Shaking Us Down

Latin Trag. Adesp. = Ps-Cicero, Ad. Herenn. 2.26

“I cannot think…or figure out any reason why
I might impeach him. What would let you accuse someone
Who is honorable, if he is good? And if he is not honorable
What would let you impeach him if he thinks it is but a
Minor thing?”

Nequeo . . .
qua causa accusem hunc exputando evolvere.
Nam si veretur quid eum accuses qui est probus?
Sin inverecundum animi ingenium possidet,
quid autem accuses qui id parvi auditum
aestimet? . . .

Aristophanes fr 228 = Suda sigma 290

“Shaking-down”: Blackmail, this is a metaphor from people who shake trees: “I was shaking them down, I demanded money, I was threatening them and was extorting them again and again.”

σεῖσαι· τὸ συκοφαντῆσαι, ἀπὸ τῶν τὰ ἀκρόδρυα σειόντων· ἔσειον, ᾔτουν χρήματ᾿, ἠπείλουν, ἐσυκοφάντουν πάλιν

Mycenaean Goat and Tree Vase at the British Museum

The Least Corrupt Politician

Aelian, Varia Historia 14.28

“Someone rebuked the politician Pytheas because he was corrupt. He did not deny the fact, since his own knowledge would not allow it. But he responded that he was corrupt with the least amount of frequency of any of the politicians in Athens.

He clearly thought it was a big deal that he was not like that his whole life and actually believed that the had not acted unjustly because he was not counted among the worst politicians. This was Pytheas’ simplemindedness. By my reckoning, not only is the one who does injustice corrupt, but the one who plans to do it is too.”

28. Ὠνείδισέ τις τῷ ῥήτορι Πυθέᾳ ὅτι κακός ἐστιν. ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἠρνήσατο· τὸ γὰρ συνειδὸς οὐκ ἐπέτρεπεν αὐτῷ. ἀπεκρίνατο δὲ ἐκεῖνο, ἐλάχιστον χρόνον τῶν πεπολιτευμένων Ἀθήνησι γενέσθαι κακός· μέγα φρονῶν δῆλον ὅτι μὴ διὰ τέλους ἦν τοιοῦτος, καὶ ἡγούμενος μὴ ἀδικεῖν, ἐπεὶ μὴ τοῖς πονηροτάτοις παρενεβάλλετο. εὔηθες δὲ τοῦτο τοῦ Πυθέου· οὐ γὰρ μόνον ὁ ἀδικήσας κακὸς ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ ἐννοήσας ἀδικῆσαι, παρά γε ἐμοὶ κριτῇ.

File:The virtuous Athenian mg 0093.jpg
“The Virtuous Athenian” by Joseph-Marie Vien

Another Plague: Profiteering

For more on how leaders make plagues worse, look around, or go here.

Philo, On the Virtues 92

“They were so messed up in the mind and so obsessed with making money, they treated every kind of profit as if they were dying”

εἰσὶ δ᾿ οἳ οὕτως ῥυπῶσι τὰς διανοίας προστετηκότες ἀργυρισμῷ καὶ δυσθανατῶντες περὶ πᾶσαν ἰδέαν κέρδους

Plato, Laws 906c

“But there are some souls who live with us on the earth and have come to possess unjust profit, which is clearly inhuman. They implore the guards, whether they are shepherds or guard-dogs, or the highest of all masters as they beg them, trying to persuade them with pleasing words and enchanting spells—as the stories of evil men go. They are able to profiteer among human beings without suffering anything!

But we say that the crime we call now “profiteering” is the same as a disease in the body’s flesh, or what we would call a plague in some seasons and years, or what, once the word is translated, is injustice itself in cities and states.”

ψυχαὶ δή τινες ἐπὶ γῆς οἰκοῦσαι καὶ ἄδικον λῆμμα κεκτημέναι, δῆλον ὅτι θηριώδεις πρὸς τὰς τῶν φυλάκων ψυχὰς ἄρα κυνῶν ἢ τὰς τῶν νομέων ἢ πρὸς τὰς τῶν παντάπασιν ἀκροτάτων δεσποτῶν προσπίπτουσαι πείθουσι θωπείαις λόγων, καὶ ἐν εὐκταίαις τισὶν ἐπῳδαῖς, ὡς αἱ φῆμαί φασιν αἱ τῶν κακῶν, ἐξεῖναι πλεονεκτοῦσι σφίσιν ἐν ἀνθρώποις πάσχειν μηδὲν χαλεπόν. φαμὲν δ᾿ εἶναί που τὸ νῦν ὀνομαζόμενον ἁμάρτημα τὴν πλεονεξίαν ἐν μὲν σαρκίνοις σώμασι νόσημα  καλούμενον, ἐν δὲ ὥραις ἐτῶν καὶ ἐνιαυτοῖς λοιμόν, ἐν δὲ πόλεσι καὶ πολιτείαις τοῦτο αὐτό, ῥήματι μετεσχηματισμένον, ἀδικίαν.

