First of all, men of Athens, it is necessary that you bring about harmony1 among yourselves for the common good of the State and drop all the contentions inherited from previous assemblies and, in the second place, that you all with one mind vigorously support your decisions, since the failure to follow either a uniform policy or to act consistently is not only unworthy of you and ignoble but, in addition, involves the greatest risks. [6] Those things must not escape your attention either, which, though by themselves they are not sufficient to effect your purpose, yet when added to your military forces, will render all your aims much easier of accomplishment. To what, then, do I refer? Toward no city and toward none of the citizens in this or that city who have supported the existing order2 must you harbor any bitterness3 or bear a grudge. [7] Because the fear of such animosity causes those who are conscious of guilt in their own hearts, because necessary to the existing order and facing a manifest danger, to be zealous supporters of it, but relieved of this fear they will all become more amenable, and this is of no slight usefulness. Now, to proclaim such intentions in the various cities would be foolish, or rather quite impossible, but in whatever spirit you shall be seen treating your own fellow-citizens, such will be the expectation you will create in the minds of each group concerning your feeling toward the rest also. [8] Accordingly I say that in general you must not cast any blame or censure whatsoever upon any general or orator or private individual of the groups that are believed, at least previously, to have supported the existing order, but rather concede to all parties in the city that they have done their duty as public men, inasmuch as the gods, to whom be thanks, by saving the city have bestowed upon you the privilege of deciding afresh whatever you shall choose to do, and you must be of the opinion that, just as on board a ship, when some declare themselves for making good their escape by the sail and others by the oars, just as all proposals of both parties aim at salvation, so it is to meet a crisis created by the gods that the need has arisen. [9] If you shall have made up your minds to regard past events in this way, you will gain the confidence of all and play the part of good and honorable men; you will also further your own interests not a little and will cause your opponents in the various cities either to change their minds, all of them, or will cause only a certain very small number of them, the ringleaders themselves, to be left. Acquit yourselves, therefore, with magnanimity and statesmanship in the general interest of Greece and bear in mind your own interests as Athenians.4 [10]

I urge you to this line of conduct, though I have not myself met with such generosity from certain persons but have been unjustly and in a spirit of faction tossed off5 for the gratification of others. I do not think, however, that I have the right while satisfying my private resentment to hurt the public interest, nor do I at all mix my private enmity with the general good. On the contrary, the conduct I urge upon the rest of men I think I ought to be myself the first to practise.

1 Cicero saturated his mind with the writings of Demosthenes. “Political harmony” will be recognized as his political ideal: Ad Atticum 1. 14. 4; his friend Demitrius of Magnesia wrote on the subject: ibid. 8. 11. 7. The Romans deified this abstraction under the name Concordia

2 The cities of Greece were forced to set up pro-Macedonian governments after the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C. A Macedonian garrison was stationed in Thebes. Athens was less harshly treated but outspoken advocates of freedom were out of favour.

3 The verb πικραίνεσθαι is cited as used by Demosthenes, Bekker, 1. p. 111. 31.

4 The implication is that the interests of the Athenians coincide with the good of all, but the editors add μὴ: “Do not think of your own interests.”

5 The odd metaphor derives from the reckless giving of presents in connection with the drinking of toasts at banquets. Lexicon under προπίνω.

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