III. Trial of a claim to property (διαδικασία), Or. XVII
On the Property of Eraton.
III. On the Property of Eraton.
]—This is the only extant speech of Lysias in a diadikasia,— i.e. in a case of a disputed claim (διαδίκασμα
, § 10) to property either between two private persons or between a private person and the State. Here the dispute lies between a private claimant and the State.
The speaker's grandfather had lent two talents to Eraton, who died without having repaid them. Eraton's three sons, Erasiphon, Eraton, and Erasistratos, failed to pay the interest. The speaker's father therefore brought an action against Erasistratos, the only one of the three brothers who was at Athens; and obtained an order for the payment of the entire debt, principal and interest.
His father having died about this time, the speaker, in right of the verdict, took possession of certain lands of Erasistratos at Sphettos, and claimed at law certain other lands at Kikynna, which the representatives of Erasiphon, the eldest brother, refused to give up to him.
Meanwhile—for what reason is not stated—all the property which had belonged to the elder Eraton2
was confiscated by the State. The speaker was obliged to give up the lands at Sphettos, which he had already for two years been letting to tenants (§ 5,) and to withdraw his claim to the others.
He now brings an action against the Treasury for the partial satisfaction of his claim upon the property of Eraton. The whole of this property was (he says) insufficient to satisfy his claim. Yet he is ready to give up two-thirds of it to the State; and rates the remaining third, which he demands for himself, at 15 minae (§ 7);—i.e. one-eighth of the sum originally lent by his father to Eraton.
The case is heard by an ordinary court, of which the fiscal board of syndici (§ 10) were presidents. Since the action against Erasistratos fell in the archonship of Xenaenetos (§ 3), i.e. in 400 B. C., and
three years had elapsed since (§ 5), the date is 397 B.C., of which the winter months had already passed (ib.).
The plaintiff begins by expressing a fear that the judges
give him credit for powers of speech which he does not possess—an exordium which suggests that he was at least
in some way distinguished (§ 1.) He then gives a narrative, in three parts, of the facts just stated, witnesses being called at the close of each part: (i) § 2: (ii) § 3: (iii) §§ 4—9. He ends by simply asking for a verdict (§ 10).
No ground for supposing this to be an epitome.
In this short speech there is no argument; the proofs are all ‘inartificial,’ ἄτεχνοι πίστεις
: i.e. derived directly from witnesses and documents. But there is certainly no reason for suspecting that we have here merely an epitome of a longer oration, like the so-called ‘Second’ speech against Theomnêstos3
. Short as it is, the speech is in every respect complete and clear. There is nothing of that crowding which is generally apparent in a summary; the whole is on a small scale, but the symmetry of the parts is perfect. Besides, each section of the narrative is followed by a short recapitulation (§§ 3, 4, 10). An epitomist would have left out epitomes.