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Naxos over the Lacedaemonians and their general Pollis?
Yet so effectual were your artful recriminations to secure you
against justice, that the danger fell, not on you, the true de-
linquent, but on the prosecutors. To this purpose served your
perpetual clamours against Alexander and Philip; for this,


you inveighed against men who embarrassed the affairs of
government. You, who on every fair occasion have defeated
our present interests, and, for the future, amused us with
promises. In that my last attempt to bring an impeachment
against you, did you not recur to the contrivance of seizing
Anaxilus the citizen of Oreum, the man who was engaged in
some commercial transactions with Olympias? Did not your
own hand inflict the torture upon him, and your own decree
condemn him to suffer death ? And this was he, under whose
roof you had been received; at whose table you eat and drank,
and poured out your libations; whose right hand you clasped
in your's; and whom you pronounced your friend and host.
This very man you slew ; and when all these points were fully
proved by me, in presence of the whole city; when I called you
murderer of your host, you never attempted to deny your im-
piety: no; you made an answer that raised a shout of indig-
nation from the people and all the strangers in the assembly.
You said that you esteemed the salt of Athens more than the
tables of foreigners. 1

I pass over the counterfeited letters, the seizing of spies,
the tortures for fictitious crimes, all to load me with the odium
of uniting with a faction, to introduce innovations in the state.
Yet still he means to ask me, as I am informed, what would be
thought of that physician, who, while the patient laboured un-
der his disorder, never should propose the least advice, but
when he had expired should attend his funeral, and there en-
large upon those methods, which, if pursued, would have re-
stored his health. But you do not ask yourself what must be
thought of such a minister as could amuse his countrymen
with flattery, while he betrayed their interests at such junctures
as might have been improved to their security; while his
clamours prevented their true friends from speaking in their

1 Salt and tables were symbols of friendship, familiarity, and affec-
tion. So that this declaration imported no more than, that any con-
nections he had formed abroad were not to interfere with his duty
and attachment to the state. A declaration which might well be
justified. But his hearers either suspected his sincerity, or were vio-
lently transported by that habitual horror which they entertained
of every violation of the, rights of hospitality.


cause ; who should basely fly from danger, involve the state in
calamities the most desperate, yet demand the honour of a
crown for his merit, though author of no one public service,
but the cause of all our misfortunes ; who should insult those
men, whom his malicious prosecutions silenced in those times
when we might have been preserved, by asking why they did
not oppose his misconduct? If this still remains to be an-
swered, they may observe, that, at the time of the fatal battle,
we had no leisure for considering the punishment due to your
offences; we were entirely engaged in negotiations, to avert
the ruin of the state. But after this, when you, not contented
with escaping from justice, dared to demand honours; when
you attempted to render your country ridiculous to Greece :
then did I arise, and commence this prosecution.

But, O ye gods ! how can I restrain my indignation at one
thing, which Demosthenes means to urge, (as I have been
told) and which I shall here explain? He compares me to the
Sirens, whose purpose is not to delight their hearers, but to
destroy them. Even so, if we are to believe him, my abilities
in speaking, whether acquired by exercise, or given by nature,
all tend to the detriment of those who grant me their attention.
I am bold to say, that no man hath a right to urge an allega-
tion of this nature against me ; for it is shameful in an ac-
cuser not to be able to establish his assertions with full proof.
But, if such must be urged, surely it should not come from
Demosthenes; it should be the observation of some military
man, who had done important services, but was unskilled in
speech ; who repined at the abilities of his antagonist, conscious
that he could not display his own actions, and sensible that his
accuser had the art of persuading his audience to impute such
actions to him as he never had committed. But when a man
composed entirely of words, and these the bitterest and most
pompously laboured ; when he recurs to simplicity, to artless
facts, who can endure it ? He who is but an instrument, take
away his tongue, and he is nothing.

