Redevoeringen, Andocides (415 v. Chr.): redevoering IV

Redevoeringen, Andocides (415 v. Chr.): redevoering IV



In 415 BC Andocides was accused of having taken part in the mutilation of Herms, 411 he helped the fleet in Samos to win return to Athens and imprisoned on his return. He returned home after amnesty and in 399 BC was attacked by Callias for profaning mysteries. He then held religious festival posts 392/1 and was later sent to Sparta to negotiate peace. Andocides went into exile when prosecuted following the rejection of the peace.

Against Alcibiades

This is not the first occasion upon which the perils of engaging in politics have come home to me; I regarded it as no less hazardous in the past, before I had concerned myself in any way with affairs of state. Yet I consider it the duty of the good citizen, not to withhold himself from public life for fear of making personal enemies, but to be ready to face danger for the benefit of the community. Those who think only of themselves contribute nothing to a state’s advancement; it is to those who think of the state that its greatness and its independence are due.

I myself desired to be included in this number: and consequently I now find myself in the utmost peril. True, in yourselves I have an audience actively devoted to the public good, and that circumstance makes for my salvation; but I have innumerable enemies of the most dangerous kind, and by them I am being misrepresented. Nor is the contest in which I am engaged for the winning of a crown; it is to decide whether one who has done the state no wrong is to spend ten years in exile. The competitors for that prize are Alcibiades, Nicias, and myself. Upon one of us the blow must fall.

Now the legislator responsible for this deserves censure; for the law which he framed violates the oath of the People and Council. Under the terms of that oath you swear to exile no one, to imprison no one, to put no one to death, without trial; whereas on this present occasion, when the person ostracized is to be cut off from his country for so long, no accusation has been made, no defence allowed, and the voting is secret.

Moreover, at a time like this those who have political associates and confederates have an advantage over the rest, because the judges are not appointed by lot as in courts of law: in the present decision every member of the community has a voice. And not only that: the law appears to me to go both too far and not far enough; for wrongs done to individuals I consider such redress as this excessive: for wrongs done to the state I regard it as an insufficient and useless penalty, when you have the right to punish by fine, imprisonment, or death.

Furthermore, if a man is exiled because he is a bad citizen, his leaving Athens will not cure him; wherever he lives, he will do this city harm and intrigue against her no less than hitherto–nay more so and with more justification than before his banishment. Today, too, above all days, your friends, I feel, are filled with sorrow and your enemies with joy, because they know that if you unwittingly banish your best citizen, Athens will derive no benefit from him for ten years.

Then still another fact makes it easy to see that the law is a bad one: we are the only Greeks to observe it, and no other state is prepared to imitate us.1 Yet it is recognized that the best institutions are those which have proved most suited to democracy and oligarchy alike and which are the most generally favoured.

I see no reason for dwelling further on this subject, as, whatever the outcome, I should achieve nothing of immediate advantage. But I do ask you to preside over our speeches in a fair and impartial manner, and one and all to act as Archons. Do not countenance abuse or undue flattery. Show yourselves kindly to him who desires to speak and to listen: show yourselves stern to him who is insolent and disorderly; for you will decide our fate all the better, if each of the cases to be laid before you is given a hearing.

It remains for me to make a brief reference to my hostility to the democracy and my membership of a political faction. Had I never appeared in court, you would have had some reason for listening to my accusers, and it would have been necessary for me to answer them on these points. But since I have been tried and acquitted four times, I do not consider any further discussion of the subject justified. Before a man is tried, it is difficult to know whether the charges made against him are false or true; but after his acquittal or conviction the matter is decided, and it is settled whether they are the one or the other.

Hence I cannot but think it strange that while defendants who are convicted by but a single vote1 are put to death and have their property confiscated by you, those who win their case should have to face the same charges again: that while the court has the power to take away life, it should so clearly lack the authority to save it once and finally, especially as the laws forbid the same charge to be brought twice against the same defendant, and you have sworn to observe those laws.

