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Let no one understand me to say that the money ought not to have been wrung from the defaulters. It ought; but how? Even as the law enjoins, for the benefit of the other citizens. That is the spirit of democracy. For what you, men of Athens, have gained by the exaction of such paltry sums of money in this way, is nothing to what you have lost by the introduction of such habits into political life. If you care to inquire why a man would sooner live under a democracy than under an oligarchy, you will find that most obvious reason is that in a democracy everything is more easy-going.
Now that these are serious offences, contrary to every statute, he will not be able to deny; but he is so impudent that in the Assembly, contriving always an anticipation of his defence against this indictment, he dared to say that it was in your interests and for your sake that he had drawn down enmity on himself and was now in desperate peril. But I want to prove to you, men of Athens, that he has never suffered, nor is likely to suffer, any inconvenience at all through his services to you, but that for his abominable and monstrous wickedness he has hitherto not paid the penalty, but will pay it now, if you on your part do what is right.
Do you wish me to tell you the reason, men of Athens? [He has his share in the proceeds of certain iniquities, and he also gets his pickings from the collection of revenue. In his insatiable greed he reaps a double harvest from the State. Now it is not an easier matter to make enemies of a multitude of petty offenders than of a few big offenders; neither of course is it a more popular thing to have an eye for the sins of the many than for the sins of the few. However, the reason is what I am telling you.] He knows indeed that he is one of them, one of the criminals, but he thought you beneath his notice; and that was why he treated you in this way.
If you had confessed, men of Athens, that you are a nation of slaves and not of men who claim empire over others, you would never have put up with the insults which he repeatedly offered you in the marketplace, binding and arresting aliens and citizens alike, bawling from the platform in the Assembly, calling men slaves and slave-born who were better men than himself and of better birth, and asking if the jail was built for no object. I should certainly say it was, if your father danced his way out of it, fetters and all, at the procession of the Dionysia. All his other outrages it would be impossible to relate; they are too numerous. For all of them taken together you must exact vengeance today, and make an example of him to teach the rest to behave with more restraint.
Again, men of Athens, consider those glorious and enviable inscriptions that he has obliterated for all time, and the strange and blasphemous inscriptions that he has written in their stead. You all, I suppose, used to see the words written under the circlets of the crowns: “The Allies to the Athenian People for valor and righteousness,” or “The Allies to the Goddess of Athens, a prize of victory”teousness,” or “The Allies to the Goddess of Athens, a prize of victory”; or, from the several states of the alliance, “Such-and-such a City to the People by whom they were delivered,” or, “The liberated Euboeans,” for example, “crown the People”; or again, “Conon from the sea-fight with the Lacedaemonians.” Such, I say, were the inscriptions
But you, men of Athens, have grown so extremely good-natured and pliable, that, with those examples ever before you, you do not imitate them, and Androtion is the repairer of your processional plate. Androtion! Gracious Heavens! Do you think impiety could go further than that? I hold that the man who is to enter the sacred places, to lay hands on the vessels of lustration and the sacrificial baskets, and to become the director of divine worship, ought not to be pure for a prescribed number of days only; his whole life should have been kept pure of the habits that have polluted the life of Androtion.
Men of Athens, I beg that none of you will imagine that I have come here to arraign the defendant Aristocrates from any motive of private malice, or that I am thrusting myself so eagerly into a quarrel because I have detected some small and trivial blunder, but if my judgement and my views are at all right, the purpose of all my exertions in this case is that you may hold the Chersonese securely, and may not for the second time be cheated out of the possession of that country.
You will be well advised, men of Athens, to grant me your attention, and give a favorable hearing to what I have to say. I am not one of the orators who worry you; I am not one of the politicians who enjoy your confidence; yet I undertake to convince you of the importance of this transaction; and therefore, if you will cooperate with me to the best of your power and listen to me with goodwill, you will avert this peril, and at the same time you will overcome the reluctance of any of us plain citizens who may believe himself able to do the State a good turn. And he will so believe, if only he is satisfied that it is not difficult to get a hearing in this court;
I am not ignorant that Charidemus is regarded by some as a benefactor of Athens. But if I can find ability to tell you what I mean, and what I know him to have done, I hope to prove that, so far from being our benefactor, he is particularly ill-disposed to us, and that exactly the wrong conception has been formed of his character.
If, men of Athens, the most serious offence committed by Aristocrates had been that in his decree he was so solicitous for the safety of such a man as I undertake to prove Charidemus to be that he provided a special and illegal penalty, in case anything happened to him, I should have tried to deal with that point at once, for the purpose of proving that the man is very far from deserving the favour of this decree. There is, however, a much graver iniquity involved in the decree, of which you must first be informed, and against which you must take precaution.