1. Against Euthynus
[Or. XXI.]—Soon after the establishment of the Thirty Tyrants, some personal
enemies of Nikias the plaintiff threatened1
to strike his name off the list of citizens and to have him enrolled for military service under Lysander. Thereupon Nikias mortgaged his house, sent his servants out of Attica, deposited the sum of three talents with the defendant Euthynus, and went to live in the country. Presently, wishing to leave Attica, he applied to Euthynus for his money. Euthynus repaid two of the three talents, but disclaimed knowledge of the third. At the time, Nikias could only complain to friends. He now brings against Euthynus an action for withholding (ἀποστερῆσαι2
§ 16) the third part of the deposit. The speaker is a friend of the plaintiff; the date is evidently just after the restoration of the democracy, 403 B.C.3
Lysias wrote a speech, now lost, for Euthynus4
. Diogenes Laertius also mentions a speech, in answer to that of Isokrates, by Antisthenes; which, if genuine, was probably a mere exercise5
The speaker can show good reason for appearing as
advocate of the plaintiff. Nikias is his friend, an injured man, and has no practice in speaking (§ 1). The facts of the case are then stated (§§ 2—3).
As no one, freeman or slave, was present when Nikias deposited or demanded the money, no witness can be brought. The case for the plaintiff must rest solely on presumptive evidence (τεκμήρια
, § 4). Now, vexatious lawsuits are usually brought by needy and fluent men against wealthy men who cannot speak. But, in this case, the defendant is poorer, and a better speaker, than the plaintiff. Again, the temptation to dishonesty was stronger for Euthynus than for Nikias; since for the former the gain was certain, but the claim of the latter might fail. The state of public affairs, too, at the time made robbery easy and redress hopeless (§§ 5—7).
Had Nikias wished to practise extortion, he would not have chosen as victim his own first-cousin Euthynus, a man, too, with little money but with many friends. Probably Euthynus himself would not have chosen out his kinsman to wrong, if the fact of the deposit had not made the opportunity too tempting (§§ 8—10). The strongest presumption for the defendant's guilt may be found in the time of the transaction. Under the Thirty, Euthynus was all-powerful. Nikias, merely on account of his wealth, was exposed to danger. Thus Timodemos extorted 30 minae from him by the simple threat of arresting him. At such a time, it is more likely that he should have been a victim than a slanderer (§§ 11— 15). Euthynus will perhaps say that it is unlikely that he should have repaid two talents and withheld the third. It was just the foreseen plausibility of this argument which emboldened him. Judicious frauds of this kind are common; they ought not to be encouraged by the acquittal of Euthynus. Besides, the same argument will serve Nikias. Why, if he wished to extort money, should he not have claimed all three talents? No fraudulent motive can be assigned for his demanding only one. But the motive of Euthynus in repaying two is clear. It was notorious that Nikias had deposited a sum of money with him; but the amount of that sum was unknown. He saw, therefore, that it would be safe for him to steal a part of it, but unsafe to steal the whole (§§ 16— 21).
Philostratos reckons this ‘unattested6
one of the two best of Isokrates, praising it for a temperate and compact power of expression7
, as he praises the Archidamos
for brilliancy and spirit. The choice may seem arbitrary; but at least there is no adequate ground for doubting the genuineness of the speech against Euthynus. Benseler thinks it spurious; first and chiefly, because the examples of hiatus are stronger and more frequent than he can conceive Isokrates admitting; then, on account of the short, compact periods8
. But surely the canons observed by Isokrates in his mature style cannot be applied so rigorously to early works, especially when these are forensic. The composition of the Aeginetikos
offers a contrast as strong as possible to that (for instance) of the Panegyrikos
, and yet the authenticity of the Aeginetikos
is thoroughly well attested.