Demosthenes, Exordia

LCL 374: 86-87

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Εἰ μὲν περὶ καινοῦ τινὸς πράγματος προὐτίθετ᾿, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, λέγειν, ἐπισχὼν ἂν ἕως οἱ πλεῖστοι τῶν εἰωθότων γνώμην ἀπεφήναντο, εἰ μὲν ἤρεσκέν τί μοι τῶν ῥηθέντων, ἡσυχίαν ἦγον, εἰ δὲ μή, τότ᾿ ἂν καὐτὸς ἐπειρώμην ἃ γιγνώσκω λέγειν· ἐπειδὴ δ᾿ ὑπὲρ ὧν πολλάκις εἰρήκασιν οὗτοι πρότερον, περὶ τούτων νυνὶ σκοπεῖτε, ἡγοῦμαι καὶ πρῶτος ἀναστὰς εἰκότως ἂν μετὰ τούτους δοκεῖν λέγειν. 2εἰ μὲν οὖν εἶχε καλῶς τὰ πράγματα οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἔδει βουλεύεσθαι· ἐπειδὴ δ᾿ ὡς ἅπαντες ὁρᾶτ᾿ ἔχει [1419]δυσκολίαν, ὡς ἐκ τοιούτων πειράσομαι συμβουλεύειν ἃ κράτιστ᾿ εἶναι νομίζω. πρῶτον μὲν οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐκεῖνο ἐγνωκέναι δεῖ ὡς οὐδὲν ὧν ἐποιεῖτ᾿ ἐπὶ τοῦ πολεμεῖν ὄντες τοῦ λοιποῦ πρακτέον ἐστίν, ἀλλὰ πάντα τἀναντία· εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνα φαῦλα πεποίηκε τὰ πράγματα, τἀναντί᾿ εἰκὸς βελτίω ποιῆσαι. 3ἔπειτα νομιστέον οὐχ ὃς ἂν ὑμῖν ἢ μηδὲν ἢ μικρὰ προστάττῃ, τοῦτον ὀρθῶς λέγειν· ὁρᾶτε γὰρ ὡς ἐκ τῶν τοιούτων ἐλπίδων καὶ λόγων εἰς πᾶν





If it had been proposed to discuss some new measure, men of Athens, I should have waited until most of the regular speakers had declared their opinions, and if any of their views had pleased me, I should have held my peace; otherwise, I should then have attempted to say what I myself think. But since you are now considering matters on which these speakers have often spoken before, I feel that, even if the first to rise, I may reasonably appear to be speaking after them. Now, if our interests were prospering, there2 would be no need to deliberate; but since, as you all observe, they are in straits, I shall try, on that assumption, to advise what I consider best. In the first place, you ought to recognize that none of the policies you pursued while engaged in the war are to be used henceforth, but quite their opposites.b For if those policies have brought your fortunes low, it is very likely that their opposites will improve them.c Next, you must consider that it is not the speaker who3 places upon you little or no burden who is in the right, for you see that, as a consequence of such optimistic speeches, our present condition has reached the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.demosthenes-exordia.1949