Against Andocides


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

There is no truth, men of Athens, in this defence of his; do not let yourselves be deceived. You have a breach of the agreements, not if Andocides is punished for his private offences, but if private requital is exacted from a man on account of public misfortunes.

Perhaps, then, he will bring a counter-accusation against Cephisius, and he will have plenty to say; for the truth should be spoken. But you could not, by the same vote, punish both the defendant and the accuser. Now is the moment for a just sentence upon this man; another time will come for Cephisius, and for each of us whom he will now proceed to cite. Do not, therefore, be led by anger against another to absolve now the wrongdoer here before you.

But he will say that he turned informer, and that no one else will be willing to give you information, if you punish him. Yet Andocides has got from you the informer’s price, since he has saved his own life while bringing others, for that price, to their death. You are the authors of his salvation, but he is the author of his own present troubles and dangers, for he transgressed the decrees and the terms of impunity on which he turned informer.

You ought not to give informers a free licence for wrongdoing, since what is already done is enough: you have rather to punish them for their transgressions. All other informers who, after being convicted on disgraceful charges, have informed against themselves, understand one thing at least,—that they must not molest those whom they have wronged: they feel that while resident abroad they will be accounted Athenians in full possession of their rights, but that residing here among the citizens whom they have wronged they will be regarded as wicked and impious persons.

Batrachus, for instance, the most wicked, next to this man, of them all, having turned informer in the time of the Thirty,[*](404-403 B.C.) and being covered by agreements and oaths along with the party at Eleusis, was yet so afraid of those of you whom he had wronged that he made his abode in another city. But Andocides, who has wronged the very gods themselves, made less account of them by entering their temples than Batrachus did of mankind. He therefore who is both more wicked and more obtuse than Batrachus ought to be only too glad to have his life spared by you.

Pray now, on what consideration ought you to absolve Andocides? As a good soldier? But he has never gone on any expedition from the city, either in the cavalry or in the infantry, either as a ship’s captain or as a marine, either before our disaster[*](The victory of the Peloponnesians over the Athenians at Aegospotami in the Hellespont, 405 B.C.) or after our disaster, though he is more than forty years old.

Yet other exiles were captains with you at the Hellespont. Remember from what a load of trouble and warfare you by your own efforts delivered yourselves and the city: many were your bodily labours, many your payments from private and public funds, many the brave citizens whom you buried because of the war that you waged.

And Andocides, who suffered none of these troubles who contributed nothing [*](Translating Cobet’s restoration of a gap in the text.) to his country’s salvation, claims now to take part in the affairs of the city, the scene of his impieties! But with all his wealth, and the power of his possessions, the accepted guest of kings and despots,—so he will now boast, well acquainted as he is with your character,—

what sort of contribution or other aid did he furnish that [*](Some words denoting other public services appear to have fallen out of the text.) might stand to his credit? Knowing that the State was beset by storm and danger he, a seafarer, had not spirit enough to venture to aid the city by importing corn. Why, resident aliens from abroad, just because they were resident aliens, aided the city by such imports. But you, Andocides, what benefit have you actually conferred, what offences have you expiated, what return have you made for your nurture?---[*](A page is missing here.)

Men of Athens, recall the actions of Andocides, and reflect too on the festival[*](The Mysteries, in which the present judges had been initiated.) which has brought you special honor from the majority of mankind. But indeed you have become so stupefied by now with his offences, from your frequent sight and hearing of them, that monstrous things no longer seem to you monstrous. But apply your minds to the task of making your thought envisage the things that he did, and you will come to a better decision.

For this man donned a ceremonial robe, and in imitation of the rites he revealed the sacred things to the uninitiated, and spoke with his lips the forbidden words: those deities whom we worship, and to whom with our devotions and purifications we sacrifice and pray, he mutilated. And for such a deed priestesses and priests stood up and cursed him, facing the west,[*](Cf. the solemn cursing of Alcibiades described by Plut. Alc. 22. In prayers and vows addressed to the celestial gods the speaker faced the east, but in those addressed to the infernal gods, the west.) and shook out their purple vestments according to the ancient and time-honored custom. He has admitted this action.

Moreover, transgressing the law that you made, whereby he was debarred from the temples as a reprobate, he has violated all these restrictions and has entered into our city; he has sacrificed on the altars which were forbidden him, and come into the presence of the sacred things on which he committed his impiety; he has entered into the Eleusinium, and baptized his hands in the holy water.

Who ought to tolerate these doings? What person, whether friend or relation or townsman, is to incur the open enmity of the gods by showing him secret favour? You should therefore, consider that to-day, in punishing Andocides and in ridding yourselves of him, you are cleansing the city, you are solemnly purifying it from pollution, you are dispatching a foul scapegoat, you are getting rid of a reprobate; for this man is all of them in one.

And now I would mention the advice that Diocles son of Zacorus the officiating priest, and our grandfather,[*](It seems likely that the speaker’s family belonged to the Eumolpidae or hereditary priesthood of the Mysteries.) gave you when you were deliberating on the measures to be taken with a Megarian who had committed impiety. Others urged that he be put to death at once, unjudged; he counselled you to judge him in the interest of mankind, so that the rest of the world, having heard and seen, might be more sober-minded, and in the interest of the gods he bade each of you, before entering the court, judge first at home and in his own heart what should be the fate of the impious.

So you, men of Athens,—for you understand what you are bound to do,—must not be perverted by this man. You hold him, caught in the open commission of impiety: you have seen, you have heard his offences. He will beseech and supplicate you: have no pity. For it is not those who justly, but those who unjustly, suffer death that deserve to be pitied.