(1) Οὐ πολλοῦ δέω χάριν ἔχειν, ὦ βουλή, τῷ κατηγόρῳ, ὅτι μοι παρεσκεύασε τὸν ἀγῶνα τουτονί· πρότερον γὰρ οὐκ ἔχων πρόφασιν ἐφ’ ἧς τοῦ βίου λόγον δοίην, νυνὶ διὰ τοῦτον εἴληφα. καὶ πειράσομαι τῷ λόγῳ τοῦτον μὲν ἐπιδεῖξαι ψευδόμενον, ἐμαυτὸν δὲ βεβιωκότα μέχρι τῆσδε τῆς ἡμέρας ἐπαίνου μᾶλλον ἄξιον ἢ φθόνου· διὰ γὰρ οὐδὲν ἄλλο μοι δοκεῖ παρασκευάσαι τόνδε μοι τὸν κίνδυνον οὗτος ἢ διὰ φθόνον.
δέω, δήσω, ἔδησα, δέδεκα, δέδεμαι, ἐδέθην: lack, miss, stand in need of (+ gen.)
κατήγορος -ου, ὁ: challenger, prosecutor, accuser
πρόφασις -εως, ἡ: excuse, purpose, motive
ἐπιδείκνυμι, ἐπιδείξω, ἐπέδειξα, ἐπιδέδειχα, ἐπιδέδειγμαι, ἐπεδείχθην: display, prove, exhibit (a evidence)
ψεύδω, ψεύσω, ἔψευσα, ἔψευσμαι, ἐψεύσθην: deceive, lie
ἐμαυτοῦ -ῆς, –οῦ: of me, myself
βιόω, βιώσομαι, ἐβίωσα/ἔβίων, βεβίωκα, βεβίωμαι, —: live, pass one’s life
ἔπαινος -ου, ὁ: praise, approval
φθόνος -ου, ὁ: envy, jealousy
The defendant is thankful that the challenger has brought these charges against him before the Council, since it now offers him the opportunity to give an account of his life.
Athenian (male) citizens who received a pension or other form of assistance from the state would undergo an annual examination (dokimasia) before the Council to assess whether they still qualified for the state assistance that they were receiving (Dillon 1995). [read full essay]
οὐ πολλοῦ δέω: “I am not so far from…” Lysias alters the typical expression πολλοῦ δέω (“I am far from”; LSJ δέω (B) A2) through the addition of the negative particle οὐ. This alteration injects a sarcastic tone into the speech from the first words. How seriously is our defendant taking his day in court? μικροῦ δέω for the sense of οὐ πολλοῦ δέω would be more common (Adams 1905: 239).
χάριν ἔχειν: “to give thanks.” This opening expression of gratitude is a rhetorical convention for the introduction of speeches given at public examinations (dokimasia) of candidates for appointment to the Council and various political offices (Aristotle Ath. Pol. 55.2 and Aeschines 3.15) or citizens granted civic privileges.
ὦ βουλή: the public examination of our defendant’s qualifications for the state benefit took place before the Council (βουλή), which met in the Bouleterion located in the Agora (Ath. Pol. 49.4). Direct address to the audience is common in the opening sentence of a speech. Note that this form of direct address occurs several times in the opening chapters of the speech, an indicator, supported by the high frequency of hiatus (see note in chapter 2), that the speaker particularly seeks engagement and attention from his audience.
τῷ κατηγόρῳ: “the challenger,” i.e. the male citizen bringing the claim before the Council that the defendant is currently ineligible for the state benefit. Lysias splits the offering of thanks to the challenger through the insertion of a direct address to his audience (ὦ βουλή). This word order may enhance the sarcastic surprise of the statement through a slight delay of the identity to whom the speaker’s gratitude is initially addressed.
μοι: “against me.” Dative of disadvantage.
παρεσκεύασε:“concocted.” The repetition of σ produces a hissing derision. In Attic oratory, the verb (more often in the middle) contains the insinuation that the action is corrupt or nefarious, including the tampering with jury trials (LSJ παρασκευάζω B I.2). The speaker of Or. 13 recounts how the Thirty “packed the jury” (13.12: δικαστήριον παρασκευάσαντες) for the show trial of the pro-democratic politician Cleophon.
