Sōphronestatoi

Εἰ μέν, ὦ ἄνδρες, ἐν ἑτέρῳ τῳ πράγματι οἱ παριόντες μὴ τὴν αὐτὴν γνώμην ἔχοντες πάντες ἐφαίνοντο, οὐδὲν ἂν θαυμαστὸν ἐνόμιζον· ὅπου μέντοι δεῖ τὴν πόλιν ἐμέ τι ποιῆσαι ἀγαθόν, ἢ εἴ τις ἕτερος βούλοιτο ἐμοῦ κακίων, δεινότατον ἁπάντων χρημάτων ἡγοῦμαι, εἰ τῷ μὲν δοκεῖ ταῦτα τῷ δὲ μή, ἀλλὰ μὴ πᾶσιν ὁμοίως. εἴπερ γὰρ ἡ πόλις ἁπάντων τῶν πολιτευομένων κοινή ἐστι, καὶ τὰ γιγνόμενα δήπου ἀγαθὰ τῇ πόλει κοινά ἐστι. τουτὶ τοίνυν τὸ μέγα καὶ δεινὸν πάρεστιν ὑμῖν ὁρᾶν τοὺς μὲν ἤδη πράττοντας, τοὺς δὲ τάχα μέλλοντας· καί μοι μέγιστον θαῦμα παρέστηκε, τί ποτε οὗτοι οἱ ἄνδρες δεινῶς οὕτω περικάονται, εἴ τι ὑμᾶς χρὴ ἀγαθὸν ἐμοῦ ἐπαυρέσθαι. δεῖ γὰρ αὐτοὺς ἤτοι ἀμαθεστάτους εἶναι πάντων ἀνθρώπων, ἢ τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ δυσμενεστάτους. εἰ μέν γε νομίζουσι τῆς πόλεως εὖ πραττούσης καὶ τὰ ἴδια σφῶν αὐτῶν ἄμεινον ἂν φέρεσθαι, ἀμαθέστατοί εἰσι τὰ ἐναντία νῦν τῇ ἑαυτῶν ὠφελείᾳ σπεύδοντες· εἰ δὲ μὴ ταὐτὰ ἡγοῦνται σφίσι τε αὐτοῖς συμφέρειν καὶ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ κοινῷ, δυσμενεῖς ἂν τῇ πόλει εἶεν· οἵτινες εἰσαγγείλαντός μου ἀπόρρητα εἰς τὴν βουλὴν περὶ τῶν πραγμάτων, ὧν ἀποτελεσθέντων οὐκ εἰσὶ τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ μείζονες ὠφέλειαι, καὶ τούτων ἀποδεικνύντος μου τοῖς βουλευταῖς σαφεῖς τε καὶ βεβαίους τὰς ἀποδείξεις, ἐκεῖ μὲν οὔτε τούτων τῶν ἀνδρῶν οἱ παραγενόμενοι ἐλέγχοντες οἷοί τ’ ἦσαν ἀποδεῖξαι εἴ τι μὴ ὀρθῶς ἐλέγετο, οὔτ’ ἄλλος οὐδείς, ἐνθάδε δὲ νῦν πειρῶνται διαβάλλειν. σημεῖον οὖν τοῦτο ὅτι οὗτοι οὐκ ἀφ’ αὑτῶν ταῦτα πράττουσιν—εὐθὺς γὰρ ἂν τότε ἠναντιοῦντο—ἀλλ’ ἀπ᾽ ἀνδρῶν ἑτέρων, οἷοί εἰσιν ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ, οὐδενὸς ἂν χρήματος δεξάμενοι ὑμᾶς τι ἀγαθὸν ἐξ ἐμοῦ πρᾶξαι. καὶ αὐτοὶ μὲν οὗτοι οἱ ἄνδρες οὐ τολμῶσι σφᾶς αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ μέσον καταστήσαντες διισχυρίζεσθαι περὶ τούτων, φοβούμενοι ἔλεγχον διδόναι εἴ τι εἰς ὑμᾶς τυγχάνουσι μὴ εὖ φρονοῦντες· ἑτέρους δὲ εἰσπέμπουσι, τοιούτους ἀνθρώπους οἷς εἰθισμένοις ἤδη ἀναισχυντεῖν οὐδὲν διαφέρει εἰπεῖν τε καὶ ἀκοῦσαι τὰ μέγιστα τῶν κακῶν. τὸ δ’ ἰσχυρὸν τοῦτο μόνον εὕροι τις ἂν αὐτῶν ἐν τοῖς λόγοις, τὰς ἐμὰς συμφορὰς ἐπὶ παντὶ ὀνειδίζειν, καὶ ταῦτα ἐν εἰδόσι δήπου κάλλιον ὑμῖν, ὥστε μηδὲν ἂν τούτων δικαίως τιμὴν αὐτοῖς τινα φέρειν. ἐμοὶ δέ, ὦ ἄνδρες, καὶ τῷ πρώτῳ τοῦτο εἰπόντι ὀρθῶς δοκεῖ εἰρῆσθαι, ὅτι πάντες ἄνθρωποι γίγνονται ἐπὶ τῷ εὖ καὶ κακῶς πράττειν, μεγάλη δὲ δήπου καὶ τὸ ἐξαμαρτεῖν δυσπραξία ἐστί, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐτυχέστατοι μὲν οἱ ἐλάχιστα ἐξαμαρτάνοντες, σωφρονέστατοι δὲ οἳ ἂν τάχιστα μεταγιγνώσκωσι. καὶ ταῦτα οὐ διακέκριται τοῖς μὲν γίγνεσθαι τοῖς δὲ μή, ἀλλ’ ἔστιν ἐν τῷ κοινῷ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις καὶ ἐξαμαρτεῖν τι καὶ κακῶς πρᾶξαι. ὧν ἕνεκα, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, εἰ ἀνθρωπίνως περὶ ἐμοῦ γιγνώσκοιτε, εἴητε ἂν ἄνδρες εὐγνωμονέστεροι.
(Andocides, Or. 2.1-6)

