Isaeus, 2. On the Estate of Menecles

LCL 202: 38-39

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On the Estate of Menecles

would have been exercised in favour of her children by her second husband and not in favour of her brother. The truth, he says, is that Menecles, in his childless and lonely condition, desired to adopt a son, and naturally turned to the family of his old friend, Eponymus, with which he had been connected by marriage. He shows that after his adoption he had acted as a dutiful son to Menecles and had performed all the due rites over him after his death. His only object now is, he says, to vindicate the memory of his adopted father, since from a pecuniary point of view the inheritance is practically worthless owing to the machinations of the prosecutor, who had, during Menecles’ lifetime, managed to defraud him of the greater part of his property.

The exact facts on this point are somewhat obscure, but it appears that Menecles had been appointed trustee of the property left by a certain Nicias to his orphan children, and had given, as guarantee for his guardianship, a mortgage on certain land which he held jointly with his brother. When the elder of the orphans came of age, Menecles was called upon to restore to him the capital and interest, for which purpose he was obliged to sell his land. His brother opposed the sale, and Menecles was forced to reserve the portion which he claimed, selling the remainder and paying the money due to the orphans. Menecles subsequently brought an action against his brother for restraint of sale, which was heard before arbitrators, who being, as the speaker alleges, friends of the brother, gave a verdict in his favour to the detriment of the estate. The speech concludes with a contrast between the

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On the Estate of Menecles

rapacity of the prosecutor and the dutiful conduct of the adopted son.

The date of the speech can be approximately fixed by the allusion to the absence of the speaker on military service in Thrace under Iphicrates. It seems probable, from the phrase used in § 6 (ἀπεδημήσαμεν μετὰ Ἰφικράτους εἰς Θρᾴκην), that the reference is not to the official Athenian expedition to the Chersonese and Hellespont about 388 b.c., but to a later private expedition, undertaken by Iphicrates about 383 b.c. with a mercenary force on behalf of the Thracian prince Cotys, whose daughter he married. The speaker seems to have been absent for some little time on this expedition, since two children were born to his elder sister during his absence (§ 7). A further period elapsed before the adoption took place (§ 10), so that we must probably allow for a period of about five years between the departure of the speaker to Thrace and the date of his adoption. A further period of twenty-three years elapsed before the death of Menecles, so that the date of the speech would seem to fall about the year 355 b.c.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.isaeus-ii_estate_menecles.1927