War-Lust, Amnesties, and the Destruction of the State

Photius

Mnêsikakein: “to make a reminder of evil deeds”

Μνησικακεῖν: τὸ ὑπομιμνήσκεσθαι τῶν κακῶν.

mnesikakein

Aeschines 2.176

“Even though we had it going so well, we waged war against the Spartans again because we were persuaded by the Argives. Eventually, thanks to the war-lust of our politicians, we lost and ended up with a garrison in the city along with the four-hundred and the unholy thirty. We did not make peace, but we were forced by commands. But when we were governed sensibly again and the democracy returned from Phyle—and Arkhinos and Thrasuboulos were leading—they established for us the oath of not holding grudges [to mê mnêsikakein], a thing for which all people judged our city most wise.

From this, the democracy was revived and strong from its foundation. But now people who have been enrolled as citizens against the law and are always attracted to any sickness of the city are pursuing war after war as a political platform. Yet, while they see terrible things in peace and incite our covetous and excessively violent minds, nevertheless they never touch weapons during times of war. No, once they become secretaries and cabinet members—these children of prostitutes, rightfully stripped of their rights for their slander—these men pilot the state into the most extreme dangers. They minister to the name of democracy not with their behavior but with their flattery even as they annihilate peace. Democracy is preserved by peace; they struggle to find wars which bring about democracy’s end.”

καὶ τοσαῦτ᾽ ἔχοντες τἀγαθά, πάλιν πόλεμον πρὸς Λακεδαιμονίους ἐξηνέγκαμεν πεισθέντες ὑπ᾽ Ἀργείων, καὶ τελευτῶντες ἐκ τῆς τῶν ῥητόρων ἁψιμαχίας εἰς φρουρὰν τῆς πόλεως καὶ τοὺς τετρακοσίους καὶ τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς τριάκοντα ἐνεπέσομεν, οὐκ εἰρήνην ποιησάμενοι, ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ προσταγμάτων ἠναγκασμένοι. πάλιν δὲ σωφρόνως πολιτευθέντες, καὶ τοῦ δήμου κατελθόντος ἀπὸ Φυλῆς, Ἀρχίνου καὶ Θρασυβούλου προστάντων τοῦ δήμου, καὶ τὸ μὴ μνησικακεῖν πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἔνορκον ἡμῖν καταστησάντων, ὅθεν σοφωτάτην ἅπαντες τὴν πόλιν ἡγήσαντο εἶναι, κἀνταῦθα ἀναφύντος τοῦ δήμου καὶ πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἰσχύσαντος, ἄνθρωποι παρέγγραπτοι γεγενημένοι πολῖται, καὶ τὸ νοσοῦν τῆς πόλεως ἀεὶ προσαγόμενοι, καὶ πόλεμον ἐκ πολέμου πολιτευόμενοι, ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ τὰ δεινὰ τῷ λόγῳ προορώμενοι, καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς τὰς φιλοτίμους καὶ λίαν ὀξείας ἐρεθίζοντες, ἐν δὲ τοῖς πολέμοις ὅπλων οὐχ ἁπτόμενοι, ἐξετασταὶ δὲ καὶ ἀποστολεῖς γιγνόμενοι, παιδοποιούμενοι δὲ ἐξ ἑταιρῶν, ἄτιμοι δ᾽ ἐκ συκοφαντίας, εἰς τοὺς ἐσχάτους κινδύνους τὴν πόλιν καθιστᾶσι, τὸ μὲν τῆς δημοκρατίας ὄνομα οὐ τοῖς ἤθεσιν, ἀλλὰ τῇ κολακείᾳ θεραπεύοντες, καταλύοντες δὲ τὴν εἰρήνην, ἐξ ἧς ἡ δημοκρατία σῴζεται, συναγωνιζόμενοι δὲ τοῖς πολέμοις, ἐξ ὧν ὁ δῆμος καταλύεται.

Aeschines 3.208

“Indeed, whenever he says these sorts of things against arguments for specific factions, propose this in return: “Demosthenes, if the people who restored the democracy in exile from Phyle were similar to you, the democracy would never have been re-established. But now they saved the city from great calamities and uttered that finest speech of a cultured mind: “Don’t hold a grudge” [mnêsikakein]” But you rip open wounds: today’s speech matters more to you than the safety of the state.”

But when an oathbreaker takes flight in the faith you put in oaths, mention this to him, that when someone frequently breaks an oath but is always thinking it necessary to procure trust with oaths, one of two options remain to him. Either, he swears by new gods or he finds audiences that are different.”

ὅταν δὴ τὰ τοιαῦτα λέγῃ, πρὸς μὲν τοὺς στασιαστικοὺς λόγους ἐκεῖνο αὐτῷ ὑποβάλλετε: ‘ὦ Δημόσθενες, εἰ ὅμοιοι ἦσαν σοὶ οἱ ἀπὸ Φυλῆς φεύγοντα τὸν δῆμον καταγαγόντες, οὐκ ἄν ποθ᾽ ἡ δημοκρατία κατέστη. νῦν δὲ ἐκεῖνοι μὲν μεγάλων κακῶν συμβάντων ἔσωσαν τὴν πόλιν τὸ κάλλιστον ἐκ παιδείας ῥῆμα φθεγξάμενοι, ‘μὴ μνησικακεῖν’: σὺ δὲ ἑλκοποιεῖς, καὶ μᾶλλόν σοι μέλει τῶν αὐθημερὸν λόγων, ἢ τῆς σωτηρίας τῆς πόλεως.’

ὅταν δ᾽ ἐπίορκος ὢν εἰς τὴν τῶν ὅρκων πίστιν καταφυγγάνῃ, ἐκεῖνο ἀπομνημονεύσατε αὐτῷ, ὅτι τῷ πολλάκις μὲν ἐπιορκοῦντι, ἀεὶ δὲ  μεθ᾽ ὅρκων ἀξιοῦντι πιστεύεσθαι, δυοῖν θάτερον ὑπάρξαι δεῖ,  ἢ τοὺς θεοὺς καινούς, ἢ τοὺς ἀκροατὰς μὴ τοὺς αὐτούς.

 

2 responses

  1. Pingback: War-Lust, Amnesties and the Destruction of the State – Historyteller

  2. Pingback: On Revolution and Forgetting | SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

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