Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ § 19 (Dem. 20).
Craig Gibson, trans., edition of April 30, 2003
page 20 of 58
Plot on a Map
(1) Athens honored its benefactors in a number of ways, including granting them exemptions from performing liturgies. So when a lot of people were obtaining exemptions, it appeared that there was going to be a shortage of people who would be eligible to perform liturgies in the future. Therefore, Leptines proposed a law that nobody be exempted, that it be illegal for the people to grant exemptions from then on, and that anyone asking for an exemption suffer the most extreme penalties. (2) Previously, others had indicted the law. Among these were Bathippus, who did not see the indictment through, either because he was bribed or because he succumbed to disease. But now Phormio, Ctesippus (son of Chabrias), and some others along with them are indicting it; Demosthenes is serving as their advocate. (3) Now Leptines has a stronger case in terms of expediency, because he pleads the necessity of his proposal, but Demosthenes has a stronger case in terms of honor and justice: in terms of justice, because it is just that those who do good things should get good things in return, and that those who properly receive something in return for their services should not be robbed of the things given to them; in terms of honor, since, although it may be disgraceful for other people to take back something that they have given, it is especially so for Athenians, whose magnanimity seems to be their defining feature. (4) He also shows that Leptines proposed the law illegally. For he says that <he broke the> law which orders that they first abolish any contradictory law and then propose the new law, so that no laws that contradict each other may be found on the books.
page 20 of 58