as exiles, owed their deliverance to others and, now that they have returned, are taking up the slanderer's trade. In my opinion, gentlemen of the jury, those among our people remaining in the city who shared my views have clearly proved, both under oligarchy and under democracy, what manner of citizens they are.

But the men who give us good cause to wonder what they would have done if they had been allowed to join the Thirty are the men who now, in a democracy, imitate those rulers; who have made a rapid advance from poverty to wealth, and who hold a number of offices without rendering an account of any; who instead of concord have created mutual suspicion, and who have declared war instead of peace; and who have caused us to be distrusted by the Greeks.

Authors of all these troubles and of many more besides, and differing no whit from the Thirty, --save that the latter pursued the same ends as theirs during an oligarchy, while these men follow their example in a democracy, --they yet make it their business to maltreat in this light fashion any person they may wish, as though everyone else were guilty, and they had proved themselves men of the highest virtue.

(Nay, it is not so much they who give cause for wonder as you, who suppose that there is a democracy, whereas things are done just as they please, and punishment falls, not on those who have injured your people, but on those who refuse to yield their own possessions. ) And they would sooner have the city diminished than raised to greatness and freedom by others: they consider that their perils in the Peiraeus give them licence now to do just as they please, while, if later on you obtain deliverance through others, they themselves will be swept away, and those others will be advanced in power. So they combine to obstruct any efforts that others may make for your benefit.

But their purpose is readily detected by any observer: for they are not anxious to hide themselves, but are rather ashamed not to be reputed villains; while you partly see the mischief for yourselves, and partly hear it from many other persons. As for us, gentlemen, we consider that you are bound by your duty towards all the citizens to abide by your covenants and your oaths: nevertheless, when we see justice done upon the authors of your troubles, we remember your former experiences, and condone you; but when you show yourselves openly chastising the innocent along with the guilty, by the same vote you will be involving us all in suspicion. ...

Against The Subversion of the Ancestral Constitution (XXXIV)

At 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.

It 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?

Now 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.1 Shall we debar today even our existing citizens?

No, 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; and 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, but in fact are aiming at your property; and this they will acquire when they find you destitute of allies.

And 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.

For I believe that if I can persuade you, the danger will be common to both sides...

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.

For 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.

We 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.

But 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.

Strange 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?...

Strange 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?...

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