This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
"Why do you not drop this story of what happened last night and come back to your real grievance which supplies the fuel to your jealousy? 'Why, Demetrius, are people talking everywhere about your being king?  Why do you appear in some people's eyes to be a more worthy successor to your father's position than myself? Why do you cloud with doubt and anxiety those hopes which, if you did not exist, would be assured?'  So Perseus thinks, if he does not speak his thoughts. It is this that makes him my enemy, my accuser, it is this that floods your palace and your realm with slander and suspicion.  But, my father, as I am bound in duty not to hope for the crown nor, perhaps, ever to dispute it, since I am the younger and it is your wish that I should give place to the elder, so have I felt it my duty in the past and so I feel it today, never to show myself unworthy of you, my father, or unworthy of all my nation.  For that would be caused by my faults, not by modestly giving way to him who has right and justice on his side. You bring up the Romans against me and turn into a crime what ought to be a source of pride.  I never asked to be handed over to the Romans as a hostage, or to be sent as an envoy to Rome, but when sent by you I did not refuse to go. On both occasions I so conducted myself that neither you nor your sovereignty nor the whole of Macedonia could be ashamed of me.  So you, my father, were the cause of my friendship with the Romans; as long as peace exists between you and them I too shall stand in favour with them. If war breaks out I, who have been a hostage and a not unsuccessful representative of my father, shall be their most determined foe. I do not claim today that my interest with the Romans shall help me, but I do pray that it may not injure me.  It did not begin in a time of war nor is it reserved for a time of war. I was a pledge of peace, I was sent as an envoy to maintain the peace: neither of these should be put down to my credit or to my fault. If I have been guilty of undutiful conduct towards you, my father, or criminal designs against my brother, I am prepared to undergo any punishment.  If I am innocent, I beg that I may not fall a victim to envy and malice, since I cannot suffer for any crime. "My brother is not accusing me for the first time today, but it is the first time he is doing so openly, though I have done nothing to deserve it.  If my father were angry with me it would be your duty, as the elder brother, to intercede for the younger to obtain pardon for my offence in consideration of my youth. Where I ought to find protection, I find a determination to destroy me. I have been dragged away whilst only half-awake from a banquet and a wine party to answer a charge of fratricide.  Without advocates, without defending counsel, I am compelled to plead for myself.  Had I to plead for another I should have taken time to think out and arrange my speech, and what else would be at stake but my reputation as a skilful pleader? Unaware of the reason for being summoned, I found you in an angry mood, ordering me to defend myself, and my brother making accusations against me.  He delivered a carefully prepared and thought-out speech against me; I had only such time as he took to make his accusations in which to learn what the matter at issue was. What was I to do in those few moments, listen to my accuser or think out my defence?  Thunderstruck by a danger so sudden and so unlooked for, I could with difficulty understand the charges brought against me, still less could I see the right way of defending myself against them. What hope would there be for me if I had not my father as my judge?  If my brother has a greater share of his affection, I, who have to defend myself, ought at all events not to have a less share of his compassion. I am praying you to preserve me in your own interest as well as mine; he demands that you shall put me to death for his own security.  What do you think he will do to me when you have left your crown to him, if even now he thinks it right that my life should be sacrificed for him?"
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.