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First speech for the Prosecution

It is very rightly laid down that in cases of murder prosecutors must take especial care to observe justice in making their charge and presenting their evidence: they must neither let the guilty escape nor bring the innocent to trial. [2] For when God was minded to create the human race and brought the first of us into being, he gave us the earth and sea to sustain and serve us, in order that we might not die for want of the necessaries of life before old age brought us our end. Such being the value placed upon our life by God, whoever unlawfully slays his fellow both sins against the gods and confounds the ordinances of man. [3] For the victim, robbed of the gifts bestowed by God upon him, naturally leaves behind him the angry spirits of vengeance,1 God's instruments of punishment, spirits which they who prosecute and testify without giving heed to justice bring into their own homes, defiling them with the defilement of another, because they share in the sin of him who did the deed. [4] And similarly, should we, the avengers of the dead, accuse innocent persons because of some private grudge, not only will our failure to avenge the murdered man cause us to be haunted by dread demons to whom the dead will turn for justice, but by wrongfully causing the death of the innocent we are liable to the penalties prescribed for murder, and because we have persuaded you to break the law, the responsibility for your mistake also becomes ours. [5] For my part, my fear of such consequences has led me to bring the true sinner before you, and thus the stain of none of the charges which I am making rests upon me; and if you yourselves give that attention to the trial which the considerations I have put before you demand, and inflict upon the criminal a punishment proportionate to the injury which he has done, you will cleanse the entire city of its defilement. [6] Had he killed his victim accidentally, he would have deserved some measure of mercy. But he wantonly committed a brutal assault upon an old man when in his cups; he struck him and throttled him until he robbed him of life. So for killing him he is liable to penalties prescribed for murder: and for violating every right to respect enjoyed by the aged he deserves to suffer in full the punishment usual in such cases. [7] Thus the law rightly hands him over to you for punishment; and you have listened to the witnesses who were present during his drunken assault. It is your duty to take vengeance for the injury which he so lawlessly inflicted: to punish such brutal violence as harshly as the harm which it has caused requires: to deprive him in his turn of a life which was used to plot another's death.

1 For the ἀλιτήριοι see General Introduction, p. 39.

load focus Notes (Sir Richard C. Jebb, 1888)
load focus Greek (K. J. Maidment)
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