The despicable Thessalians and stupid Thebans looked on Philip as a friend, a benefactor, a savior; he was everything with themnot a syllable would they hear from any one to the contrary. As Æschines, however, has on this subject besides many others expressed himself with insolence, look, men of Athens, and observe how much more truth and humanity there shall be in my discourse upon fortune than in his. This probably refers to modifications introduced on Aeschines' proposal into Demosthenes' Trierarchic Law of 340, not at the time of its enactment, but after some experience of its working. What advantage has your eloquence been to your country? There you find Aeschines, like a rupture or a sprain, which wakes into life, so soon as any trouble overtakes the body. Why, no one else could speak a word. Nor did I rely only on my own judgement in thinking that this was what your interest required. Though the city rejected them, as enemies whose proposals were neither just nor expedient, to you they were friends.
Under what circumstances, then, should a politician and an orator show passion? If he was not present, then surely he deserves to die many times, for grieving at the sight of the things which brought rejoicing to others. For he who supplied the seed is responsible for the crop. Again, it is his duty to reduce to the smallest possible compass, wherever he finds them, the slowness, the hesitation, the ignorance, the contentiousness, which are the errors inseparably connected with the constitution of all city- states; while, on the other hand, he must stimulate men to unity, friendship, and eagerness to perform their duty. For every one of them felt that he had come into being, not for his father and his mother alone, but also for his country. He is reduced to an alternative;either he had no fault to find with my measures, and therefore moved none against them; or he sought the good of the enemy, and therefore would not propose any better.
No one, I suppose, either realized beforehand what was going on or guarded against it--that is how such affairs are usually conducted here; Aeschines was nominated a delegate to the Council; three or four people held up their hands for him, and he was declared elected. But what happened directly, almost immediately afterward? As it was, you tortured and executed him-- and so ought you also to have treated Aeschines. That Athens chose the noblest policy, that she fares better than those very Greeks who thought, if they abandoned us, they should abide in prosperity, I reckon as part of her good fortune; if she suffered reverses, if all happened not to us as we desired, I conceive she has had that share of the general fortune which fell to our lot. What succors, what acquisition of good will or credit? And to show you that I am not saying this now to suit my own purpose, read the letter which we, your envoys, dispatched without delay. Would they not have declared that the states had been surrendered? Was it not to take away the greatest of the resources which the enemy possessed, and to add what was lacking to those of the city? But though, apparently, the city could endure everything else, and he could do everything else unobserved, there was one final deed which was the culmination of all that he had done before.
To this preliminary meeting, the Athenians though inclined to view Aeschines' performance with favour , on the advice of Demosthenes, sent no representatives; nor did the Thebans the allies of Amphissa. Yet the Greeks were riven by conflicting interests, allegiances, and agendas both between the various cities and within them. No man casts reproach either upon the city, or upon the choice which she made: they do but upbraid Fortune, who decided the issue thus. For the herald asked the question, Aeschines, 'Who wishes to speak? That is my judgement with regard to fortune, and I believe as I think you also do that my judgement is correct and just. From this you were removed after a while, having done yourself all that you charge others with; and then, sure enough, you disgraced not your antecedents by your subsequent life, but hiring yourself to those ranting players, as they were called, Simylus and Socrates, you acted third parts, collecting figs and grapes and olives like a fruiterer from other mens farms, and getting more from them than from the playing, in which the lives of your whole company were at stake; for there was an implacable and incessant war between them and the audience, from whom you received so many wounds, that no wonder you taunt as cowards people inexperienced in such encounters. Then he was well off for money, and did whatever he resolved to do, without giving warning of it by decrees, or debating about it in public, or being put on trial by dishonest accusers, or defending himself against indictments for illegality, or being bound to render an account to any one. For, tho the Lacedæmonians were neither friends nor benefactors, but had done many grievous injuries to our state, yet when the Thebans, victorious at Leuctra, sought their destruction, you prevented it, not fearing the power and reputation then possessed by the Thebans, nor reckoning up the merits of those whom you were about to fight for.
Now read the letter which Philip sent after this. Whatever be the opinion that has been formed of me in these respects, with that I am content. When these were already advancing the war tax, they became exempt from trierarchy, and their poorer colleagues in the Naval Boards to which of course they also belonged had to bear the burden without them. Rise up this instant and condemn me! The candidate for initiation was clothed in a fawn-skin, and was 'purified' by being smeared with clay while sitting down, with head covered and rubbed clean with bran, and after the initiation was supposed to enter upon a new and higher life. Both men sought the same thing: to have the people endorse him and repudiate his opponent. But the cities were stricken with disease: those who were engaged in political and practical affairs were taking bribes and being corrupted by the hope of money; while the mass of private citizens either showed no foresight, or else were caught by the bait of ease and leisure from day to day; and all alike had fallen victims to some such delusive fancy, as that the danger would come upon every one but themselves, and that through the perils of others they would be able to secure their own position as they pleased.
