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AESCHINES (389-314 B.C.)
0 NE of the famous orators of Greece, AEschines 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 AEschines preferred the gold of Philip to the good of Greece. The final event in this quarrel of oratorical giants was a vigorous speech by AEschines against Ctesiphon for voting Demosthenes a crown of gold, and the overwhelming answer of Demosthenes. As a result of his defeat, AEschines went into voluntary exile to the island of Rhodes, where he founded a very successful school of oratory.
[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.”]
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 2 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 2—Miltiades, who conquered the Barbarians at Marathon, or this hireling traitor 2—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 1 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 2 Proclaim his worth 2 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
brought gold, but who received it as the price of treachery, and still retains it, Demosthenes it is unblushingly proposed to invest with a golden
crown ” From those who fell at Marathon and at Plataea ; from Themistocles; from the very sepulchres of your ancestors, issues the protesting groan of condemnation and rebuke 1 . . .
I neither envy the habits of Demosthenes nor blush for my own ; nor would I retract the speeches I have spoken among you; nor, had I spoken as he has, would I be content to live; for my silence, Demosthenes, has been occasioned by the simplicity of my life. I am satisfied with little, and covet not the dishonest acquisition of more; so that I can be silent, and can speak advisedly, and not when constrained by innate extravagance; while you, I should say, are silent when your hand is full, and clamorous when it is empty, and speak, not when you choose, nor what you please, but whenever your employers instruct you, -for you are never ashamed of exaggerations which are immediately detected.
You censure me for coming before the city not continuously, but at intervals, and flatter yourself that you can escape detection in propounding this principle, which is not of democracy but a different form of government; for under an oligarchy not he who would, but he who has power, prefers indictments; but under a democracy, whoever chooses, and whenever he thinks proper. Besides, to appear occasionally in public is an indication of a policy suggested by opportunity of advantage; but to make no intermission, even of a day, is the proof of a traitor and a hireling.
And yet, by the Gods of Olympus, of all that I understand Demosthenes intends to say, I am most indignant at what I am going to mention. He compares my talents, it seems, to the Sirens, for their hearers (he says) are not so much enchanted as lured to destruction—and hence the evil reputation of their minstrelsy. In like manner my rhetorical skill and abilities prove the ruin of my hearers. And, although I believe no man whatever is justified in any such assertion respecting me—for it is discreditable for an accuser not to be able to prove the truth of his allegations—yet if the assertion must be made, it should not have been by Demosthenes, but by some military commander who had rendered important services to the state and was deficient in eloquence; and who therefore envied the talents of his adversaries because he was conscious of his inability to proclaim his achievements, while he saw an adversary capable of representing to his audience what he had never performed as though they were actual achievements. Yet when a man made up altogether of words—bitter and superfluously elaborate words—comes back to the simplicity of facts, who can tolerate it? A man whose tongue, like that of the flageolet, if you remove, the rest is nothing.
MARCUS PORCIUS CATO (234-149 B.C.)
AN EMINENT ROMAN ORATOR
whose productions have come down to us in assured form. Of the others, including Caesar, and the two Catos, we have what purport to be orations spoken by them, in the pages of Livy, Sallust and other historians. These, while perhaps not their exact words, may closely approach orations actually delivered by them. There were two Catos, eminent as orators, who bore the above name, Cato, the Elder, or the Censor, and his great grandson, Cato, the Younger. It is with the former that we are here concerned. Poor by birth and a farmer by profession, his ability as an orator, and his eminence as a model of the severer virtues, raised him through various positions to the office of consul, and finally to that of censor. In the latter, his severity in correcting abuses and enforcing his principles of economy and sobriety made him many enemies. As a senator he became noted, in the third Punic war, for the famous phrase, Delenda est Carthago (“Carthage must be destroyed ").
0 F the orators of Rome, there is only one, the far-famed Cicero,
WOMEN IN POLITICS
[Livy gives Cato credit for the following specimen of oratory, of interest for its peculiar subject, the political activity of women. It is certainly a surprise, with the ideas usually entertained of the seclusion of women in ancient times, to find them as active in their efforts to take part in public affairs as the advocates of women's rights of to-day, while Cato played the part of the Inodern opponents of these “rights.”]
If, Romans, every individual among us had made it a rule to maintain
the prerogative and authority of a husband with respect to his own wife,
we should have less trouble with the whole sex. But now, our privileges,
overpowered at home by female contumacy, are, even here in the forum,
414 MARCUS PORCIUS CATO
spurned and trampled under foot; and because we are unable to withstand each separately, we now dread their collective body. I was accustomed to consider it a fabulous and fictitious tale, that in a certain island the whole race of males was utterly extirpated by a conspiracy of the women. But the utmost danger may be apprehended equally from either sex, if you suffer cabals and secret consultations to be held ; scarcely, indeed, can I determine, in my own mind, whether the act itself, or the precedent which it affords, is of more pernicious tendency. The latter of these more particularly concerns us consuls and other magistrates; the former, you my fellow-citizens: for whether the measure proposed to your consideration be profitable to the State or not is to be determined by you, who are to vote on the occasion.
As to the outrageous behavior of these women, whether it be merely an act of their own, or owing to your instigations, Marcus Fundanius and Lucius Valerius, it unquestionably implies culpable conduct in magistrates. I know not whether it reflects greater disgrace on you, tribunes, or on the consuls; on you, certainly, if you have brought these women hither for the purpose of raising tribunitian sedition ; on us, if we suffer laws to be imposed upon us by a secession of women, as was done formerly by that of the common people.
It was not without painful emotions of shame that I, just now, made my way into the forum through the midst of a band of women. Had I not been restrained by respect for the modesty and dignity of some individuals among them, rather than of the whole number, and been unwilling that they should be seen rebuked by a consul, I should not have refrained from saying to them : “What sort of practice is this of running out into the public, besetting the streets, and addressing other women's husbands. Could not each have made the same request to her husband at home? Are your blandishments more seducing in public than in private, and with other women's husbands than with your own 2 Although, if females would let this modesty confine them within the limits of their own rights, it did not become you, even at home, to concern yourselves about any laws that might be passed or repealed here.”
Our ancestors thought it not proper that women should perform any, even private business, without a director; but that they should be ever under the control of parents, brothers, or husbands. We, it seems, suffer them now to interfere in the management of State affairs, and to thrust themselves into the forum, into general assemblies, and into assemblies of election; for what are they doing at this moment in your streets and lanes 2 What, but arguing, some in support of the motion of tribunes, others contending for the repeal of the law.