Against Ergocles: Supplementary


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

The counts of the accusation are so many and so grave, men of Athens, that not even were he put to death a number of times for each one of his acts would Ergocles be able, in my opinion, to give your people due satisfaction. For it is evident that he has betrayed cities, wronged your representatives and your citizens, and advanced himself from poverty to wealth at your expense.

Now tell me, how can you forgive these persons, when you see the fleet that they commanded breaking up for want of money and dwindling in numbers,[*](Diodorus Siculus ( Dio. Sic. 14.94) mentions a storm in which Thrasybulus lost 23 warships.) while these men, who were poor and needy on sailing out, have so quickly acquired the largest fortune in the city? It is your duty, therefore, men of Athens, to show indignation at such conduct.

And indeed it would be strange if now, when you are yourselves thus oppressed by the special levies, you should forgive men who embezzle and take bribes; and yet heretofore, when your estates were ample and the public revenue was ample too, those who coveted your property you punished with death.

I think you will all agree that, if Thrasybulus had proposed to you that he should sail out with warships which he was to deliver up worn out instead of new; that the dangers were to be yours, while the benefits would accrue to his own friends; and that he would reduce you to worse poverty owing to the levies, but would make Ergocles and his other adulators the wealthiest men in the city,—not one of you would have given the man permission to sail out with your ships.

And to make matters worse, as soon as you had decreed that an inventory be made of the sums obtained from the cities, and that his fellow-commanders should sail home to undergo their audit, Ergocles said that there you were at your slander-mongering and hankering after the ancient laws,[*](Which regulated the collection of tribute from the states subject to Athens down to the time of the Peloponnesian War.) and he advised Thrasybulus to occupy Byzantium, keep the ships, and marry Seuthes’[*](A prince of Thrace friendly to Thrasybulus.) daughter:

by this means, he told him, you will cut short their slander-mongering; for you will make them sit still, contriving no harm against you and your friends, but full of fear for themselves. So far did they go, men of Athens,—as soon as they had gorged themselves and were regaled with your possessions,—in regarding themselves as alien to the city.

No sooner are they rich than they hate you; they plan thenceforth, not to be your subjects, but to be your rulers, and, apprehensive for the fruits of their depredations, they are ready to occupy strongholds, establish an oligarchy, and seek every means of exposing you, day after day, to the most awful dangers. The result will be, they expect, that you will cease paying attention to their particular offences and, in terror for yourselves and for the city, will leave them in peace.

Now, as for Thrasybulus, men of Athens,—for there is no need to say more about him,—he did well to end his life as he did[*](He was killed in a riot at Aspendus, 389-388 B.C.): for it was not right for him either to live in the prosecution of such schemes or to suffer death at your hands with his repute of having served you well in the past, but rather to settle his account with the city in that sort of way.

But the others, I see, in consequence of the Assembly that was held two days ago,[*](When Ergocles had been voted guilty.) are no longer sparing their money, but are purchasing their lives from the speakers, from their enemies, and from the Committee,[*](See Lys. 22.2 and note.) and are corrupting numerous Athenians with hard cash. It is your duty to clear yourselves of that suspicion by punishing this man today, and to make it plain to all people that there is no sum large enough to overcome you in your purpose of exacting requital from the guilty.

For you must reflect, men of Athens, that it is not Ergocles alone, but the whole city as well, that is on trial. Today you are to demonstrate to your officers whether they ought to be upright or, after abstracting as much of your property as they can, to compass their salvation by the same means as these men are now applying.

Well, of one thing you may be assured, men of Athens: whoever in this serious stringency of your affairs either betrays your cities or decides to steal your money or receive bribes, is the very man to surrender your walls and your ships to the enemy, and to establish oligarchy in place of democracy. It is not right, then, that you should be mastered by their devices: you should rather make an example for all men to see, and regard neither profit nor pity nor aught else as more important than the punishment of these men.

I do not suppose, men of Athens, that in regard to Halicarnassus and his command and his own proceedings Ergocles will attempt any justification, but that he will state that he returned from Phyle,[*](With the democrats in 403 B.C.) that he is a democrat, and that he bore his share in your dangers. But I, men of Athens, do not view the position in that sort of way.

Those who, longing for liberty and justice, desiring the maintenance of the laws and hating wrongdoers, shared in your dangers, I do not regard as bad citizens, nor would it be unfair, I say, that the exile of that party should be reckoned into their account. But those who, after their return, do injury to your people under a democracy, and enlarge their private properties at your expense, deserve to feel your wrath far more than the Thirty.

The latter were elected for the very purpose of doing you harm by any available means, whereas you have entrusted yourselves to these men in order that they may promote the greatness and freedom of the city. Nothing of the sort have you secured: so far as they could, they have involved you in the most awful dangers; and hence you would be far more justified in pitying yourselves, your children and your wives than these men, when you think of the ravages that you suffer at such hands as theirs.

For, just when we are convinced that we have salvation in our grasp, we meet with more terrible treatment from our officers than from the enemy. Of course you all understand that you have no hope of salvation if you undergo a reverse.[*](The reference is to the depletion of the Treasury.) You ought therefore to exhort yourselves to impose on these men today the extreme penalty, and to make it evident to the rest of Greece that you punish the guilty and mean to reform your officers.

This, at least, is my own exhortation to you; and you should know that, if you take my advice, you will decide wisely for yourselves, but if not, you will find the rest of the citizens more unruly. Besides, men of Athens, if you acquit them, they will not be thankful to you, but to their expenditure and to the funds that they have embezzled; so that, while you endow yourselves with their enmity, they will thank those means for their salvation.

Furthermore, men of Athens, both the people of Halicarnassus and the other victims of these men, if you inflict the extreme penalty upon them, will feel that, although they have been ruined by these persons, they have been vindicated by you; but if you save their lives, they will suppose that you have put yourselves in accord with their betrayers. So, bearing all these points in mind, you ought by the same act to show your gratitude to your friends and to do justice upon the guilty.