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judge and the litigant; but still the principle of the Athenian sovereign people sitting down to decide questions of law was really absurd, and led to endless chicanery. Hence the universal prevalence of what was called ovкopavτía, a profession followed by men of impudence and ability in speaking, who lived by carrying on 'speculative actions,' as our newspapers now absurdly call them, and who extorted money from rich and quiet people by a sort of chantage, not very different from that practised in modern Paris. All the Attic literature is full of allusions to these villains, and it seems hopeless to deny their existence or their power. Rich men at Athens are even described in Xenophon as cowering with fear before the scrutiny of these inquisitors1. Of course such a state of things
1 Cp. Xenophon, Econom. c. ii. and xi. § 21, which show that the Athenian people were stricter about the duties than the rights of property. This is implied in Plutarch's Nicias, quoted above, p. 315. See also the curious description of the advantages of poverty in Xenophon's Symposium, c. 4. § 29 sqq. Charmides describes his life while rich as one of misery and constant fear, always subject to heavy state duties, and moreover he was not allowed to travel. Now he is not only free, but threatens others, travels where he likes, and the rich make way for him in the streets (ύπανίστανται δέ μοι ἤδη καὶ θάκων, καὶ ὁδῶν ἐξίστανται οἱ TλÚσio). The most barefaced attempt is that recorded by Hypereides (p. 45, ed. Blass.) where Tisis indicted Euthycrates on the ground that his property was not private, but public, merely because it was too large, amounting to sixty talents. On this occasion the accuser was disgraced; but there were cases where the Athenian Demos confiscated property to obtain money just like the worst Roman Emperors. Thus Lysias says, p 185 knowing as I do that the Council in office, when it has sufficient funds for its administration, does not go wrong, but when it gets into money difficulties, it is obliged to entertain indictments and to confiscate the property of citizens, and to follow the public speakers who give the most unprincipled advice.'
must have told severely on the business habits of the age. Honest as were the juries in their decisions, there was nevertheless a great uncertainty in going before them, and the timid quiet man was at a serious disadvantage.
As regards the literature of Greece, the effect of the same system has been completely ruinous to Greek legal oratory. Here the vastly inferior Romans are on a far higher level. Take for example such a case as that of Curius v. Coponius, argued in court by the orators Crassus and Antonius, and often mentioned by Cicero. The testator had left his property to a friend after the death of his son, believing at the time that he was sure to have issue. The supposition proved false, and, after the testator's death, the legatee claimed the property. But the next of kin argued that the conditions had not been fulfilled. The testator's son had not died, seeing that he had never been born. They therefore claimed the inheritance. It was argued on the other side, that though the letter of the will was unfulfilled, this arose merely through the incautious wording of the testator; that his clear intention was to leave the property to his friend, in default of issue by death or otherwise; that it would therefore violate the intention of the will, were its wording strictly interpreted. This remarkable case, one of the widest applications and of the greatest importance, occupied the leading counsel of Rome for days; and they spoke to competent tribunals. No such case occurs among the Attic court speeches. The nature of the jury degraded the eloquence of the bar at Athens. Subtle
points of law, large questions of equity were thrown
course was taken even by Meidias, a sort of mock
I cannot but hazard the conjecture that the Athenian
their great impulsiveness, their tendency to override strict law, and their facility of being gained over by clever speaking though beside the point, were more like the Irish juries of the present day than any other parallel which can be found. They had the same merits and the same defects, and were there not a controlling judge in the Irish Law Courts, the decisions would often be as irrelevant as those of the Athenian people'. There can be no doubt that the eloquence of the French bar is much more like what we find in the Attic orators, than what is thought decent elsewhere in modern times. Subtle, therefore, as the Greeks were beyond all other men, there is no subtilty in their legal oratory, which is the very best field (as we should think) for displaying it. There is not a single legal principle argued by them which would be of use to modern lawyers.
No doubt the nature of the jury was one strong reason, but there was also another-the poor and shabby nature of Greek commerce and speculation, as compared with either Roman or modern civilisation. For here we come to a branch of social life in
1 Thus in pleading a demurrer, it was generally thought necessary to prove the justice of the case on its merits apart from this formal objection to the adversary's procedure, though before a strictly legal tribunal such a digression should not be allowed. Cp. the argument to Demosthenes' speech 'Trèр Popμíwvos, the freedman of Pasion. The pleading was a παραγραφὴ. ἅπτεται μέντοι καὶ τῆς εὐθείας ὁ ῥήτωρ . . . τοῦτο δὲ πεποίηκεν ἵνα ἡ παραγραφὴ μᾶλλον ἰσχύῃ, τῆς εὐθείας δεικνυομένης τῷ 'Aπоλλodр σalρâs. On the question of applying torture to obtain evidence, and the universal confidence in its efficacy, I have spoken above p. 226. Demosthenes' clients constantly profess the same principle, cp. Dem. p. 875.
which the most advanced of the ancients were on a level with the Middle Ages rather than with ourselves. When we look into the business habits of the Attic
Greeks, as shown in their trade, and their general treatment of wealth and produce, we are surprised to find them as children compared to the average German or Frenchman, not to say the average Englishman or Scotchman. The causes were many and various, but before we consider them it is well to hold fast the main facts, and they are plain enough before our eyes. In the first place the States of those days knew nothing of free trade, and were constantly passing prohibitory acts, preventing exports and insisting upon special imports. Thus it was forbidden that any man should cut down more than two olive trees each year, because the State of Athens required much olive oil, and could produce it of the best quality; thus there were all manner of restrictions upon the corn trade; Attic traders were not allowed to import corn elsewhere, and foreign corn ships which touched at the Peiræus were required to sell two-thirds of their cargo to the Athenians.
When a scarcity arose, we have attacks upon the corn traders in the Peiræus-apparently respectable foreigners settled there-like those which form so melancholy a feature in the ignorance and the tyranny of the Middle Ages, nor do I know of any document more disgraceful to Greek culture than the speech of Lysias against the corn-factors. All the necessary and natural causes of enhanced prices are overlooked, and, with the true spirit of the Middle Ages, the dearness is