Theognis, 725-726

“No one goes to Hell with all his precious possessions”

… τὰ γὰρ περιώσια πάντα/ χρήματ’ ἔχων οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται εἰς ᾿Αίδεω

Image result for ancient greek money hoard
Money hoard. From the Smithsonian Magazine

“Do Not Acquit this Man”

Publilius Syrus, 296

“Acquitting the guilty convicts the judge.”

Iudex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur.

Dinarchus, Against Aristogiton 107; 105

“Will you really acquit this damned man who never did you anything good from his first public act but instead has done every evil he could?”

τὸν δὲ κατάρατον τοῦτον, ὃς ἀγαθὸν μὲν ὑμᾶς οὐδεπώποτε πεποίηκεν ἐξ οὗ πρὸς τὴν πόλιν προσελήλυθε, κακὸν δ᾿ ὅ τι δυνατός ἐστιν, ἀφήσετε;

“You have to believe, by god, that he will be no better in the future after getting this judgment from you and will never stop taking bribes against you if you acquit him.”

οὐ γὰρ δὴ μὰ τὸν Ἡρακλέα βελτίω γενήσεσθαι αὐτὸν προσδοκᾶτε συγγνώμης νυνὶ τυγχάνοντα παρ᾿ ὑμῶν, οὐδὲ τὸ λοιπὸν ἀφέξεσθαι τοῦ λαμβάνειν χρήματα καθ᾿ ὑμῶν, ἐὰν νῦν ἀφῆτε αὐτόν.

Seneca, Moral Epistles 97.3

“The crime was less offensive than the acquittal.”

Minus crimine quam absolutione peccatum est

Demosthenes, On the False Legation

“For your reputation, for your religion, for your safety, for every advantage you have, do not acquit this man—no, exact vengeance upon him to make him an example to everyone, to our citizens and to the rest of the world.”

οὔτε γὰρ πρὸς δόξαν οὔτε πρὸς εὐσέβειαν οὔτε πρὸς ἀσφάλειαν οὔτε πρὸς ἄλλ᾿ οὐδὲν ὑμῖν συμφέρει τοῦτον ἀφεῖναι, ἀλλὰ τιμωρησαμένους παράδειγμα ποιῆσαι πᾶσι, καὶ τοῖς πολίταις καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἕλλησιν.

Quintilian, 7.4

“This is a domestic problem, in which sometimes it is enough to claim that there was only one crime, or it was just a mistake, or less severe than is claim for an acquittal”

Est enim domestica disceptatio, in qua et semel peccasse et per errorem et levius quam obiciatur absolutioni nonnumquam sufficit.

Dinarchus, Against Demosthenes 29

“Do not acquit this man, citizens, do not acquit and leave unpunished someone who has signed off on the misfortunes of this state and the world, a man who has been caught in corruption against the state….”

μὴ ἀφῆτε, ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, μὴ ἀφῆτε τὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς τῆς πόλεως καὶ τῶν ἄλλων Ἑλλήνων ἀτυχήμασιν ἐπιγεγραμμένον ἀτιμώρητον, εἰλημμένον ἐπ᾿ αὐτοφώρῳ δῶρα ἔχοντα κατὰ τῆς πόλεως

Lysias, Against Nicomachus 30

“Today you need to change your minds about what you have done. You need to refuse to keep being abused by these people. Don’t reproach those who have done wrong in private! Do not acquit the guilty when it is in your power to punish them.”

νῦν τοίνυν ὑμῖν μεταμελησάτω τῶν πεπραγμένων, καὶ μὴ ὑπὸ τούτων ἀεὶ κακῶς πάσχοντες ἀνέχεσθε, μηδὲ ἰδίᾳ μὲν ὀνειδίζετε τοῖς ἀδικοῦσιν, ἐπειδὰν δ᾿ ἐξῇ δίκην παρ᾿ αὐτῶν λαμβάνειν, ἀποψηφίζεσθε.

Andocides, Against Alcibiades 25

“I will show from the very facts he uses that he is more fit for death than acquittal. I will explain it to you.”

