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an able rival orator who had been suborned by Philip, and was a bitter enemy of Demosthenes. We append below a selection from this celebrated speech.)
ON THE CROWN [The occasion of this speech on the crown may be briefly stated. In 338 B.C., was fought the disastrous battle of Chæronea, in which the Athenians met the Macedonians in arms and were decisively defeated. Among the fugitives from the field was Demosthenes, who had fought as well as talked against Philip. On his return to Athens he found himself the ruling power in the state, and Ctesiphon, one of his admirers, proposed that the people should reward him for his eminent services by a crown of gold.* The giving of this crown was opposed by Æschines in a speech of great power and vehemence. Demosthenes' answer was the supreme effort of his life, the most perfect masterpiece of oratory ever produced.]
Let me begin, Men of Athens, by imploring of all the Heavenly Powers, that the same kindly sentiments which I have, throughout my public life, cherished towards this country and each of you, may now by you be shown towards me in the present contest! In two respects my adversary plainly has the advantage of me. First, we have not the same interests at stake ; it is by no means the same thing for me to forfeit your esteem, and for Æschines, an unprovoked volunteer, to fail in his impeachment. My other disadvantage is, the natural proneness of men to lend a pleased attention to invective and accusation, but to give little heed to him whose theme is his own vindication. . .
A wicked thing, Athenians, a wicked thing is a calumniator, ever ;querulous and industrious in seeking pretense of complaint. But this creature is despicable by nature, and incapable of any trace of generous and noble deeds; ape of a tragedian, third-rate actor, spurious orator ! For what, Æschines, does your eloquence profit the country? You now descant upon what is past and gone-as if a physician, when called to patients in a sinking state, should give no advice, nor prescribe any course by which the disease might be cured ; but, after one of them had died, and the last officers were performing to his remains, should follow him to the grave, and expound how the poor man never would have died had such and such things only been done. Lunatic ! is it now that at length you too speak out? .
As to the defeat, that incident in which you so exult (wretch! who should rather mourn for it), -look through my whole conduct, and you shall find nothing there that brought down this calamity on my country. Consider only, Athenians : Never, from any embassy upon which you
* The crown here indicated (Latin, corona) was a wreath, garland, or any ornamental fillet encircl. ing the head, bestowed as a reward for distinguished public services. Here, probably, a laurel wreath of gold is indicated.
sent me, did I come off worsted by Philip's ambassadors ; not from Thessaly, not from Ambracia, not from Illyria, not from the Thracian kings, not from the Byzantians, nor from any other quarter whatever,—nor finally, of late, from Thebes. But wheresoever his negotiators were overcome in debate, thither Philip marched, and carried the day by his arms. Do you, then, exact this of me, and are you not ashamed, at the moment you are upbraiding me for weakness, to require that I should defy him single-handed, and by force of words alone! For what other weapons had I? Certainly not the lives of men, nor the fortune of warriors, nor the military operations of which you are so blundering as to demand an account at my hands.
But whatever a minister can be accountable for, make of that the strictest scrutiny, and I do not object. What, then, falls within this description ? To descry events in their first beginnings, to cast his look forward, and to warn others of their approach. All this I have done. Then, to confine within the narrowest bounds all delays, and backwardness, and ignorance, and contentiousness,-faults which are inherent and unavoidable in all States; and, on the other hand, to promote unanimity, and friendly dispositions, and zeal in the performance of public duty :and all these things I likewise did, nor can any man point out any of them that, so far as depended on me, was left undone.
If, then, it should be asked by what means Philip for the most part succeeded in his operations, every one would answer, By his army, by his largesses, by corrupting those at the head of affairs. Well, then, I neither had armies, nor did I command them; and therefore the argument respecting military operations cannot touch me. Nay, in so far as I was inaccessible to bribes, there I conquered Philip! For, as he who purchases any one overcomes him who has received the price and sold himself, so he who will not take the money, nor consent to be bribed, has fairly conquered the bidder. Thus, as far as I am concerned, this country stands unconquered..
Under what circumstances, O Athenians ought the strenuous and patriotic orator to appear? When the State is in jeopardy, when the people are at issue with the enemy, then it is that his vehemence is timely. But now, when I stand clear on all hands,—by prescription, by judgments repeatedly pronounced, by my never having been convicted before the people of any offense, –and when more or less of glory has of necessity resulted to the public from my course—now it is that Æschines turns up, and attempts to wrest from me the honors which you propose to bestow! Personal spite and envy are at the bottom of all his trumped-up charges, my fellow citizens; and I proclaim him no true man.
Consider, Æschines, whether you are not in reality the country's enemy, while you pretend to be only mine. Let us look at the acts of the orator rather than at the speech. He who pays his court to the enemies of the State does not cast anchor in the same roadstead with the people. He looks elsewhere than to them for his security. Such a man-mark me ! am not I. I have always made common cause with the people, nor have I shaped my public course for my individual benefit. Can you say as much? Can you? You, who, instantly after the battle, repaired as ambassador to Philip, the author of all our calamities ; and this after you had declared loudly, on previous occasions, against engaging in any such commission, as all these citizens can testify !
