ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΗΡΩΙΔΟΥ ΦΟΝΟΥ
1Ἐβουλόμην μέν, ὦ ἄνδρες, τὴν δύναμιν τοῦ λέγειν καὶ τὴν ἐμπειρίαν τῶν πραγμάτων ἐξ ἴσου μοι καθεστάναι τῇ τε συμφορᾷ καὶ τοῖς κακοῖς τοῖς γεγενημένοις· νῦν δὲ τοῦ μὲν πεπείραμαι πέρᾳ τοῦ προσήκοντος, τοῦ δὲ ἐνδεής εἰμι μᾶλλον τοῦ 2συμφέροντος. οὗ μὲν γάρ με ἔδει κακοπαθεῖν τῷ σώματι μετὰ τῆς αἰτίας τῆς οὐ προσηκούσης, ἐνταυθοῖ οὐδέν με ὠφέλησεν ἡ ἐμπειρία· οὗ δέ με δεῖ σωθῆναι μετὰ τῆς ἀληθείας εἰπόντα τὰ γενόμενα, ἐν τούτῳ με βλάπτει ἡ τοῦ λέγειν ἀδυνασία.1 3πολλοὶ μὲν2 γὰρ ἤδη τῶν οὐ δυναμένων λέγειν, ἄπιστοι γενόμενοι τοῖς ἀληθέσιν, αὐτοῖς τούτοις ἀπώλοντο, οὐ δυνάμενοι δηλῶσαι αὐτά· πολλοὶ δὲ τῶν λέγειν δυναμένων3 πιστοὶ γενόμενοι τῷ ψεύδεσθαι, τούτῳ ἐσώθησαν, διότι ἐψεύσαντο. ἀνάγκη οὖν, ὅταν τις ἄπειρος ᾖ τοῦ ἀγωνίζεσθαι, ἐπὶ τοῖς τῶν κατηγόρων λόγοις εἶναι μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἔργοις καὶ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ τῶν πραγμάτων.
4Ἐγὼ οὖν, ὦ ἄνδρες, αἰτήσομαι4 ὑμᾶς, οὐχ ἅπερ
On the Murder of Herodes
I could have wished, gentlemen, that my powers of speech and my experience of the worlda were as great as the misfortune and the severities with which I have been visited. Instead, I know more of the last two than I should, and am more wanting in the first than is good for me. When I had to submit to the bodily suffering which this unwarranted charge brought with it, experience afforded me no help; while now that my life depends upon my giving a truthful account of the facts, my case is being prejudiced by my inability to speak. Poor speakers have often before now been disbelieved because they spoke the truth, and the truth itself has been their undoing because they could not make it convincing: just as clever speakers have often gained credit with lies, and have owed their lives to the very fact that they lied. Thus the fate of one who is not a practised pleader inevitably depends less upon the true facts and his actual conduct than upon the version of them given by his accusers.
I shall therefore ask you, gentlemen, not indeed
- aτῶν πραγμάτων refers especially to the workings of the law, and is picked up by οὗ μὲν γάρ με ἔδει . . . ἐμπειρία. The speaker means that had he been less ignorant in such matters, he might have effectively protested against the employment of ἔνδειξις and ἀπαγωγή, which involved the close confinement of the defendant before his trial, instead of the more regular δίκη φόνου before the Areopagus. See Introd. p. 150.