I shall therefore say nothing of myself. I wish instead to remind you of the past of Alcibiades– although such is the multitude of his misdeeds that I am at a loss where to begin: there is not one of them that does not press for mention. Were I faced with the task of describing at length his career as an adulterer, as a stealer of the wives of others, as a perpetrator of acts of lawless violence in general, the time at my disposal would be all too short, and I should furthermore earn the ill-will of many of my fellows for making public the injuries which they have suffered. Of his conduct towards the state, however, and towards the members of his family and such citizens and foreigners as have crossed his path, I will give you some account.

To begin with, he persuaded you to revise the assessment of the tribute of the subject-states made with the utmost fairness by Aristeides. Chosen with nine others to perform the task, he practically doubled the contribution of each member of the alliance, while by showing how formidable he was and how influential, he made the revenues of the state a means of procuring revenue for himself. Now just consider: when our safety depends entirely upon our allies and those allies are acknowledged to be worse off today than in the past, how could anyone do greater mischief than by doubling the tribute of each?

In fact, if you hold that Aristeides was a good Athenian and a just one, you can only regard Alcibiades as a scoundrel, since his policy towards the subject-states is the exact opposite of that of Aristeides. Indeed, because of his behaviour, many are leaving their homes as exiles and going off to settle at Thurii1 ; while the bitter feeling of the allies will manifest itself directly there is a war at sea between Sparta and ourselves. In my own opinion, he is a worthless statesman who considers only the present without also giving thought to the future, who advocates the policy which will best please the people and says nothing of that which their true interests require.

I am astonished, furthermore, at those who are persuaded that Alcibiades is a lover of democracy, that form of government which more than any other would seem to make equality its end. They are not using his private life as evidence of his character, in spite of the fact that his greed and his arrogance are plain to them. On his marriage with the sister of Callias he received a dowry of ten talents; yet after Hipponicus had lost his life as one of the generals at Delium, he exacted another ten, on the ground that Hipponicus had agreed to add this further sum as soon as Alcibiades should have a child by his daughter.

Then, after obtaining a dowry such as no Greek had ever obtained before, he behaved in so profligate a fashion, bringing mistresses, slave and free, into the bridal house, that he drove his wife, who was a decent woman, to present herself before the Archon, as she was legally entitled to do, and divorce him. At that he gave conspicuous proof of his power. He called in his friends, and carried off his wife from the Agora by force, showing the whole world his contempt for the magistrates, the laws, and his fellow Athenians in general. Nor was this one outrage enough for him. He went further.

In order to possess himself of Hipponicus’ estate, he planned the assassination of Callias. Callias himself accused him of it before you all in the Assembly, and, for fear that his wealth would cost him his life, made over his property to the state in the event of his dying without issue. However, Callias neither lacks friends nor is he an easy victim. Thanks to his riches he can be sure of protection in plenty. None the less, when a man offers violence to his own wife and plots the death of his brother-in-law, how is he to be expected to behave towards such of his fellow-citizens as cross his path? Everyone has more regard for members of his own family than he has for strangers.

But most monstrous of all is the fact that a man of his character should talk as though he were a friend of the people, and call others oligarchs and foes of the democracy. Yes, although he himself deserves death for behaving as he does, he is chosen by you to proceed against any whose sympathies conflict with yours ; and he poses as guardian of the constitution, in spite of the fact that he refuses to be the equal of, or but little superior to, his fellows. So completely, indeed, does he despise you that he spends his time flattering you in a body and insulting you individually.

Why, there are no limits to his impudence. He persuaded Agatharchus, the artist, to accompany him home,1 and then forced him to paint; and when Agatharchus appealed to him, stating with perfect truth that he could not oblige him at the moment because he had other engagements, Alcibiades threatened him with imprisonment, unless he started painting straight away. And he carried out his threat. Agatharchus only made his escape three months later, by slipping past his guards and running away as he might have done from the king of Persia. But so shameless is Alcibiades that he went to Agatharchus and accused him of doing him a wrong; instead of apologizing for his violence, he uttered threats against him for leaving his work unfinished. Democracy, freedom went for nothing: Agatharchus had been put in chains exactly like any acknowledged slave.