What worse charge can anyone bring against an orator than that his words and his deeds do not tally? Yet you have been discovered to be such a man ; and you still lift your voice and dare to look this assembly in the face ! Think you they do not know you for what you are ? or that such a slumber and oblivion have come over them all as to make them forget the speeches in which, with oaths and imprecations, you disclaimed all dealings with Philip, and declared that I falsely brought this charge against you from personal enmity? And yet, no sooner was the advice received of that fatal-0! that fatal-battle, than your asseverations were forgotten, your connection publicly avowed! You affected to have been Philip's friend and guest. Such were the titles by which you sought to dignify your prostitution.
But read here the epitaph inscribed by the State upon the monument of the slain, that you may see yourself in it, Æschines, ---unjust, calumnious, and profligate. Read !
“These were the brave, unknowing how to yield,
Who, terrible in valor, kept the field
And erring mortals must submit to Fate." Do you hear, Æschines ? It pertains only to the gods to control fortune and command success. To them the power of assuring victory to armies is ascribed,—not to the statesman, but to the gods. Wherefore, then, execrable wretch, wherefore upbraid me with what has happened? Why denounce against me what the just gods reserve for the heads of you and yours?
AESCHINES (389-314 B.C.)
THE RIVAL OF DEMOSTHENES
NE of the famous orators of Greece, Æschines by name, who
especially came into reputation through his controversy with
his great rival, began his career, like Demosthenes, as a violent opponent of Philip of Macedon. But, after a visit to Philip's court, a change took place, and he became a zealous opponent to war with Macedonia. This brought the two orators into a violent verbal contest, which began with a charge by Demosthenes that Æschines preferred the gold of Philip to the good of Greece. The final event in this quarrel of oratorical giants was a vigorous speech by Æschines against Ctesiphon for voting Demosthenes a crown of gold, and the overwhelming answer of Demosthenes. As a result of his defeat, Æschines went into voluntary exile to the island of Rhodes, where he founded a very successful school of oratory.
AGAINST CTESIPHON [As an orator Æschines possessed a sonorous voice and vigorous manner, with fine rhetorical powers and great felicity of diction. His orations have much of the force and fire displayed by his rival, and closely approximate those of Demosthenes in general character. Of his extant speeches the best is that “Against Ctesiphon." On one occasion he read this to his pupils at Rhodes, who were much surprised that so powerful a speech could fail of success. He replied, “You would cease to be astonished if you had heard Demosthenes.”l
When Demosthenes boasts to you, O Athenians, of his Democratic zeal, examine, not his harangues, but his life; not what he professes to be, but what he really is ;-redoubtable in words, impotent in deeds ; plausible in speech, perfidious in action. As to his courage—has he not himself, before the assembled people, confessed his poltroonery? By the laws of Athens, the man who refuses to bear arms, the coward, the deserter of his post in battle, is excluded from all share in the public deliberations,
denied admission to our religious rites, and rendered incapable of receiving the honor of a crown. Yet now it is proposed to crown a man whom your laws expressly disqualify!
Which, think you, was the more worthy citizen—Themistocles, who commanded your fleet when you vanquished the Persian at Salamis, or Demosthenes the deserter ?–Miltiades, who conquered the Barbarians at Marathon, or this hireling traitor ?-Aristides, surnamed the Just, or Demosthenes, who merits a far different surname? By all the gods of Olympus, it is a profanation to mention in the same breath this monster and those great men ! Let him cite, if he can, one among them all to whom a crown was decreed. And was Athens ungrateful? No! She was magnanimous ; and those uncrowned citizens were worthy of Athens. They placed their glory, not in the letter of a decree, but in the remembrance of a country of which they had merited well,-in the living, imperishable remembrance !
And now a popular orator—the mainspring of our calamities—a deserter from the field of battle, a deserter from the city, claims of us a crown, exacts the honor of a proclamation ! Crown him ? Proclaim his worth? My countrymen, this would not be to exalt Demosthenes, but to degrade yourselves ; to dishonor those brave men who perished for you in battle. Crown him! Shall his recreancy win what was denied to their devotion ? This would indeed be to insult the memory of the dead, and to paralyze the emulation of the living !
When Demosthenes tells you that, as ambassador, he wrested Byzantium from Philip ; that, as orator, he roused the Acarnanians, and subdued the Thebans ; let not the braggart impose on you. He flatters himself that the Athenians are simpletons enough to believe him ; as if in him they cherished the very genius of persuasion, instead of a vile calumniator. But when, at the close of his defense, he shall summon to his aid his accomplices in corruption, imagine then, O Athenians, that you behold at the foot of this tribune, from which I now address you, the great benefactors of the Republic arrayed against them.
Solon, who environed our liberty with the noblest institutions, Solon, the philosopher, the mighty legislator,—with that benignity so characteristic, implores you not to pay more regard to the honeyed phrases of Demosthenes than to your own laws. Aristides, who fixed for Greece the apportionment of her contribution, and whose orphan daughters were dowered by the people, is moved to indignation at this prostitution of justice, and exclaims : “ Think on your fathers ! Arthmius of Zelia brought gold from Media into Greece, and, for the act, barely escaped death in banishment; and now Demosthenes, who has not merely