Solon Says: Sue Bad Leaders of State

Aeschines, Against Timarchus

“[Solon] believed that someone who managed their own personal affairs badly would manage matters of state similarly. It did not seem likely to the lawgiver that that the same person who was a scoundrel in private would be a useful citizen in public. He also did not think right that a person should come to speak in public before being prepared for it, not just for words but in life.

And he also thought that advice from a good and noble person, however poorly and simply it was framed, is beneficial to those who hear it, while the words of a person who has no shame, who has made a mockery of his own body and who has shamefully managed his inheritance—well, these words he believed would never help the people who heard them, not even if they were delivered well.

This is why he keeps these kinds of people from the platform, why he forbids them from addressing the public. If someone speaks, then, not merely against these precepts but also for the sack of bribery and criminality, and if the state can no longer endure such a person, he adds “Let any citizens who desires it, and who is able, sue him…”

τὸν γὰρ τὴν ἰδίαν οἰκίαν κακῶς οἰκήσαντα, καὶ τὰ κοινὰ τῆς πόλεως παραπλησίως ἡγήσατο διαθήσειν, καὶ οὐκ ἐδόκει οἷόν τ᾿ εἶναι τῷ νομοθέτῃ τὸν αὐτὸν ἄνθρωπον ἰδίᾳ μὲν εἶναι πονηρόν, δημοσίᾳ δὲ χρηστόν, οὐδ᾿ ᾤετο δεῖν τὸν ῥήτορα ἥκειν ἐπὶ τὸ βῆμα τῶν λόγων ἐπιμεληθέντα πρότερον, ἀλλ᾿ οὐ τοῦ βίου. καὶ παρὰ μὲν ἀνδρὸς καλοῦ καὶ ἀγαθοῦ, κἂν πάνυ κακῶς καὶ ἁπλῶς ῥηθῇ, χρήσιμα τὰ λεγόμενα ἡγήσατο εἶναι τοῖς ἀκούουσι· παρὰ δὲ ἀνθρώπου βδελυροῦ, καὶ καταγελάστως μὲν κεχρημένου τῷ ἑαυτοῦ σώματι, αἰσχρῶς δὲ τὴν πατρῴαν οὐσίαν κατεδηδοκότος, οὐδ᾿ ἂν εὖ πάνυ λεχθῇ συνοίσειν ἡγήσατο τοῖς ἀκούουσι. τούτους οὖν ἐξείργει ἀπὸ τοῦ βήματος, τούτους ἀπαγορεύει μὴ δημηγορεῖν. ἐὰν δέ τις παρὰ ταῦτα μὴ μόνον λέγῃ, ἀλλὰ καὶ συκοφαντῇ καὶ ἀσελγαίνῃ, καὶ μηκέτι τὸν τοιοῦτον ἄνθρωπον δύνηται φέρειν ἡ πόλις, “Δοκιμασίαν μέν,” φησίν, “ἐπαγγειλάτω Ἀθηναίων ὁ βουλόμενος, οἷς ἔξεστιν,” ὑμᾶς δ᾿ ἤδη κελεύει

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Bust Labeled “Solon” but Probably actually Sophocles. Sue Me.

Attracting the Greatest Numbers of Students with the Least Truth

Isocrates, Against the Sophists 9-10

“We must rebuke not only those sophists but also those who promise to teach political oratory—for these guys don’t care at all about the truth but instead think that it is an art because they get the greatest number of students thanks to the small size of their fee and the greatness of their pronouncements and then they get something from them.

They are so imperceptive and imagine everyone else to be that even though they write speeches worse than some of the untrained masses compose, they still guarantee that they will make their students the kinds of politicians who never leave out any of the possibilities in a matter.

Even worse, they don’t derive any of that power from their experiences or the talent of a student, but they say that they can train the knowledge of speaking as they would basic literacy—in reality, each of them believe that because of the insanity of their promises they will be objects of wonder and that people will think that training in their discipline is worth more than it is. In this, they have not even considered that the people who make arts great are not those who dare to boast about them, but those who have the ability to discover what the power of each art is on its own.”

