Let the Oldest Citizen Speak First!

In the following speech check out the extreme distance between the μὲν clause and the δὲ clause. Also note Aeschines’ assertions about the rules for speaking in court (descending from oldest to youngest) traced back to Solon.

Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon 1-5

“Athenian men: you see the preparations and plans, how many there are, and the public pleading which certain men have used against what is measured and customary in the state. But I have come here because I have faith first in the gods and then in the laws and you—since I believe that no type of preparation is stronger among you than the laws and justice.

I [μὲν οὖν] would therefore wish, Athenian men, that the Council of Five Hundred and the Assembly would be governed rightly by those who led them and that the laws which Solon established about the proper order for public speakers would prevail: that it would be possible for the oldest citizen—as the laws prescribe—to speak prudently what he thinks is best for the city based on his experience on the platform without racket and trouble and then the rest of the citizens, as each desired, would provide their opinion about each matter in turn separated by age. In this way, the city would seem to me to be governed best, and the fewest cases would develop.

But [Ἐπειδὴ δὲ] since now all the standards which were previously agreed as acceptable have been rejected and certain men make illegal proclamations easily while others vote for them—and these are not men who were chosen by lot in the most just fashion to preside, but they sit in judgment by collusion and if any other councilor should actually obtain the right to be seated by lot and proclaims your votes correctly, then men who no longer believe that citizenship is a public good but think it is a private right threaten to accuse him; men who would take them as private slaves and make governments for themselves; these men who cast down the judgments of precedent and mete out their decisions based on the votes of anger—now the wisest and finest command of those in the city is silent: “Who of those men who are already fifty years old wishes to address the people?” and then in turn the rest of the Athenians. Now neither the laws nor the prytanes nor the selected officials nor even the selected tribe which is one tenth of the city is able to manage the disorder of the politicians.

Τὴν μὲν παρασκευὴν ὁρᾶτε, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, καὶ τὴν παράταξιν ὅση γεγένηται, καὶ τὰς κατὰ τὴν ἀγορὰν δεήσεις, αἷς κέχρηνταί τινες ὑπὲρ τοῦ τὰ μέτρια καὶ συνήθη μὴ γίγνεσθαι ἐν τῇ πόλει· ἐγὼ δὲ πεπιστευκὼς ἥκω πρῶτον μὲν τοῖς θεοῖς, ἔπειτα τοῖς νόμοις καὶ ὑμῖν, ἡγούμενος οὐδεμίαν παρασκευὴν μεῖζον ἰσχύειν παρ᾿ ὑμῖν τῶν νόμων καὶ τῶν δικαίων.

Ἐβουλόμην μὲν οὖν, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, καὶ τὴν βουλὴν τοὺς πεντακοσίους καὶ τὰς ἐκκλησίας ὑπὸ τῶν ἐφεστηκότων ὀρθῶς διοικεῖσθαι, καὶ τοὺς νόμους οὓς ἐνομοθέτησεν ὁ Σόλων περὶ τῆς τῶν ῥητόρων εὐκοσμίας ἰσχύειν, ἵνα ἐξῆν πρῶτον μὲν τῷ πρεσβυτάτῳ τῶν πολιτῶν, ὥσπερ οἱ νόμοι προστάττουσι, σωφρόνως ἐπὶ τὸ βῆμα παρελθόντι ἄνευ θορύβου καὶ ταραχῆς ἐξ ἐμπειρίας τὰ βέλτιστα τῇ πόλει συμβουλεύειν, δεύτερον δ᾿ ἤδη καὶ τῶν ἄλλων πολιτῶν τὸν βουλόμενον καθ᾿ ἡλικίαν χωρὶς καὶ ἐν μέρει περὶ ἑκάστου γνώμην ἀποφαίνεσθαι· οὕτω γὰρ ἄν μοι δοκεῖ ἥ τε πόλις ἄριστα διοικεῖσθαι, αἵ τε κρίσεις ἐλάχισται γίγνεσθαι.

Ἐπειδὴ δὲ πάντα τὰ πρότερον ὡμολογημένα καλῶς ἔχειν νυνὶ καταλέλυται, καὶ γράφουσί τε τινὲς ῥᾳδίως παρανόμους γνώμας, καὶ ταύτας ἕτεροι τινες ἐπιψηφίζουσιν, οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ δικαιοτάτου τρόπου λαχόντες προεδρεύειν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ παρασκευῆς καθεζόμενοι, ἂν δέ τις τῶν ἄλλων βουλευτῶν ὄντως λάχῃ προεδρεύειν,3 καὶ τὰς ὑμετέρας χειροτονίας ὀρθῶς ἀναγορεύῃ, τοῦτον οἱ τὴν πολιτείαν οὐκέτι κοινήν, ἀλλ᾿ ἰδίαν αὑτῶν ἡγούμενοι, ἀπειλοῦσιν εἰσαγγελεῖν, καταδουλούμενοι τοὺς ἰδιώτας καὶ δυναστείας ἑαυτοῖς περιποιούμενοι, καὶ τὰς κρίσεις τὰς μὲν ἐκ τῶν νόμων καταλελύκασι, τὰς δ᾿ ἐκ τῶν ψηφισμάτων μετ᾿ ὀργῆς κρίνουσιν, σεσίγηται μὲν τὸ κάλλιστον καὶ σωφρονέστατον κήρυγμα τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει· “Τίς ἀγορεύειν βούλεται τῶν ὑπὲρ πεντήκοντα ἔτη γεγονότων;” καὶ πάλιν ἐν μέρει τῶν ἄλλων Ἀθηναίων. τῆς δὲ τῶν ῥητόρων ἀκοσμίας οὐκέτι κρατεῖν δύνανται οὔθ᾿ οἱ νόμοι οὔθ᾿ οἱ πρυτάνεις οὔθ᾿ οἱ πρόεδροι οὔθ᾿ ἡ προεδρεύουσα φυλή, τὸ δέκατον μέρος τῆς πόλεως.

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