I am utterly at a loss to conceive, and would gladly be in-
formed, Athenians, upon what grounds you can possibly give
sentence for the defendant. Can it be because this decree is
not illegal? No public act was ever more repugnant to the

VI 17


laws. Or because the author of this decree is not a proper
object of public justice? All your examinations of men's con-
duct are no more, if this man be suffered to escape. And
is not this lamentable, that formerly your stage was filled with
crowns of gold, conferred by the Greeks upon the people, (as
the season of our public entertainments was assigned for the
honours granted by foreigners) ; but now, by the ministerial
conduct of Demosthenes, you should lose all crowns, all public
honours, while he enjoys them in full pomp? Should any of
these tragic poets, whose works are to succeed our public proc-
lamations, represent Thersites crowned by the Greeks, no man
could endure it, because Homer marks him as a coward and a
sycophant; and can you imagine that you yourselves will not
be the derision of all Greece, if this man be permitted to re-
ceive his crown? In former times, your fathers ascribed
every thing glorious and illustrious in the public fortune, to
the people; transferred the blame of every thing mean and
dishonourable to bad ministers. But, now, Ctesiphon would
persuade you to divest Demosthenes of his ignominy, and to
cast it on the state. You acknowledge that you are favoured
by fortune ; and justly, for you are so favoured ; and will you
now declare by your sentence that fortune hath abandoned you ;
that Demosthenes hath been your only benefactor? Will you
proceed to the last absurdity, and, in the very same tribunals,
condemn those to infamy, whom you have detected in corrup-
tion; and yet confer a crown on him, whose whole adminis-
tration you are sensible hath been one series of corruption?
In our public spectacles, the judges of our common dancers
are at once fined, if they decide unjustly; and will you, who are
appointed judges, not of dancing, but of the laws, and of
public virtue, confer honours not agreeably to the laws, not
on a few, and those most eminent in merit, but on any man
who can establish his influence by intrigue? A judge who
can descend to this leaves the tribunal, after having reduced
himself to a state of weakness, and strengthened the power
of an orator. For, in a democratical state, every man hath a
sort of kingly power founded on the laws, and on our public
acts ; but, when he resigns these into the hands of another, he
himself subverts his own sovereignty. And then the con-


sciottsness of that oath, by which his sentence was to have been
directed, pursues him with remorse. In the violation of that
oath, consists his great guilt; while the obligation he confers
is a secret to the favoured party, as his sentence is given by
private ballot.

It appears to me, Athenians, that our imprudent measures
have been attended with some degree of lucky fortune, as well
as no small danger to the state. For that you, the majority,
have, in these times, resigned the whole strength of your free
government into the hands of a few, I by no means approve.
But that we have not been overwhelmed by a torrent of bold
and wicked speakers, is a proof of our good fortune. In for-
mer times the state produced such spirits, as found it easy to
subvert the government, while they amused their fellow-citi-
zens with flattery. And thus was the constitution destroyed,
not by the men we most feared, but by those in whom we most
confided. Some of them united publicly with the THIRTY, and
put to death more than fifteen hundred of our citizens, with-
out trial ; without suffering them to know the crimes for which
they were thus condemned ; without admitting their relations
to pay the common rites of interment to their bodies. Will
you not then keep your ministers under your own power?
Shall not the men, now so extravagantly elated, be sent away
duly humbled? And can it be forgotten, that no man ever
hath attempted to destroy our constitution, until he had first
made himself superior to our tribunals?

And here, in your presence, would I gladly enter into a
discussion with the author of this decree, as to the nature of
those services, for which he desires that Demosthenes should
be crowned. If you allege, agreeably to the first clause of
the decree, that he hath surrounded our walls with an excellent
intrenchment ; I must declare my surprise. Surely the guilt
of having rendered such a work necessary, far outweighs the
merits of its execution. It is not he who has strengthened our
fortifications, who hath digged our intrenchments, who hath
disturbed the tombs of our ancestors, 1 that should demand the

