Against Agoratus: In Pursuance of a Writ


Lysias with an English translation by W.R.M. Lamb, M.A.; Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1930.

So this was the character shown by that man, even when you were bringing him to destruction; and you, when you knew nothing against those persons, but had been seduced with the promise to you of a share in the government then being established if they should be destroyed, made your deposition and sent to their death a large number of good Athenians.

But I wish now, gentlemen of the jury, to represent to you the character of the men of whom Agoratus has bereft you. Had they been merely a few, one might mention them to you separately; but, as it is, I must cover them all in one brief account. Some had served you several times as generals, and then had handed on the city with added greatness to their successors in authority;

some had held other high offices, and had borne the expense of many naval equipments: never before had they met with any disgraceful censure from you. Some of them survived, by having got away in safety; though this man sent them to their death none the less, and they were condemned to die: but fortune and providence delivered them. They fled the city, instead of being arrested and awaiting their trial; they have returned from the exile of Phyle, and are honored by you as worthy men.

Such, you see, was the character of these men whom Agoratus either did to death or sent into exile from the city. And who, then, is he? You must know that he is a slave born and bred, so that you may know what manner of man it was that grossly maltreated you. For the defendant’s father was Eumares, and this Eumares was the property of Nicocles and Anticles. Come forward, please, witnesses.

Witnesses[*](§§ 67 and 68 are here placed before §§ 65 and 66, as suggested by some editors.)Now Agoratus, gentlemen, had three brothers. One of them, the eldest, was caught in Sicily making traitorous signals to the enemy, and by Lamachus’s order he was executed on the plank. The second abducted a slave from our city to Corinth, and was taken in the act of abducting a girl from a household there: he was cast into prison and put to death.

The third was arrested here by Phaenippides as a clothes stealer, and you tried him in your court: you condemned him to death, and consigned him to execution on the plank. The truth of my statements will, I think, be admitted even by this man himself, and we shall produce witnesses to support them.

WitnessesNow, to tell of all the other injuries and infamies, gentlemen, which have been the practice of this man and his brothers would be a lengthy task. As to his trade of slander in all the private suits that he brought, or in the various impeachments and depositions that he made, there is no need for me to speak in detail. To sum the whole, you all in the Assembly, and likewise in the law-court, convicted him of venal slander and made him pay a fine of ten thousand drachmae;

so that this point has been sufficiently attested by your whole body. Then again, he attempted, with a character like that, to debauch and defile free-born wives of our citizens, and was taken in adultery; and for that the penalty is death. Call witnesses to the truth of my words.

WitnessesThen is it not clearly a duty upon you all to convict this man? For if each of the brothers was thought deserving of death for a single offence, surely the man who, both publicly against the city and privately against each of you, has committed many offences, for each of which the penalty under our laws is death, must by all means be condemned to death by you.

He will say, gentlemen, attempting to deceive you, that in the time of the Four Hundred[*](411 B.C.; cf. Lys. 12.42.) he killed Phrynichus,[*](A prominent member of the Four Hundred; cf. Thuc. 8.92.) and in reward for this, he asserts, the people made him an Athenian citizen. But he lies, gentlemen. For neither did he kill Phrynichus, nor did the people make him an Athenian citizen.

It was Thrasybulus of Calydon and Apollodorus of Megara, gentlemen, who combined in a plot against Phrynichus: they lighted on him as he was out walking, and Thrasybulus struck Phrynichus, knocking him down with the blow; but Apollodorus did not touch him. Meanwhile an outcry arose, and they ran off and disappeared. But Agoratus here was neither invited to join them nor was present at the deed, nor does he know anything of the matter. The truth of my statement will be shown you by the decree itself.

Decree[*](These were decrees passed by the people in gratitude to the slayers of Phrynichus, who were granted full civic rights in the form That so-and-so be an Athenian.)That he did not kill Phrynichus is clear from the decree itself: for nowhere do we find that Agoratus be an Athenian, as in the case of Thrasybulus. If, however, he had killed Phrynichus, he ought to appear as having been made an Athenian in the inscription on the same tablet as Thrasybulus does; though some do contrive, by bribing the proposer, to have their own names added to the tablet as benefactors. The truth of my words will be proved by this decree.

Decree[*](These were decrees passed by the people in gratitude to the slayers of Phrynichus, who were granted full civic rights in the form That so-and-so be an Athenian.)But yet, this man had so much contempt for you that although he was not an Athenian he took his seat in the law-court, and in the Assembly, and made impeachments of every conceivable kind, giving in his name with the addition—of Anagyra.[*](A district on the west coast of Attica.) And besides, I have further good evidence against his having killed Phrynichus,—an act for which he claims to have been made an Athenian: this Phrynichus established the Four Hundred; after his death, most of the Four Hundred fled.

Do you then believe that the Thirty and the Council in session at that time, who were themselves all members of the Four Hundred who had fled, would have let off the slayer of Phrynichus when they had hold of him, instead of taking vengeance on him for Phrynichus and the exile they had suffered?

In my opinion, they would have taken vengeance on him. Now, if he is pretending, as I assert,to be the slayer of Phrynichus when he is not, he is guilty there; while if you, sir, dispute this, and declare that you did kill Phrynichus, it is evident that you must have done yet greater injuries to the Athenian people so as to redeem, in the eyes of the Thirty, the blame for Phrynichus’s death. For you will never persuade anyone at all that after killing Phrynichus you would have been let off by the Thirty, unless you had inflicted great and irremediable injuries upon the Athenian people.

Hence, if he asserts that he killed Phrynichus, remember my words and take vengeance on this man for what he has done: if he disclaims it, ask him on what grounds he alleges that he was made an Athenian. If he fails to prove it, punish him for making use of his assumed title of Athenian to sit in both law-court and Assembly, and to bring slanderous charges against so many persons.

I am told that he is concocting for his defence the plea that he went off to Phyle, and was in the party that returned from Phyle, and that this is the mainstay of his case. But the facts were as I shall relate. This man did go to Phyle; yet, could there be an example of more abject vileness? For he knew that at Phyle there were some of those who had been banished by him, and he had the face to approach them!

As soon as they saw him they laid hold of him and dragged him straight away to be killed in the place where they executed ordinary pirates or robbers that fell into their hands. Anytus, who was the general, said that they ought not to do that, on the ground that they were not yet in a position to punish certain of their enemies: at that moment they should rather keep quiet. If ever they returned home, they would then proceed to punish the guilty.

By that speech he was the cause of this man’s escape at Phyle: it was necessary to obey a man in the position of general, if they were to preserve themselves. Nay, further, you will find no one who has shared either this man’s table or his tent, nor did the commander assign him a place in his tribe[*](There was one taxiarch for each of the ten tribes, whose ranks were formed by him.); to all he was a polluted person with whom they would not talk. Please call the commander.

EvidenceWhen they had reached their mutual agreement, and the Peiraeus party made their procession to the citadel,[*](i.e., to the temple of Athene on the Acropolis.) they were led by Aesimus; but there too this man showed similar audacity. For he followed along under arms, joining in the procession with the heavy-armed men to the city.