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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Defense and an Attack
By Æschines (389–314 B.C.)
 
From the ‘Oration against Ctesiphon’

IN regard to the calumnies with which I am attacked, I wish to say a word or two before Demosthenes speaks. He will allege, I am told, that the State has received distinguished services from him, while from me it has suffered injury on many occasions; and that the deeds of Philip and Alexander, and the crimes to which they gave rise, are to be imputed to me. Demosthenes is so clever in the art of speaking that he does not bring accusation against me, against any point in my conduct of affairs or any counsels I may have brought to our public meetings; but he rather casts reflections upon my private life, and charges me with a criminal silence.  1
  Moreover, in order that no circumstance may escape his calumny, he attacks my habits of life when I was in school with my young companions; and even in the introduction of his speech he will say that I have begun this prosecution, not for the benefit of the State, but because I want to make a show of myself to Alexander and gratify Alexander’s resentment against him. He purposes, as I learn, to ask why I blame his administration as a whole, and yet never hindered or indicted any one separate act; why, after a considerable interval of attention to public affairs, I now return to prosecute this action….  2
  But what I am now about to notice—a matter which I hear Demosthenes will speak of—about this, by the Olympian deities, I cannot but feel a righteous indignation. He will liken my speech to the Sirens’, it seems, and the legend anent their art is that those who listen to them are not charmed, but destroyed; wherefore the music of the Sirens is not in good repute. Even so he will aver that knowledge of my words and myself is a source of injury to those who listen to me. I, for my part, think it becomes no one to urge such allegations against me; for it is a shame if one who makes charges cannot point to facts as full evidence. And if such charges must be made, the making surely does not become Demosthenes, but rather some military man—some man of action—who has done good work for the State, and who, in his untried speech, vies with the skill of antagonists because he is conscious that he can tell no one of his deeds, and because he sees his accusers able to show his audience that he had done what in fact he never had done. But when a man made up entirely of words,—of sharp words and overwrought sentences,—when he takes refuge in simplicity and plain facts, who then can endure it?—whose tongue is like a flute, inasmuch as if you take it away the rest is nothing….  3
  This man thinks himself worthy of a crown—that his honor should be proclaimed. But should you not rather send into exile this common pest of the Greeks? Or will you not seize upon him as a thief, and avenge yourself upon him whose mouthings have enabled him to bear full sail through our commonwealth? Remember the season in which you cast your vote. In a few days the Pythian Games will come round, and the convention of the Hellenic States will hold its sessions. Our State has been concerned on account of the measures of Demosthenes regarding present crises. You will appear, if you crown him, accessory to those who broke the general peace. But if, on the other hand, you refuse the crown, you will free the State from blame. Do not take counsel as if it were for an alien, but as if it concerned, as it does, the private interest of your city; and do not dispense your honors carelessly, but with judgment; and let your public gifts be the distinctive possession of men most worthy. Not only hear, but also look around you and consider who are the men who support Demosthenes. Are they his fellow-hunters, or his associates in old athletic sports? No, by Olympian Zeus, he was never engaged in hunting the wild boar, nor in care for the well-being of his body; but he was toiling at the art of those who keep up possessions.  4
  Take into consideration also his art of juggling, when he says that by his embassy he wrested Byzantium from the hands of Philip, and that his eloquence led the Acarnanians to revolt, and struck dumb the Thebans. He thinks, forsooth, that you have fallen to such a degree of weakness that he can persuade you that you have been entertaining Persuasion herself in your city, and not a vile slanderer. And when at the conclusion of his argument he calls upon his partners in bribe-taking, then fancy that you see upon these steps, from which I now address you, the benefactors of your State arrayed against the insolence of those men. Solon, who adorned our commonwealth with most noble laws, a man who loved wisdom, a worthy legislator, asking you in dignified and sober manner, as became his character, not to follow the pleading of Demosthenes rather than your oaths and laws. Aristides, who assigned to the Greeks their tributes, to whose daughters after he had died the people gave portions—imagine Aristides complaining bitterly at the insult to public justice, and asking if you are not ashamed that when your fathers banished Arthurias the Zelian, who brought gold from the Medes (although while he was sojourning in the city and a guest of the people of Athens they were scarce restrained from killing him, and by proclamation forbade him the city and any dominion the Athenians had power over), nevertheless that you are going to crown Demosthenes, who did not indeed bring gold from the Medes, but who received bribes and has them still in his possession. And Themistocles and those who died at Marathon and at Platæa, and the very graves of your ancestors—will they not cry out if you venture to grant a crown to one who confesses that he united with the barbarians against the Greeks?  5
  And now, O earth and sun! virtue and intelligence! and thou, O genius of the humanities, who teachest us to judge between the noble and the ignoble, I have come to your succor and I have done. If I have made my pleading with dignity and worthily, as I looked to the flagrant wrong which called it forth, I have spoken as I wished. If I have done ill, it was as I was able. Do you weigh well my words and all that is left unsaid, and vote in accordance with justice and the interests of the city!  6
 
 
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