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οὐ δὴ ..οὐδὲ πολλοῦ δεῖ Here, as usual in this phrase, οὐδὲ reiterates the preceding negation (οὐ δὴ), but does not negative πολλοῦ δεῖ although closely pronounced with it. (Cf. Fals. Leg. § 33 οὐ γὰρ ..τὰ πράγματ᾽ ἐστὶ φαῦλα οὐδὲ πολλοῦ δεῖ, with Shilleto's note.) We have an apparent exception to this rule in Or. 20 Lept. § 20 φανήσεται γὰρ οὐδὲ πολλοῦ δεῖ τῆς γενησομένης ἄξιον αἰσχύνης, where there is no preceding negative expressed. The exception may however be explained on the supposition that φανήσεται is ironical and therefore implies a negative: οὐ γὰρ φανήσεται τῆς γενησομένης ἄξιον αἰσχύνης, οὐδὲ πολλοῦ δεῖ.

οὐ δὴ κ.τ.λ. A very elegant and idiomatic passage: ‘Conon then, as a character such as I have described, is not to be trusted on oath; far from it, indeed. No! the man who would not take even an oath that he intends to observe, and would not for a moment think of doing so on the lives of his children,...but would rather suffer anything than that,—and who, even when constrained, will take none but a customary oath,—I say, such a man is more to be trusted than one who swears by his sons and offers to undergo the fiery ordeal.’ P.]

μηδ᾽-μελλήσας The MSS have ὧν μἠ νομίζετε (or νομίζεται) after κατὰ δὲ δὴ παίδων. There are two objections to this: (1) the plaintiff describes himself as one who is ‘reluctant to swear even to the truth’ (μηδ᾽ εὔορκον μηδὲν ἂν ὁμόσας), whereas in § 41 he publicly swears to having been assaulted by the defendant: (ii) an oath by the lives of one's children is described as ‘contrary to usage’ (ὧν μὴ νομίζετε), whereas this very oath is elsewhere attributed to the mother of Demosthenes. Or. 29 §§ 26, 33, 54, 56 μήτηρ κατ᾽ ἐμοῦ καὶ τῆς ἀδελφῆς...πίστιν ἠθέλησεν ἐπιθεῖναι...ἣν μηδεὶς ὑμῶν νομιζέτω καθ᾽ ἡμῶν ποτ᾽ ἂν ὀμνύναι ταῦτ᾽ ἂν ἐθέλειν, εἰ μὴ σαφῶς ᾔδει τὰ εὔορκα ὀμουμένη. Or. 19 § 292.

It was with a view to removing these objections that Dobree placed ὧν μὴ νομίζεται after μηδὲν ἂν ὀμόσας.

If an easier alteration is preferred, we may retain the order as it stands in the MSS, simply inserting μηδὲν after ὧν μὴ νομίζετε, and accounting for its loss by its similarity to the subsequent μηδ᾽ ἂν. The MSS vary between μηδ᾽ ἂν and μηδὲν, and this proposal combines the two alternative readings. The sentence would then run thus: μηδ᾽ εὔορκον μηδὲν ἂν ὀμόσας, κατὰ δὲ δἠ παίδων, ὧν μἠ νομίζετε μηδὲν μηδ᾽ ἂν μελλήσας. Thus ὧν μὴ νομίζετε depends on μηδὲν and does not refer to παίδων, the sense of the second clause being that Ariston would never dream of taking any such oath, by his children's lives, as would be contrary to general usage. Below, he describes himself as ὀμνύων ὡς νόμιμον.

μηδ᾽ εὔορκον Isocr. ad Dem. § 23 ἕνεκα δὲ χρημάτων μηδένα θεῶν ὀμόσῃς, μηδ᾽ ἂν εὐορκεῖν μέλλῃς.

κἂν ὁτιοῦν παθὼν πρότερον ‘Would submit to anything sooner than that,’ i.e. rather than swear by an oath contrary to the country's use, or by the lives of his children.

The whole sentence is intended to be descriptive of the character of a man who has a solemn regard for the obligations of an oath; hence the use of μή. A person of such a character, says the plaintiff, is more trustworthy than one who is ready to take any oath you please. The characters contrasted are of course those of the plaintiff and defendant respectively, but this is only implied until we reach the next sentence, ἐγὼ... δικαιότερόν σου πιστευθεὶς ἄν, when the contrast is brought home to the case at issue.

καὶ διὰ τοῦ πυρός It is doubtful whether we can explain this of any ordeal by fire like that referred to in Soph. Antig. 264 (ἦμεν δ᾽ ἕτοιμοι καὶ μύδρους αἴρειν χεροῖν, καὶ πῦρ διέρπειν καὶ θεοὺς ὁρκωμοτεῖν). and possibly implied in Ar. Lysistr. 133 ἄλλ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ τι βούλει, κἄν με χρὴ, διὰ τοῦ πυρὸς έθέλω βαδίζειν, which however may be only a strong metaphor expressive of readiness to endure any amount of torture. Sometimes διὰ πυρὸς is used of ‘braving the extremest perils,’ ‘going through fire and water,’ as in Xen. Symp. IV 16έγωγ᾽ οὖν μετὰ Κλεινίου κἂν διὰ πυρὸς ἰοίην” , and Oec. XXI 7ἀκολουθητέον...καὶ διὰ πυρὸς καὶ διὰ παντὸς κινδύνου” (L. and S. s. v. πῦρ).

In the present passage διὰ τοῦ πυρός possibly contains an allusion to some strange form of self-devotion, one of the ἀραὶ δειναὶ καὶ χαλεπαὶ obscurely hinted at in § 38. G. H. Schaefer simply says: ‘vertam, vel dum ara ardet,’ i.e. ‘one who swears by his children even while the flame is burning on the altar,’ and C. R. Kennedy renders the words: ‘and before the burning altar.’ (Cf. Or. 43 § 14 λαβόντες τὴν ψῆφον καομένων τῶν ἱερείων.)

This is hardly satisfactory, and it is not improbable that the text is corrupt and that we should read καὶ διὰ τοῦ πυρὸς ἰόντος, where the participle would easily have been lost by homoeoteleuton with ὀμνύοντος.

πιστευθεὶς ἂν See on § 1 ad fin. For the passive, formed just as if the active were directly transitive, and took the accusative, cf. § 5 παροινουμένους and § 2 παρανενομῆσθαι.

ἠθέλησ᾽ ὀμόσαι ταυτί The general drift of this oath must have been given by the πρόκλησις which was read to the jury; it is also indicated in the asseverations of § 41.

It is clear that this Challenge was refused by the defendant. The plaintiff would therefore be able to point to this refusal as a fact in his own favour, just as the defendant would in the case of the πρόκλησις tendered by him and rejected by the plaintiff (§ 27).—In the next line καὶ emphasizes ὁτιοῦν.

κατεπιορκησόμενος the future middle which, if retained, must be taken as passive in sense, ‘inasmuch as I am determined not to lose the case by your perjury.’ [Or, ‘as one who had no idea of having the case decided against him by perjury.’ P.] For the use of κατα- cf. καταρρᾳθυμεῖν (‘to lose by negligence’) in Or. 4 § 7 τὰ κατερρᾳθυμημένα πάλιν ἀναλήψεσθε, and κατεπᾴδειν, ‘to subdue by charming’ (Pl. Gorg. 483 E).

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Demosthenes, Philippic 1, 7
    • Demosthenes, On the False Embassy, 292
    • Demosthenes, Against Macartatus, 14
    • Xenophon, Economics, 21.7
    • Xenophon, Symposium, 4.16
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