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§§ 38—41. I must warn you that Conon will try to impose upon you by swearing by the lives of his own sons and by other strange imprecations. His recklessness about oaths is proved by what I have heard of the profanity of his youthful days, and surely Conon, who would think nothing of perjury, is not to be credited in comparison with myself, who, so far from swearing by the lives of my children, would not swear at all, except under compulsion, and even then, only in a lawful manner. Such an oath I was willing to take for the truth's sake; and, in selfdefence against the perjury of my opponent, I challenged him to accept my offer to take the oath, and I now solemnly swear that Conon whom I now prosecute really assaulted and brutally maltreated me.

παραστησἀμενον τοὺς παῖδας The practice of exciting the compassion of the jury by bringing the children into court is often referred to, e.g. Or. 21 § 99 παιδία γὰρ παραστήσεται καὶ κλαήσει καὶ τούτοις αὑτὸν ἐξαιτήσεται, and Hyperides, Euxenipp, ad fin. ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν σοὶ Εὐξένιππε βεβοήθηκα ὄσα εἶχον. λοιπὸν δ᾽ ἐστὶ δεῖσθαι τῶν δικαστῶν καὶ τοὺς φίλους παρακαλεῖν καὶ τὰ παιδία ἀναβιβάζεσθαι (see especially Aristophanes' ridicule of the custom in Vespae 568—74 and 276—8). But in the present case a still more sensational effect is to be produced by Conon's laying his hands upon his children's heads and praying that the direst curses may come down upon them, if his statements are false.

κατὰ τούτων ὀμεῖσθαι ‘to swear by them,—by their lives.’ κατὰ implies the basis on which the oath rests [or, perhaps, hostile action directed against the object sworn by. So in Ar. Equit. 660 κατὰ χιλίων παρῄνεσα εὐχὴν ποιήσασθαι χιμάρων, the vow is, as it were, aimed at the lives of the creatures to be sacrificed. P.]. Thuc. v. 47 ὀμνύντων τὸν ὅρκον κατὰ ἱερῶν τε- λείων, Isaeus Or. 7 § 16 ὀμνύναι καθ᾽ ἱερῶν, Lys. Or. 32 § 13 ἐπιορκήσασα κατὰ τῶν παίδων τῶν ἐμαυτῆς, Dem. 29 § 26 μήτηρ κατ᾽ ἐμοῦ καὶ τῆς ἀδελφῆς πίστιν ἠθέλησεν ἐπιθεῖναι, 19 § 292; 21 § 119. (Kuhner's Greek Grammar, § 433 fin.)

We find a curious parallel in a charge made as follows against Demosthenes himself by Deinarchus, Or. 1 § 71 ποῦ τοῦτ᾽ ἐστὶ δίκαιον...τοὺς μὲν νόμους προλέγελν...παιδοποιεῖσθαι κατὰ τοὺς νόμους...σὲ δὲ τοὺς οὐ γεγενημἐνους υἱεῖς σαυτῷ προσποιεῖσθαι παρὰ τοὺς νόμους τῶν ἐν ταῖς κρίσεσιν ἕνεκα γιγνομένων ὅρκων;

ἀκηκοὼςἀπήγγελλεν i.e. ‘our informant listened to them in amazement.’

ἀνυπόστατα not exactly ‘intolerable’ but ‘irresistible,’ ‘impossible to withstand.’ The most upright of men and those who are least likely to tell a falsehood themselves (the jury for instance) are most likely to be deceived by such asseverations (ὑπὸ τῶν τοιούτων sc. τολμημάτων).

οἱ οἶμαι βέλτιστοι For the position of οἶμαι, cf. Fals. Leg. § 80 οἱ μὲν οἶμαι βέλτιστοι, Lept. § 3 ἐν οἶμαι πολλοῖς. Plato Gorg. 483 C δέ γε οἶμαι φύσις, and Rep. 504 A ἐξ οἶμαι τῆς ἀκροτάτης ἐλευθερίας.

οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ= ‘not but that.’ The phrase is always elliptical: here we may supply οὐ μἠν (ὑπὸ τῶν τοιούτων δεῖ ἐξαπατᾶσθαι) ἀλλὰ...

πρὸς τὸν βίονπιστεύειν ‘You must look to his life and character, and then believe him (if you can).’

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Demosthenes, On the Halonnesus, 16
    • Demosthenes, Against Midias, 99
    • Demosthenes, Against Zenothemis, 13
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