I 4. Against Epikrates, Or. XXVII
4. Against Epikrates.
[Or. XXVII.]—The title, ‘Against Epikrates and his Fellow-Envoys,’ which one Theodôros1
affixed to this speech, is clearly wrong. In the first place each of the ‘FellowEnvoys’ would have been the subject of a separate
accusation; in the next place, there is absolutely no reference to an embassy except in the opening words2
, which have probably been interpolated to match the title. The grammarian, it can hardly be doubted, was thinking of the Epikrates mentioned by Demosthenes as having been condemned, with his colleagues in an embassy, by a decree of the people3
. Whether this Epikrates is the same person or not, cannot be decided. But, in the present case, the charge against him is of having embezzled public moneys while he held the office of comptroller of the treasury (§ 3). The charge must have been made either at his audit (εὐθῦναι
) or by a special impeachment (εἰσαγγελία
.) The only clue to the date is the fact that a war had now lasted some time (§ 10). The latter part of the
Corinthian War—about the year 389—is probably indicated.
Like the speech against Ergokles, this was preceded by others for the prosecution, and gives therefore only a general view of the case.
Corrupt officers of the treasury, like Ergokles, often tell
the judges, in asking for a verdict against some one whom they have wrongfully accused, that if it is not given, the city will soon lack funds to pay its public servants. And now this lack of funds is caused by the corrupt officials themselves. The State must punish heavily those guardians of the revenue
who so often procure the confiscation of private property while they enrich themselves out of the property of the public (§§ 1—7). If such men were condemned without the forms of a trial, it would be no breach of justice; their guilt is notorious. This is war-time; yet these men can not only pay heavy taxes, but at the same time live in the best houses—men who, in quieter times, had not bread to eat (§§ 8—10). No appeal to mercy should be admitted from such a quarter. The courts have lately been too lenient. Epikrates and his like must be made to suffer loss, since they are insensible to shame (§§ 11—16).