Antiphon, On the Murder of Herodes

LCL 308: 162-163

Go To Section
Go To Section


οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀγωνιζομένων ἀκροᾶσθαι σφῶν αὐτῶν αἰτοῦνται, σφίσι μὲν αὐτοῖς ἀπιστοῦντες, ὑμῶν δὲ προκατεγνωκότες ἄδικόν τι—εἰκὸς γὰρ ἐν ἀνδράσι γε ἀγαθοῖς καὶ ἄνευ τῆς αἰτήσεως τὴν ἀκρόασιν ὑπάρχειν τοῖς φεύγουσιν, οὗπερ καὶ οἱ 5διώκοντες ἔτυχον ἄνευ αἰτήσεως·—τάδε δὲ1 δέομαι ὑμῶν, τοῦτο μὲν ἐάν τι τῇ γλώσσῃ ἁμάρτω, συγγνώμην ἔχειν μοι,2 καὶ ἡγεῖσθαι ἀπειρίᾳ αὐτὸ μᾶλλον ἢ ἀδικίᾳ ἡμαρτῆσθαι, τοῦτο δὲ ἐάν τι ὀρθῶς εἴπω, ἀληθείᾳ μᾶλλον ἢ δεινότητι εἰρῆσθαι. οὐ γὰρ δίκαιον οὔτ᾿ ἔργῳ ἁμαρτόντα διὰ ῥήματα [130]σωθῆναι, οὔτ᾿ ἔργῳ ὀρθῶς πράξαντα διὰ ῥήματα ἀπολέσθαι· τὸ μὲν γὰρ ῥῆμα τῆς γλώσσης ἁμάρτημά 6ἐστι, τὸ δ᾿ ἔργον τῆς γνώμης. ἀνάγκη δὲ κινδυνεύοντα περὶ αὑτῷ καί πού τι καὶ ἐξαμαρτεῖν. οὐ γὰρ μόνον τῶν λεγομένων ἀνάγκη ἐνθυμεῖσθαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν ἐσομένων· ἅπαντα γὰρ τὰ ἐν ἀδήλῳ ἔτ᾿ ὄντα ἐπὶ τῇ τύχῃ μᾶλλον ἀνάκειται ἢ τῇ προνοίᾳ. ταῦτ᾿ οὖν ἔκπληξιν πολλὴν παρέχειν 7ἀνάγκη ἐστὶ τῷ κινδυνεύοντι. ὁρῶ γὰρ ἔγωγε καὶ τοὺς πάνυ ἐμπείρους τοῦ ἀγωνίζεσθαι πολλῷ χεῖρον ἑαυτῶν λέγοντας, ὅταν ἔν τινι κινδύνῳ ὦσιν· ὅταν δ᾿ ἄνευ κινδύνων τι διαπράσσωνται, μᾶλλον ὀρθουμένους.

8Ἡ μὲν οὖν αἴτησις, ὦ ἄνδρες, καὶ νομίμως καὶ ὁσίως ἔχουσα, καὶ ἐν τῷ ὑμετέρῳ δικαίῳ οὐχ ἧσσον ἢ ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ· περὶ δὲ τῶν κατηγορημένων ἀπολογήσομαι καθ᾿ ἕκαστον.

Πρῶτον μὲν οὖν, ὡς παρανομώτατα καὶ βιαιότατα


On the Murder of Herodes

for a hearing, as do the majority of those on trial, who lack confidence in themselves and presume you to be biassed; for with an honest jury the defence is naturally assured of a hearing even without appealing for it, seeing that that same jury accorded the prosecution a hearing unasked—no, my request of you is this. If, on the one hand, I make any mistake in speaking, pardon me and treat it as due to inexperience rather than dishonesty; and if, on the other hand, I express a point well, treat it as due to truthfulness rather than skill. For it is no more right that mere words should be the undoing of a man who is in fact innocent than that they should be the salvation of a man who is in fact guilty; the tongue is to blame for a word: whereas the will is to blame for an act. Moreover, a man in personal danger is sure to make some mistake; he cannot help thinking of his fate as well as of his argument, as the decision of an issue which is still in doubt always depends more upon chance than upon human effort. Hence a man in danger is bound to be not a little distraught. Even speakers with a long experience of the courts are far from being at their best, I notice, when in any danger; they are more successful when conducting a case in safety.

So much for my request, gentlemen; it breaks no law, human or divine: and it takes into account what you have a right to expect from me as much as what I have a right to expect from you. And now for the charges made, which I will answer one at a time.

To begin with, I shall prove to you that the methods

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.antiphon-murder_herodes.1941