Aelius Aristides, Oration 2. A Reply to Plato

LCL 533: 340-341

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τοῖς πρώτοις μὴ δέχεσθαι, ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ ὅρους ἢ στήλας τοὺς προκατεσχηκότας πρεσβεύειν, καὶ ταῦτα οὐ λύειν ὥσπερ ἐν τοῖς νόμοις τοὺς προτέρους διὰ τῶν ἐναντίων δέον, ἀλλὰ τῆς αὐτῆς χώρας καὶ ἑτέρους ἀξιοῦν αὐτοῖς· καὶ τοῖς μὲν ὅρκοις τοῖς κοινοῖς προσπαραγράφειν ἐξεῖναι ἀνελεῖν καὶ προσθεῖναι ὅ τι ἂν σκοπουμένοις ὕστερον συνδοκῇ, οὓς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς αὐτῆς ἐξουσίας ἀεὶ καὶ διὰ παντὸς ἐξετάζειν δεῖ λόγους, τῷ παρελθόντι χρόνῳ μόνῳ προσθεῖναι, ὥσπερ ἂν εἴ τις καὶ ὑγιαίνειν χρῆναι φάσκοι μόνους τοὺς πρώτους γενομένους, καὶ μηδ’ ἐκεῖνο ὁρᾶν1 ὅτι ἡ τοιαύτη κρίσις καὶ ὁ τοιοῦτος λογισμὸς αὐτοῖς πρώτοις οὓς τιμῶσιν οὐ λυσιτελεῖ.

6εἰ γὰρ τῷ χρόνῳ δεῖ συγχωρεῖν καὶ τὴν ἀξίαν ἀπὸ τούτου μετρεῖν, οὐκέτ’ ἔχει τόπον ἡ νῦν παρὰ πάντων εἰς ἐκείνους αἰδώς. 7Ἴασος γὰρ ἂν οὕτω γε νικῴη περὶ λόγους καὶ Κρίασος καὶ Κρότωπος καὶ Φορωνεὺς καὶ εἴ τις Ἀργεῖος ἐκ μύθου καὶ Δευκαλίων ἢ εἴ τις ἔκ τε ἄλλων <ἄλλος>2 καὶ Λυκάων ἐξ Ἀρκαδίας καὶ Κέκροψ Ἀθήνηθεν ἀντὶ τῶν νῦν βεβοημένων, ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἔθνεσι Φρύγες διὰ τὴν παρὰ τοῦ βέκους, οἶμαι, μαρτυρίαν· καὶ παρῆκα Καλλαίθυιαν ἀρίστην γυναικῶν ἅμα καὶ



to listen to any arguments subsequent to the very first about things that in their nature last for ever—to revere the first occupants of the space like boundary stones or marker posts, even though in this case, in contrast to that of the laws, the obligation is not to rescind the older accounts in the light of the competition, but simply to grant others too the same status as they already enjoy? Is it not irrational to append to public oaths the proviso that it is legitimate to add and subtract whatever is subsequently agreed on with due consideration, but to consign arguments, which one ought to be equally free to scrutinize at any place and time, to the past alone (as if asserting that only the first to be born ought to enjoy good health), and not even to realize that the first to suffer from this kind of reasoning and this kind of verdict are the very people who are generally revered?

6For, if we have to defer to time and make time our measure of worth, then the respect that all now pay to certain celebrated individuals loses its foundation. 7On this principle, the leading literary figures would be Iasus and Criasus and Crotopus and Phoroneus (or some other mythological Argive) and Deucalion, or someone else from another people, Lycaon from Arcadia or Cecrops from Athens, instead of those currently celebrated.1 Among nations I suppose Phrygia would come first on the evidence of the “bekos” story.2 (I pass over Callaethyia,3 best among

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aelius_aristides-oration_2_reply_to_plato.2017