How Not To Defend Oneself (Lucian’s Apology)

“Before all else, it is necessary that those who criticize me remember that they do not criticize a wise man—if, indeed, there is someone wise anywhere—but instead a man of the regular people who has prepared arguments and received some limited praise for them, even though he has not at all been trained in that pinnacle of virtue of the highest men. And, by Zeus, it would be sufficient for me not to be upset on this count, that I have not encountered some man yet who has paid in full a promise of wisdom. Certainly, I would be surprised if you were to find fault with my current life, if you would criticize the fact which you knew long ago, that I was earning a great deal of money for teaching rhetoric in public when you went to visit the Western Sea and the Celts and you met me, I was one of the highest-charging sophists!

These are the words, friend, which I offer as a defense to you, even amidst my rather busy schedule, since I think it is not at all a minor matter to acquire a clean slate from you. As for the others, even if they all accuse me at once, let this be enough of an answer: “Hippocleides don’t care”.  *

Πρὸ δὲ τῶν ὅλων μεμνῆσθαι χρὴ τοὺς ἐπιτιμῶντας ὅτι οὐ σοφῷ ὄντι μοι—εἰ δή τις καὶ ἄλλος ἐστί που σοφός—ἐπιτιμήσουσιν ἀλλὰ τῶν ἐκ τοῦ πολλοῦ δήμου, λόγους μὲν ἀσκήσαντι καὶ τὰ μέτρια ἐπαινουμένῳ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς, πρὸς δὲ τὴν ἄκραν ἐκείνην τῶν κορυφαίων ἀρετὴν οὐ πάνυ γεγυμνασμένῳ. καὶ μὰ Δί’ οὐδ’ ἐπὶ τούτῳ ἀνιᾶσθαί μοι ἄξιον, ὅτι μηδὲ ἄλλῳ ἐγὼ γοῦν ἐντετύχηκα τὴν τοῦ σοφοῦ ὑπόσχεσιν ἀποπληροῦντι. σοῦ μέντοι καὶ θαυμάσαιμ’ ἂν ἐπιτιμῶντός μου τῷ νυνὶ βίῳ, εἴ γε ἐπιτιμῴης, ὃν πρὸ πολλοῦ ᾔδεις ἐπὶ ῥητορικῇ δημοσίᾳ μεγίστας μισθοφορὰς ἐνεγκάμενον, ὁπότε κατὰ θέαν τοῦ ἑσπερίου ᾿Ωκεανοῦ καὶ τὴν Κελτικὴν ἅμα ἐπιὼν ἐνέτυχες ἡμῖν τοῖς μεγαλομίσθοις τῶν σοφιστῶν ἐναριθμουμένοις.

Ταῦτά σοι, ὦ ἑταῖρε, καίτοι ἐν μυρίαις ταῖς  ἀσχολίαις ὢν ὅμως ἀπελογησάμην, οὐκ ἐν παρέργῳ θέμενος τὴν λευκὴν παρὰ σοῦ καὶ πλήρη μοι ἐνεχθῆναι· ἐπεὶ πρός γε τοὺς ἄλλους, κἂν συνάμα πάντες κατηγορῶσιν, ἱκανὸν ἂν εἴη μοι τό οὐ φροντὶς ῾Ιπποκλείδῃ.

*A quote from Herodotus 6.127-129.

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