It makes me angry to think that while you yourselves cannot place even malefactors under arrest without risk, because it is enacted that anyone who fails to gain one-fifth of the votes shall be liable to a fine of a thousand drachmae, Alcibiades, who imprisoned a man for so long and forced him to paint, went unpunished–nay, increased thereby the awe and the fear in which he is held. In our treaties with other states1 we make it a condition that no free man shall be imprisoned or placed in durance, and a heavy fine is prescribed as the penalty for so doing. Yet when Alcibiades behaved as he did, no one sought satisfaction, whether for himself or for the state.

Obedience to the magistrates and the laws is to my mind the one safeguard of society; and anyone who sets them at nought is destroying at one blow the surest guarantee of security which the state possesses. It is hard enough to be made to suffer by those who have no conception of right and wrong; but it is far more serious when a man who knows what the public interest requires, acts in defiance of it. He shows clearly, as Alcibiades has done, that instead of holding that he ought himself to conform with the laws of the state, he expects you to conform with his own way of life.

Then again, remember Taureas who competed against Alcibiades as Choregus of a chorus of boys. The law allows the ejection of any member whatsoever of a competing chorus who is not of Athenian birth, and it is forbidden to resist any attempt at such ejection. Yet in your presence, in the presence of the other Greeks who were looking on, and before all the magistrates in Athens, Alcibiades drove off Taureas with his fists. The spectators showed their sympathy with Taureas and their hatred of Alcibiades by applauding the one chorus and refusing to listen to the other at all. Yet Taureas was none the better off for that.

Partly from fear, partly from subservience, the judges pronounced Alcibiades the victor, treating him as more important than their oath. And it seems to me only natural that the judges should thus seek favour with Alcibiades, when they could see that Taureas, who had spent so vast a sum, was being subjected to insults, while his rival, who showed such contempt for the law, was all-powerful. The blame lies with you. You refuse to punish insolence; and while you chastise secret wrongdoing, you admire open effrontery.

That is why the young spend their days in the courts instead of in the gymnasia; that is why our old men fight our battles, while our young men make speeches– they take Alcibiades as their model, Alcibiades who carries his villainy to such unheard-of lengths that, after recommending that the people of Melos be sold into slavery, he purchased a woman from among the prisoners and has since had a son by her, a child whose birth was more unnatural than that of Aegis–thus, since he is sprung from parents who are each other’s deadliest enemies, and of his nearest kin the one has committed and the other has suffered the most terrible of wrongs.

Indeed it would be well to make such shamelessness still plainer. He got himself a child by the very woman whom he had turned from a free citizen into a slave, whose father and kinsfolk he had put to death and whose city he had made a waste, that he might thereby make his son the deadly enemy of himself and of this city; so inevitably is the boy driven to hate both. When you are shown things of this kind on the tragic stage, you regard them with horror; but when you see them taking place in Athens, you remain unmoved–and yet you are uncertain whether the tales of tragedy are founded on the truth or spring merely from the imagination of the poets; whereas you well know that these other lawless outrages, which you accept with indifference, have occurred in fact.

In addition to all this, some dare to say that the like of Alcibiades has never been before. For my part, I believe that Athens will meet with terrible calamities at his hands, that he will be deemed responsible hereafter for disasters so awful that no one will remember his past misdeeds; for it is only to be expected that one who has begun his life in such a fashion will make its close no less portentous. Men of sense should beware of those of their fellows who grow too great, remembering that it is such as they who set up tyrannies.

I imagine that Alcibiades will make no reply to this, but will talk instead of his victory at Olympia, and that he will seek to defend himself on any grounds rather than those on which he has been charged. But I will use the very facts upon which he relies to prove that he deserves death rather than acquittal. Let me explain.

