Defense Against A Charge Of Taking Bribes: Undesignated


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

In regard to the counts of the accusation, gentlemen of the jury, you have been sufficiently informed; but I must ask your attention also for what has yet to be added, so that you may understand what kind of person I am before you give your verdict upon me. I was certified of age[*](By the Council, in his eighteenth year: cf. Lys. 10.31.) in the archonship of Theopompus: [*](411-410 B.C.) appointed to produce tragic drama, I spent thirty minae and two months later, at the Thargelia,[*](At the festival of Apollo and Artemis, held in the month Thargelion (May-June).) two thousand drachmae, when I won a victory with a male chorus; and in the archonship of Glaucippus,[*](410-409 B.C.) at the Great Panathenaea, eight hundred drachmae on pyrrhic[*](The pyrrhic was a kind of war-dance.) dancers.

Besides, I won a victory with a male chorus at the Dionysia under the same archon, and spent on it, including the dedication of the tripod, five thousand drachmae; then, in the time of Diocles,[*](409-408 B.C.) three hundred on a cyclic[*](A circular or dithyrambic chorus, usually associated with the worship of Dionysus.) chorus at the Little Panathenaea. In the meantime, for seven years I equipped warships, at a cost of six talents.

Although I have borne all these expenses, and have faced daily peril in your service abroad, I have nevertheless made contributions—one of thirty minae and another of four thousand drachmae—to special levies. As soon as I returned to these shores, in the archonship of Alexias,[*](405-404 B.C.) I was producing games for the Promethea,[*](Torch-races were held in honor of Prometheus.) and won a victory after spending twelve minae.

Then, later, I was appointed to produce a chorus of children, and spent more than fifteen minae. In the archonship of Eucleides[*](404-403 B.C.) I produced comic drama for Cephisodorus and won a victory, spending on it, with the dedication of the equipment, sixteen minae; and at the Little Panathenaea I produced a chorus of beardless pyrrhic dancers, and spent seven minae.

I have won a victory with a warship in the race at Sunium,[*](A promontory in the south of Attica, on which there was a temple of Poseidon.) spending fifteen minae; and besides I had the conduct of sacred missions and ceremonial processions[*](In this case, of maidens of the best families, who at the Panathenaea carried the sacred robe and other holy object as offerings to Athene.) and other duties of the sort, for which my expenses have come to more than thirty minae. Of these sums that I have enumerated, had I chosen to limit my public services to the letter of the law, I should have spent not one quarter.

During the time when I had charge of a warship, my vessel was the best found in the whole armament. And I will tell you the surest evidence of that fact: at first Alcibiades,—I would have given a great deal to prevent his sailing with me, as he was neither my friend nor my relative nor a member of my tribe,—was aboard my ship.

Now I am sure you must be aware that, being a commander who was free to do as he pleased, he would never have gone aboard any but the best found vessel, when he was himself to have his part in the danger. When you removed those men from the command,

and selected the ten of whom Thrasyllus was one, these all wanted to sail on my ship; though, after much wrangling amongst them, it was Archestratus of Phrearrhe[*](A district of Attica.) who came aboard. After his death at Mytilene, Erasinides sailed with me. I ask you, how much money do you think that a warship so well furnished must have cost me?

How much harm did it do to the enemy, and how much benefit to the city? The best proof is this: at the time when our ships were destroyed in the last sea-fight,[*](At Aegospotami, 405 B.C.) and I had no commander on board with me,—I may mention this, as your anger on account of the disaster that occurred was shown even against those who had charge of the warships,—I not only brought away my own vessel, but I also saved that of Nausimachus of Phalerum.

And all this was the result, not of chance, but of my arrangements: for by making it worth his while I secured as my pilot for the whole time Phantias, who was esteemed the best in Greece; and also provided such a crew and complement of oarsmen as were suitable for him. That these statements of mine are true is fully known to all of you who were in the forces over there. But call Nausimachus to support them.

TestimonySo the vessels that were saved were twelve in number; and two were brought away for you by myself,—my own warship, and that of Nausimachus. After so many dangers encountered in your defence, and after all the services that I have rendered to the city, I now request, not a boon for my reward, as others do, but that I be not deprived of my own property; for I consider it a disgrace to you also, to take it both with my will and against my will.

I do not mind so much having to lose my possessions; but I could not put up with an outrage, and the impression that it must produce on those who shirk their public services,—that while I get no credit for what I have spent on you, they prove to have been rightly advised in giving up to you no part of their own property. Now, if you will admit my plea, you will both vote what is just and choose what is to your own advantage.

Do but observe, gentlemen of the jury, how slender are the revenues of the State, and how even these are pilfered by their appointed guardians: you ought, therefore, to see the surest revenue for the State in the fortunes of those who are willing to perform public services. So, if you are well advised, you will take as great care of our property as of your own personal possessions,

knowing that you will be able to avail yourselves of all that we have, as you were in the past. And I think you are all aware that you will find me far superior, as controller of my property, to those who control for you the property of the State: whereas, if you impoverish me, you will wrong yourselves besides; others will divide it up amongst them, as they do the rest.

You ought also to consider that it is far more fitting for you to give me of what is yours than to dispute my claim to what is mine, and to pity me if I am impoverished than to envy me my wealth: you should pray Heaven that the others may be as good citizens, so that, instead of coveting your money, they may spend their own on you.

In my opinion, gentlemen,—and let none of you take it ill,—there would be far more justice in your being declared by the Commissioners to be holding my property than in my being prosecuted now for holding Treasury funds. For my attitude towards the State is shown by the fact that, while I am frugal in the private use of my means, I delight in the discharge of my public duties: I take a pride, not in the residue that is left to me, but in the amounts that I have spent on you;

for I regard the latter as my own achievement, whereas my fortune was bequeathed to me by others, and if on account of this I unjustly incur the venal slander of my enemies, those expenses have justly earned my salvation at your hands. There is no good reason, therefore, why others should have interceded with you on my behalf: and indeed, if any of my friends had been involved in a similar suit, I might expect you to show me your gratitude;

and if I were being tried before another court I should look to you as the petitioners in my defence. For it can never be alleged that I have profited at your expense by the tenure of many offices, or that I have been the subject of disgraceful suits, or that I am guilty of any disgraceful act, or that I saw with delight the disasters of the city. In all my dealings, both private and public, I believe that I have shown such a character as a citizen, in a manner so well known to you, that I have no need to justify myself in those respects.

I therefore request you, gentlemen of the jury, to hold the same opinion of me now as you have held hitherto, and not only to remember my public services to the State, but also to bear in mind my private propensities. Consider that the most onerous of public services is to maintain throughout one’s life an orderly and self-respecting behavior, neither overcome by pleasure nor elated by gain, but evincing such a character that one is free from complaint or the thought of a prosecution in the mind of any fellow-citizen.

It is therefore unfair, gentlemen, that you should condemn me in deference to such accusers as these, who have gone this length in contesting the charge of their own impiety, and then, as they could never clear themselves of their own offences, they have the hardihood to accuse others. Nay, Cinesias,[*](A notorious coward; see Introd. p. xviii.) with the character that we know, has served in more campaigns than these men, who now show indignation at the city’s plight! They make no contribution to any scheme for raising the fortunes of the city, but do their utmost to incense you against your benefactors.