Against Epicrates and his Fellow-envoys: Supplementary


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

The accusations that have been made, men of Athens, against Epicrates and his fellow-envoys are sufficient: but you should bear in mind the assertion that you have often heard from the mouths of these men, whenever they sought to ruin somebody unjustly,—that, unless you make the convictions that they demand, your stipends will not be forthcoming.[*](The allusion is to the three obols paid daily to each juryman. The expenses of the judicature were usually covered by the income from fines and confiscations, and in a time of financial stress this evil alarm might plausibly be raised. Cf. Aristoph. Kn. 1359.)

They are none the less deficient today; so that through their act the suffering and the disgrace fall to you, and the profit to them.[*](The text here is very uncertain.) For they have found by experiment that, whenever they and their speeches seem likely to induce you to give your votes against justice, they easily obtain money from the guilty parties.

Yet what hope of safety can be ours, when the preservation or the ruin of the city depends on money, and when these men, —the guardians that you have set up, your chastisers of the guilty,—both rob you and do anything for bribes? And this is not the first time that they have been caught in criminal acts: they have been tried before now for taking bribes.

And here I have to reproach you for having convicted Onomasas[*](Nothing is known of this person.) and acquitted this man of the same crime, although it was the same person who accused them all, and they were opposed by the same witnesses; who had not been told by others, but were the very persons who arranged with these men about the money and the gifts.

Yet you are all aware that it is not by chastising men who are not able to speak that you will make an example to deter men from wronging you, but that by doing justice upon those who are able you will cause everyone to cease attempting to commit offences against you.

But at present they find it quite safe to rob you. For if they are not detected, they will be able to enjoy their booty without fear; while if they are caught, they either buy off the prosecution with part of their ill-gotten gains, or save themselves, on being brought to trial, by their own ability. So this is the moment, gentlemen of the jury, for you to make an example that will ensure the honesty of the rest, by doing justice upon these men.

All who are in the administration of the State have come here, not to listen to us, but to know what view you will take of the guilty. Hence if you acquit these men, they will think that there is nothing to fear from deceiving you and making a profit at your expense; but if you condemn them, and sentence them to death, by that same vote you will make the rest more orderly than they are now, and you will have done justice upon these men.

And I conceive, men of Athens, that even if you decided, without putting them on trial or consenting to hear their defence, to condemn them to the extreme penalty, they would not have perished unjudged, but would have paid the suitable penalty. For those men are not unjudged on whom you have given your verdict with a knowledge of the acts that have been committed, but only those who, traduced by their enemies in matters of which you have no knowledge, fail to get a hearing. These men are accused by the facts: we are merely the witnesses against them.

I have no fear that, if you hear them, you will acquit them; but I consider that they would not have paid the penalty they deserved if you condemned them only after having heard them. Could it be so, gentlemen, when they have not even the same interests as you? During the war these men have advanced themselves from poverty to wealth at your expense, while you are in poverty because of them.

Yet surely it is the duty of true leaders of the people not to take your property in the stress of your misfortunes, but to give their own property to you. And here we have come to such a pass that those who formerly, in the period of peace, were unable even to support themselves, are now contributing to your special levies, producing dramas and dwelling in great houses.

Yet there was a time when you begrudged others the doing of these things with the means inherited from their fathers; whereas now the city is in such a plight that you are no longer incensed by the thefts of these people, but are thankful for what you can obtain for yourselves, as though it were you who were in their pay, and not they who were robbing you!

Most preposterous of all, while in private suits it is the wronged who weep and arouse pity, in public suits it is the wrongdoers who arouse pity, and you, the wronged, who pity them. So now, perhaps, fellow-townsmen and friends, in their old habitual way, will cry out and implore you to spare them. But, in my view, the proper course is this:

if they believe these men to be free from guilt, let them prove that the accusations are false, and so persuade you to acquit them; but if they are going to beg them off in the belief that they are guilty, it is plain that they have more consideration for the wrongdoers than for you, the wronged; so that they do not deserve to get indulgence, but punishment, as soon as you can inflict it.

Besides, you may take it that these same persons have plied the prosecution with urgent requests, supposing that they would obtain this indulgence more quickly from our small number than from you, and also that other hands would be readier than your own to make a present of your property.

Now, we have refused to be traitors, and we expect no less of you: reflect that you would be highly incensed with us, and would punish us at any opportunity, as criminals deserve, had we come to terms with these men, either by taking payment or by any other means. Yet if you are incensed with those who do not go through with their suit as justice requires, surely you are bound to punish the actual offenders.

So now, gentlemen of the jury, after condemning Epicrates you must sentence him to the extreme penalty. Do not take the course, to which you have hitherto been accustomed, of convicting the guilty by an adverse verdict, and then letting them go unscathed when you come to the sentence: this procures you the enmity, not the punishment, of the guilty, as though it were the disgrace, and not the penalty, that gave them concern. For you are well aware that by your verdict you merely disgrace the guilty, but that by your sentence you exact vengeance for the crimes that they commit.