Against Andocides


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

Only consider Andocides’ own life since he committed his impiety, and judge if there is any other man to compare with him. For Andocides, when after his offence he was brought before the court by a summary citation,[*](ἐξ ἐπιβολῆς (if Taylor’s conjecture is correct) must imply as a result of a fine summarily inflicted (by the archons); cf. Lys. 30.3.) committed himself to prison, having assessed[*](A defendant could propose a penalty as an alternative to that proposed by the plaintiff, and the judges had to vote for one or the other penalty.) the penalty at imprisonment if he failed to hand over his attendant:

he knew well that he would not be able to hand him over, since he had been put to death in order to shield this man and his offences from his servant’s denunciation. Now, must it not have been some god that destroyed his reason, when he conceived it to be easier for him to propose imprisonment than a sum of money, with as good a hope in either case?

However, as the result of this proposal he lay for nearly a year in prison, and informed as a prisoner against his own kinsmen and friends, having been granted impunity if his information should be deemed true. What soul do you think was his, when he could descend to the utmost depth of baseness in informing against his own friends, with so little prospect of deliverance?

After that, when he had achieved the death of those whom he professed to value most highly, he was held to have given true information and was released: you then passed a special decree that he was to be barred from the market-place and the temples, so that even if wronged by his enemies he could get no redress.

Why, nobody to this day, throughout the ever-memorable history of Athens, has been disqualified on so grave a charge. And justly; for neither has anyone to this day committed such acts. Should we attribute these results to the gods, or to mere chance?

After this he took ship and went to the king of Citium[*](On the south coast of Cyprus.); and being caught by him in an act of treachery he was imprisoned, and was in fear, not merely of death, but of daily tortures, expecting to be docked alive of his extremities.

But he slipped away from this danger and sailed back to his own city in the time of the Four Hundred[*](June to September, 411 B.C.): such a gift of forgetfulness had Heaven bestowed on him, that he desired to come amongst the very persons whom he had wronged. When he came, he was imprisoned and tormented, but not to death, and he was released.

He then took a ship and went to Evagoras, who was king of Cyprus, committed a crime, and was locked up. He slipped away from those clutches also, a fugitive from the gods of our land, a fugitive from his own city, a fugitive from each place as soon as he arrived in it! And yet what charm could he find in a life of repeated suffering without a moment of respite?

He sailed back from that land to this city—then under a democracy —and bribed the presiding magistrates to introduce him here; but you banished him from the city, upholding at Heaven’s behest the laws which you had decreed.

And there is not a democracy, an oligarchy, a despot, or a city anywhere that is willing ever to receive this man: during all the time since he committed his impiety he spends his days as a wanderer, trusting always to unknown people rather than known, because of the wrong that he has done to those whom he knows. Finally, on his present arrival in the city he has been twice impeached in the same place.

He keeps his person always in gaol, while his substance diminishes owing to his embarrassments. And yet, when a man portions out his own life among enemies and blackmailers, it is living no life at all. These shifts are suggested to him by the deity, not for his salvation, but to punish him for the impieties that have been committed.

And now at last he has given himself up to you, to be dealt with at your discretion, not trusting in an absence of guilt, but urged by some supernal compulsion. Now, by Heaven, it must not be that any man, whether elderly or young, should lose faith in the gods through seeing Andocides saved from his dangers, when all are acquainted with the unholy acts that he has committed: we should reflect that half a life lived in freedom from pain is preferable to one of double span that is passed, like his, in distress.

But so high is the flight of his impudence that he actually prepares for a public career, and already speaks before the people, makes accusations, and is for disqualifying[*](Any citizen could accuse a magistrate-elect at the public examination or scrutiny of his qualifications (δοκιμασία).) some of our magistrates; he attends meetings of the Council, and takes part in debates on sacrifices, processions, prayers and oracles. Yet, in allowing yourselves to be influenced by this man, what gods can you expect to be gratifying? For do not suppose, gentlemen of the jury, that, if you wish to forget the things that he has done, the gods will forget them also.

He claims a quiet enjoyment of his citizenship, as though he were no wrongdoer, nay, with the air of having himself discovered the injurers of the city; and he plans to have more power than other men, as though he had not to thank your mildness and preoccupation for his escape from punishment at your hands. He is trespassing against you now, as all can see; but the instant of his conviction will also be that of his punishment.

But there is another argument on which he will insist,—for it is necessary to instruct you in the defence that he will make, in order that having heard both sides you may form a better decision: he says he has conferred great benefits on the city by laying information and relieving you of the fear and confusion of that time. But who was the author of our great troubles?

Was it not this very man, by the acts that he committed? After that, ought we to feel grateful to him for those benefits, because he laid information when you offered him impunity as his payment, and are you the authors of that confusion and those troubles, because you sought out the wrongdoers? Surely not: the case is quite the contrary; he threw the city into confusion, but you restored it to composure.

I understand that he proposes to urge in his defence that the agreements[*](The treaties for pacification and amnesty made on the restoration of the democracy in 403 B.C.) hold for him in just the same way as for the rest of the Athenians; and on the strength of this pretext he supposes that many of you, in fear of breaking the agreements, will absolve him.

I will therefore explain how Andocides has no part in those agreements,—not only those, I aver, which you made with the Lacedaemonians, but also those which the men of the Piraeus made with the party of the town. For not one amongst us all had committed the same offences, or anything like the same, as Andocides, whence he might be able to make us serve his turn.

But of course, as it was not on his account that we were divided, we did not wait to include him under the terms of the agreements before we came to a reconciliation. It was not for the sake of a single man, but for the sake of us, the people of the town and of the Piraeus, that the agreements were made and the oaths taken; for surely it would be an extraordinary thing if we in our want had taken so much care of Andocides, an absentee, as to have his offences expunged.

Yet it may be said that the Lacedaemonians, in the agreements made with them, took care of Andocides because of some benefit that they had received from him; but did you take care of him? For what sort of good service? Because he has often risked danger on your account, in aid of the city?