Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ § 39 (Dem. 32).
Craig Gibson, trans., edition of April 30, 2003
page 40 of 58
(1) After borrowing money from Demon, one of Demosthenes’ relatives, a merchant named Protus used it to buy grain in Syracuse, which he conveyed to Athens on a ship that Hegestratus captained. (2) Hegestratus and Zenothemis—the latter is the man against whom this indictment for an illegal prosecution is directed—were Massaliotes by race, but they did something quite wicked at Syracuse, according to the orator. They borrowed money, but rather than putting it on board the ship, they secretly sent it to Massalia, as they were planning to defraud the lenders. For since it had been written in the contract that they would not have to pay the money back if something bad happened to the ship, they plotted to sink it. (3) So Hegestratus went down during the voyage by night and cut a hole in the bottom of the boat. But when he had been detected and was trying to get away from the passengers, he plunged into the sea and immediately died. (4) So Zenothemis—who, according to the orator, was the Hegestratus’ partner—laid claim to the grain when the ship had barely arrived safely at Athens, saying that it was Hegestratus’ grain and that he had borrowed the money from him to purchase it. (5) When Protus and Demon stood in his way, he took them both to court in a maritime case. Having gotten a conviction against Protus for willingly failing to appear (as Demosthenes says), Zenothemis took Demon and his partner in crime to court a second time. (6) But Demon indicts him for an illegal prosecution, saying that the charge is inadmissible; he adduces the law that gives merchants the right to have hearings about contracts concerning things transported to and from Athens, and says that he had no such contract with Zenothemis. (7) The case is technically a paragraphe [i.e., an indictment for an illegal prosecution], but the speech is made as if a direct trial of the action had been introduced, and thus concerns itself with the fact that the grain does not belong to Zenothemis but rather to Protus, the man to whom Demon had loaned the money. For Demosthenes does not wish it to seem that he is putting all his trust in the literal wording of the law alone, while unjustly giving short shrift to what actually happened; rather, he shows that he does have confidence in the primary case, although the law also allows him to bring an indictment for an illegal proposal over and beyond that.
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