VI. 5 On Wounding with Intent, Or. IV
5. On Wounding with Intent.
[Or. IV.]—The first part of this speech has been lost1
, and with it the original title. It is a defence before the
Areiopagos on a charge of wounding with murderous intent in a quarrel for the possession of a slave girl. The defendant asserted that the slave was the joint property of himself and the accuser; the latter claimed sole ownership (§ 10). The penalty threatening the accused was banishment and confiscation of property (§ 18).
The speech, as now extant, begins at the point where the
defendant is answering the assertion that a personal enmity of long standing accounts for the murderous character of the assault. It is not true, the defendant says, that they were at this time enemies; they had been reconciled. He had been called upon to perform a costly leiturgia, and had challenged his present accuser either to undertake it himself or to exchange properties (ἀντίδοσις
); and this had been cited by the accuser in proof of the alleged hostility. But it has been shown that this exchange was never actually made; friends mediated, and the defendant took the leiturgia. The accuser had, indeed, already received some property of his, with a view to the exchange; but had returned it when the reconciliation took place. Another proof is given that they were on good terms. The accuser had been nominated by the defendant as judge of the prizes at the Dionysia. Unfortunately, when lots were drawn, he was not among the judges elected. If he had been, his goodwill to the defendant would have been publicly shown; for he was prepared to give the prize to the defendant's tribe, and left a written memorandum of that resolve2
Assuming, however, that this personal enmity did exist, yet the very circumstances of the assault exclude the idea of premeditation. The accuser had made the utmost of a black eye (ὑπώπια
§ 9), and had pretended illness. At the same time he has refused to allow the slave, who was the cause and the eyewitness of the quarrel, to be put to the question (§§ 5—11). After dwelling further on the refusal of this challenge (πρόκλησις
) as presumptive evidence in his own favour (§§ 12—17), the defendant ends by contrasting the gravity of his danger with the worthlessness of its cause, and begs the court not to award so disproportionate a penalty to him, and so excessive a triumph to his unjust accuser (§§ 18—20).
Special points illustrated by the Speech.
This fragment has at least some antiquarian interest. It is curious to find from § 2 that the fact of having offered a man the antidosis could be quoted in court as presumptive evidence of ill-will towards him. The difficult passage in § 3 regarding the appointment of judges at the Dionysia has already been noticed. Section 4 illustrates a point in the peculiar procedure of the Areiopagos—that no witness could be examined who did not swear either to or against the guilt of the accused in regard to the particular facts before the court.
Taylor's doubt of its genuineness.
Taylor's suspicion that in this piece a sophistic writer has imitated the Defence against Simon seems gratuitous3
. If the fragment which has been
preserved is neither clear in arrangement nor strong in argument, it has at least the vigorous simplicity by which Lysias knew how to make the appeal of a commonplace man effective without making it rhetorical.