“This was my behavior in my actions for the city. In private matters, if any of you do not know that I have been generous and kind and solicitous of those in need, I am silent and I say nothing and present no witness of these things, not the war prisoners I have ransomed, nor the money I have provided for daughters, nor anything like that at all.
This is a rule I live by. I believe that the person who receives a favor should remember it for the rest of time but that the person who does it should forget it immediately for the former to act rightly and the latter not to play the part of a cheap-minded person. To remind someone of a favor you have provided in private and to speak so cheaply is just like reproaching them. I will not do anything like this but however I am considered about these things will be enough for me.”
“I am at a disadvantage in this struggle against Aeschines in many ways, but two of them, Athenian men, are especially bad. First, I do not compete for equal stakes. For it is not the same for me now to lose your goodwill and for him not to win the charge. But for me—I do not wish to say anything harsh at the beginning of the speech, but he prosecutes me from a position of strength.* My second problem, which is shared by all men by nature, is that it is sweet to hear people slandering and accusing but annoying to hear praise. Hence, the one of those things which brings pleasure is his, and the annoying one is mine. Even if I were use that well–and speak about the things I have done–I would not seem to be able to evade the accusations, not even for those things for which I think I should be honored. If I proceed to the acts I performed politically, I will be compelled to speak about myself often; Therefore, I will try to do this in as limited a fashion as possible. Whatever this matter forces me to do, this man is rightfully to blame for it, since he initiated this kind of a case.”
*The Scholion to this passage offers several other interpretations to Aeschines’ advantage beyond Demosthenes’ own:
“This man accuses me from a position of strength”: Either he means that he has great wealth because Philip and Alexander gave it to him and he is not at all afraid about losing, since he is well-able to pay the considerable penalty. Or he means that it is not the same for someone accusing from a position of strength to not win (since he could have stayed out of the conflict) as it is for him to defend himself by necessity. For “it is not possible for me to be silent.” Some have interpreted “ek periousias” as simply “ek perritou”[superfluously]. So, he means “it is excessive to charge and accuse me in vain.”
Epitaphios: A speech performed annually in honor of those who have died in war. The most famous that remains is Thucydides’ version of Perikles’ funeral oration (2.35-46).Earlier today, we posted the beginnings of Epitaphioi ascribed to Lysias and Perikles’ companion Aspasia. Here’s one from Demosthenes:
Demosthenes, Epitaphios (speech 60)
“Since it seems right to the state to bury those lying in this grave publicly because they proved themselves noble in war and it has been assigned to me to deliver the customary speech on their behalf, I immediately began to examine how others have crafted the appropriate praise. But while I was considering and examining this, I realized that speaking worthily of the dead is one of those things that is impossible for men. For because they have abandoned that desire to live that is natural to all men and they have decided to die well rather than continue living and watch Greece fare badly, how have they not left behind an accomplishment beyond the expression of any speech?
But, nevertheless, it seems right to me to speak the way those who have spoken here before. How serious our city is about those who have died in war is can be seen from other affairs and especially from this law by which someone is selected who will speak over the public burial. For, since we know that among noble men the possession of money and the acquisition of pleasures in life are dismissed and that they have a great desire for virtue and praise, so that they might gain these things especially, we have thought it right to honor them so that what good repute they acquired while living, might also be granted to them even now that they are dead.
If I saw that courage alone was sufficient of those traits that lead to virtue, I would praise that and forget the rest of my speech. But because it is true that they were born nobly, educated prudently, and lived honorably—all reasons they were eager to act rightly—I would be ashamed if I moved on without saying something about these things. So I will start from the beginning of their ancestry.”
Epitaphios: A speech performed annually in honor of those who have died in war. The most famous that remains is Thucydides’ version of Perikles’ funeral oration (2.35-46). The following was allegedly given by Lysias in 394 BCE for those who died in the Corinthian War.
Lysias, Epitaphios 1-3
“If I believed it were possible, men in attendance, to make clear in this speech the virtue of the men who lie here, I would complain to those who summoned me to speak after only a few days. But since the whole of time would not be enough for all men together to prepare a speech worthy of these deeds, for this reason the city seems to take pity on those who speak here in making their assignment late–since it knows that the speakers will have the pardon of their audiences.
Yet, though my speech is about those men, my struggle is not with their deeds but with those who have spoken for them before. For their virtue has provided such an abundance both in those able to compose poetry and those who are selected to speak, that even though many fine things have been said about them by my predecessors and many other things have been omitted by them, it is still the case that enough remains for those who follow them to say. For there is no land or sea unknown by these men; and in every direction among all peoples even those who suffered at their hands sing their praises.
First, therefore, I will recite the ancient trials of our forefathers, procuring for us a reminder from their fame. For it is right for all men to remember them, praising them in songs and recalling their names in the praise of good men, honoring them on occasions such as this, and teaching the living through the deeds of the dead.”
“Which men do I call educated when I set aside the arts, sciences, and specialties? First, I prize those who handle well the events they meet each day and who have an appropriate judgment for each and the ability to plot the most advantageous path through them.
Then, I esteem those who always treat the people they are near appropriately and justly and who bear the unpleasantness and meanness of others with ease and good temper, and comport themselves towards their associates as lightly and measuredly as possible.
Then, I value those who always control their desires, who are not overcome by their misfortunes, but manage them bravely in a fashion worthy of the nature which we all happen to share.
Fourth—and most important—I consider men educated who are not ruined by their successes, who do not rebel against themselves and become arrogant, but instead remain positioned to be reflective and do not delight more in the goods they have received by chance than those which were theirs from the beginning by nature or thought. Those who have a mind well-fit not just to one of these qualities but to all of them are the men I say are prudent, complete people exhibiting all the virtues.”
“I am often amazed that when men first summoned the great gatherings and established athletic contests they believed the accomplishments of the body to be worth great gifts, but for those who have toiled in private for the public good and who have prepared their minds so they may help others, they have apportioned no honor even though it is right to plan for this. If athletes were to double their strength, it would be nothing more to the rest of us; but when one man advises well, all men who are willing to share his insight can benefit.”
The contrast between the effect of a wise-advisor and an Olympic champion is also invoked by Socrates:
Plato, Apology 36
“What is right to give to a poor man who has done good work and needs the time to advise you? Athenian men, there is nothing more appropriate than feeding this sort of man at the public expense, more rightly than if one of you has achieved a victory on horseback or chariot races in the Olympian games. The first makes you seem to be fortunate, while I do it for real. He lacks no resources, but I do. If I must be honored justly for my worth, I merit this, meals at the public expense.”
But look at the way that his child—whom he thought better to have assigned to the daughter of Epilykos—was born and how he [Kallias] fathered him. For this is really worth hearing, men. First, he married the daughter of Isomakhos. After living with her for not even a year, he took her mother as a lover and this most wicked of all men lived with mother and daughter—he was priest for both mother and daughter and he had them both in his home.
And this man was not ashamed enough to fear the god. But Isomakhos’ daughter, when she understood what was happening, decided to die rather than live. She was rescued in the middle of hanging herself and when she survived, she left, kicked out of his house: the mother drove out the daughter! But when he had his fill of her, he drove the mother out too! But she claimed she was pregnant by him. And he swore that the child did not come from him.”