ἐξ αὐτῶν δὲ τούτων ἐπιδείξω αὐτὸν ἐπιτηδειότερον τεθνάναι μᾶλλον ἢ σῴζεσθαι. διηγήσομαι δ᾿ ὑμῖν.

Lysias, Against the Corn-Dealers 17

“You need to understand that it is impossible for you to acquit. If you ignore the charge when they admit that they are conspiring against the traders, then you will seem to make a judgment against the importers. If they were making up any other kind of defense, no one would criticize a vote to acquit since you can choose to believe whatever side you want. But, as things are now, you can’t imagine you are doing something amazing if you acquit unpunished those who admit that they broke the law!”

Ἐνθυμεῖσθαι δὲ χρὴ ὅτι ἀδύνατον ὑμῖν ἐστιν ἀποψηφίσασθαι. εἰ γὰρ ἀπογνώσεσθε ὁμολογούντων αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἐμπόρους συνίστασθαι, δόξεθ᾿ ὑμεῖς ἐπιβουλεύειν τοῖς εἰσπλέουσιν. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἄλλην τινὰ ἀπολογίαν ἐποιοῦντο, οὐδεὶς ἂν εἶχε τοῖς ἀποψηφισαμένοις ἐπιτιμᾶν· ἐφ᾿ ὑμῖν γὰρ ὁποτέροις βούλεσθε πιστεύειν· νῦν δὲ πῶς οὐ δεινὰ ἂν δόξαιτε ποιεῖν, εἰ τοὺς ὁμολογοῦντας παρανομεῖν ἀζημίους ἀφήσετε;

acquit

Shaking Us Down

Latin Trag. Adesp. = Ps-Cicero, Ad. Herenn. 2.26

“I cannot think…or figure out any reason why
I might impeach him. What would let you accuse someone
Who is honorable, if he is good? And if he is not honorable
What would let you impeach him if he thinks it is but a
Minor thing?”

Nequeo . . .
qua causa accusem hunc exputando evolvere.
Nam si veretur quid eum accuses qui est probus?
Sin inverecundum animi ingenium possidet,
quid autem accuses qui id parvi auditum
aestimet? . . .

Aristophanes fr 228 = Suda sigma 290

“Shaking-down”: Blackmail, this is a metaphor from people who shake trees: “I was shaking them down, I demanded money, I was threatening them and was extorting them again and again.”

σεῖσαι· τὸ συκοφαντῆσαι, ἀπὸ τῶν τὰ ἀκρόδρυα σειόντων· ἔσειον, ᾔτουν χρήματ᾿, ἠπείλουν, ἐσυκοφάντουν πάλιν

Mycenaean Goat and Tree Vase at the British Museum

A Conspiracy of Heroes and Gods

The following comes from a section where Socrates Scholasticus is discrediting Greek polytheism by reporting on the corruptibility of the oracles

Socrates Scholasticus, 3.23.155-170

“The oracle claims that it is Attis, the one who killed himself because of sex madness, and Adonis, and Dionysus. When Alexander the King of the Macedonians was crossing to Asia, the Amphictiones were trying to please him and the Pythian oracle reported these things:

Zeus, highest of the gods, and Athena Tritogeneia
Honor them, and the lord hidden in a thundrous body,
The one whom Zeus sowed on his noble knees
A helper of Good-law to mortals, Alexander the King!

The divine authority at Pythia prophesied these things. And in this, it used to even flatter powerful people by making gods. For perhaps it it did this for flattery. For why would the oracle say, as it did when apotheosizing the boxer Kleomedes, these things about him:

The last of the Heroes, Kleomêdes the Astupaliean,
Honor him with sacrifices, because he is no longer a mortal.

Because of this oracle, Diogenes the Cynic and Oinomaos the philosopher condemned Pythian Apollo.”

῾Ο μὲν δὴ χρησμὸς ῎Αττιν, τὸν ἐκ μανίας ἐρωτικῆς ἑαυτὸν ἀποκόψαντα, τὸν ῎Αδωνιν καὶ Διόνυσον εἶναι φησί. Τοῦ δὲ Μακεδόνων βασιλέως ᾿Αλεξάνδρου ἐπὶ τὴν ᾿Ασίαν διαβαίνοντος, οἱ ᾿Αμφικτύονες ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ ἐχαρίζοντο, καὶ ἀνεῖλεν ἡ Πυθία τάδε·

Ζᾶνα θεῶν ὕπατον, καὶ ᾿Αθηνᾶν Τριτογένειαν
Τιμᾶτε, βροτέῳ τ’ ἐν σώματι κρυπτὸν ἄνακτα,
῝Ον Ζεὺς ἀρίσταις γοναῖς ἔσπειρεν, ἀρωγὸν
Εὐνομίης θνητοῖσιν ᾿Αλέξανδρον βασιλῆα.

