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l. 1. πρύτανι—i.e. the ἐπιστάτης τῶν πρυτάνεων who presided both in βουλή and ἐκκλησία, the president chosen by lot from the fifty βουλευταί of that φυλή which happened to be on duty in the current Prytany. In the case before us the Prytany lasted thirty-five days (Aristot. Ath. Pol. c. 43).

κήδεσθαι—for the day and night during which the ἐπιστάτης was on duty, he was in charge of the state seal, and held the keys of the temples in which state funds and documents were kept,

ἐπιψήφιζε—it should be noticed that the πρύτανις was in 404 B.C. bound by law ἅπαντα τὰ λεγόμενα περὶ τῆς σωτηρίας ἐπιψηφίζειν (Ath. Pol. c. 29); and probably N. is here urging the claim of his proposal. viz. λύειν τὰ ἐψηφισμένα to be reckoned as περὶ τῆς σωτηρίας. It is to be observed that the A. could always be persuaded to take any measure however exceptional if it could be shown that σωτηρία τῆς πόλεως requned it. See below on

γνώμας προτίθει—Ath. Pol. c. 44 ὑπὲρ ὦν δεῖ χρηματίζειν προτιθέασιν The phrase for ‘to allow a debate’ is λόγον or γνώμας προτιθέναι.

τὸ λύειν τοὺς νόμους—if right, this is subject of αἰτίαν σχεῖν The phrase αἰτίαν ἔχω is very common: it is regularly used of the persons who are blamed for any act, which is expressed by the gen., the inf., or, less commonly, τοῦ and inf. If the subject is inanimate, the meaning is that the thing is blamed, as though it were a person. If λύειν τοὺς νόμους κτλ. means, as is usually supposed, ‘to act illegally will not involve blame,’ it is extraordinary that Alc. in his reply should make no use of the most obvious argument against rescinding the decree. But N. probably only means that the president might have some doubt whether it was legal ἀναψηφίσαι, and not that he himself thought the action would be illegal. The question of legality, however, could not possibly be raised, because too many persons were witnesses that τὸ ἀναψηφίσαι was the right course. Trans. ‘that illegal action would not be blamed where there are so many witnesses to its innocence.’

βουλευσαμένης—the aor. partic. does not here denote time past relatively to γενέσθαι ἄν, but=‘in her resolution.’

τοῦτ᾽ εἶναι, ὃς ἄν—cf. II. 44 τὸ δ᾽ εὺτυχές, οἳ ἄν . .; 62, 4 καταφρόνησις ὃς ἄν . .; Hom. Il. 14, 81 βέλτερον, ὀ̔ς φεύγων προφύγῃ κακὸν ἠὲ α:λώῃ; Xen. Hel. II. 3, 51 νομίζω προστάτου ἔργον εἶναι οἵου δεῖ ὃς ἂν ὁρῶν τοὺς φίλους ἐξαπατωμένους μὴ ἐπιτρέπῃ.

—‘or at least.’

τὸ καλῶς ἄρξαι κτλ and indeed the whole of the closing passage of the speech, contains unmistakable references to the ὅρκος βουλευτικὸς (for which see Ath. Pol. c. 22, 2 with Sandys' note) ἐν ἦν κατὰ τοὺς νόμους βουλεύσειν. The ἐπιστάτης might think that he would be violating the spirit of the oath. But βλάπτειν τὴν πὀλιν cannot be consistent with an oath τὰ βέλτιστα συμβουλεύσειν τῇ πόλει (Lys. 31, 1).

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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.44
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