Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

7. Heath soulp.

Ex his caterisque Sectione dignis Auctoribus et Verborum sumenda Copia est, et Varietas Figurarum et componendi Ratio, tum ad Exemplum Virtutum omnium Mens dirigenda:neque enim dubitari polest quin Artis pars magna contineatur IMTITATIONE. — Quin





1. The firft Oration against Philip: pronounced in the Archonship of Ariftodemus, in the first year of the Hundred and Seventh Olympiad, and the ninth of Philip's Reign.


[ocr errors]

E have feen Philip oppofed in his defign of paffing into Greece, through Thermopyla; and obliged to retire. The danger they had thus efcaped deeply affected the Athenians. So daring an attempt, which was, in effect, declaring his purpofes, filled them with astonishment: and the view of a power, which every day received new acceffions, drove them even to defpair. Yet their averfion to public bufinefs was ftill predominant. They forgot that Philip might renew his attempt; and thought they had provided fufficiently for their fecurity, by pofting a body of troops at the entrance of Attica, under the command of Menelaus, a foreigner. They then proceeded to convene an affembly of the people, in order to confider what measures were to be taken to check the progress of Philip. On which occafion Demofthenes, for the first time, appeared against that prince; and difplayed thofe abilities, which proved the greatest obftacle to his defigns.

At Athens, the whole power and management of affairs were placed in the people. It was their prerogative

to receive appeals from the courts of juftice, to abrogate and enact laws, to make what alterations in the state they judged convenient; in short, all matters, public or private, foreign or domeftic, civil, military, or religious, were determined by them.

Whenever there was occafion to deliberate, the people affembled early in the morning, fometimes in the forum or public place, fometimes in a place called Pnyx, but most frequently in the theatre of Bacchus. A few days before each affembly there was a Προγραμμα or Placart fxed on the ftatues of fome illuftrious men erected in the city, to give notice of the subject to be debated. As they refused admittance into the affembly to all perfons who had not attained the neceffary age, fo they obliged all others to attend. The Lexiarchs ftretched out a cord dyed with fcarlet, and by it pushed the people towards the place of meeting. Such as received the ftain were fined; the more diligent had a small pecuniary reward. These Lexiarchs were the keepers of the register, in which were inrolled the names of fuch citizens as had a right of voting. And all had this right who were of age, and not excluded by a perfonal fault. Undutiful children, cowards, brutal debauchees, prodigals, debtors to the public, were all excluded. Until the time of Cecrops, women had a right of fuffrage, which Rr3


they were faid to have loft, on account of their partiality to Minerva, in her difpute with Neptune, about giving a name to the city.

In ordinary cafes, all matters were first deliberated in the fenate of five hundred, compofed of fifty fenators chofen out of each of the ten tribes. Each tribe had its turn of prefiding, and the fifty fenators in office were called Prytanes. And, according to the number of the tribes, the Attic year was divided into ten parts, the four first containing thirty-fix, the other thirtyfive days; in order to make the Lunar year complete, which, according to their calculation, contained one hundred and fifty-four days. During each of thefe divifions, ten of the fifty Prytanes governed for a week, and were called Proedri: and, of thefe, he who in the courfe of the week prefided for one day, was called the Epitate: three of the Proedri being excluded from this office. The Prytanes affembled the people: the Proedri declare the oecafion; and the Epiftatæ demand their voices. This was the cafe in the ordinary affemblies the extraordinary were convened as well by the generals as the Prytanes; and fometimes the people met of their own accord, without waiting the formalities.

The affembly was opened by a facrifice;

and the place was fprinkled with the blood of the victim. Then an imprecation was pronounced, conceived in these terms: "6 May the gods pur"fue that man to deftruction, with "all his race, who fhall act, fpeak, "or contrive, any thing against this "ftate!" This ceremony being finished, the Proedri declared the occafion of the affembly, and reported the opinion of the fenate. If any doubt arofe, an herald, by commiffion from the Epiftatæ, with a loud voice, invited any citizen, firft of those above the age of fifty, to speak his opinion: and then the reft according to their ages. This right of precedence had been granted by a law of Solon, and the order of fpeaking determined intirely by the difference of years. In the time of Demofthenes, this law was not in force. It is faid to have been repealed about fifty years' before the date of this oration. Yet the custom

ftill continued, out of refpect to the reafonable and decent purpofe for which the law was originally enacted. When a speaker has delivered his fentiments, he generally called on an officer, appointed for that purpose, to read his motion, and propound it in form. He then fat down, or resumed his difcourfe, and enforced his motion by additional arguments: and fometimes the fpeech was introduced by his motion thus propounded. When all the speakers had ended, the people gave their opinion, by ftretching out their hands to him whofe propofal pleafed them moft. And Xenophon reports, that, night having come on when the people were engaged in an important debate, they were obliged to defer their determination till next day, for fear of confufion, when their hands were to be raised. Porrexerunt manus, faith Cicero (pro Flacco) Pfephifma natum eft. And, to conftitute this Pfephifma or decree, fix thoufand citizens at leaft were required. When it was drawn up, the name of its author, or that person whofe opinion has prevailed, was prefixed: whence, in fpeaking of it, they call it his decree. The date of it contained the name of the Archon, that of the day and month, and that of the tribe then prefiding. The bufinefs being over, the Prytanes difmiffed the affembly.