τὸν ἀγῶνα τουτονί: “this current case.” Speakers of the Attic dialect commonly strengthened the force of the demonstrative οὗτος by appending an iota (the so-called ‘deictic iota’; S. 333g, G. 210) as a suffix (τουτον-ί). The addition of the iota stresses the presence of the person, event, or idea modified by the demonstrative.
οὐκ ἔχων:“though I didn’t have.” Concessive participle.
ἐφ᾽ ἧς: “on account of which.” Greek typically uses ἐπί + dat. to express this causal idea (LSJ ἐπί B.III.3).
τοῦ βίου λόγον: a central component of dokimasia speeches is an (often lengthy) narrative of the speaker’s life that seeks firstly to establish his eligibility and qualifications and, oftentimes, his personal suitability for the political position to which he is appointed or the civic privilege for which he is under consideration.
δοίην: > δίδωμι, 1st sing. aor. act. opt.
πρότερον γὰρ οὐκ ἔχων…δοίην: Relative clauses that follow expressions such as οὐκ ἔχω or οὐκ ἔστι often convey a sense of deliberation (S. 2546–47). The verb in the relative clause is either in the subjunctive (following primary sequence verbs) or, as here, the optative (often following secondary sequence verbs), given the presence of past action implicit in πρότερον. Thus the phrase functions similarly to an indirect question. Before this trial, the speaker would have to ask himself “for what reason should I give an account of my life,” while the current circumstances have given him a ready excuse.
διὰ τοῦτον: supply ἄνδρα, “because of this man.
εἴληφα: > λαμβάνω, 1st sing. perf. act. ind., supply προφάσιν as implied object.
τῷ λόγῳ: “in this speech.”
ἐπιδεῖξαι: complementary aorist infinitive with πειράσομαι.
τοῦτον...ψευδόμενον: supply ἄνδρα.
ἐμαυτὸν: first person reflexive pronoun (“I myself”) and accusative subject in indirect discourse.
βεβιωκότα: > βιόω, acc. sing. perf. act. participle.
τοῦτον...ψευδόμενον, ἐμαυτὸν δὲ βεβιωκότα: supplementary participial phrases in indirect discourse that are the objects of ἐπιδεῖξαι as a verb of proving (S.2106, S.2130): “to demonstrate that this man is lying, but I have lived my life.” The tenses of the participles in indirect discourse have the same force as their corresponding tense in the indicative (S.1874, S.2106) Note the balancing of the phrases τοῦτον μὲν ἐπιδεῖξαι ψευδόμενον and ἐμαυτὸν δὲ βεβιωκότα.
ἄξιον: “worthy of” + gen., predicate adjective with ἐμαυτὸν βεβιωκότα.
ἐπαίνου μᾶλλον ἄξιον ἤ φθόνου: a surprising opposition. Where the listener would expect to hear “blame” (i.e. ψόγος) as a neat antithesis to ἐπαίνος, they are confronted with “envy” (φθόνου). Given the defendant’s claim of poverty and hardship, the substitution of φθόνος provides an early injection of ironic humor that also defames the character of th challenger. Though envy is regularly used as an accusation against an opponent in Attic oratory, who would envy the defendant’s circumstances? For more on envy as an emotion in the Greek mind see the interpretive essay to this chapter. The lucid interlocking word-order of the phrase further contrasts with the non-standard choice of antonyms: ἐπαίνος and φθόνος bookend the phrase and the syntactic function of each noun hinges on ἄξιος at its center.
μοι δοκεῖ παρασκευάσαι...μοι: balanced chiasmus: dative personal pronoun (A)--verb (B)--verb (B)--dative personal pronoun (A). On the implication of corruption or deceit in the use of παρασκευάζω, see the note at its earlier use in the chapter.
οὗτος: i.e. the challenger. In Attic oratory the demonstrative οὗτος is commonly used by the speaker when referring to his opponent (LSJ οὗτος C I. 3 and 4). The demonstrative pronoun is the subject of δοκεῖ, a personal use (“this man seems…”) of the more common impersonal construction (“it seems…”). The delayed position of the subject in the syntax of the sentence is emphatic, especially when the demonstrative follows directly after κίνδυνον which is the object of the action.
διὰ γὰρ οὐδὲν ἄλλο...ἢ διὰ φθόνον: “for no other reason….than because of envy.” The repetition of φθόνος as the final word in two successive clauses underscores the radical attack that the defendant is making on the character of the challenger. The attack continues into the next chapter.