1 To understand this, it must be observed that Themistocles, who
built these walls, of which Demosthenes was charged with the repair,


honours of a patriot minister, but he who hath procured some
intrinsic services to the state. If you have recourse to the
second clause, where you presume to say that he is a good
man, and hath ever persevered in speaking and acting for the
interest of the people, strip your decree of its vain-glorious
pomp; adhere to facts; and prove what you have asserted. I
shall not press you with the instances of his corruption, in the
affairs of Amphissa and Eubcea. But, if you attempt to trans-
fer the merit of the Theban alliance to Demosthenes, you
but impose on the men who are strangers to affairs, and in-
sult those who are acquainted with them, and see through
your falsehood. By suppressing all mention of the urgent
juncture, of the illustrious reputation of these our fellow-
citizens, the real causes of this alliance, you fancy that you
have effectually concealed your fraud, in ascribing a merit
to Demosthenes, which really belongs to the state. And now
I shall endeavour to explain the greatness of this arrogance,
by one striking example. The king of Persia, not long before
the descent of Alexander into Asia, dispatched a letter to the
state, expressed in all the insolence of a barbarian. His shock-
ing and unmannered licence appeared in every part ; but, in the
conclusion, particularly, he expressed himself directly, thus :
"I will not grant you gold : trouble me not with your demands ;
they shall not be gratified." And yet this man, when he
found himself involved in all his present difficulties, without
any demand from Athens, but freely, and of himself, sent
thirty talents to the state, which were most judiciously re-
jected. It was the juncture of affairs, and his terrors, and
his pressing want of an alliance, which brought this sum :
the very causes which effected the alliance of Thebes. You
are ever sounding in our ears the name of Thebes, you are
ever teasing us with the repetition of that unfortunate alli-
ance: but not one word is ever suffered to escape, of those

had ordered that the materials should be instantly collected from all
places without distinction, public or private, profane or sacred. Thus
the speaker had a fair opportunity not only for detracting from the
merit of his rival, but for converting it into an heinous crime: no
less than that of violating those tombs of their ancestors, which had
made part of their fortifications.


seventy talents of Persian gold, which you diverted from the
public service into your own coffers. Was it not from the
want of money, from the want of only five talents, that the
foreign troops refused to give up the citadel to the Thebans?
Was it not from the want of nine talents of silver, that, when
the Arcadians were drawn out, and all the leaders prepared
to march, the whole expedition was defeated ? But you are in
the midst of affluence, you have treasures to satisfy your
sensuality, and to crown all while he enjoys the royal
wealth, the dangers all devolve on you.

The absurdity of these men well deserves to be considered.
Should Ctesiphon presume to call upon Demosthenes to speak
before you, and should he rise and lavish his praises upon
himself, to hear him would be still more painful than all you
have suffered by his conduct. Men of real merit, men of
whose numerous and glorious services we are clearly sensible,
are not yet endured when they speak their own praises. But
when a man, the scandal of his country, sounds his own en-
comium, who can hear such arrogance with any temper? No,
Ctesiphon, if you have sense, avoid so shameless a procedure;
make your defence in person. You cannot recur to the pre-
tence of any inability for speaking. It would be absurd, that
you, who suffered yourself to be chosen ambassador to Cleo-
patra, Philip's daughter, in order to present our condolements
on the death of Alexander king of the Molossi, should now
plead such an inability. If you were capable of consoling a
woman of another country, in the midst of her grief ; can you
decline the defence of a decree for which you are well paid?
Or is he to whom you grant this crown, such a man as must be
totally unknown, even to those on whom he hath conferred his
services, unless you have an advocate to assist you? Ask the
judges, whether they know Chabrias, and Iphicrates, and
Timotheus. Ask for what reason they made them presents,
and raised their statues. With one voice they will instantly
reply, that to Chabrias they granted these honours, on ac-
count of the sea-fight at Naxos; to Iphicrates, because he cut
off the detachment of Lacedaemonians; to Timotheus, on ac-
count of his expedition to Corcyra : and to others, as the re-
ward of those many and glorious services which each per-


formed in war. Ask them again, why they refuse the like
honours to Demosthenes; they will answer, because he is a
corrupted hireling, a coward, and a deserter. Crown him!
would this be to confer an honour on Demosthenes? Would it
not rather be to disgrace yourselves, and those brave men
who fell in battle for their country? Imagine that you see
these here, roused to indignation, at the thoughts of granting
him a crown. Hard, indeed, would be the case, if we remove
speechless and senseless beings from our borders, such as
blocks and stones, when by accident they have crushed a citi-
zen to death; 1 if, in the case of self-murder, we bury the hand
that committed the deed separate from the rest of the body;
and yet that we should confer honours on Demosthenes, on
him who was the author of the late expedition, the man who
betrayed our citizens to destruction. This would be to insult
the dead, and to damp the ardour of the living, when they
see that the prize of all their virtue is death, and that their
memory must perish.