Ταῦτα τὸ ἐν Πυθοῖ δαιμόνιον ἐχρημάτισεν· ὃ καὶ αὐτὸ τοὺς δυνάστας κολακεῦον ἐθεοποίει· καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἴσως κολακείᾳ ἐποίει. Τί δ’ ἂν εἴποι τις, ὡς Κλεομήδην τὸν πύκτην ἀποθεώσαντες, ἔχρησαν περὶ αὐτοῦ τάδε;

῞Υστατος ἡρώων Κλεομήδης ᾿Αστυπαλιεύς·
῝Ον θυσίαις τιμᾶθ’, ὡς μηκέτι θνητὸν ἐόντα.
Διὰ μὲν οὖν τὸν χρησμὸν τόνδε Διογένης ὁ Κύων καὶ Οἰνόμαος ὁ φιλόσοφος κατέγνωσαν τοῦ Πυθίου ᾿Απόλλωνος.

File:Oracle of Delphi, red-figure kylix, 440-430 BC, Kodros Painter, Berlin F 2538, 141666.jpg
Oracle of Delphi, red-figure kylix, 440-430 BC, Kodros Painter, Berlin F 2538

 

A Vote for the Whole Country

Dinarchus, Against Philocles 19-20

“It is right, citizens, that you consider this and remember the current times: you need good faith, not corruption. You need to hate wicked men, cleanse the city of these kinds of monsters, and show all people that the majority of the people have not been ruined by a few politicians and generals. We are not slaves to their opinions because we know that we can easily defend ourselves with justice and values shared with each other as long as the gods favor us if anyone attacks us unjustly. But we know equally that no city will be preserved through corruption, betrayal and the values of wicked men like these.

For this reason, citizens, do not heed any request nor pity. Do not acknowledge the truth of the guilt which you have seen made against the injustice of the acts. […] But all of you help your common country and the laws, since both of these are being tried now against this man’s wickedness. You are about to cast a vote for the whole country, both for the established religions and the ancient laws and the constitution which was prepared for you by your forebears.”

Ἅ χρὴ λογισαμένους ὑμᾶς πάντας, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, καὶ τῶν παρόντων καιρῶν ἀναμνησθέντας, οἳ πίστεως οὐ δωροδοκίας δέονται, μισεῖν τοὺς πονηρούς, ἀνελεῖν ἐκ τῆς πόλεως τὰ τοιαῦτα θηρία, καὶ δεῖξαι πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ὅτι οὐ συνδιέφθαρται τὸ τοῦ δήμου πλῆθος τῶν ῥητόρων καὶ τῶν στρατηγῶν τισιν, οὐδὲ δουλεύει ταῖς δόξαις, εἰδότας ὅτι μετὰ μὲν δικαιοσύνης καὶ τῆς πρὸς ἀλλήλους ὁμονοίας ῥᾳδίως ἀμυνούμεθα, θεῶν ἵλεων ὄντων, ἐάν τινες ἡμῖν ἀδίκως ἐπιτιθῶνται, μετὰ δὲ δωροδοκίας καὶ προδοσίας καὶ τῶν ὁμοίων τούτοις κακῶν, ἃ τοῖς τοιούτοις ἀνθρώποις πρόσεστιν, οὐδεμί᾿ ἂν πόλις σωθείη.

μηδεμίαν οὖν δέησιν, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, μηδ᾿ ἔλεον εἰς ὑμᾶς λαμβάνοντες αὐτούς, μηδὲ τὴν ἐξ αὐτῶν τῶν ἔργων καὶ τῆς ἀληθείας ἀποδεδειγμένην ὑμῖν κατὰ τῶν κρινομένων ἀδικίαν . . . ἄκυρον ποιήσαντες, βοηθήσατε κοινῇ τῇ πατρίδι καὶ τοῖς νόμοις· ταῦτα γὰρ ἀμφότερα διαδικάζεται νῦν πρὸς τὴν τούτου πονηρίαν. ὑπὲρ πάσης, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, τῆς χώρας νῦν μέλλετε φέρειν τὴν ψῆφον καὶ τῶν ἐν ταύτῃ κατεσκευασμένων ἱερῶν καὶ τῶν ἀρχαίων νομίμων καὶ τῆς παραδεδομένης ὑπὸ τῶν προγόνων ὑμῖν πολιτείας.