Οὐ μόνον δὲ τούτοις ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς τοὺς πολιτικοὺς λόγους ὑπισχνουμένοις ἄξιον ἐπιτιμῆσαι καὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι τῆς μὲν ἀληθείας οὐδὲν φροντίζουσιν, ἡγοῦνται δὲ τοῦτ᾿ εἶναι τὴν τέχνην, ἢν ὡς πλείστους τῇ μικρότητι τῶν μισθῶν καὶ τῷ μεγέθει τῶν ἐπαγγελμάτων προσαγάγωνται καὶ λαβεῖν τι παρ᾿ αὐτῶν δυνηθῶσιν· οὕτω δ᾿ ἀναισθήτως αὐτοί τε διάκεινται καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους ἔχειν ὑπειλήφασιν, ὥστε χεῖρον γράφοντες τοὺς λόγους ἢ τῶν ἰδιωτῶν τινες αὐτοσχεδιάζουσιν, ὅμως ὑπισχνοῦνται τοιούτους ῥήτορας τοὺς συνόντας ποιήσειν ὥστε μηδὲν τῶν ἐνόντων ἐν τοῖς πράγμασι παραλιπεῖν. καὶ ταύτης τῆς δυνάμεως οὐδὲν [293]οὔτε ταῖς ἐμπειρίαις οὔτε τῇ φύσει τῇ τοῦ μαθητοῦ μεταδιδόασιν, ἀλλά φασιν ὁμοίως τὴν τῶν λόγων ἐπιστήμην ὥσπερ τὴν τῶν γραμμάτων παραδώσειν, ὡς μὲν ἔχει τούτων ἑκάτερον, οὐκ ἐξετάσαντες, οἰόμενοι δὲ διὰ τὰς ὑπερβολὰς τῶν ἐπαγγελμάτων αὐτοί τε θαυμασθήσεσθαι καὶ τὴν παίδευσιν τὴν τῶν λόγων πλέονος ἀξίαν δόξειν εἶναι, κακῶς εἰδότες ὅτι μεγάλας ποιοῦσι τὰς τέχνας οὐχ οἱ τολμῶντες ἀλαζονεύεσθαι περὶ αὐτῶν, ἀλλ᾿ οἵτινες ἄν, ὅσον ἔνεστιν ἐν ἑκάστῃ, τοῦτ᾿ ἐξευρεῖν δυνηθῶσιν.

Vaticanus Graecus, 65. 121v Public Domain


Using the Past as a Guide for the Future

Andocides, On the Peace with Sparta 1-2

“You all seem to me to understand, Athenians, that it is better to make a just peace than to keep going to war. That politicians agree to peace in name but they oppose the acts that foster peace, you do not all perceive this. For they claim that, once peace is achieved, there is the greatest peril for the people that the current regime may be dissolved.

Therefore, if the people of the Athenians had never made peace before with the Lakedaimonians, we might rightly fear this because of inexperience of the process or distrust for them. Since you have often made peace with them previously when you were already ruled as a democracy, how would it not be right for you to first examine the things that happened before. For, it is right, Athenians, to use prior events as a guide about what will happen in the future.”

Ὅτι μὲν εἰρήνην ποιεῖσθαι δικαίαν ἄμεινόν ἐστιν ἢ πολεμεῖν, δοκεῖτέ μοι, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, πάντες γιγνώσκειν· ὅτι δὲ οἱ ῥήτορες τῷ μὲν ὀνόματι τῆς εἰρήνης συγχωροῦσι, τοῖς δ᾿ ἔργοις ἀφ᾿ ὧν ἂν ἡ εἰρήνη γένοιτο ἐναντιοῦνται, τοῦτο δὲ οὐ πάντες αἰσθάνεσθε. λέγουσι γὰρ ὡς ἔστι δεινότατον τῷ δήμῳ, γενομένης εἰρήνης, ἡ νῦν οὖσα πολιτεία μὴ καταλυθῇ.

Εἰ μὲν οὖν μηδεπώποτε πρότερον ὁ δῆμος ὁ [τῶν]2Ἀθηναίων εἰρήνην ἐποιήσατο πρὸς Λακεδαιμονίους, εἰκότως ἂν ἐφοβούμεθα αὐτὸ διά τε τὴν ἀπειρίαν τοῦ ἔργου διά τε τὴν ἐκείνων ἀπιστίαν· ὅπου δὲ πολλάκις ἤδη πρότερον εἰρήνην ἐποιήσασθε δημοκρατούμενοι, πῶς οὐκ εἰκὸς ὑμᾶς πρῶτον ἐκεῖνα σκέψασθαι τὰ τότε γενόμενα; χρὴ γάρ, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, τεκμηρίοις χρῆσθαι τοῖς πρότερον γενομένοις περὶ τῶν μελλόντων ἔσεσθαι.

