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15. One way of removing prejudice is to make use of the arguments by which one may clear oneself from disagreeable suspicion; for it makes no difference whether this suspicion has been openly expressed or not; and so this may be taken as a general rule. [2] Another way1 consists in contesting the disputed points, either by denying the fact or its harmfulness, at least to the plaintiff; or by asserting that its importance is exaggerated; or that it is not unjust at all, or only slightly so; or neither disgraceful nor important. These are the possible points of dispute: as Iphicrates, in answer to Nausicrates, admitted that he had done what the prosecutor alleged and inflicted damage, but denied that he had been guilty of wrongdoing. Again, one may strike the balance, when guilty of wrongdoing, by maintaining that although the action was injurious it was honorable, painful but useful, or anything else of the kind.

[3] Another method consists in saying that it was a case of error, misfortune, or necessity; as, for example, Sophocles said that he trembled, not, as the accuser said, in order to appear old, but from necessity, for it was against his wish that he was eighty years of age.2 One may also substitute one motive for another, and say that one did not mean to injure but to do something else, not that of which one was accused, and that the wrongdoing was accidental: “I should deserve
your hatred, had I acted so as to bring this about.”

[4] Another method may be employed if the accuser, either himself or one closely related to him, has been involved in a similar charge, either now or formerly; [5] or, if others are involved who are admittedly not exposed to the charge; for instance, if it is argued that so-and-so is an adulterer, because he is a dandy, then so-and-so must be.

[6] Again, if the accuser has already similarly accused others, or himself been accused by others;3 or if others, without being formally accused, have been suspected as you are now, and their innocence has been proved.

[7] Another method consists in counter-attacking the accuser; for it would be absurd to believe the words of one who is himself unworthy of belief.

[8] Another method is to appeal to a verdict already given, as Euripides did in the case about the exchange of property;4 when Hygiaenon accused him of impiety as having advised perjury in the verse, “ My tongue hath sworn, but my mind is unsworn,5

” Euripides replied that his accuser did wrong in transferring the decisions of the court of Dionysus to the law courts; for he had already rendered an account of what he had said there,6 or was still ready to do so, if his adversary desired to accuse him.

[9] Another method consists in attacking slander, showing how great an evil it is, and this because it alters the nature of judgements,7 and that it does not rely on the real facts of the case.

Common to both parties is the topic of tokens,
as in the Teucer,8 Odysseus reproaches Teucer with being a relative of Priam, whose sister his mother Hesione was; to which Teucer replied that his father Telamon was the enemy of Priam, and that he himself did not denounce the spies.9

[10] Another method, suitable for the accuser, is to praise something unimportant at great length, and to condemn something important concisely; or, putting forward several things that are praiseworthy in the opponent, to condemn the one thing that has an important bearing upon the case. Such methods10 are most artful and unfair; for by their use men endeavor to make what is good in a man injurious to him, by mixing it up with what is bad.

Another method is common to both accuser and defender. Since the same thing may have been done from several motives, the accuser must disparage it by taking it in the worse sense, while the defender must take it in the better sense. For instance, when Diomedes chose Odysseus for his companion, it may be said on the one hand that he did so because he considered him to be the bravest of men, on the other, that it was because Odysseus was the only man who was no possible rival for him, since he was a poltroon. Let this suffice for the question of prejudice.

1 Another reading is τόπος (topic) and so throughout.

2 Sophocles had two sons, Iophon and Ariston, by different wives; the latter had a son named Sophocles. Iophon, jealous of the affection shown by Sophocles to this grandson, summoned him before the phratores (a body which had some jurisdiction in family affairs) on the ground that his age rendered him incapable of managing his affairs. In reply to the charge, Sophocles read the famous choric ode on Attica from the Oedipus Coloneus, beginning Εὐίππου, ξένε, τᾶσδε χώραςSoph. OC 668 ff.), and was acquitted. The story in this form is probably derived from some comedy, which introduced the case on the stage (see Jebb's Introd. to the tragedy).

3 In the reading in the text, αὐτούς must apparently refer to the defendant, and one would rather expect αὐτόν. Spengel suggested ἄλλος αὐτός for ἄλλος αὐτούς: if he (i.e. the adversary) or another has similarly accused others.

4 When a citizen was called upon to perform a “liturgy” or public service (e.g. the equipment of a chorus), if he thought that one richer than himself had been passed over he could summon him and compel him to exchange properties.

5 Eur. Hipp. 612. This well-known verse is three times parodied in Aristophanes (Aristoph. Thes. 275; Aristoph. Frogs 101, Aristoph. Frogs1471). In the first passage, the sense is reversed: Euripides has dressed up a certain Mnesilochus as a woman in order that he may attend the Thesmophorian assembly. Mnesilochus first requires Euripides to take an oath that he will help him out of any trouble that may arise. Euripides takes an oath by all the gods, whereupon Mnesilochus says to Euripides: “Remember that it was your mind that swore, but not your tongue.” When Euripides was engaged in a lawsuit, his adversary quoted the line, implying that even on oath Euripides could not be believed; Euripides replied that his adversary had no right to bring before the law courts a matter which had already been settled by the theatrical judges.

6 In the great Dionysiac theater.

7 Or, “makes extraneous points the subject of decision” (Cope), “raises false issues” (Jebb).

8 Of Sophocles.

9 Who had been sent to Troy by the Greeks to spy upon the Trojans. It seems that he was afterwards accused of treachery, the token being the fact that Teucer was a near connection of Priam; to which he replied with another token that his father was an enemy of Priam, and further, when the Greek spies were in Troy, he never betrayed them.

10 Jebb refers τοιοῦτοι to the accusers, translating τεχνικοί “artistic,” certainly the commoner meaning.

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    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 101
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    • Euripides, Hippolytus, 612
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