On the Confiscation of the Property Of The Brother Of Nicias: Peroration


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

For everyone will know that formerly you punished with a fine[*](Inflicted on a prosecutor who failed to obtain a fifth of the judges’ votes.) of a thousand drachmae the man who proposed that our land should be confiscated, and yet that today he has prevailed with his demand for its confiscation; and that in these two suits, in which the same man was illegally prosecuted, the Athenians voted in contradiction of themselves.

Would it not then be disgraceful of you, after confirming your agreements with the Lacedaemonians, to shatter so lightly what you have voted on your own account, and to make valid your covenants with them, but invalidate those that you have made with yourselves? You are incensed with any other Greeks who value the Lacedaemonians more than you; and will you show in your own disposition more fidelity to them than to yourselves?

But what calls for the highest indignation is that the disposition of men in public life today is such that the orators do not propose what will be most beneficial to the city, but it is for proposals which must bring profit to them that you give your votes.[*](The law awarded three-quarters of a property confiscated to the person who brought the action for its confiscation; cf. Lys. 18.20 below.)

Now, if it were to the advantage of your people that, while some kept their own, others had to suffer the unjust confiscation of their property, you would have some reason to neglect our arguments: but in fact you must all acknowledge that unanimity is the greatest boon to a city, while faction is the cause of all evils; and that mutual dissensions chiefly arise from the desire of some for what is not theirs, and the ejection of others from what they have. This was your conclusion shortly after your return, and your reasoning was sound;

for you still remembered the disasters that had occurred, and you prayed to the gods to restore the city to unanimity rather than permit the pursuit of vengeance for what was overpast to lead to faction in the city and the rapid enrichment of the speech-makers.

And yet it would have been more pardonable to show resentment shortly after you had returned, while your anger was freshly kindled, than to pursue so belated a vengeance for what is overpast at the bidding of men who, after remaining in the city, conceive that they give you a pledge of their own loyalty when they make bad subjects of their fellows instead of showing themselves good ones, and who today reap the fruits of the city’s successes without having previously shared your perils.

And if you saw, gentlemen, that the property confiscated by these men was being secured for the State, we should forgive them; but the fact is, as you well know, that some of it is melting away in their hands, while the rest, though of great value, is being sold off cheap. Yet, if you will take my advice, you will receive no less profit from it than we, the owners.