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All this is ancient history, though I expect some of you remember it, for all Athens heard of the challenge and of the plot they then hatched and of their brutal behavior. As for me, being quite alone in the world and a mere lad, I did not want to lose the property that was still in the hands of my guardians, and I expected to obtain, not the trifle that I was actually able to recover, but all that I knew I had been robbed of; so I gave them twenty minas, the sum which they had paid for the performance of their trierarchy by deputy. Such was the scandalous treatment that I received at their hands.
Hear now what he has done, men of Athens, in the matter of the legal action and observe his insolent and overbearing conduct on each occasion. In that action—I mean the one in which I obtained a verdict against him—the arbitrator assigned to me was Strato of Phalerum, a man of small means and no experience, but in other respects quite a good fellow; but his appointment proved the unhappy man's ruin—a ruin undeserved, unjust, and in every way scanda
he induced the presiding arbitrator to put it to the vote contrary to all the laws, because Meidias had not appended the name of a single witness to the summons; he denounces Strato in his absence and in the absence of witnesses, and gets him struck off the roll of arbitrators and disfranchised. And so a citizen of Athens, because Meidias lost his suit by default, has been deprived of all his civic rights, and has been irrevocably disfranchised; and it is unsafe for him to bring an action against Meidias when wronged, or to act as arbitrator for him, or even, it seems, to walk the same street with him.
But of course he could have moved for a fresh trial on the ground of nullity, and so made me the object of his litigation as at the first. But no; that was not his game. To save him from defending a suit in which the penalty was fixed by law at ten minas—the suit in which he neglected to apppear—to save him from paying the penalty if guilty or if innocent, a citizen of Athens must needs be disfranchised, and must obtain neither pardon nor right of defence nor any sort of equitable treatment, privileges extended even to those whose guilt is establish
If not, what have you to say, gentlemen of the jury? What fair and honorable excuse, in heaven's name, can you find for him? Is it because he is a ruffian and a blackguard? That is true enough, but surely, men of Athens, your duty is to hate such creatures, not to screen them. Is it because he is wealthy? But you will find that his wealth was the main cause of his insolence, so that your duty is to cut off the resources from which his insolence springs, rather than spare him for the sake of those resources; for to allow such a reckless and abominable creature to have such wealth at his command is to supply him with resources to use against yourselves.
Therefore, men of Athens, I think that even if I had no other charge to bring against Meidias, and even if what I shall allege hereafter were not more serious than what I have already said, you would be justified, in view of my statements, in condemning him and imposing the utmost penalty of the law. Yet the tale is not complete, and I think I shall not be at a loss what to say next, so lavishly has he furnished me with matter for indictment.