V. Causes relating to military offences (λιποταξίου—ἀστρατείας), Or. XIV and XV
1. Against Alkibiades, on a Charge of Desertion
2. Against Alkibiades, on a Charge of Failure to Serve
The two Speeches concern the same fact.
These speeches do not refer to two distinct accusations, but are merely two different ways of stating the same accusation. Alkibiades, son of the famous Alkibiades, had taken part in the expedition sent from Athens to the relief of Haliartos when Boeotia was invaded by Lysander in 395 B. C. But, instead of serving with the heavy-armed infantry, he had chosen to serve with the cavalry, although he had not passed the scrutiny (dokimasia) required before enrolment among the Knights. His accusers might have indicted him under a special law which attached the penalty of disfranchisement to such a fraud (Or. XIV. § 8). They preferred, however, to bring against him a more invidious charge—desertion of military duty.
Law about Military Offences.
The principal military offences were dealt with at Athens by one law. Under this law a citizen was liable to indictment and if convicted to disfranchisement for 1. Failure to join the army—ἀστρατείας
: 2. Cowardice in battle—δειλίας
: 3. Desertion of his post—λιποταξίου
. This third term properly denoted an offence distinct from the other two. But it was sometimes so extended as to include either of the other two1
. Now Alkibiades had served, indeed,
but had not served with the hoplites. His offence, then, might be looked at from two points of view. He might be considered as a man who, on service, had been found out of his place, and who was liable to an indictment for Desertion of his Post—γραφὴ λιποταξίου
. Or he might be considered as a man who had never been present in his place, and who was liable to an indictment for Failure to Serve—γραφὴ ἀστρατείας
. The First Speech takes the former point of view; the Second takes the latter.
The date and occasion of the speeches are not
directly indicated, but can be determined almost certainly. This was the first military trial since ‘the peace’ (XIV. § 4);—a campaign had just taken place, but no battle had been fought (§ 5), though the generals had given satisfaction to the State (XV. § 1). All this corresponds with the campaign of the year 395. It was the first since the peace, or rather truce, with Sparta in the spring of 404. No battle had been fought, because, before the
Athenian force arrived at Haliartos, the Lacedaemonians had already been defeated, and Lysandros slain. The Athenian Generals had only to assist at the arrangement of the humiliating truce under which Pausanias led his army out of Boeotia (Xen. Hellen. III. v. 16
). In 395 B. C. the younger Alkibiades must have been about twenty years of age2
The Court was composed of soldiers (στρατιώτας δικάζειν
, Or. XIV. § 5), the Generals presiding (τῶν στρατηγῶν δέομαι
, XV. 1). Archestratides, the chief accuser, had opened the cause and produced the evidence; these two speakers are his friends and supporters. (Or. XIV. 3; XV. 12.)
The accuser explains his appearance in that capacity. An explanation is, indeed, hardly necessary, considering the character of Alkibiades; but in his own case a feud inherited from his father supplies a special motive. (§§ 1—3.) He then addresses himself to a technical point. The law against Desertion is so worded (it has been argued) that it does not apply where there has been no battle. He answers that one of the two offences which that law contemplates—namely Failure to Serve—is manifestly proved against Alkibiades, who did not take his place among the hoplites. Of the other offence—Desertion of his Post through cowardice—he is virtually guilty, since his reason for preferring to serve with the cavalry was that there he would run less risk. Others, who were really knights, waived their privilege in this instance3
, and served as hoplites. Alkibiades seized a privilege to which he had no claim (§ 10). Such audacity
must be punished for public example. Let the soldiers who sit in judgment remember how much each of them sacrificed to his duty, and then decide what punishment is merited by such contempt of duty (§§ 4—15). The advocates of Alkibiades will plead his youth and his parentage. Neither his own nor his father's character deserves sympathy. If relatives plead for him, it is they who ought to have restrained him; if officials, they must show that he is legally innocent. (§§ 16—22.)
Then follows a bitter attack upon the defendant and his father. Alkibiades the younger is described as vicious from his youth, and as a traitor to his own father4
; all the treasons of the elder Alkibiades are recounted at length. He prompted the Spartan occupation of Dekeleia—he incited Chios to revolt—he preferred a home even in Thrace to Athens. He betrayed the Athenian fleet to Lysandros: both his greatgrandfathers, Megakles and Alkibiades, were ostracised.
(§§ 23—40.) An attack on the family in their private relations, as stained with every impurity and impiety, leads to the conclusion. Much, the accuser says, has been omitted: the judges must imagine it. He then causes to be read the laws on which he relies; the judicial oath; and the indictment. (§§ 41—47.)
The Generals, the presidents of the Court, say that they
allowed Alkibiades as a special favour to serve with the cavalry. Why, in that case, was he rejected by the phylarch of his own tribe, and not struck off the list of hoplites by the taxiarch? Why, when he took the field, was he treated with scorn by all the knights, and driven to place himself among the mounted bowmen? It is strange if the Generals can enrol a man among the knights at their
pleasure, when they cannot so enrol him among the hoplites. If, however, the Generals have exceeded their real powers, then the Court cannot recognise their arbitrary act. (§§ 1—8.) The law is, indeed, severe; but the judges must administer it as unflinchingly as if they were marching against the enemy (§§ 9—12).
Feeling towards the elder Alkibiades.
The first especially, of these two speeches should be compared with the Defence written shortly before by Isokrates—probably in 397 or 396 B.C.—for the same man. Both bear striking witness to the hatred felt for the memory of the elder Alkibiades in the early years of the restored democracy. Here, denunciations of the father fill about one-half of the speech against the son; there, the son devotes more than three-fourths of his address to a defence of his father. The speech Against Alkibiades ascribed to Andokides, but probably the work of a late sophist, indirectly illustrates the same feeling; being, in fact, an epitome of the scandalous stories about Alkibiades current at the same period.
Doubt of the genuineness—not well founded.
Harpokration refers to Oration XIV. with a doubt of its authenticity5
; Oration XV. is cited by no ancient author. The genuineness of each has been called in question by modern critics6
; chiefly on grounds of internal evidence. It has been noticed that the composition varies in some points from the usual Lysian character; and that the special marks
of his power are absent7
. The two speeches must stand or fall together. If not the work of Lysias, they are certainly the work of a contemporary writer for the law-courts. But the evidence, external or internal, against their genuineness appears too slight to warrant even a strong suspicion.