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But I know that it is hazardous to oppose your views1 and that, although this is a free government, there exists no ‘freedom of speech’2 except that which is enjoyed in this Assembly by the most reckless orators, who care nothing for your welfare, and in the theater by the comic poets.3 And, what is most outrageous of all, you show greater favor to those who publish the failings of Athens to the rest of the Hellenes than you show even to those who benefit the city, while you are as ill-disposed to those who rebuke and admonish you4 as you are to men who work injury to the state.

1 Cf. Socrates in Plat. Apol. 31e: “No man in the world can preserve his life if he honestly opposes himself to you or to any other people and attempts to prevent many unjust and lawless things from being done by the state.”

2 The pride of Athens. See Hdt. 5.78; Eur. Hipp. 422.

3 The poets of the old comedy exercised an incredible degree of license in ridiculing everything, divine or human, particularly the foibles of the state. These comedies were given at the festival of Dionysus, when many visitors from other states were in Athens. Aristophanes himself says (Aristoph. Ach. 500 ff.) that he was attacked by Cleon for “abusing Athens in the presence of strangers.”

4 Isocrates resents their attitude towards himself in the opening remarks of the AntidosisIsoc. 15).

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