Against Andocides


Lysias. Lamb, W.R.M., translator. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1930.

---he tied up the horse to the ring on the temple door, as though he were handing it back; but on the following night he contrived to take it away. Well, the man who did this has perished by the most painful death, of hunger; for, although plenty of good things were set on the table before him, he found that the bread and cake had a vile odor, and he was unable to eat.

This fact a number of us heard stated by the priest in charge of the rites.

I therefore think it just that I should now recall in connection with the accused the statements made at that time, and that not only should his friends perish by his act and his information, but he himself too should perish by the action of another. It is impossible for you on your part, when you give your vote on a matter of this kind, to show either pity or indulgence to Andocides, since you understand that these two goddesses[*](Demeter and Persephone.) take signal vengeance upon wrongdoers: every man ought therefore to expect the same consequences for himself and for others.

I would ask you, if you allow Andocides to get off now unscathed from this trial, and to attend for drawing the lots for the nine archons, and to be elected king-archon,[*](The king-archon’s functions were mainly religious, and were especially concerned with the Mysteries.) shall we not see him performing sacrifices and offering prayers on your behalf according to ancestral custom, sometimes in the Eleusinium here,[*](As distinguished from the sanctuary at Eleusis.) sometimes in the temple at Eleusis, and overseeing the celebration of the Mysteries, to prevent the commission of any offence or impiety concerning the sacred things?

And what, think you, will be the feelings of the initiated who arrive for the rite, when they see who the king is, and remember all his impious acts; or what the thoughts of the other Greeks who come for this celebration, purposing either to sacrifice or to attend in state[*](Religious envoys came either as spectators or to give notice of a festival about to he held elsewhere.) at that great assembly?

For Andocides is by no means unknown either to foreigners or to our own people, such has been the impiety of his conduct; since it needs must be that, if they are specially outstanding, either good or evil deeds make their doers well-known. And besides, during his absence abroad he has caused commotion in many cities, in Sicily, Italy, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, the Hellespont, Ionia and Cyprus: he has flattered many kings—everyone with whom he has had dealings, except Dionysius of Syracuse.

That monarch is either the most fortunate of them all, or far above the rest in intelligence, since he alone of those who dealt with Andocides was not deceived by the sort of man who has the art of doing no harm to his enemies but as much as he can to his friends. So, by heaven, it is no easy matter for you to show him any indulgence in contempt of justice without being noticed by the Greeks.

The moment, therefore, has come when you must of necessity make a decision on his case. For you are well aware, men of Athens, that it is not possible for you to live with our ancestral laws and with Andocides at the same time: it must be one of two things, either you must wipe out the laws, or you must get rid of the man.

He has carried audacity to such a pitch that he actually refers to the law we have made regarding him as one that has been abolished,[*](A decree of Isotimides excluded from the market-place and the temples those impious persons who had obtained immunity by laying information against others.) and claims liberty henceforth to enter the market-place and the temples---even today in the Council House of the Athenians.

Yet Pericles, they say, advised you once that in dealing with impious persons you should enforce against them not only the written but the unwritten laws also, which the Eumolpidae[*](The hereditary priests of Eleusis, who pronounced orally on cases of conscience, etc., and were the repositories of traditional, as distance from codified, custom.) follow in their exposition, and which no one has yet had the authority to abolish or the audacity to gainsay,—laws whose very author is unknown: he judged that they would thus pay the penalty, not merely to men, but also to the gods.

But Andocides has shown such contempt for the gods and for those whose duty it is to avenge them, that before he had been resident in the city ten days he instituted proceedings for impiety before the king-archon, and lodged his complaint,[*]((πρόσκλησις) was the citation of the person accused, and λῆξις was the formal complaint before the magistrate.) though he was Andocides, and had not only done what that person has done with regard to the gods, but asserted—and here you should give your closest attention—that Archippus was guilty of an impiety against the Hermes of his house. Archippus countered this with a sworn statement that the Hermes was sound and entire and had in no way been treated like the other figures of the god:

but at the same time, to avoid being troubled by a man of Andocides’ sort, he got his release by a payment of money. Well now, since Andocides has sought to exact a penalty from another for impiety, surely justice and piety require that others should exact one from him.

But he will say it is strange that the denouncer should suffer the extreme penalty, while the denounced are to retain their full rights and share the same privileges with you. Nay, in fact, he will not speak in his own defence, but will accuse the rest. Now of course the persons who ordered the recall of the rest are in the wrong, and are guilty of the same impiety as they: but if you, with your supreme authority, are yourselves the persons who have cheated the gods of their vengeance, it is certainly not those men who will be the guilty ones. Then do not allow this charge to rebound on you, when you are free to clear yourselves by punishing the wrongdoer.

Moreover, they deny the acts for which they have been denounced, whereas he admits those reported of him. And yet, in a trial before the Areopagus, that most august and equitable of courts, a man who admits his guilt suffers death, while if he contests the charge he is put to the proof, and many have been found quite innocent. So you should not hold the same opinion of those who deny and of those who admit the charge. And this, to my mind, is a strange thing:

whoever wounds a man’s person, in the head or face or hands or feet, he shall be banished, according to the laws of the Areopagus, from the city of the man who has been injured, and if he returns, he shall be impeached and punished with death; but whoever does these same injuries to the images of the gods is not to be debarred by you from approaching the very temples, and is not to be punished for entering them! Nay, surely it is just and good to have a care for those beings by whom you may be either well or ill entreated.

It is even said that many of the Greeks exclude men from their own temples on account of impious acts committed here; while to you, the very persons who have suffered these wrongs, your own established customs are of less account than they are to mere strangers!

And mark how far more impious this man has shown himself than Diagoras the Melian[*](Called the Godless; cf. Aristoph. Birds 1073; Dio. Sic. 8.6.); for he was impious in speech regarding the sacred things and celebrations of a foreign place, whereas Andocides was impious in act regarding the sanctities of his own city. Now where these sacred things are concerned you should rather be indignant, men of Athens, at guilt in your own citizens than in strangers; for in the one case the offence is in a manner alien to you, but in the other it is domestic.

And do not let off those whom you hold here as wrongdoers, while you seek to apprehend those who are in exile, proclaiming by herald your offer of a talent of silver to anyone who arrests or kills them; else you will be judged by the Greeks to be making a brave show rather than intending to punish.

He has made it plain to the Greeks at large that he does not revere the gods. For without a sign of misgiving for his actions, but with an air of assurance, he took to ship-owning, and went voyaging on the sea. But the deity was enticing him on, that he might return to his iniquities and pay the penalty at my instance.[*](The text implies that the deity is employing the speaker as a fair and convenient means of punishing Andocides.)

Well, I hope that he will indeed pay the penalty, and there would be nothing to surprise me in that; for the deity does not punish immediately, as I may conjecture by many indications, when I see others besides who have paid the penalty long after their impious acts, and their descendants punished for the ancestors’ offences. But in the meantime the deity sends upon the wrongdoers many terrors and dangers, so that many men ere now have desired that their end had come and relieved them of their troubles by death. At length, it is only when he has utterly blasted this life of theirs that the deity has closed it in death.