And if, when the battle took place, as it did, three days' march from Attica, the city was encompassed by such peril and terror, what should we have had to expect, if this same disaster had occurred anywhere within the borders of our own country? But what sums do you think the leaders of the Taxation-Boards, or those who stood second or third, offered me, to induce me, if possible, not to enact the law, or at least to let it drop and lie under sworn notice of prosecution? To discern events in their beginnings, to foresee what is coming, and to forewarn others. And, in the second place, when the People chose a corn-commissioner, out of all Athens they elected me. If the crimes by which he saw me injuring the city were of such a magnitude as he just now so theatrically set forth, he should have had recourse to the punishments enjoined by the laws at the time of the crimes themselves. What was it fitting for the city to do, Aeschines, when she saw Philip establishing for himself a despotic sway over the Hellenes? Your lies and calumnies about my political life I will examine forthwith; for that loose ribaldry I shall have a word hereafter, if the jury desire to hear it. Aye, and this miserable creature is a fox by nature, that has never done anything honest or gentlemanly--a very tragical ape, a clodhopping Oenomaus, a counterfeit orator! To this he adds charges of corruption and treason, and attributes the disaster of to the conduct of his political opponent, when representing Athens in the council of the. The same spirit will be seen both in my domestic and my international policy. If notif Greece was to present the spectacle as it is called of a Mysian prey, while Athenians had life and being, then I have exceeded my duty in speaking on the subjectthe commonwealth has exceeded her duty, which followed my counselsI admit that every measure has been a misdeed, a blunder of mine.
Debate intensified beyond the norm. Yet, indeedif I must say so muchmy politics and principles, if considered fairly, will be found to resemble those of the illustrious ancients, and to have had the same objects in view, while yours resemble those of their calumniators; for it is certain there were persons in those times, who ran down the living, and praised people dead and gone, with a malignant purpose like yourself. In short, whatever else he saw me doing to your prejudice, whether mentioned or not mentioned in his catalogue of slander, there are laws for such things, and punishments, and trials, and judgments, with sharp and severe penalties; all of which he might have enforced against me; and had he done sohad he thus pursued the proper method with me, his charges would have been consistent with his conduct. But if the might of some Divine Power, or the inferiority of our generals, or the wickedness of those who were betraying your cities, or all these things together, continuously injured our whole cause, until they effected its overthrow, how is Demosthenes at fault? Then I, Battalus of Paeania, proved myself of more value to my country in that crisis than Oenomaus of Cothocidae. When I say that the Thebans, and I may add the Athenians, were so led away by Philips partizans and the corrupt men of either state, as to disregard and take no precaution against a danger which menaced both, and required the utmost precaution I mean the suffering Philips power to increase , and were readily disposed to enmity and strife with each other; I was constantly watchful to prevent it, not only because in my own judgment I deemed such vigilance expedient, but knowing that Aristophon, and again Eubulus, had all along desired to bring about that union, and, while they were frequently opposed upon other matters, were always agreed upon this. One alternative remained, and that, one which you were bound to take--that of a righteous resistance to the whole course of action by which he was doing you injury. These two documents together will make all the facts plain.
Diotimus had a command at sea in 338, and his surrender was demanded by Alexander in 335, as was also that of Charidernus see n. But Philip, instead of marching upon Athens, sent a message by Demades, whom he had taken prisoner at Chaeroneia; and the Assembly, in reply, instructed Demades, Aeschines, and Phocion to ask Philip to release his Athenian prisoners. A proverbial expression derived from the helpless condition of Mysia according to legend in the absence of its king, Telephus. Neither Athens nor any other Greek city, nor any individual or clique, was in a position to organize the sort of cooperation that might have made resistance, or some other response, effective. For, men of Athens, when I saw that your navy was breaking up, and that, while the rich were obtaining exemption on the strength of small payments, citizens of moderate or small means were losing all that they had; and further, that in consequence of these things the city was always missing her opportunities; I enacted a law in accordance with which I compelled the former--the rich--to do their duty fairly; I put an end to the injustice done to the poor, and what was the greatest service of all to the State I caused our preparations to be made in time. In Heaven's name, what must the perfect scoundrel, the really heaven-detested, malignant being be like? Or with a view to war? Why do you not take hellebore to cure you? But when the corn-ships had been openly plundered, and the Chersonese was being ravaged, and the man was on the march against Attica; when the position of affairs was no longer in doubt, and war had begun; what action did this malignant mouther of verses ever do for your good? At the same time, I understand quite well, that he has come to prepare the way for himself at Thebes. For if, Aeschines, you can mention one of all those who dwell beneath the sun above us, Hellene or foreigner, who has not suffered under the absolute sway, first of Philip, and now of Alexander, so be it! With equal rhetorical skill, and more candour, Demosthenes poses as the defender, not merely of his own acts and words, but of the deliberate policy of Athens, approved by that democratic assembly which the jury represented: in condemning him, they would be condemning themselves.
He, the ally and friend of the Byzantines, was before all eyes besieging themwhat could be more shameful or outrageous? Shall I tell first how your father Tromes was a slave in the house of Elpias, who kept an elementary school near the temple of Theseus, and how he wore shackles and a wooden halter? These and similar claims are unreliable; their authors, all of whom lived later than Demosthenes, most several hundred years later, had little or no access to the facts, and there was a tradition of using legend to fill in the lives of great men. There were also present delegates Pylagori from various towns. And being indicted for it, I appeared en the charge before you, and was acquitted; and the prosecutor did not get his portion of the votes. Take the law itself and read it. He that is best satisfied with his condition, he that deems his fortune excellent, can not be sure that it will remain so until the evening: how then can it be right to bring it forward, or upbraid another man with it? You were a clerk; I a member of the Assembly: you, a third-rate actor, I a spectator of the play.
In 336 Philip was assassinated, and was succeeded by Alexander. For the time has come to ask you this, Aeschines, and to dismiss everything else. I will endeavor then to do so with all becoming modesty; what I am driven to do by the necessity of the case, will be fairly chargeable to my opponent, who has instituted such a prosecution. He that had the deepest interest in their safety and success had upon their mournful disaster the largest share of sorrow for them all. For if you condemn the defendant on the ground that my policy was not for the best, men will think that your own judgement has been wrong, and that it was not through the unkindness of fortune that you suffered what befell you.