On any other subject, gentlemen, I shouldn’t think it at all surprising if the speakers didn’t all express the same opinion. But when it’s a case of my doing a service to Athens—or if some less worthy person than myself wanted to do one—it seems to me quite extraordinary if one person is in favor and another not, and they’re not unanimous. If the city belongs to all its citizens, surely services done to the city belong to them all too. Well, you can see some men are already taking this very strange course, while others soon will. I simply can’t understand why they flare up so strangely if you’re to get the advantage of some service of mine. They must be either the stupidest men in the world or the city’s worst enemies. If they think the prosperity of Athens would benefit their own private business, it’s very stupid of them now to press for what is contrary to their own interests. But if they consider that their own interests are not the same as the public interest, they must be enemies of Athens. In fact when I made a report to the Council in secret session about actions which will be of the greatest possible advantage to the city if they’re carried out, and gave the Councilors clear proof of them, though some of these men were present, none of them was able then to disprove anything I said, and neither was anyone else; but now they’re trying to discredit me here. This shows they aren’t doing it of their own accord, or they’d have opposed me straightaway on that occasion. They’re instigated by other men, such as do exist in Athens, who wouldn’t for anything allow you to receive any benefit from me. Those men don’t dare to come forward in public and make a statement in person on the subject, because they’re afraid of being shown up as unpatriotic. They send other men in as their agents, men who are already so brazen that they don’t care how much they insult people or get insulted. All their case boils down to, you’ll find, is sneering at my troubles in general—even though you, of course, are well aware of them already, so that they don’t deserve any credit for any of it. Personally, gentlemen, I agree with whoever it was who first said that all mankind is born for good and bad fortune. And I suppose that to err is a great misfortune, and the most fortunate are those who err least, while the most sensible are those who realize their errors soonest. There’s no distinction between some who err and others who don’t; error and failure are common to everyone. So, Athenians, you’d be more considerate men if you judged me by human standards. (tr. Douglas M. MacDowell)

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