The reader who chufes to be more minutely informed in the customs, and manner of procedure in the public affemblies of Athens, may confult the Archælogia of Archbishop Potter, Sigonins or the Concionatrices of Ariftophanes.

HAD we been convened, Athenians! on fome new fubject of debate, I had waited, until moft of the ufual perfons had declared their opinions. If I had approved of any thing propofed by them, I should have continued filent: If not, I had then attempted to fpeak my fentiments. But fince thofe very points on which thefe fpeakers have oftentimes been heard already are, at this time, to be confidered; though I have arifen firft, I prefume I may expect your pardon; for if they on former occafions had advised the neceffary meafures, ye would not have found it needful to confult at prefent.


Firft then, Athenians! these our affairs must not be thought defperate; no, though their fituation feems intirely deplorable. For the most shocking circumftance of all our past conduct is really the most favourable to our future expectations. And what is this? That our own total indolence hath been the cause of all our prefent difficulties. For were we thus diftreffed, in fpite of every vigorous effort which the honour of our ftate demanded, there were then no hope of a recovery.

In the next place, reflect (you who have been informed by others, and you who can yourselves remember) how great a power the Lacedemonians not long fince poffeffed; and with what refolution, with what dignity you difdained to act unworthy of the ftate, but maintained the war against them for the rights of Greecc. Why do I mention these things? That ye may know, that ye may fee, Athenians! that if duly vigilant, ye cannot have any thing to fear; that if once remifs, not any thing can happen agreeable to your defires: witnefs the then powerful arms of Lacedemon, which a juft attention to your interefts enabled you to vanquish: and this man's late infolent attempt, which our infenfibility to all our great concerns hath made the cause of this confusion.

If there be a man in this affembly who thinks that we muft find a formidable enemy in Philip, while he views, on one hand, the numerous armies which attend him; and, on the other, the weakness of the ftate thus defpoiled of its dominions; he thinks juftly. Yet let him reflect on this: there was a time, Athenians! when we poffeffed Pydna, and Potidæa, and Methone, and all that country round: when many of thofe ftates now fubjected to him were free and independent; and more inclined to our alliance than to his. Had then Philip reafoned in the fame manner,

[ocr errors]

How fhall I dare to attack the Atheni"ans, whose garrifons command my ter"ritory, while I am deftitute of all af"fiftance!" He would not have engaged in thofe enterprizes which are now crowned with fuccefs; nor could he have railed himself to this pitch of greatnefs. No, Athenians! he knew this well, that all thefe places are but prizes, laid between the combatants, and ready for the conqueror: that the dominions of the abfent devolve naturally to thofe who are in the field; the poffeffions of the fupine to the active and intrepid. Animated by thefe

fentiments, he overturns whole countries; he holds all people in fubjection: fome, as by the right of conqueft; others, under the title of allies and confederates: for all are willing to confederate with those whom they fee prepared and refolved to exert themselves as they ought.

And if you (my countrymen!) will now at length be perfuaded to entertain the like fentiments; if each of you, renouncing all evasions, will be ready to approve himself an ufeful citizen, to the utmost that his ftation and abilities demand; if the rich will be ready to contribute, and the young to take the field; in one word, if you will be yourselves, and banish thofe vain hopes which every fingle perfon entertains, that while fo many others are engaged in public bufinefs, his fervice will not be required; you then (if Heaven fo pleases) fhall regain your dominions, recal those opportunities your fupinenefs hath neglected, and chaftife the infolence of this man. For you are not to imagine, that like a god, he is to enjoy his prefent greatnefs for ever fixed and unchangeable. No, Athenians! there are, who hate him, who fear him, who envy him, even among thofe feemingly the most attached to his caufe. These are paffions common to mankind: nor must we think that his friends only are exempted from them. they lie concealed at prefent, as our indolence deprives them of all refource. But let us shake off this indolence! for you fee how we are fituated; you fee the outrageous arrogance of this man, who does not leave it to your choice whether you fhall act, or remain quiet; but braves you with his menaces; and talks (as we are informed) in a ftrain of the higheft extravagance: and is not able to reft fatisfied with his prefent acquifitions, but is ever in purfuit of further conquefts; and while we fit down, inactive and irrefolute, inclofes us on all fides with his toils.

It is true

When, therefore, O my countrymen ! when will you exert your vigour? When When forced by roufed by fome event? What then are we to fome neceffity? think of our prefent condition? To freemen, the difgrace attending on misconduct is, in my opinion, the most urgent neceffity. Or, fay, is it your fole ambition to wander through the public places, each enquiring of the other, "What new advices?" Ĉan any thing be more new, than that a man of Macedon fhould conquer the Athenians, and give law to Greece? "Is Philip


« PreviousContinue »