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Witnesses[We, Cleon of Sunium, Aristocles of Paeania, Pamphilus, Niceratus of Acherdus, and Euctemon of Sphetta, on the occasion when we sailed home from Styra with the entire force, were commanders of triremes along with Meidias, who is now being prosecuted by Demosthenes, for whom we appear as witnesses. When the whole fleet was sailing in formation and the commanders had instructions not to separate until we landed at Athens, Meidias lagged behind the fleet and loaded his ship with timber and fencing and cattle and other things, and sailed alone into Peiraeus two days later, and did not join with the other commanders in bringing the force to land.]
Now if, men of Athens, his public services and his conduct were really what he will presently in court allege and boast them to have been and not what I thus prove them to have been, even so surely he has no right, under cover of his services, to escape the punishment due to his insolent acts. For I know that there are many men who have done you great and useful service—though not after the style of Meidias! Some have won naval victories, others have captured cities, others have set up many glorious trophies to the credit of the State
Now I propose, men of Athens, to name those who have been condemned by you, after an adverse vote of the Assembly, for violating the festival, and to explain what some of them had done to incur your anger, so that you may compare their guilt with that of Meidias. First of all then, to begin with the most recent condemnation, the Assembly gave its verdict against Euandrus of Thespiae for profanation of the Mysteries on the charge of Menippus, a fellow from Caria. The law concerning the Mysteries is identical with that concerning the Dionysia, and it was enacted later.
Now I am certain, men of Athens, that everyone would admit that the offences of Meidias were much more serious than those of any of these men, of whom one, as I have shown, forfeited the damages he had already received, while the other was actually punished with death. For Meidias, not being in a procession, not having won a suit, not acting as assessor, having in fact no other motive than insolence, behaved worse than any of them. About them I will say no more;
but Pyrrhus, men of Athens, one of the Eteobutadae, who was indicted for serving on a jury when he was in debt to the Treasury, was thought by some of you to deserve capital punishment, and he was convicted in your court and put to death. And yet it was from poverty, not from insolence, that he tried to get the juryman's fee. And I could mention many others who were put to death or disfranchised for far slighter offences than those of Meidias. You yourselves, Athenians, fined Smicrus ten talents and Sciton a similar sum, because he was adjudged to be proposing unconstitutional measures; you had no pity for their children or friends and relations, or for any of those who supported them in court.
There are some other points that I consider no less necessary to mention than those which I have already put before you. I will mention them and discuss them briefly before I sit down. The leniency of your disposition, men of Athens, is a great asset and advantage to all wrongdoers. Give me, then, your attention while I show that you have no right to admit Meidias to the least share in that advantage. My view is that all men during their lives pay contributions to their own fortunes,See note on Dem. 21.101. not only those which are actually collected and paid in, but others also.
The man who has furnished the facts with which the speeches deal ought in strict justice to bear that responsibility, and not the man who has devoted thought and care to lay an honest case before you today. That is what I am doing, men of Athens; to that I plead guilty. As for Meidias, he has probably never in his life troubled himself about honesty, for if it had entered his head even for a moment to consider such a thing, he would not have missed it so completely in practice.
That is how he insults you, seizing the chance to void the rancor and venom that he secretes in his heart against the masses, as he moves about among you. Now is the chance for you, men of Athens, now when he comes with his humbug and chicanery, with his lamentations, tears and prayers, to throw this answer in his teeth. “Yes, and that is the sort of man you are, Meidias. You are a bully; you cannot keep your hands to yourself. Then can you wonder if your evil deeds bring you to an evil end? Do you think that we shall submit to you and you shall go on beating us? That we shall acquit you and you shall never desist?
Do not therefore, men of Athens, treat them otherwise than as they would treat you. Keep your respect, not for their wealth or their reputation, but for yourselves. They have many advantages, which no one hinders them from enjoying; then they in their turn must not hinder us from enjoying the security which the laws provide as our common birthright.
An imposing muster of wealthy men, whose prosperity has raised them to apparent importance, will come into court to plead with you. Men of Athens, do not sacrifice me to any one of them; but just as each of them will be zealous for his private interests and for the defendant, so be zealous for your own selves and for the laws, as well as for me who have fled to you for refuge, and cleave to the opinion that you already hold.