But to urge the point of greatest moment: should any of
your sons demand by what examples they are to form their
lives, how would you reply ? For you well know that it is not
only by bodily exercises, by seminaries of learning, or by in-
structions in music, that our youth is trained, but much more
effectually by public examples. Is it proclaimed in the theatre
that a man is honoured with a crown, for his virtue, his mag-
nanimity, and his patriotism, who yet proves to be abandoned
and profligate in his life? The youth who sees this is cor-
rupted. Is public justice inflicted on a man of base and scan-
dalous vices like Ctesiphon? This affords excellent instruction
to others. Doth the judge, who. has given a sentence repug-
nant to honour and to justice, return home and instruct his
son? That son is well warranted to reject his instruction.

1 Draco the lawgiver had enacted this law for exterminating even
such inanimate beings as had occasioned the death of a citizen, in
order (as it seems) to inspire a peculiar horror of homicide the
crime most to be guarded against among a people not yet completely
civilized. And it may be proper to observe that Solon, who abol-
ished the laws of Draco as too severe, meddled not with those which
related to homicide, but left them in full force.


Advice in such a case may well be called impertinence. Not
then as judges only, but as guardians of the state, give your
voices in such a manner, that you may approve your conduct
to those absent citizens who may enquire what hath been the
decision. You are not to be informed, Athenians, that the
reputation of our country must be such as theirs who receive
its honours. And surely it must be scandalous to stand in the
same point of view, not with our ancestors, but with the un-
manly baseness of Demosthenes.

How then may such infamy be avoided? By guarding
against those, who affect the language of patriotism and public
spirit, but whose real characters are traitorous. Loyalty and
the love of liberty are words that lie ready for every man.
And they are more prompt to seize them, whose actions are
the most repugnant to such principles. Whenever, therefore,
you have found a man solicitous for foreign crowns, and proc-
lamations of honours granted by the Greeks, oblige him to
have recourse to that conduct which the law prescribes; to
found his pretensions and proclamations on the true basis, the
integrity of his life, and the exact regulation of his manners.
Should he not produce this evidence of his merit, refuse your
sanction to his honours; support the freedom of your consti-
tution which is now falling from you. Can you reflect with-
out indignation, that our senate and our assembly are neglected
with contempt, while letters and deputations are sent to private
houses, not from inferior personages, but from the highest
potentates in Asia and in Europe, and for purposes declared
capital by the laws ? That there are men, who are at no pains
to conceal their part in such transactions; who avow it in the
presence of the people; who openly compare the letters; some
of whom direct you to turn your eyes on them, as the guard-
ians of their constitution; others demand public honours as
the saviours of their country? While the people, reduced by
a series of dispiriting events, as it were to a state of dotage,
or struck with infatuation, regard only the name of freedom,
but resign all real power into the hands of others. So that
you retire from the assembly, not as from a public delibera-
tion, but as from an entertainment, where each man hath
paid his club, and received his share.


