Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Aeschines
Pages of Against Timarchus



Previous | Next
                  

Against Timarchus   



[137] The distinction which I draw is this: to be in love with those who are beautiful and chaste is the experience of a kind-hearted and generous soul; but to hire for money and to indulge in licentiousness is the act of a man who is wanton and ill-bred. And whereas it is an honor to be the object of a pure love, I declare that he who has played the prostitute by inducement of wages is disgraced. How wide indeed is the distinction between these two acts and how great the difference, I will try to show you in what I shall next say.

[138] your fathers, when they were laying down laws to regulate the habits of men and those acts that inevitably flow from human nature, forbade slaves to do those things which they thought ought to be done by free men. "A slave," says the law, "shall not take exercise or anoint himself in the wrestling-schools." It did not go on to add, "But the free man shall anoint himself and take exercise;" for when, seeing the good that comes from gymnastics, the lawgivers forbade slaves to take part, they thought that in prohibiting them they were by the same words inviting the free.

[139] again, the same lawgiver said, "A slave shall not be the lover of a free boy nor follow after him, or else he shall receive fifty blows of the public lash." But the free man was not forbidden to love a boy, and associate with him, and follow after him, nor did the lawgiver think that harm came to the boy thereby, but rather that such a thing was a testimony to his chastity. But, I think, so long as the boy is not his own master and is as yet unable to discern who is a genuine friend, and who is not, the law teaches the lover self-control, and makes him defer the words of friendship till the other is older and has reached years of discretion; but to follow after the boy and to watch over him the lawgiver regarded as the best possible safeguard and protection for chastity.

[140] and so it was that those benefactors of the state, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, men pre-eminent for their virtues, were so nurtured by that chaste and lawful love--or call it by some other name than love if you like--and so disciplined, that when we hear men praising what they did, we feel that words are inadequate to the eulogy of their deeds.

[141] But since you make mention of Achilles and Patroclus, and of Homer and the other poets--as though the jury were men innocent of education, while you are people of a superior sort, who feel yourselves quite beyond common folks in learning--that you may know that we too have before now heard and learned a little something, we shall say a word about this also. For since they undertake to cite wise men, and to take refuge in sentiments expressed in poetic measures, look, fellow citizens, into the works of those who are confessedly good and helpful poets, and see how far apart they considered chaste men, who love their like, and men who are wanton and overcome by forbidden lusts.

[142] I will speak first of Homer, whom we rank among the oldest and wisest of the poets. Although he speaks in many places of Patroclus and Achilles, he hides their love and avoids giving a name to their friendship, thinking that the exceeding greatness of their affection is manifest to such of his hearers as are educated men.

[143] For Achilles says somewhere in the course of his lament for the death of Patroclus, as recalling one of the greatest of sorrows, that unwillingly he has broken the promise he had given to Menoetius, the father of Patroclus; for he had promised to bring his son back safe to Opus, if he would send him along with him to Troy, and entrust him to his care. It is evident from this that it was because of love that he undertook to take care of him.

[144] But the verses, which I am about to recite, are these: "Ah me, I rashly spoke vain words that day When in his halls I cheered Menoetius. I told the hero I would surely bring His famous son to Opus back again, When he had ravaged Ilium, and won His share of spoil. But Zeus does not fulfil To men their every hope. For fate decrees That both of us make red one spot of earth."

[145] And indeed not only here do we see his deep distress, but he mourned so sorely for him, that although his mother Thetis cautioned him and told him that if he would refrain from following up his enemies and leave the death of Patroclus unavenged, he should return to his home and die an old man in his own land, whereas if he should take vengeance, he should soon end his life, he chose fidelity to the dead rather than safety. And with such nobility of soul did he hasten to take vengeance on the man who slew his friend, that when all tried to comfort him and urged him to bathe and take food, he swore that he would do none of these things until he had brought the head of Hector to the grave of Patroclus.

[146] And when he was sleeping by the funeral pyre, as the poet says, the ghost of Patroclus stood before him, and stirred such memories and laid upon Achilles such injunctions, that one may well weep, and envy the virtue and the friendship of these men. He prophesies that Achilles too is not far from the end of life, and enjoins upon him, if it he in any wise possible, to make provision that even as they had grown up and lived together, even so when they are dead their bones may be in the same coffer.

[147] weeping, and recalling the pursuits which they had followed together in life, he says, "Never again shall we sit together alone as in the old days, apart from our other friends, and take high counsel," feeling, I believe, that this fidelity and affection were what they would long for most. But that you may hear the sentiments of the poet in verse also, the clerk shall read to you the verses on this theme which Homer composed.

Previous | Next
Site Search