THIS is an important and rather difficult speech. As conveying much and curious information about mining operations and the laws which regulated them, it is unique in the writings of the orators, though Xenophon touches upon the subject, if the treatise περὶ πόρων, ‘on the Athenian Revenues,’ is rightly attributed to him. Dismissing for the present any discussion on this topic1, we shall endeavour to state the nature and grounds of the action as briefly and clearly as the somewhat complex and involved argument allows.

The plea is preferred by one Nicobulus for a παραγραφὴ against certain unreasonable claims (as he considers them) made upon him by Pantaenetus, who is in effect the plaintiff. He had charged Nicobulus with damaging his works, with taking away ore and smelted silver from his slaves, with taking possession of the mine for non-payment of money advanced to him by Nicobulus in conjunction with Evergus, and with other outrages (§ 33). The case is made more intricate by the numerous transfers of the mining property (or “sett,” as it is now technically called) to various owners, who still retain a lien upon it. The successive proprietors of the mine were (1) Telemachus, § 5; (2) Pantaenetus, § 22; (3) Mnesicles, who holds the conveyance in his own name, as having lent money on security of it, § 5; (4) Nicobulus and Evergus, who obtained the transfer direct from Mnesicles, as the mortgagee; (5) Pantaenetus again, but under lease to the last-mentioned proprietors; (6) the nominees of Pantaenetus, who bought it at his urgent request from Nicobulus, § 16.

To pay for the mine, and perhaps to carry on operations, Pantaenetus had at the outset borrowed money from Mnesicles (§ 4) and other parties. On this account, the mine is transferred to Mnesicles, who is thenceforth the real vendor, πρατήρ. But, on Mnesicles requiring to be paid, Pantaenetus a second time borrows money, viz. from Nicobulus and Evergus, who consent to purchase the mine in their turn from Mnesicles, at the desire of the nominal owner Pantaenetus, on condition of getting their interest, in the form of rent, from the profits of the mine, of which he becomes the lessee under them, § 5. At this juncture, of course, Nicobulus and Evergus are the real owners of the mine; but by a special clause, Pantaenetus has the power of redemption, or resuming actual ownership, within a certain time.

The transaction being concluded, Nicobulus goes abroad for a time, and during his absence Evergus, failing to obtain the promised rent as interest, takes possession on his own account, and apparently with undue rigour, of the mine, the slaves, and even of the ore raised. For this Pantaenetus eventually brings an action against him (probably on some technical ground of illegality2), and obtains a verdict, with the heavy damages of two talents. (§ 46.)

Nicobulus, on his return to Athens, is surprised to find Evergus in possession of the mine, he being still unpaid, and additional creditors against the mine, i.e. against Pantaenetus (whether real or fictitious), now coming forward. It is at length arranged that both Evergus and Nicobulus shall be paid their claims in full, and the mine shall pass into other hands. Nicobulus takes the precaution to get a release and discharge from all further demands on the part of Pantaenetus (i.e. as the former lessee), and this release is made the principal ground of the present παραγραφή. Not so Evergus, however, who (as above mentioned) was prosecuted and condemned for the seizure of the property on his own account. It is clear that if he also had obtained an acquittance, Pantaenetus could have had no legal ground for the suit against him. An action is now brought against Nicobulus, who is the defendant in the suit. Pantaenetus says that he aided and abetted Evergus in getting wrongful possession of the property, and he seeks to obtain damages from him. But Nicobulus resists the claim, relying on the release he had got under the hand of Pantaenetus. Another point of the παραγραφὴ is, that this is not properly a mining suit, and therefore cannot be tried among other δίκαι μεταλλικαί. (§ 35—6.)

Pantaenetus makes an unfair use of the popular dislike of money-lenders. He urges this point in § 52, μισοῦσιν Ἀθηναῖοι τοὺς δανείζοντας and declares that Nicobulus is arrogant and personally offensive. But Nicobulus says he is not a professional money-lender who cares only for profit, but “a private gentleman with capital at his disposal,” who is willing to oblige his friends by a loan.

The chief difficulty, perhaps, lies in understanding how Pantaenetus contrived to get a verdict against Evergus; for it is clear that it is on the merits of this case, and the success that had attended it, that the further action is filed against Nicobulus.

The late Mr Charles Rann Kennedy's Introduction should be in the hands of the student. As an eminent barrister, who was thoroughly versed in both the English and the Attic law, he has disentangled the case with great skill, though he considers it as still obscure on several points (Demosthenes, vol. IV 219—224).

The date of the speech is approximately determined by the mention in § 6 of the Archonship of Theophilus, viz. B.C. 347. [The speech probably belongs to the year 345, A. Schaefer, Dem. u. s. Zeit, III B pp. 206, 332; Blass, Att. Ber. III i 420{1}, 478{2}. Both of these able critics accept it as a genuine work of Demosthenes. The contrary view is held by Sigg (Jahrb. f. class. Philol. Suppl. Bd. vi 401 n. 3) and G. Krueger, whose arguments have been refuted in detail by A Hoeck. S.]