That this is a serious truth, let me offer something to con-
vince you. There was a man (it grieves me to dwell so often
on the misfortunes of the state) of a private station, who, for
the bare attempt of making a voyage to Samos, was, as a
traitor to his country, put instantly to death by the council
of Areopagus. Another private man, whose timid spirit, un-
able to support the general consternation, had driven him to
Rhodes, was not long since impeached, and escaped only by
the equality of voices: had but one vote more been given for
his condemnation, banishment or death must have been his fate.
To these let us oppose the case now before us. A popular
orator, the cause of all our calamities, is found guilty of de-
sertion in the field. This man claims a crown, and asserts his
right to the honour of a proclamation. And shall not this
wretch, the common pest of Greece, be driven from our bor-
ders ? Or shall we not seize and drag to execution this public
plunderer, whose harangues enable him to steer his pyratical
course through our government? Think on this critical sea-
son, in which you are to give your voices. In a few days,
the Pythian games are to be celebrated, and the convention
of Grecian states to be collected. There shall our state be
severely censured, on account of the late measures of Demos-
thenes. Should you crown him, you must be deemed acces-
saries to those who violated the general peace. If, on the con-
trary, you reject the demand, you will clear the state from all
imputation. Weigh this clause maturely, as the interest not
of a foreign state, but of your own : And do not lavish your
honours inconsiderately: confer them with a scrupulous deli-
cacy; and let them be the distinctions of exalted worth and
merit. Nor be contented to hear, but look round you, where
your own interest is so intimately concerned, and see who are
the men that support Demosthenes. Are they his former com-
panions in the chace, his associates in the manly exercises of
his youth ? No, by the Olympian God ; he never was employed
in rousing the wild boar, or in any such exercises as render the
body vigorous : he was solely engaged in the sordid arts of
fraud and circumvention.

And, let not his arrogance escape your attention, when he
tells you, that, by his embassy, he wrested Byzantium from


the hands of Philip; that his eloquence prevailed on the Acar-
nanians to revolt; his eloquence transported the souls of the
Thebans. He thinks that you are sunk to such a degree of
weakness, that he may prevail on you to believe that you
harbour the very genius of persuasion in your city, and not a
vile sycophant. And, when, at the conclusion of his defence,
he calls up his accomplices in corruption as his advocates, then
imagine that we see the great benefactors of your country,
in this place from whence I speak, arrayed against the villainy
of those men : Solon, the man who adorned our free consti-
tution with the noblest laws, the philosopher, the renowned leg-
islator, intreating you, with that decent gravity which distin-
guished his character, by no means to pay a greater regard to
the speeches of Demosthenes, than to your oaths and laws:
Aristides, who was suffered to prescribe to the Greeks their
several subsidies, whose daughters received their portions from
the people, at his decease; roused to indignation at this insult
on public justice, and asking, whether you are not ashamed
that, when your fathers banished Arthmius the Zelian, who
brought in gold from Persia; 1 when they were scarcely re-
strained from killing a man connected with the people in the
most sacred ties, and, by public proclamation, forbad him to
appear in Athens, or in any part of the Athenian territory,
yet you are going to crown Demosthenes with a golden crown,
who did not bring in gold from Persia, but received bribes
himself, and still possesses them. And, can you imagine
but that Themistocles, and those who fell at Marathon, and
those who died at Phatsea, and the very sepulchres of our na-
cestors must groan, if you confer a crown on this man, who
confessedly united with the barbarians against the Greeks?
And, now, bear witness for me, Thou Earth, Thou Sun,

Virtue and Intelligence, and thou, O Erudition, which teach-

1 Arthmius was an agent of the Persian king Artaxerxes Longima-
nus, to stir up strife in Sparta against Athens. Themistocles pro-
cured the following terrible decree against him; which was inscribed
on a brazen column: "LET ARTHMIUS OF ZELIA, THE SON OF PY-



est us the just distinction between vice and goodness, I have
stood up, I have spoken in the cause of justice. If I have sup-
ported my prosecution with a dignity befitting its importance, I
have spoken as my wishes dictated; if too deficiently, as my
abilities admitted. Let what hath now been offered, and what
your own thoughts must supply, be duly weighed, and pro-
nounce such a sentence as justice and the interests of the
state demand.


IN the first place, ye men of Athens, I make my prayer
to all the powers of heaven, that such affection as I have ever
invariably discovered to this state, and all its citizens, YOU
now may entertain for ME, upon this present trial. And,

Online LibraryMarion Mills MillerThe classics, Greek & Latin; the most celebrated works of Hellenic and Roman literatvre, embracing poetry, romance, history, oratory, science, and philosophy (Volume 6) → online text (page 23 of 40)