ὡς ἔστι δεινότατον… Smyth §2224 δεινός εἰμι functions grammatically as an expression of fear, triggering the fear clause postponed to the end of the sentence (μὴ καταλυθῇ)


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Segment of the Gortyn Legal inscription

No Politics and Religion at Dinner? Try Love Instead

In one topics for “Table-Talk”, Plutarch suggests the effects of love on a poet as a starting point…Of course, if you want debates about Love, the Symposia of Plato and Xenophon are good inspirations too…

Plutarch: “Table-Talk” Moralia 622 Why Do We Say that Eros Teaches a Poet?

“The question “how it can be said truthful that “Love teaches the poet” even though he was songless before, was considered at Sossius’ house after some Sapphic verses were performed. Philoxenos claims that the Kyklops “cured love with well-voiced songs.”

Love is said to be clever at every kind of audacity and at furnishing ingenuity, just as Plato calls love “speedy” and “prepared for everything”. Indeed, love makes a quiet man talkative and the withdrawn man solicitous; it makes the carefree and easygoing person serious and sedulous. And what is especially wondrous, a cheap and miserly man, after he falls in love, becomes soft, compliant, and persuadable just as iron in fire.  Thus what seems like a joke is not completely absurd in the proverb “a lover’s purse is locked by an onion leaf”.

It has also been said that being in love is like being drunk. For it makes people hot, happy, and troubled–after they come into this state, they fall into speech that sounds like songs or verse. People claim Aeschylus wrote his tragedies while drinking, even completely drunk. My grandfather Lamprias was himself most innovative and insightful when he was drinking. He was in the habit of saying that just as with incense, he too was activated by warmth.

 In addition, people see the ones they want most sweetly—and are no less moved to praise them than to see them. In praise, love, voluble in everything, is the most effusive. When people are in love they want to persuade everyone how beautiful and good are the ones they love, because they believe it themselves.”

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Πῶς εἴρηται τὸ “ποιητὴν δ᾿ ἄρα Ἔρως διδάσκει”

Πῶς εἴρηται τὸ ποιητὴν δ᾿ ἄραἜρως διδάσκει, κἂν ἄμουσος ᾖ τὸ πρίν ἐζητεῖτο παρὰ Σοσσίῳ Σαπφικῶν τινων ᾀσθέντων, ὅπου καὶ τὸν Κύκλωπα “μούσαις εὐφώνοις ἰᾶσθαι” φησὶ “τὸν ἔρωτα” Φιλόξενος. ἐλέχθη μὲν οὖν ὅτι πρὸς πάντα τόλμαν ὁ ἔρως καὶ καινοτομίαν συγχορηγῆσαι δεινός ἐστιν, ὥσπερ καὶ Πλάτων “ἴτην” αὐτὸν καὶ “παντὸς ἐπιχειρητὴν” ὠνόμασεν· καὶ γὰρ λάλον ποιεῖ τὸν σιωπηλὸν καὶ θεραπευτικὸν τὸν αἰσχυντηλόν, ἐπιμελῆ δὲ καὶ φιλόπονον τὸν ἀμελῆ καὶ ῥᾴθυμον· ὃ δ᾿ ἄν τις μάλιστα θαυμάσειεν, φειδωλὸς ἀνήρ τε καὶ μικρολόγος ἐμπεσὼν εἰς ἔρωτα καθάπερ εἰς πῦρ σίδηρος ἀνεθεὶς καὶ μαλαχθεὶς ἁπαλὸς καὶ ὑγρὸς καὶ ἡδίων, ὥστε τουτὶ τὸ παιζόμενον μὴ πάνυ φαίνεσθαι γελοῖον ὅτι “πράσου φύλλῳ τὸ τῶν ἐρώντων δέδεται βαλλάντιον.”

Ἐλέχθη δὲ καὶ ὅτι τῷ μεθύειν τὸ ἐρᾶν ὅμοιόν ἐστιν· ποιεῖ γὰρ θερμοὺς καὶ ἱλαροὺς καὶ διακεχυμένους, γενόμενοι δὲ τοιοῦτοι πρὸς τὰς ἐπῳδοὺς καὶ ἐμμέτρους μάλιστα φωνὰς ἐκφέρονται· καὶ τὸν Αἰσχύλον φασὶ τὰς τραγῳδίας πίνοντα ποιεῖν καὶ διαθερμαινόμενον. ἦν δὲ Λαμπρίας ὁ ἡμέτερος πάππος ἐν τῷ πίνειν εὑρετικώτατος αὐτὸς αὑτοῦ καὶ λογιώτατος· εἰώθει δὲ λέγειν ὅτι τῷ λιβανωτῷ παραπλησίως ὑπὸ θερμότητος ἀναθυμιᾶται. καὶ μὴν ἥδιστα τοὺς ἐρωμένους ὁρῶντες οὐχ ἧττον ἡδέως ἐγκωμιάζουσιν ἢ ὁρῶσιν, καὶ πρὸς πάντα λάλος ὢν ἔρως λαλίστατός ἐστιν ἐν τοῖς ἐπαίνοις. αὐτοί τε γὰρ οὕτως πεπεισμένοι τυγχάνουσιν καὶ βούλονται πεπεῖσθαι πάντας ὡς καλῶν καὶ ἀγαθῶν ἐρῶντες.

