Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon

LCL 106: 310-311

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The Speeches of Aeschines

τινὲς ῥᾳδίως παρανόμους γνώμας, καὶ ταύτας1 ἕτεροι τινες2 ἐπιψηφίζουσιν, οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ δικαιοτάτου τρόπου λαχόντες προεδρεύειν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ παρασκευῆς καθεζόμενοι, ἂν δέ τις τῶν ἄλλων βουλευτῶν ὄντως λάχῃ προεδρεύειν,3 καὶ τὰς ὑμετέρας χειροτονίας ὀρθῶς ἀναγορεύῃ, τοῦτον οἱ τὴν πολιτείαν οὐκέτι κοινήν, ἀλλ᾿ ἰδίαν αὑτῶν ἡγούμενοι, ἀπειλοῦσιν εἰσαγγελεῖν, καταδουλούμενοι τοὺς ἰδιώτας καὶ δυναστείας ἑαυτοῖς περιποιούμενοι, 4καὶ τὰς κρίσεις τὰς μὲν ἐκ τῶν νόμων καταλελύκασι, τὰς δ᾿ ἐκ τῶν ψηφισμάτων μετ᾿ ὀργῆς κρίνουσιν, σεσίγηται μὲν τὸ κάλλιστον καὶ σωφρονέστατον κήρυγμα τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει· “Τίς ἀγορεύειν βούλεται τῶν ὑπὲρ πεντήκοντα ἔτη γεγονότων;” καὶ πάλιν ἐν μέρει τῶν ἄλλων Ἀθηναίων. τῆς δὲ τῶν ῥητόρων ἀκοσμίας οὐκέτι κρατεῖν δύνανται οὔθ᾿ οἱ νόμοι οὔθ᾿ οἱ πρυτάνεις οὔθ᾿ οἱ πρόεδροι οὔθ᾿ ἡ προεδρεύουσα φυλή, τὸ δέκατον μέρος τῆς πόλεως.

5Τούτων δ᾿ ἐχόντων οὕτως, καὶ τῶν καιρῶν ὄντων τῇ πόλει τοιούτων ὁποίους τινὰς αὐτοὺς ὑμεῖς ὑπολαμβάνετε εἶναι, ἓν ὑπολείπεται μέρος τῆς πολιτείας, εἴ τι κἀγὼ τυγχάνω γιγνώσκων, αἱ τῶν παρανόμων γραφαί. εἰ δὲ καὶ ταύτας καταλύσετε ἢ τοῖς καταλύουσιν ἐπιτρέψετε, προλέγω

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Against Ctesiphon

hesitate to make illegal motions, and other men who are ready to put these motions to the vote—not men who have been chosen by right and lawful allotment to preside, but men who hold the position by trickery; and if any other senator does actually obtain the presidency by lot, and does honestly declare your votes, he is threatened with impeachment by men who no longer regard citizenship as a common right, but as their own private perquisite; men who are making slaves of the common people, and arrogating lordship to themselves; men who have set aside the lawful processes of the courts, and carry their verdicts in the assembly by appeal to passion.1 The result of all this is that we have ceased to hear that wisest and most judicious of all the proclamations to which the city was once accustomed, “Who of the men above fifty years of age wishes to address the people,” and then who of the other Athenians in turn. The disorder of the public men can no longer be controlled by the laws, nor by the prytanes, nor by the presiding officers, nor by the presiding tribe, the tenth part of the city.2

Under such circumstances, and in a political situation the gravity of which you yourselves understand, only one part of the constitution is left to us—if I too may lay claim to some discernment—the suits against illegal motions. But if you shall annul these also, or give way to those who are trying to annul them, I warn you that before you know it

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aeschines-ctesiphon.1919