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[12] Another topic is that from a previous judgement in regard to the same or a similar or contrary matter, if possible when the judgement was unanimous or the same at all times; if not, when it was at least that of the majority, or of the wise, either all or most, or of the good; or of the judges themselves or of those whose judgement they accept, or of those whose judgement it is not possible to contradict, for instance, those in authority, or of those whose judgement it is unseemly to contradict, for instance, the gods, a father, or instructors; as Autocles1 said in his attack on Mixidemides, “If the awful goddesses were content to stand their trial before the Areopagus, should not Mixidemides?” Or Sappho, “Death is an evil; the gods have so decided, for otherwise they would die.” Or as Aristippus, when in his opinion Plato had expressed himself too presumptuously, said, “Our friend at any rate never spoke like that,” referring to Socrates. Hegesippus,2 after having first consulted the oracle at Olympia, asked the god at Delphi whether his opinion was the same as his father's,
meaning that it would be disgraceful to contradict him. Helen was a virtuous woman, wrote Isocrates, because Theseus so judged; the same applies to Alexander Paris, whom the goddesses chose before others. Evagoras was virtuous, as Isocrates says, for at any rate Conon.3 in his misfortune, passing over everyone else, sought his assistance.

1 Athenian ambassador to Sparta (371 B.C.), whose aggressive policy he attacked. His argument is that, if the Eumenides could agree without any loss of dignity to stand their trial before the Areopagus, as described in Aeschylus, surely Mixidemides could do the same. Nothing is known of Mixidemides, but it is clear that he refused to submit his case to it, when charged with some offense.

2 The story is told of Agesipolis (which others read here) in Xen. Hell. 4.7.2. The Argives, when a Lacedaemonian army threatened to invade their territory, were in the habit of alleging that it was festival time, when there should be a holy truce. This obviously left the door open to fraud, so Agesipolis (one of the Spartan kings) consulted the oracle of Zeus at Olympia to ask whether he was to respect such a truce. The reply of the oracle was that he might decline a truce fraudulently demanded. To confirm this, Agesipolis put the same question to Apollo: “Is your opinion as to the truce the same as that of your father (Zeus)?” “Certainly,” answered Apollo. Agesipolis thereupon invaded Argos. The point is that really Apollo had little choice, since it would have been disgraceful for the son to contradict the father.

3 After his defeat at Aegospotami (405 B.C.) the Athenian general Conon, fearing for his life, took refuge with Evagoras, king of Cyprus—a proof, according to Aristotle, of the goodness of the latter.

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