On the Attic law of mines the student will find ample information in Kennedy's long and careful Introduction, p. 219—24 (in Vol. IV of his Translation of Demosthenes), and in Boeckh's Dissertation (1815) on the silver mines of Laurion, pp. 615—678 of the “Public Economy,” translated by Lewis, Ed. 2. [See also K. F. Hermann's Privatalter. p. 97 Blumner, and Büchsenschutz, Besitz und Erwerb im Griechischen Alterthume, pp. 98—103. There are monographs by Kordellas, Le Laurion (Marseille) 1871; Hansen, de Metallis Atticis (Hamburg) 1885, with a discussion of five inscriptions relating to the mines; and Binder, Laurion, die attischen Bergwerke im Alterthum (with a map and several plates), (Laibach) 1895. In the time of Strabo (fl. B.C. 24) the silver mines were nearly exhausted: p. 399 τὰ δ᾽ ἀργυρεῖα ἐν τῇ Ἀττικῇ κατ̓ ἀρχὰς μὲν ἦν ἀξιόλογα, νυνὶ δ̓ ἐκλείπει: καὶ δὴ καὶ οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι, τῆς μεταλλείας ἀσθενῶς ὑπακουούσης, τὴν παλαιὰν ἐκβολάδα (unsmelted ores left by the old workers, the Cornish ‘attle’) καὶ σκωρίαν (‘slag’) ἁναχωνεύοντες, εὕρισκον έτι ἐξ αὐτῆς ἀποκαθαιρόμενον ἀργύριον, τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀπείρως καμινευόντων. The right to work this refuse ore (as well as the slag) was from 1869 to 1873 one of the points in dispute between the Greek government and a commercial company, MM. Roux et Serpieri. An interesting account of the origin of the quarrel, with some correspondence thereon, may be found in the Times for 9th, 10th, 12th and 16th Oct. 1872, and 10th Aug. 1875; and a lively description of a visit to the works of one of the Greek companies is given in Mahaffy's Rambles and Studies in Greece, c. 6, pp. 117—131{1}, pp. 146—154{3}. In April 1886, by the kindness of MM. Serpieri and Pellissier, Mr Sandys visited some of the more ancient portions of the extensive mines of the French company which sends its lead to Newcastle, and its zinc to Swansea and Antwerp. S.]

[Modern Literature. A. Schaefer, Dem. u. s. Zeit, III B 200— 207. Blass, Attische Beredsamkeit, III i 419—423{1}, 477—481{2}. Also the following Dissertations:—(1) I. Hermann, 1853, quoted on p. 5. (2) G. Krueger, de oratione exceptoria quam ferunt contra Pantaenetum scripsisse Demosthenem (Halle) 1876. (3) A. Hoeck, de Demosthenis adv. Pantaenetum oratione (Berlin) 1878.]

Argument. ἐργαστήριον μεταλλικὸν ‘Mining works.’ We have ἐργαστήριον συκοφαντῶν, ‘a gang of informers.’ in Or. 39 § 2, and the word properly includes the slaves, though special mention of them follows, as below, τὸ ἐργαστήριον καὶ τὰ ἀνδράποδα. In § 4 it is ἐργαστήριον ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις, where Kennedy renders it ‘a pit.’ [Ergasteria is the modern name of the port of the mining-district of Lavrion. S.]

Μαρωνείᾳ Cf. § 4 of Speech, and Aristot. Const. of Athens 22 § 7 τὰ μέταλλα τὰ ἐν Μαρωνείᾳ. ‘The mining district, besides the demi Anaphlystus, Besa, Amphitrope, and Thoricus, contained several places which were not demi, as Laureium, Thrasyllum, Maroneia, Aulon’ (Leake's Demi, p. 274). —The place may perhaps be identified with some ruins five miles N. of Sunium. S.]

ὠνητὴς ‘The name of Mnesicles was written in the bond as the purchaser (viz. from Telemachus, § 5), and he retained the deeds of sale of the property himself.’ In effect, the mine belonged to Pantaenetus, but it was conveyed to Mnesicles as security for the loan. Mnesicles therefore has the right of sale, and in fact does afterwards sell the property to Evergus and Nicobulus, the latter of whom (as we have seen) is the defendant, and is now maintaining his right to a παραγραφὴ as against Pantaenetus.

ἀπαιτούμενος Or. 34, arg. l. 14. On being required to repay the loan to Mnesicles, he borrows the sum from another party; who, on Mnesicles being paid, purchase the mine from him, i.e. take over the mine in lieu of the loan, at the desire and with the consent of Pantaenetus.

γραμματεῖον κ.τ.λ. ‘And thus the indenture is not a mortgage, but an actual conveyance.’ Accordingly Evergus and Nicobulus become the proprietors; and they in turn lease to Pantaenetus the property he had originally bought.

ὁσον τόκον They lease it on terms which would just pay the interest of the loan, a drachma per month for every mina lent, or 12 per cent. per annum. Thus, he adds, it was a nominal lease, being in fact merely a way of paying the usual interest.