Diomedes took a chariot-team to Olympia. He was a man of moderate means, but desired to win a garland for Athens and for his family with such resources as he had, since he held that the chariot-races were for the most part decided by chance. Diomedes was no casual competitor, but a citizen of Athens. Yet thanks to his influence with the Masters of the Games at Elis, Alcibiades deprived him of his team and competed with it himself. What would he have done, may we ask, had one of your allies arrived with a team?

I imagine he would have been all eagerness to let him compete against himself, considering that he had forcibly ousted an Athenian rival and then had the impudence to contest the race with another man’s horses–after he had, in fact, warned the Greeks in general that they must not be surprised at his offering violence to any of them, seeing that he does not treat his own fellow Athenians as his equals, but robs them, strikes them, throws them into prison, and extorts money from them, yes, shows the democracy to be nothing better than a sham, by talking like a champion of the people and acting like a tyrant, since he has found out that while the word “tyranny” fills you with concern, the thing for which leaves you undisturbed.

Indeed, so different is he from the Spartans that whereas the Spartans accept defeat even at the hands of their allies, when they compete against them, Alcibiades will not endure it even at the hands of his fellow-citizens; in fact, he has openly stated that he will brook no rivals. It is inevitable that such behaviour should cause the states within our confederacy to feel sympathy for our enemies and loathing for us.

In order to make it clear, however, that he was insulting Athens as a whole in addition to Diomedes, he asked the leaders of the Athenian deputation to lend him the processional vessels, alleging that he intended to use them for a celebration of his victory on the day before the sacrifice; he then abused the trust placed in him and refused to return them, as he wanted to use the golden basins and censers next day before Athens did so. Naturally, when those strangers who did not know that they belonged to us saw the state-procession taking place after that of Alcibiades, they imagined that we were using his vessels: while those who had either heard the truth from the Athenians present or else knew the ways of Alcibiades, laughed at us when they saw one man showing himself superior to our entire community.

Then again, look at the arrangements which he made for his stay at Olympia as a whole. For Alcibiades the people of Ephesus erected a Persian pavilion twice as large as that of our official deputation: Chios furnished him with beasts for sacrifice and with fodder for his horses: while he requisitioned wine and everything else necessary for his maintenance from Lesbos. And so lucky is he that although the Greek people at large can testify to his lawlessness and corruption, he has gone unpunished. While those who hold office within a single city have to render account of that office, Alcibiades, whose authority extends over all our allies and who receives monies from them, is not liable to answer for any of his public acts; on the contrary, after behaving as I have described, he was rewarded with free entertainment in the Prytaneum; and not content with that, he is for ever taking credit for his victory, as though he had not so much brought Athens into disgrace as won her a garland of honour. Only reflect, and you will find that men who have given way even temporarily to any single one of the excesses in which Alcibiades has indulged time and again, have brought ruin upon their houses; yet Alcibiades, whose entire life is devoted to extravagance, has doubled his wealth.

You regard as misers those who are niggardly and close-fisted; but you are mistaken. It is the spendthrift, with his endless wants, who stoops lowest to fill his pockets. In fact, it will be a public disgrace, if you show tolerance towards a man who has achieved his success only with the help of your money, when in ostracizing Callias, son of Didymius, who won victories at all the great games by his personal prowess, you took no account whatsoever of his achievement, although it was by his own efforts that he brought glory to Athens.

Then again, remember how steadfast, how true to their principles your fathers showed themselves, when they ostracized Cimon for breaking the law by taking his own sister to wife; and yet not only was Cimon himself an Olympic victor; his father, Miltiades, had been one likewise. Nevertheless, they took no account of his victories; for it was not by his exploits at the games, but by his manner of life that they judged him.

Furthermore, if account is to be taken of our families, I on my side cannot claim any acquaintance with ostracism. No one could show that any kinsman of mine has ever had the misfortune to suffer it. Alcibiades, on the other hand, knows more of it than any other member of the community. His mother’s father, Megacles, and his father’s father, Alcibiades, were both ostracized twice; so it will be neither surprising nor unnatural if he receives the same treatment as his ancestors. Indeed, not even Alcibiades himself would venture to maintain that they, the worst miscreants of their time though they were, did not have more regard for decency and honesty than he himself; for no one in the world could frame an accusation which would do justice to his misdeeds.

Moreover, the legislator who instituted ostracism appears to me to have had the following intention. Observing that whenever members of the community are more powerful than the magistrates and the laws, it is impossible for an individual to obtain redress from them, he arranged that punishment for their misdeeds should be exacted by the state. Now I myself have been publicly tried four times, and have never prevented any private person who so desired from bringing me to justice. On the other hand, Alcibiades, who has worked such mischief, has never yet dared to answer for it in any way whatsoever.

So forbidding is he that instead of punishing him for the wrongs which he has done already, men fear him for what he will do hereafter; and while it pays his victims to suffer in silence, he himself is not satisfied unless he can work his will in the future also. Yet I hardly deserve to be ostracized, gentlemen, if I do not deserve to be put to death1 ; and if I was acquitted when brought to trial, I cannot deserve to be sent into exile when no trial has taken place; nor after vindicating myself so many times in court can I be thought to merit banishment on the same grounds of accusation again.

It may be objected that when I was prosecuted, the attack made upon me was a weak one, that my accusers were unimpressive, or that the case was conducted by casual enemies instead of by those who excel both as speakers and as men of action and who, in fact, brought about the death of two of the persons charged with the same offences as myself. I answer that justice requires you to banish, not those whom, after repeated inquiry, you have found to be innocent, but those who refuse to render to the state an account of their past.

Indeed what seems strange to me is this. If one sought to vindicate persons who have been put to death by showing that they met their end unjustly, such an attempt would not be tolerated. If, on the other hand, those who have been declared innocent should once more be accused on the same charge–is it not only right that you should behave in the case of the living as you would in the case of the dead?

It is characteristic of Alcibiades to pay no attention to laws or oaths himself, and to try to teach you to disregard them as well, and while he is ruthless in bringing about the banishment and the death of others, to have recourse to heartrending tears and appeals for mercy on his own account. Nor does such behaviour surprise me–he has done much that calls for tears. But whose goodwill will he gain by his entreaties, I wonder? That of the young, upon whom he has brought the disfavour of the people by his insolence, by his emptying of the gymnasia, and by behaviour which his years do not warrant? Or that of the old, whose ways are the exact opposite of his own, and whose mode of life he has treated with contempt?

However, it is not the mere exaction of punishment from wrongdoers themselves that should be your object; you should seek also to render everyone else more upright and more self-controlled by the sight of that punishment. If, then, you send me into exile, you will strike fear into all men of worth. If, on the other hand, you punish Alcibiades, you will inspire a greater respect for the law in those whose insolence is uncontrolled.

I wish, further, to remind you of what I have done. I have been sent on missions to Thessaly, to Macedonia, to Molossia, to Thesprotia, to Italy, and to Sicily. In the course of them I have reconciled such as had quarrelled with you, others I have won over to friendship, others I have detached from your enemies. If every representative of yours had done the same, you would have few foes, and you would have gained many an ally.

I wish, further, to remind you of what I have done. I have been sent on missions to Thessaly, to Macedonia, to Molossia, to Thesprotia, to Italy, and to Sicily. In the course of them I have reconciled such as had quarrelled with you, others I have won over to friendship, others I have detached from your enemies. If every representative of yours had done the same, you would have few foes, and you would have gained many an ally.

Of my public services I do not intend to speak. I will say only this: the expenditure required of me I meet, not from monies belonging to the state, but from my own pocket. And yet I have in fact gained victories in the contest of physique,1 in the torch-race, and at the tragic competitions without striking rival Choregi, and without feeling shame at my possessing less power than the laws. Citizens of this kind, it seems to me, deserve to remain in Athens far more than to be sent into exile.


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