Immagini della pagina
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]





This was a speech in support of an indictment preferred against

Timocrates for passing an improper law. It was composed by Demosthenes for Diodorus, the same person for whom he wrote the speech against Androtion, and who in this case, as in the former, was associated in the prosecution with his friend Euctemon. The circum.

stances of the case were as follows:Hostilities had broken out during the Social War between Athens and

the Persian king; the Athenians sent an embassy to Mausolus, Prince of Caria, to complain of some attack which he had made upon their islands in the Archipelago. At the head of the embassy were Androtion, Melanopus, and Glaucetes, who, sailing in a ship of war, captured on their way a merchant ship of Naucratis, and brought it home with them to the Piræus. Naucratis being an Egyptian city, in the dominions of the Persian king, the vessel was condemned by the Athenians as a lawful prize, and the cargo ordered to be sold. The proceeds, nine talents and a half, instead of being paid at once, as they should have been, into the public treasury, were kept by the ambassadors in their own hands. After some lapse of time, the government being in want of money, inquisitors were appointed to discover all concealed property belong. ing to the state. Euctemon gave information, in consequence of which the ambassadors were required to pay this sum of nine talents and a half. Not having paid it at the close of the year, they became chargeable with double the debt, and, in default of payment, were liable to imprisonment. At this crisis their friend Timocrates came forward with a law, framed, as the prosecutor contends, for the sole purpose of helping them out of their difficulty. The law which he proposed and contrived to pass was to the following effect :That any person who had been, or should hereafter be condemned to imprisonment for default in paying a debt to the state, should be allowed to put in bail, and respited until the ninth Prytanea (or Presidency); if the debt was not then paid by him or by his bail, he should be imprisoned, and the property of the bail should be con



fiscated. There was a clause excepting from the operation of the

law farmers of the taxes and lessees of the public revenue. To obtain a repeal of this law and the punishment of its author, Dio

dorus and Euctemon adopted the means which the Athenian constitution afforded them, and preferred an indictment. They contended, first, that the motives of Timocrates in proposing the law were not to promote the public good, but to serve himself and his private friends; secondly, that the law was intrinsically a bad one, being unconstitutional in its character and mischievous in its tendency; and further, that it had been passed in an illegal manner, the conditions required by the laws of Athens not having been complied with. The orator enters into an elaborate argument to establish these positions, referring to various existing statutes, to which the law in question was repugnant, and showing that it was impossible for it to work well either in a financial or in any other point of view. He also, according to the practice of the Athenian courts, assails the characters of Timocrates and Androtion, avowing that his own personal enmity to the latter was one of the motives which induced him to prosecute. Several passages of the speech against Androtion are here repeated, as the reader will perceive. For information as to the law and other matters illustrative of this speech, the reader is referred to Volume ii. Appendices IV. V. and VII.; Volume iii. Appendix VIII. The date of the speech was B.C. 353.

TIMOCRATES himself must admit, men of the jury, that he has no one but himself to blame for the present prosecution. For with intent to deprive the state of a considerable sum of money, men of Athens, he introduced a law, in violation of all the existing laws, which was neither proper nor just. In what other respects it will be mischievous and detrimental to the commonwealth, should it be confirmed, you will learn in detail presently from my speech; but the most important point which I have to urge, and that which most obviously suggests itself, I shall not hesitate to declare—it is this. The decision which you give upon oath on every question is rendered null and void by the defendant's law, not to confer any advantage upon the state—that's impossible, when it makes the courts of justice, which are known to be the supports of the constitution, unable to enforce the legal penalties of crime-but in order that some of that clique, who have for a long time been living on you and pillaging you to an enormous extent, may escape refunding even what they are clearly proved to have stolen. And so much easier is it to pay court to certain private individuals, than to stand up for your rights, that the defendant has received

matter upon

money from those men, and did not introduce this law for them till he got it, whilst I, acting on your behalf, instead of receiving anything from you, run the risk of paying a thousand drachms. It is the practice in general with those who undertake any public matter, to tell you that the subject.on which they are addressing you is a most serious one, and peculiarly worthy of your attention. It appears to me that, if any one ever has said this with justice, I may properly say it now.

For no one will dispute, I imagine, that for the blessings which the commonwealth enjoys, for her popular constitution and her freedom, she is principally indebted to the laws. Well; this is the very question now before you, whether all the other statutes against public offenders are to be invalidated, and this one to be established, or whether, on the contrary, this is to be repealed, and the others allowed to remain in force. Such (to speak in a short compass) is the



have now to decide. You might wonder perhaps why, a person who has lived quietly all the rest of his life (as I believe I have done) is now found engaged in trials and public prosecutions. I am anxious therefore to give you a short explanation, and it will not be irrelevant. You must know, men of Athens, I came into collision with a vile, quarrelsome, abominable fellow, with whom at last the whole city has come into collision ; I mean Androtion. I have been injured by him far more grievously than Euctemon has; for Euetemon suffered only pecuniary damage ; whereas I, if Androtion had succeeded in his attack, should have been deprived not only of my property, but of my life; nay, even to part with life, which is open to mankind in general, would not have been easy for me. He accused me of a thing which a man of right feeling would hardly like even to mention-that I had killed my own father: he then got up an indictment for impiety, and brought me to trial : in this, however, he failed to get a fifth part of the votes, and incurred the penalty of the thousand drachms; I obtained my just acquittal, principally through the favour of the Gods, and, under them, through the jury of my country. The man, who had wickedly brought me into such peril, I regarded as an irreconcileable enemy: and seeing that he had done public wrong to the commonwealth, both in the collection of the property tax, and in the manufacture of the

« IndietroContinua »