On the Estate of Menekles [Or. II.]
speaker, adopted son of Menekles 1, advocate of Philonides
first sisterwife of Leukolophos
daughter of Philonides
brother of Menekles Iprosecutor, has one son
At the death of Menekles, his estate was claimed by his brother1
. But Menekles had left an adopted
son; this son entered a protest that the estate, being his, could not be so claimed (διεμαρτύρησε μὴ ἐπίδικον εἶναι τὸν κλῆρον
, § 2); and produced, as witness, his father-in-law (§ 36) Philonides. The brother of Menekles then brought an indictment for perjury (γραφὴ ψευδομαρτυρίας
) against Philonides. In this speech, Philonides is defended by his son-in-law, the adopted son of Menekles.
The adoption had come about thus. Eponymos, a friend of Menekles, had four children:—the speaker of this speech; another son; and two daughters. The younger daughter was, for about two years (§ 6), the wife of Menekles; but, their marriage proving childless, they separated, and she took a second husband, Eleios. At some later time Menekles became anxious to adopt a son. His brother— the prosecutor in this case—had only one son. Menekles decided, therefore, to adopt one of the two sons of his friend Eponymos (§§ 3—12).
The date is probably about 354 B. C. (1) The
speaker says (§ 6):—‘Having given our sisters in marriage, and being of the full age, we betook ourselves to military service, and went with Iphikrates on an expedition to Thrace.’ This might refer to 389 B. C., when Iphikrates was sent to guard the Hellespont and the regions about it2
. But the tone implies that Athens was not then waging a great war. The reference is more probably to 383 B.C., when
Iphikrates began hostilities against Kotys, who had then just got the chief power in Thrace3
. (2) The adoption of the speaker by Menekles must have taken place about six years later (cf. §§ 7—19), in 377. (3) Menekles died 23 years after the adoption, § 15— i.e. in 354: and this cause must have soon followed.
After a narrative of the facts (§§ 1—12), it is shown
(1) by the citation of a law, that a man without male issue can devise his property as he pleases: (2) by witnesses, that Menekles had adopted the speaker in due form, enrolling him among the members of his phratria, his gens, and his deme4
(§§ 13—16). At the desire of Menekles the speaker took a wife, the daughter of Philonides; and was in all respects treated as the son of his adoptive father (§§ 17—18).
The adversaries suggest that Menekles, when he adopted the speaker, was not in his right mind, and was influenced by his wife, the speaker's sister. It is replied that his sister was the wife of Eleios when the adoption took place; that she had two children of her own, in whose favour her influence would rather have been used; and that the speaker was the natural person for Menekles to adopt (§§ 19—22). The prosecutor's real complaint is that Menekles exercised the right of adoption—a right allowed by Greeks and barbarians alike, and one which the prosecutor would have used in a like case (§§ 23—26).
The prosecutor has no reason to be jealous; the speaker has inherited from his adoptive father little but the name of son. Menekles owed about £268 (§ 29) to the son of a deceased creditor (τῷ ὀρφανῷ
, § 27). In order to pay this,
he had resolved to sell a certain farm; but his brother, the prosecutor, maliciously laid claim to part of this farm, in order to delay the sale; hoping that thus it would be seized for debt (κατόχιμον γένηται
, § 28), and that Menekles would be forced to resign the whole. Menekles, however, at once sold that part of it to which his right was clear; discharged the debt; and then brought an action against his brother for having interdicted the sale of the whole farm (δίκην ἀπορρήσεως
, § 29). The matter was referred to arbiters; and these decided that Menekles should resign the piece of land claimed by his brother, who thus gained about £40; while property to the value of about £15 was all that remained for the speaker to inherit (§§ 27—37).
The validity of the act of adoption was acknowledged by the prosecutor and his brother themselves; for, on their reconciliation with Menekles, they exchanged the oaths of amity not with Menekles, but with the speaker as his son (§§ 38—40). The speaker would not have resisted the prosecutor's claim—there being, in fact, no property at stake— did he not deem it base to allow the name of his adoptive father's house to perish (§§ 41—43). Briefly recapitulating the points of his case, he implores the judges not to deprive the dead Menckles of the only kinsman who can do the sacrifice at his grave (§§ 44—47).