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The Fate of Traitors

It is not easy then to define to whom one may properly
The true traitor is the man who acts with personal objects or from party spirit.
apply this name. The nearest approach to truth would be to assign it to those who in times of public danger, either for the sake of personal security or advantage, or to retaliate upon political opponents, put their cities into the hands of the enemy: or indeed to those who, by admitting a foreign garrison, and employing external assistance to carry out private aims and views, bring their country under the direction of a superior power.
The reward of treason.
All such men as these one might include in the category of traitors with perfect reasonableness. Such men, indeed, gain neither profit nor honour, but the reverse, as every one acknowledges.
The reward of treason.
And this brings me back to my original observation, that it is difficult to understand with what object, and supported by what reasoning, men rush upon such a disastrous position. For no one ever yet betrayed his city or camp or fort without being detected; but even if a man here and there managed to conceal it at the moment of his crime, yet all have been detected in the course of time. Nor when known has any such ever had a happy life; but, as a rule, they meet with the punishment they deserve from the very persons in whose favour they act.
Demosth. de Corona, § 47.
For, indeed, though generals and princes constantly employ traitors for their own purposes; yet when they have got all they can out of them, they treat them thenceforth as traitors, as Demosthenes says; very naturally considering that those, who have put their country and original friends into the hands of their enemies, are never likely to be really loyal or to keep faith with themselves. Nay, even though they escape violence at the hands of these, yet they do not easily avoid the vengeance of those whom they betrayed. Or if, finally, they manage to evade the designs of both the one and the other, yet all over the world fame dogs their footsteps with vengeance to their lives' end, suggesting to their imaginations night and day numberless terrors, false and true; helping and hounding on all who design any evil against them; and, finally, refusing to allow them even in sleep to forget their crimes, but forcing them to dream of every kind of plot and disaster, because they are aware of the universal loathing and hatred which attend them. Yet, though all this is true, nobody who wanted one was ever at a loss for a traitor, except in the rarest cases. From which one might say with some plausibility that man, reputed the most cunning of animals, gives considerable grounds for being regarded as the stupidest. For the other animals, which obey their bodily appetites alone, can be deceived by these alone; while man, though he has reason to guide him, is led into error by the failure of that reason no less than by his physical appetites. . . .

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    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 47
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