On the Estate of Kleonymos. [Or. I.]
Deiniasguardian of claimants, deceased
elder claimantthe speaker
Polyarchos left two children, Kleonymos, and the mother of the claimants. On the death of their father the claimants became the wards of their paternal uncle Deinias1
. They were heirs-at-law of their maternal uncle Kleonymos (§ 4). But Kleonymos, having quarrelled with Deinias, resolved to spite him by disinheriting his wards. He therefore made a will in favour of some remoter
kinsmen,—Poseidippos (§ 4), Diokles (§ 14), Pherenikos and his brothers (§ 45)2
. After the death of Deinias, however, Kleonymos relented. He took charge of his nephews; and in his last illness resolved to cancel his will. With this purpose he sent for the magistrate (ὁ ἀστύνομος
§ 15); but he died before he had seen him.
The claimants contend that the will had been virtually cancelled, and claim as next of kin (κατὰ τὴν ἀγχιστείαν
, § 6). The defendants rely on the will (κατὰ διαθήκην ἀμφισβητοῦσιν
, § 41). The eldest claimant is the speaker.
Benseler places the speech below 360 B. C., and
indeed regards it as one of the latest, because hiatus is avoided with a care, foreign, he thinks, to the earlier manner of Isaeos3
. In the case of Or. VIII., at least, as we shall see, this test hardly holds good. This, however, is a much stronger instance, and the speech may safely be referred to the years 360—353.
‘Kleonymos had intended us to be his heirs: now we are
in court with not only his legacy but our whole fortune at stake. The friends of the defendants recognise our right to at least a share of the legacy; but the defendants themselves, so far from admitting this, seek to deprive us of our very patrimony, on account of alleged debts to Kleonymos (§§ 1—5). We shrink from appearing against kinsmen; the defendants have no such feeling; they have mustered all their forces as against enemies (§§ 6—8).
[Then comes a narrative of the facts, §§ 9—14, supported by witnesses, §§ 15—16.]
‘It is pretended that Kleonymos sent for the magistrate not to cancel but to confirm his will. If, being then on the best terms with us, his nephews, he wished to clinch the wrong which, in a fit of anger, he had once meant to do us, he was mad, and his will ought to be set aside. But that this was not his purpose,—that he meant, not to revise, but to revoke his will,—was shown by the unwillingness of Poseidippos and Diokles to admit the magistrate (§§ 17—24). Besides, a mere correction or addition might have been made on a new tablet; by sending for the original document Kleonymos showed that he desired some substantial alteration (24—26). Not only on grounds of kinship but also on grounds of friendship Kleonymos was more likely to have left his property to us than to the defendants (§§ 27—38). There is always a presumption for claimants by blood as against claimants by will (§§ 41—43). Again, take the test of reciprocal obligation: if Kleonymos had died leaving daughters unprovided for, we, not the defendants, would have been liable to provide for them (§§ 39, 40). Or, if the defendants and we had alike died without issue, Kleonymos would have been heir, not to them, but to us (§§ 44— 47). Either the testator was of unsound mind, or we are the heirs’ (§§ 48—51).