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Will not each of you rather say that he did not acquit? Then you'll execrate those that did, each thus giving proof that he was not one of them. And wherefore resort to this, when good words might be on your lips, when all might implore blessings for all, you for yourselves, and the rest of the Athenians for you, and I may add the foreigners also and their wives and children? For the defendant's mischievous activity has reached, verily it has reached all; and all would rejoice to be delivered from his wickedness, and to see punishment inflicted upon him.
THE ORATION AGAINST ARISTOGITON-II.
THAT Aristogiton the defendant is a debtor to the treasury, and that he is not possessed of his franchise, and that the laws expressly prohibit such persons from speaking in public, has been clearly shown, men of the jury. It is your duty to repress and restrain all people who break the laws, but most especially those who hold magisterial offices and take a part in political affairs. For through them the republic cannot help being either injured, if they are vicious, or, on the other hand, greatly benefited if they are virtuous and choose to observe the laws. If you once allow those who undertake any public duty to violate the laws and set at nought the rules of justice, it is a matter of course that all who belong to the state should suffer by it. For as mistakes occurring on board ship in a voyage, if committed by any of the common sailors, cause but slight damage, but, if the pilot commits a fault, the mischief which he does extends to all the passengers; in like manner the errors of private men do injury not to the multitude, but to themselves, whereas those of magistrates and statesmen reach the whole people, and therefore Solon ordained that punishments for private men should be slow, but speedy for official personages and political leaders; for he thought that from the former we might get satisfaction in the course of time, but from the latter we could not wait for it and in fact there would be nobody left to punish, if the constitution was overthrown.
No one is impudent or arrogant enough to dispute these principles, except this wicked wretch Aristogiton. We shall find, they are submitted to by all our magistrates and statesmen, when you have once passed any sentence against them. For example, when any of the men in office are deposed, they immediately cease to exercise their functions and are deprived of their crowns; and again, such of the Judges as are not promoted to the Areopagus never think of forcing themselves into the place, but acquiesce patiently in your decision. And it is reasonable they should do so: for as, while they are in office, they consider that private men are bound to obey them, so, when they have returned themselves to a private station, it is right they should conform to the laws which govern the state. And if you will look back to the earliest times, you will see that all our statesmen in the same way submitted to your ordinances. Aristides, they say, after being removed by your ancestors, dwelt in Ægina until the people received him back; and Miltiades and Pericles owing to the state, one of them thirty and the other fifty talents, did not harangue the people until they had paid. And it would be a most shocking thing to happen, that, while your greatest benefactors could not obtain the privilege of acting for you contrary to the established laws, a person who has done no service, but committed innumerable offences, should be seen thus easily, against justice and the public good, to have obtained from you a license to infringe the laws? But why need I speak of ancient times? Consider the men of your own day, and see if any of them has ever been so outrageous. You will not find one, if you look closely into the matter. Let me further observe when any one prefers an indictment to the Judges against a law or a decree, the law or decree is invalid, and the proposer or mover makes no impudent resistance, but acquiesces in what you decide, even though he is the most powerful orator or most able politician among you. Is it not monstrous then, that what your whole assembled body has voted according to the laws should be invalid, yet that Aristogiton's inclination to break the laws should, with your consent, have greater effect than the laws themselves? Againwhen any prosecutor has failed to get a fifth part of the votes, in those cases in which the laws declare that he shall not
indict or arrest or give into custody1 for the future, the result is similar: none of the persons under any such penal sentence ventures to act in defiance of it. Aristogiton, as it seems, is the only man whose will is to be superior to the court and to the law. Neither you nor your ancestors ever repented of observing all these ordinances, for it is the preservation of democracy, to overcome its enemies either by counsel or by arms, but to submit to the laws either by choice or by constraint. And that such course of action is becoming, is acknowledged on the part of the defendant himself. For after the misfortune of the Greeks at Charonea, when the city was in the extreme of peril, fearing for her very foundations, and when Hyperides moved that the disfranchised should be restored to their rights, so that all might join zealously and harmoniously in the struggle for freedom, if any danger of such magnitude should menace the state, Aristogiton indicted this decree as illegal, and appeared as prosecutor in court. Is it not shocking, that this man should not allow any citizen to obtain his franchise to accomplish his country's deliverance, and yet should demand the same privilege from you to pursue his own lawless course? Surely that vote was far more legal and more just than the one which you now ask these jurors to pass for you. The one was equitable and applied to all the citizens; the other was inequitable, designed for your special advantage, and yours alone. The one had for its object to prevent a peace by whose terms a single man became master of the whole government; the other to give to you alone a license to defeat the resolutions of these men, to transgress with impunity the laws transmitted from ancient times by your ancestors, and to do whatever you please. I should be glad to ask him whether his indictment of the decree was just and lawful, or, on the contrary, unjust and illegal: for, if it was improper and injurious to the people, for that very reason he deserves to die; if it was advantageous and beneficial to the many, why do you now require these men to pass a vote contrary to what you yourself proposed? The truth is, neither were his former proceedings just, nor are his present lawful or expe1 As to pynois, see Vol. iii. Appendix VIII. p. 358.
