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Besides these oracles, men of Athens, there are many others addressed to our city, and excellent oracles they are. Now what conclusion ought you to draw from them? That while they prescribe the sacrifices to the gods indicated in each oracle, to every oracle that is published they add the injunction to set up dances and to wear garlands after the manner of our ancestors.
I suppose what tends to make everyone public-spirited and liberal with his money is the reflection that under a democracy each man has his share of just and equal rights. Now I, men of Athens, was deprived of those rights through this man's acts, and, quite apart from the insults I endured, I was robbed of my victory. Yet I shall prove to all of you beyond a doubt that Meidias, without committing any outrageous offence, without insulting or striking me, had it in his power both to cause me trouble and to display his public spirit to you in a legitimate way, so that I should not be able to open my lips against him.
As it was, he did not adopt this course, by which he might have done honor to the people, nor did he work off his high spirits in this way. No; I was his target, I who in my madness, men of Athens,—for it may be madness to engage in something beyond one's power perhaps in my ambition, volunteered for chorus-master. He harassed me with a persecution so undisguised and so brutal that neither the sacred costumes nor the chorus nor at last even my own person was safe from his hands
For it was not the blow but the indignity that roused the anger. To be struck is not the serious thing for a free man, serious though it is, but to be struck in wanton insolence. Many things, Athenians, some of which the victim would find it difficult to put into words, may be done by the striker—by gesture, by look, by tone; when he strikes in wantonness or out of enmity; with the fist or on the cheek. These are the things that provoke men and make them beside themselves, if they are unused to insult. No description, men of Athens, can bring the outrage as vividly before the hearers as it appears in truth and reality to the victim and to the spectators
But I will now relate a serious act of cruelty committed by him, men of Athens, which I at least regard as not merely a personal wrong but a public sacrilege. For when a grave criminal charge was hanging over that unlucky wretch, Aristarchus, the son of Moschus, at first, Athenians, Meidias went round the Market-place and ventured to spread impious and atrocious statements about me to the effect that I was the author of the deed; next, when this device failed, he went to the relations of the dead man, who were bringing the charge of murder against Aristarchus, and offered them money if they would accuse me of the crime. He let neither religion nor piety nor any other consideration stand in the way of this wild proposal: he shrank from nothing.
My own opinion, men of Athens, is that these acts constitute him my murderer; that while at the Dionysia his outrages were confined to my equipment, my person, and my expenditure, his subsequent course of action shows that they were aimed at everything else that is mine, my citizenship, my family, my privileges, my hopes. Had a single one of his machinations succeeded, I should have been robbed of all that I had, even of the right to be buried in the homeland. What does this mean, gentlemen of the jury? It means that if treatment such as I have suffered is to be the fate of any man who tries to right himself when outraged by Meidias in defiance of all the laws, then it will be best for us, as is the way among barbarians, to grovel at the oppressor's feet and make no attempt at self-defence
While the clerk is finding the statute, men of Athens, I wish to address a few words to you. I appeal to all of you jurymen, in the name of Zeus and all the gods, that whatever you hear in court, you may listen to it with this in your minds: What would one of you do, if he were the victim of this treatment, and what anger would he feel on his own account against the author of it? Seriously distressed as I was at the insults that I endured in the discharge of my public service, I am far more seriously distressed and indignant at what ensued.
All that, men of Athens, is just what has been done by Meidias. He brought against me a false charge of murder, in which, as the facts proved, I was in no way concerned; he indicted me for desertion, having himself on three occasions deserted his post; and as for the troubles in Euboea—why, I nearly forgot to mention them!-troubles for which his bosom-friend Plutarchus was responsible, he contrived to have the blame laid at my door, before it became plain to everyone that Plutarchus was at the bottom of the whole business
Lastly, when I was made senator by lot, he denounced me at the scrutiny, and the business proved a very real danger for me; for instead of getting compensation for the injuries I had suffered, I was in danger of being punished for acts with which I had no concern. Having such grievances and being persecuted in the way that I have just described to you, but at the same time being neither quite friendless nor exactly a poor man, I am uncertain, men of Athens, what I ought to do.
I am going to call the witnesses now present in court to prove that my version of the facts is correct; that on the day before he told that tale to the Council, he had entered Aristarchus's house and had a conversation with him; that on the next day-and this, men of Athens, this for vileness is impossible to beat—he went into his house and sat as close to him as this, and put his hand in his, in the presence of many witnesses, after that speech in the Council in which he had called Aristarchus a murderer and said the most terrible things of him; that he invoked utter destruction on himself if he had said a word in his disparagement; that he never thought twice about his perjury, though there were people present who knew the truth, and he actually begged him to use h