παρὰ During or pending Nicobulus' absence at Athens Evergus becoming dissatisfied with Pantaenetus for not paying the interest (or rent) regularly, goes to the mine to take possession (cf. Or. 33 § 6 οἱ χρῆσται κατήπειγον αὐτὸν ἀπαιτοῦντες καὶ ἐνεβάτευον). He even seizes from a servant of Pantaenetus some money that was being conveyed for payment of the royalty to the state.

κατεῖχεν In late Greek, this seems to mean ‘took possession of,’ obtinuit, in the sense of εἴχετο.

παρὸ κ.τ.λ. ‘Through which transaction as a further wrong (καὶ) Pantaenetus had to pay the sum due twice over, having exceeded the time allowed for remitting it.’—See Boeckh, Dissert. &c. p. 665.

[Owing to the intervention of Eubulus, Pantaenetus was thwarted from (ἐκπεσών) paying the ‘royalty’ by the proper time, viz. the 9th of the 10 πρυτανεῖαι into which the year was divided. Andoc. de Myst. § 73 οἱ μὲν ἀργύριον ὀφείλοντες τῷ δημοσίῳ...τούτοις μὲν ἔκτισις ἦν ἐπὶ τῆς ἐνάτης πρυτανείας, εἰ δὲ μὴ, διπλάσιον ὀφείλειν. Or. 59 § 7 μὴ ἐκτεισθέντος δὲ τοῦ ὀφλήματος ἐπὶ τῆς ἐνάτης πρυτανείας, διπλοῦν ἔμελλεν ἔσεσθαι τὸ ὄφλημα. Aristot. Const. of Athens 48 § 1 κἄν τις ἐλλίπῃ καταβολὴν...διπλοῦν (or διπλάσιον) ἀνάγκη τὸ ἐλλειφθὲν καταβάλλειν. Cf. K. F. Hermann, Rechtsalterthümer ed. Thalheim § 16 p. 124{4}. S.]

ἔλαχε sc. Pantaenetus.— εἷλεν, he obtained a verdict. The precise grounds on which he succeeded in this action for damage we are not told, and, as Kennedy says, we cannot determine. (See Introd. p. 100.)

πέρας ‘At last,’ or ‘as a final arrangement.’

ἑκατὸν καὶ πέντε μνα_ς viz. the full sum they had jointly lent Pantaenetus.—ἀποστῆναι, ‘they were to give up possession.’ Cf. Or. 35 § 4.

τοὺς ἑτέρους δανείσαντας The parties (not named) who had furnished Pantaenetus with the money for payment, and who thus obtained the right of sale and the legal conveyance of the mine, § 13. They are called ἕτεροι in contrast with πρότερος δεδανεικὼς Μνησικλῆς, supra l. 12.

ἀνεδέξατο Nicobulus refused the responsibility of giving a title till Pantaenetus gave him a formal release from all claims. For the title would not have been good if there were any former claims or mortgage upon it. Inf. § 30 οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἤθελε δέχεσθαι τοῦτον πρατῆρα.

οὐδὲν ἧττον i. e. in spite of the release having been given.

ἐπιγραφόμενος Indorsing the action as a ‘mining cause’; just as other suits were marked ἐμπορικαί, &c. The defendant pleads this, as one ground for the παραγραφή, that it was improperly so indorsed.

πράσεωςπαρὰ τὰς συνθήκας There must have been a clause in the bond between Nicobulus the lender and Pantaenetus the borrower, that Nicobulus should not have an absolute title to sell the property. Pantaenetus, it seems, desired to retain the right of redemption.

περὶ ἑτέρων τινῶν See §§ 32, 33.

ἄφεσις καὶ ἀπαλλαγὴ See Or. 36 § 25.

περὶ τίνων δεῖ This anticipates the objection (64) that the plaintiff, Pantaenetus, ‘had joined in one plaint various causes of action which could not be tried together before the same tribunal.’ Kennedy.

ἀτόπως κ.τ.λ. That it is quite out of the way to bring these points into a mining suit. ‘That the subject of the dispute did not authorise a mining action.’ Kennedy.

κέχρηται viz. as entitling him to bar the action, and plead ‘not maintainable.’—ἐπὶ τοῦ τέλους See §§ 36—38.

τὴν εὐθυδικίαν i.e. τὴν εὐθεῖαν. ‘The merits of the case.’ Argum. Or. 34. The strongest point in what would constitute an ordinary defence, is the pleading an alibi when the alleged outrage took place.

ὅτι μηδέ Observe the solecism, very common in late Greek, for ὅτι οὐδέ. Cf. Arg. to Or. 34 ll. 26, 39. The use of ἐκεῖνα following, as a mere demonstrative antecedent (ea quae, &c.), is hardly classical.

1 See note on p. 101.

2 Evergus ought to have acted, perhaps strictly in agreement with Nicobulus, or have waited for his return, or to have distrained only for the value of the mine. See on § 5. and Arg. 50—4. He is said πλημμελεῖν, § 26.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Demosthenes, Against Boeotus 1, 2
    • Demosthenes, Against Apatourius, 6
    • Demosthenes, Against Lacritus, 4
    • Demosthenes, For Phormio, 25
    • Demosthenes, Against Neaera, 7
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: