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Against Timarchus   


[125] But it seems that we are to have another argument, too, concocted by the same sophist. For he says that nothing is more unjust than common report, and he goes to the market-place for his evidence, the sort of thing that is quite in harmony with his own life. He says first that the apartment house in Colonus which is called Demon's is falsely named, for it does not belong to Demon. Again, that the herm called "the Herm of Andocides" is not that of Andocides, but a votive offering of the tribe Aegeis.

[126] and Demosthenes by way of a jest presents himself as an example, for he poses as a man who knows how to indulge in pleasantries and to joke about his own manner of life. "Unless," he says, "I am to answer to the name when the crowd call me, not Demosthenes, but `Batalus,' just because I got that nickname from my nurse, as my baby-name." And he says that if Timarchus did develop into a handsome youth, and if he is jeered at through slanderous interpretation of that fact, and not because of his own actions, surely he ought not for that reason to fall into misfortune.

[127] But, Demosthenes, in the case of votive offerings, houses, estates, and all dumb objects in general, I do indeed hear many names applied, ever changing, never twice the same; for in them are no actions good or bad, but the man who happens to have become connected with them, whoever he may be, gives them a name according to the greatness of his own reputation. But in the case of the life and conduct of men, a common report which is unerring does of itself spread abroad throughout the city; it causes the private deed to become matter of public knowledge, and many a time it even prophesies what is about to be.

[128] to manifest and so far from being fabricated is this statement of mine, that you will find that both our city and our forefathers dedicated an altar to Common Report, as one of the greatest gods; and you will find that Homer again and again in the Iliad says, of a thing that has not yet come to pass, "Common Report came to the host;" and again you will find Euripides declaring that this god is able not only to make known the living, revealing their true characters, but the dead as well, when he says, "Common Report shows forth the good man, even though he be in the bowels of the earth;"

[129] and Hesiod expressly represents her as a goddess, speaking in words that are very plain to those who are willing to understand, for he says, "But Common Report dies never, the voice that tongues of many men do utter. She also is divine." You will find that all men whose lives have been decorous praise these verses of the poets. For all who are ambitious for honor from their fellows believe that it is from good report that fame will come to them. But men whose lives are shameful pay no honor to this god, for they believe that in her they have a deathless accuser.

[130] Call to mind, therefore, fellow citizens, what common report you have been accustomed to hear in the case of Timarchus. The instant the name is spoken you ask, do you not, "What Timarchus do you mean? The prostitute?" Furthermore, if I had presented witnesses concerning any matter, you would believe me; if then I present the god as my witness, will you refuse to believe? But she is a witness against whom it would be impiety even to bring complaint of false testimony.

[131] in the case of Demosthenes, too, it was common report, and not his nurse, that gave him his nickname; and well did common report name him Batalus, for his effeminacy and lewdness! For, Demosthenes, if anyone should strip off those exquisite, pretty mantle of yours, and the soft, pretty shirts that you wear while you are writing your speeches against your friends, and should pass them around among the jurors, I think, unless they were informed beforehand, they would be quite at a loss to say whether they had in their hands the clothing of a man or of a woman!

[132] But in the course of the defence one of the generals will, as I am told, mount the platform, with head held high and a self-conscious air, as one who should say, Behold the graduate of the wrestling schools, and the student of philosophy! And he will undertake to throw ridicule upon the whole idea of the prosecution, asserting that this is no legal process that I have devised, but the first step in a dangerous decline in the culture of our youth. He will cite first those benefactors of yours, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, describing their fidelity to one another, and telling how in their case this relationship proved the salvation of the state.

[133] Indeed, they say he will not even spare the poems of Homer or the names of the heroes, but will celebrate the friendship between Patroclus and Achilles, which, we are told, had its source in passion. And he will pronounce an encomium on beauty now, as though it were not recognised long since as a blessing, if haply it be united with morality. For he says that if certain men by slandering this beauty of body shall cause beauty to be a misfortune to those who possess it, then in your public verdict you will contradict your personal prayers.

[134] For you seem to him, he says, in danger of being strangely inconsistent; for when you are about to beget children, you pray one and all that your sons still unborn may be fair and beautiful in person, and worthy of the city; and yet when you have sons already born, of whom the city may well be proud, if by their surpassing beauty and youthful charm they infatuate one person or another, and become the subject of strife because of the passion they inspire, these sons, as it seems, you propose to deprive of civic rights--because Aeschines tells you to do it.

[135] And just here I understand he is going to carry the war into my territory, and ask me if I am not ashamed on my own part, after having made a nuisance of myself in the gymnasia and having been many times a lover, now to be bringing the practice into reproach and danger. And finally--so I am told--in an attempt to raise a laugh and start silly talk among you, he says he is going to exhibit all the erotic poems I have ever addressed to one person or another, and he promises to call witnesses to certain quarrels and pommellings in which I have been involved in consequence of this habit.

[136] Now as for me, I neither find fault with love that is honorable, nor do I say that those who surpass in beauty are prostitutes. I do not deny that I myself have been a lover and am a lover to this day, nor do I deny that the jealousies and quarrels that commonly arise from the practice have happened in my case. As to the poems which they say I have composed, some I acknowledge, but as to others I deny that they are of the character that these people will impute to them, for they will tamper with them.

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