Image result for Demosthenes
Demosthenes from the Yale University Art Gallery

 

Profiteers Tearing Apart the Republic

Ps. Sallust Against Cicero

“Where should I protest, whom should I implore, Senators, because the republic is being torn apart for any kind of audacious profiteer? Should I complain to the Roman people? They are so corrupted by bribes that they offer themselves and their fortunes for sale.

Should I appeal to you, Senators? You whose authority is a joke to any kind of criminal miscreant in this place where Marcus Tullius defends the laws, the courts and the state and acts like he is in charge here as if he were the only man left from a family of the most famous man, Scipio Africanus, and not some orphan found on the street, summoned here, and only just recently rooted in this city?”

Ubi querar, quos implorem, patres conscripti, diripi rem publicam atque audacissimo cuique esse praedae? apud populum Romanum? qui ita largitionibus corruptus est, ut se ipse ac fortunas suas venales habeat. an apud vos, patres conscripti? quorum auctoritas turpissimo cuique et sceleratissimo ludibrio est; ubi M. Tullius leges, iudicia, rem publicam defendit atque in hoc ordine ita moderatur quasi unus reliquus e familia viri clarissimi, Scipionis Africani, ac non reperticius, accitus, ac paulo ante insitus huic urbi civis.

Morgan Library, MS M.81, Folio 79r

Shaking Us Down

Latin Trag. Adesp. = Ps-Cicero, Ad. Herenn. 2.26

“I cannot think…or figure out any reason why
I might impeach him. What would let you accuse someone
Who is honorable, if he is good? And if he is not honorable
What would let you impeach him if he thinks it is but a
Minor thing?”

Nequeo . . .
qua causa accusem hunc exputando evolvere.
Nam si veretur quid eum accuses qui est probus?
Sin inverecundum animi ingenium possidet,
quid autem accuses qui id parvi auditum
aestimet? . . .

Aristophanes fr 228 = Suda sigma 290

“Shaking-down”: Blackmail, this is a metaphor from people who shake trees: “I was shaking them down, I demanded money, I was threatening them and was extorting them again and again.”

σεῖσαι· τὸ συκοφαντῆσαι, ἀπὸ τῶν τὰ ἀκρόδρυα σειόντων· ἔσειον, ᾔτουν χρήματ᾿, ἠπείλουν, ἐσυκοφάντουν πάλιν

Mycenaean Goat and Tree Vase at the British Museum

Not Liable for Anything He Does

Andocides, Against Alcibiades 31-32

“And he is really lucky because even though the Greeks are witnesses of his lawbreaking and corruption, he has suffered no penalty. But even though many people as hold power in a single city are subject to oversight, Alcibiades, who is leader and collects funds from our allies, is not liable for anything he does.

No, instead, after doing the kinds of things he has, he was granted the same prize as Olympic victors and he treats it as a victory as if he had crowned the state with glory instead of dishonoring it. If you just look, you will find that people who have performed merely one of the acts that man has done many times have ruined their families. But that man who has fostered all kinds of excess has doubled his fortune.”

καὶ οὕτως εὐτυχής ἐστιν, ὥστε τοὺς Ἕλληνας τῆς παρανομίας καὶ τῆς δωροδοκίας μάρτυρας κεκτημένος οὐδεμίαν δέδωκε δίκην, ἀλλὰ ὁπόσοι μὲν ἄρχοντες ἐν μιᾷ πόλει γεγένηνται, ὑπεύθυνοί εἰσιν, ὁ δὲ πάντων τῶν συμμάχων <ἄρχων> καὶ χρήματα λαμβάνων οὐδενὸς τούτων ὑπόδικός ἐστιν, ἀλλὰ τοιαῦτα διαπεπραγμένος σίτησιν ἐν Πρυτανείῳ ἔλαβε, καὶ προσέτι πολλῇ τῇ νίκῃ χρῆται, ὥσπερ οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον ἠτιμακὼς ἢ ἐστεφανωκὼς τὴν πόλιν. εἰ δὲ βούλεσθε σκοπεῖν, εὑρήσετε τῶν πολλάκις τούτῳ πεπραγμένων ἕκαστον ὀλίγον χρόνον πράξαντάς τινας ἀναστάτους τοὺς οἴκους ποιήσαντας· οὗτος δ᾿ ἐπιτηδεύων ἅπαντα πολυτελέστατα διπλασίαν οὐσίαν κέκτηται.

alcibiades: a controversial and divisive greek