For The Soldier


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

What could have been the view of my opponents in disregarding the point at issue, and in seeking to traduce my character? Is it that they are unaware that their business is to speak on that point? Or, though well aware of this, do they consider it will pass unobserved that they have more to state on anything than on what is their business?

That those statements are made in a spirit of contempt, not for me, but for the point at issue, I clearly understand if, however, they suppose that from mere ignorance you will be induced by their aspersions to condemn me, this to me would be a surprise.

I did indeed suppose, gentlemen of the jury, that I had to face my trial on the charge referred, not on my character; but, as my opponents are traducing me, it is necessary to deal with all[*](Yet, in what follows, we are spared the usual commendation of the speaker’s character. He means, apparently (see the next sentence), the whole story of how he came to be fined.) of their points in my defence. So then, to begin with, I will inform you as to the writ against me.

The year before last, after I had arrived in the city, I had not yet been in residence for two months when I was enrolled as a soldier. On learning what had been done, I at once suspected that I had been enrolled for some improper reason. So I went to the general,[*](Whose duty it was to make up lists of citizens of military age, with instructions for specific, and post them on statues in the market-place.) and pointed out that I had already served in the army; but I met with most unfair treatment. I was grossly insulted but, although indignant, I kept quiet.

In my perplexity I consulted one of our citizens as to the measures that I should take: I was told that they even threatened to put me in prison, on the ground that Polyaenus had been as long a time in residence as Callicrates. [*](Apparently Polyaenus had complained that a man named Callicrates, who had not been enlisted, had enjoyed a longer leave at home than himself.)

Now my conversation just mentioned had been held at Philius’s bank: yet Ctesicles and his follow-officers,[*](i.e., the generals, who made the selection of men for military service.) on a report from somebody that I was abusing them, although the terms of the law only forbid the abuse of a magistrate at session of his court,—decided unlawfully to punish me. They imposed the fine, but instead of attempting to exact it, at the expiration of their term of office they recorded it on a register which they handed over to the clerks of the Treasury[*](In the temple of Pallas on the Acropolis.)

So much for their operations; but the clerks of the Treasury, taking a very different view from theirs, demanded an explanation from the persons who had handed over the record, and inquired into the grounds of the charge. Hearing what had occurred, and impressed by the strange treatment I had received, they at first urged them to let me off, pointing out that it was not reasonable that any of our citizens should be registered as public debtors out of personal enmity; then, failing to dissuade them, they took upon themselves the risk of a trial before you, and ruled that the penalty was null and void---[*](A gap follows in the text, which should show that witnesses were called.)

Well, that I was let off by the Treasury clerks, you now know. But although I consider that merely on the strength of this demonstration I ought to stand cleared of the impeachment, I will put in a yet stronger array both of laws and of other justifications. Now, please, take the law.

LawYou have heard how the law expressly enjoins the punishment of those who utter abuse at a session of the court. But I have produced witnesses to the fact that I did not enter the magistrates’ hall, and that, as the fine was unjustly imposed on me, I neither owe it nor in justice ought to pay it.

For if it is evident that I did not go into the court, and the law enjoins that the fine is to be due from those who misbehave inside it, it is manifest that I have done no wrong, but because of enmity, and for no such act, have been fined against all reason. They knew in their own hearts that they had done wrong;

for they neither submitted their act to investigation,[*](At the investigation of their acts (εὐθύναι held by εὔθυνοι, officials chosen by lot from the tribes), to which all magistrates had to submit, they omitted this fine, on the ground that the matter had been referred to the Treasury.) nor went into a law-court to get their proceedings confirmed by a vote. However, supposing they had been correct in imposing a fine on me, and had got the imposition confirmed in your court, I should stand fairly cleared of the impeachment by the release of the Treasury clerks.

For if they were not competent to exact or remit it, being lawfully fined I should reasonably owe the payment; but if they have power to remit, subject to rendering an account of their proceedings, they will easily be visited with the proper penalty for any wrong they have done.

Of the manner in which my name was handed over, and the fine imposed on me, you are now informed: but you must be apprised, not only of the charge referred, but also of the pretext for this enmity. I had made friends with Sostratus before their enmity began, because I knew he had done remarkable service to the State.

I became well-known through his personal influence, but did not make use of it either to avenge myself on an enemy or to serve a friend: for while he lived I was necessarily inactive on account of my age and when he passed away I injured none of my accusers either in word or in deed, and I can give such an account of myself as will show that in justice ought much rather to receive benefits than ill-treatment from my opponents.

Well, the circumstances that I have mentioned had the effect of accumulating their anger, though they had no real excuse for enmity. And so, having taken their oaths to enroll only those who had not served in the field, they violated those oaths, and then brought my case before the people for decision on a capital charge,[*](The penalty being the loss of civic rights consequent on confiscation.)

after having fined me for abusing the magistrates, and having utterly disregarded the claims of justice they were exerting themselves to injure me on any sort of plea, and they would have stopped at nothing so long as they could do me grievous injury and also win great advantage for themselves, seeing that when they are sure of neither of these ends they make everything of less account than their injustice.

Nay, the men who showed their contempt for the people of your city disdained also to show fear of the gods: so reckless and lawless were their proceedings that they did not even attempt to defend their actions; and finally, considering the revenge that they had taken on me insufficient, they took the last step of expelling me from the city.[*](He means, by implication, if their suit for the fine should be successful.)

In this mood of lawless violence they have not cared at all to conceal their injustice, but have summoned me here again on the same charge; and although I have done no wrong, they denounce me and abuse me with a shower of calumnies that have no connection with the tenor of my life, but are conformable and habitual to their own character.

These persons, then, are endeavoring on any sort of plea to get me cast in this suit. But you must neither be incited by their calumnies to condemn me, nor invalidate the decision of those who have acted on a better, and on a just, consideration.[*](He refers to the treasury officials.) For their action was entirely in accordance with the laws and fair dealing, and it is plain that they have committed no injustice, but made most account of what is just.

The injustice of these men only caused me a moderate annoyance, as I considered it ordained that one should harm one’s enemies and serve one’s friends;[*](This doctrine was accepted by Greek thought as part of the fixed order of things: it appears in Hes. WD 351, Pind. P. 2.83, and a saying of Simonides to this effect is taken by Plato as the starting-point of his discussion of justice in Plat. Rep. 1.332.) but to be derived of justice at your hands would cause me a far deeper distress. For it will be thought that my evil plight is due, not to enmity, but to an evil condition of the State.