2 See Vol. ii. Appendix II. p. 319.
dient for you. I see that you, men of the jury, hold this opinion in regard to yourselves: for you have before now given judgment upon many informations against private men. Would it not be shameful that you should strictly put the laws in force in your own case, and yet be so resigned in the case of these busybodies, who make themselves a public nuisance and endeavour to lord it over all?
Surely none of you can take this view, that it ought to be as I say, but that, on account of Aristogiton's good character and usefulness to the state, you ought to connive at his occasionally breaking the law. For, that he is a man of bad and corrupt character, Lycurgus, as it seems to me, has already abundantly proved; and that he is of no use to the state, you may see easily enough from his political conduct. What man
has he ever brought into court and convicted upon these charges which he prefers? What revenue has he procured for you? What decree has he drawn, the acceptance of which you have not afterwards deliberately repented of? For here he is so wrong-headed and such a barbarian in his nature, that, when he sees you slightly irritated against any persons and more excited than you ought to be, he catches at your wishes in the moment of your anger, and opposes your interests. A statesman acting for your good ought not to follow the passions which spring out of sudden anger, but to be guided by reasonable calculations, by circumstances and opportunities: the former are apt suddenly to change, the latter to endure and subsist somewhat longer. The defendant, disregarding these considerations, exposes the secret weaknesses of the government, so that you are compelled to make the same things valid at one time and invalid at another.
But perhaps, because his principle is to rail against all men, to bawl people down, and object to everything that is said, it is proper on these accounts to preserve him. Nay, men of the jury; I declare to heaven, these things which are constantly occurring on our platform are a disgrace, and through the desperation of these persons the better class of you have come to be ashamed of meddling in politics. However, if such proceedings are to any one's taste, you will be at no loss for people of that sort; the platform is still full of them. For it is not difficult to find fault with advice which has been given; the difficult thing is to advise and persuade you to
pass good resolutions. Besides, if he had not deceived you before by means of such arguments, when he was tried on the former information-though even then you could not justly make any concession contrary to the existing laws; for you must not allow some persons to break the laws and expect the rest to obey them-yet, I grant, you might then with more reason have trusted him and shown him favour and foregone some of your strict rights. But when, after having let him off in hopes of amendment, you shortly afterwards punished the same person again as a mischievous orator and politician, what decent excuse is left for you, if you are imposed upon now? For why trust to words where you have the experience of facts? In cases where you have not proof positive in your possession, it may be necessary to judge by words. I am surprised at people who are so constituted, that, while they entrust their private interests only to men of long-tried honesty, they will confide the interests of the commonwealth to men whose baseness has been proved beyond dispute. No one would put a dog of inferior breed and quality to guard his flock; and yet some say that, to watch your public men, you should employ the first persons who present themselves, who, while they pretend to inform against delinquents, require the utmost watching themselves.
If then you are wise, reflect upon these things; have done with the persons who are always talking of their attachment to you; but exert every possible vigilance on your own part, and allow none to defeat the laws, especially none of those who boast of their ability to speak and move for the good of the many. It would be a terrible thing that, while your ancestors feared not to die in defence of the laws, you should not even punish those who transgress them; and that, when you have voted to erect in the market-place a brazen statue of Solon who framed the laws, you should show such an utter disregard of the laws themselves, on account of which he has received such distinguished honour. What an absurdity it would be, that in legislating you should manifest displeasure against the vicious, yet, when you have caught any of them in the act of crime, you should let them off with impunity; and that, while the lawgiver, a mere individual, incurs on your behalf the hatred of all rogues, you yourselves, even when you are assembled together to look after your interests,