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Fifteen speeches of Lycurgus were preserved in antiquity, nearly all accusations on serious charges. He prosecuted Euxenippus, whom Hyperides defended; he spoke against the orator Demades, and, in alliance with Demosthenes, against the sycophant Aristogiton. Other speeches known to us by name are Against Autolycus, Against Leocrates, two speeches Against Lycophron, Against Lysicles, against Menesaechmus, a Defence of himself against Demades, Against Ischyrias, πρὸς τὰς μαντείας (obscure title), Concerning his administration, Concerning the priestess, and Concerning the priesthood.1

Only one speech is now extant, the impeachment of Leocrates.

Leocrates, an Athenian, during the panic which succeeded the battle of Chaeronea, fled from Athens to Rhodes, and thence migrated to Megara, where he engaged in trade for five years. About 332 B.C. he returned to Athens, thinking that his desertion would have been forgotten; but Lycurgus prosecuted him as a traitor.

Only a small part of the speech is really devoted to proving the charge. By § 36 Lycurgus regards it as generally admitted. The remaining 114 sections consist mostly of comment and digressions which aim at emphasizing the seriousness of the crime and produce precedent for the infliction of severe punishment in such cases.


1. Introduction. Justice and piety demand that I should bring Leocrates to trial (§§ 1-2); the part of a prosecutor is unpopular, but it is my duty to undertake it (§§ 3-6). This is a case of exceptional importance, and you must give your decision without prejudice or partiality, emulating the Areopagus (§§ 7-16).

2. Narrative. The flight of Leocrates to Rhodes. Evidence (§§ 17-20). His move to Megara and occupation there. Evidence (§§ 21-23).

3. Argument. Comments on the narrative. Possible line of defence (§§ 24-35). The case is now proved. It remains to describe the circumstances of Athens at the time when Leocrates deserted her (§ 36).

4. The panic after the battle of Chaeronea (§§ 37-45). Praise of those who fell in the battle there (§§ 46-51). Acquittal is impossible (§§ 52-54). Another ground of defence cut away (§§ 55-58). Further excuses disallowed (§§ 59-62). Attempt of his advocates to belittle his crime refuted by appeal to the principles of Draco (§§ 63-67). They appeal to precedent—the evacuation of the city before the battle of Salamis: this precedent can be turned against them (§§ 68-74). The sanctity of oaths and punishment for perjury. Appeals to ancient history. Codrus (§§ 75-89). Leocrates says he is confident in his innocence—“quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat” (§§ 90-93). Providence (§§ 94-97). Examples of self-sacrifice; quotations from Euripides and Homer (§§ 97-105). Praise of Sparta. Influence of Tyrtaeus on patriots. Thermopylae (§§ 106-110). Severity of our ancestors towards traitors (§§111-127). Sparta was equally severe (§§ 128-129). Due severity will discourage treachery, and the treachery of Leocrates is of the basest sort (§§ 130-134). His advocates are as bad as he is (§§ 135-140). Appeal to the righteous indignation of the judges (§§ 141-148).

Epilogue (§§ 149-150):

“I have come to the succour of my country and her religion and her laws, and have pleaded my case straightforwardly and justly, neither slandering Leocrates for his general manner of living, nor bringing any charge foreign to the present matter; but you must consider that in acquitting him you condemn your country to death and slavery. Two urns stand before you, the one for betrayal, the other for salvation; votes placed in the former mean the ruin of your fatherland, those in the latter are given for civil security and prosperity. If you let Leocrates go, you will be voting for the betrayal of Athens, her religion, and her ships; but if you put him to death, you will encourage others to guard and secure your country, her revenues, and her prosperity. So imagine, Athenians, that the land and its trees are supplicating you, that the harbours, the dockyards, and the walls of the city are imploring you; that the temples and holy places are urging you to come to their help; and make an example of Leocrates, remembering what charges are brought against him, and how mercy and tears of compassion do not weigh more with you than the safety of the laws and the commonwealth.

1 This list is taken from the Suda. The list compiled by Blass, from various sources, is different in some details.

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