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Contents of speeches

A short account of the subject-matter of the three speeches may conclude this chapter.

1. Against Timarchus.

The speech begins (§§ 1-2) with a statement of the prosecutor's motives; § 3 states the position which he intends to assume—that Timarchus, by breaking the laws, has made the bringing of this action inevitable. Laws relating to the matter are read and fully discussed (§§ 4-36).

This preliminary legal statement, apart from the particular case, puts the prosecution on a sounder footing than if the speech had begun at once with the narrative.

§§ 37-76. The first charge (immorality). Narrative of the private life of Timarchus, interspersed with evidence and argument as to his political disabilities.

§§ 77-93. Examples of disability imposed on other grounds. Precedents for a verdict in accordance with general knowledge even when the evidence is defective.

§§ 94-105. The second charge. Timarchus is a spendthrift. Narrative and evidence about his prodigality.

§§ 106-115. The third charge. His corruptness in public life.

§ 116, recapitulation. §§ 117-176, anticipation of the defence.

§§ 177-195. Epilogue, announced beforehand (§ 117) as an ‘exhortation to a virtuous life.’ § 196, a short conclusion—‘I have instructed you in the laws, I have examined the life of the defendant; I now retire, leaving the matter in your hands.’

2. On the Embassy.

Demosthenes had accused Aeschines of treason; his speech, it is to be noted, dealt really with the second embassy only, and the events in Athens subsequent to it, though he makes some reference to the third embassy, and implies that Aeschines was corrupt even before the second. He follows no chronological order, so that his story is hard to follow. Aeschines, on the other hand, has a great appearance of lucidity, treating all events in chronological order; but this is misleading, for, in order to divert attention from the period in which his conduct was questionable, he spends a disproportionate time in describing the first embassy, in connection with which no accusation is made by Demosthenes.

The exordium (§§ 1-11) contains a strong appeal for an impartial hearing. The events of the first embassy to Philip are the subject of an amusing narrative at the expense of Demosthenes (§§ 12-39); the return of the envoys and their reports, etc., occupy §§ 40-55. The same clearness does not appear in the rest of the speech. Aeschines has to make a defence on various charges brought against himself, so a plain narrative is not enough. The chief charges were that Aeschines was in the pay of Philip, and that he deceived the people as to Philip's intentions, thus leading them into actions which proved disastrous. The former charge could not be proved by Demosthenes, however strong his suspicions were; the facts relating to the peace of Philocrates and the delay in the ratification of the agreement with Philip were matters of common knowledge; it was only a question of intention. The defence of Aeschines is that he deceived the people because he was himself deceived—a confession of credulity and incompetence. The narrative is not continuous; details about the embassy to Philip, the embassy to the Arcadians, and the fate of Cersobleptes, are to some extent mixed together. Reference is also made to some specific charges, e.g. the case of the Olynthian woman, the speech before the Amphictyons, the singing of the paean, etc. In the two latter cases there is no defence, but an attempt at justification (§§ 55-170). The epilogue begins with an historical survey of Athenian affairs, which is stolen either from Andocides or from some popular commonplace book, and contains the usual appeal to the judges to save the speaker from his adversaries' malice.

He ends by calling on Eubulus and Phocion to speak for him. (§§ 171-178.)

Stress has been laid in these pages on the somewhat disjointed character of the sections dealing with the principal charges, and it cannot be denied that the defence is sometimes vague; that Aeschines seems to aim not at refuting but eluding the accusations. These imperfections come out on an analysis; but the speech taken as a whole is a very fine piece of advocacy, and makes the acquittal of the speaker quite intelligible.

3. Against Ctesiphon.

The speech opens with an elaboration of a trite commonplace, modelled on the style of Andocides, about the vicious cleverness of the speaker's opponents and his own simple trust in the laws. Aeschines proposes to prove that the procedure of Ctesiphon was illegal, his statements false, and his action harmful. (§§ 1-8.)

First charge — ‘The proposal to grant a crown to Demosthenes was illegal, because Demosthenes was at the time liable to εὔθυνα (§§ 9-12). All statements to the contrary notwithstanding, a consideration of the laws proves conclusively that Demosthenes was so liable.’ (§§ 13-31.)

Second charge — ‘It was illegal for the proclamation of the crown to be made in the theatre.’ (§§ 32-48.)

Third charge — ‘The statements on which the proposal was made, viz. that the public counsel and public actions of Demosthenes are for the best interests of the people, are false.’ (§ 49.)

The first two charges are dealt with by means of legal argument, in which Aeschines, as usual, displays considerable ability. The third and longest section of the speech (§§ 49-176) is less satisfactory. The orator proposes to set aside the private life of his enemy, though he hints that many incidents might be adduced to prove its general worthlessness (§§ 51-53), and to deal only with his public policy. This he does, in chronological order and at great length. Numerous occasions are described on which the policy of Demosthenes was detrimental to Athens. The arguments with which the narrative is interspersed are often of a trivial nature, consisting sometimes of appeals to superstition, as when he tells us that troops were sent to Chaeronea, although the proper sacrifices had not been performed; and attempts to show that Demosthenes is an ἀλιτήριος, for whose sin the whole city must suffer. Taken in detail, some of these passages are impressive; but the weakness of the whole is that Aeschines himself does not declare any serious or systematic policy. This section contains incidentally digressions, in the taste of the day, about the family and character of Demosthenes.1

§§ 177-190 contain some references to heroes of antiquity, by way of invidious comparison; §§ 191-202, the deterioration of procedure in the courts.2

§§ 203-205, recapitulation; §§ 206-212, further incrimination of Demosthenes, and §§ 213-214, of Ctesiphon. §§ 215-229, chiefly refutation of charges against Aeschines. §§ 230-259, further general discussion of the illegality of the measure and the unworthiness of Demosthenes. The final appeal to the past—‘Think you not that Themistocles and the heroes who fell at Marathon and Plataea, and the very graves of our ancestors, will groan aloud if a crown is to be granted to one who concerts with the barbarians for the ruin of Greece?’ ends abruptly and grotesquely with an invocation to ‘Earth and Sun and Virtue and Intelligence and Education, through which we distinguish between the noble and the base.’

It reminds us strangely of the invocations put into the mouth of Euripides by Aristophanes.3

1 E.g., in particular, §§ 171-176, partly quoted above, p. 188.

2 Quoted above, p. 185.

3 Frogs, 892,αἰθήρ, ἐμὸν βόσκημα, καὶ γλώττης στροφίγξ, καὶ ξύνεσι”, etc.

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