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.

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Demosthenes from the Yale University Art Gallery


No Gain! Or, How To Defend Against A Charge of Conspiracy

Gorgias, Defense of Palamedes

“Someone claims that we made a promise to each other with money, he gave it and I took it. Was it only a little? Is it not likely that I took only a little money in exchange for tremendous efforts on my part? Or, was it a lot? How did I get it? How could he have brought it to me? Or did many people do it? If many people had done it, there would have been many witnesses of the conspiracy. But if one person did it, then he could not have carried much. Did they bring during the day or the night? There were many guards close together—it would have been hard to evade them. So it was at day? Well, daylight is hostile to these kinds of things.

Ok, let’s imagine this. Did I come out and take the money or did the man who brought it come inside? Both have their challenges. If I took it, how did I hide the fact from people inside and outside? Where could I have placed it? How would I have guarded it? If I used it, it would have been clear as day! If I didn’t use it, than what would I have gained from it?”

φήσει τις ὡς χρήμασι τὴν πίστιν ἐποιούμεθα, ἐκεῖνος μὲν διδούς, ἐγὼ δὲ λαμβάνων. πότερον οὖν ὀλίγοις; ἀλλ’ οὐκ εἰκὸς ἀντὶ μεγάλων ὑπουργημάτων ὀλίγα χρήματα λαμβάνειν. ἀλλὰ πολλοῖς; τίς οὖν ἦν ἡ κομιδή; πῶς δ’ ἂν ἐκόμισεν; ἢ πολλοί; πολλῶν γὰρ κομιζόντων πολλοὶ ἂν ἦσαν μάρτυρες τῆς ἐπιβουλῆς, ἑνὸς δὲ κομίζοντος οὐκ ἂν πολύ τι τὸ φερόμενον ἦν. [10] πότερα δὲ ἐκόμισαν ἡμέρας ἢ νυκτός; ἀλλὰ πολλαὶ καὶ πυκναὶ φυλακαί, δι’ ὧν οὐκ ἔστι λαθεῖν. ἀλλ’ ἡμέρας; ἀλλά γε τὸ φῶς πολεμεῖ τοῖς τοιούτοις. εἶεν. ἐγὼ δ’ ἐξελθὼν ἐδεξάμην, ἢ ἐκεῖνος ὁ φέρων εἰσῆλθεν; ἀμφότερα γὰρ ἄπορα. λαβὼν δὲ δὴ πῶς ἂν ἔκρυψα καὶ τοὺς ἔνδον καὶ τοὺς ἔξω; ποῦ δ’ ἂν ἔθηκα; πῶς δ’ ἂν ἐφύλαξα; χρώμενος δ’ ἂν φανερὸς ἐγενόμην, μὴ χρώμενος δὲ τί ἂν ὠφελούμην ἀπ’ αὐτῶν;

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Don’t Try to Make that Speech Too Perfect

Quintilian, 9.4 (112)

“This whole topic is handled here not merely to make oratory, which should move and flow, grow ancient because it must measure out each foot and weigh out each syllable. No, that is what miserable minds who are obsessed with minor things think about.

No one who throws himself into this concern completely will have any time for more important matters if, once the weight of the material is forgotten and polish itself is rejected, he constructs “mosaic work”, as Lucilius says, and works his words together in “vermiculate construction”. Won’t his fire cool down and his force diminish, the same way show-riders break the pace of their horses with a dancing gait?”

Totus vero hic locus non ideo tractatur a nobis ut oratio, quae ferri debet ac fluere, dimetiendis pedibus ac perpendendis syllabis consenescat: nam id cum miseri, tum in minimis occupati est: neque enim qui se totum in hac cura consumpserit potioribus vacabit, si quidem relicto rerum pondere ac nitore contempto ‘tesserulas’, ut ait Lucilius, struet et vermiculate inter se lexis committet. Nonne ergo refrigeretur sic calor et impetus pereat, ut equorum cursum delicati minutis passibus frangunt?

Demosthenes, Practicing