24.13

(13) τοσοῦτον δὲ διενήνοχεν ἀναισχυντίᾳ τῶν ἁπάντων ἀνθρώπων, ὥστε ὑμᾶς πειρᾶται πείθειν, τοσούτους ὄντας εἷς ὤν, ὡς οὔκ εἰμι τῶν ἀδυνάτων ἐγώ· καίτοι εἰ τοῦτο πείσει τινὰς ὑμῶν, ὦ βουλή, τί με κωλύει κληροῦσθαι τῶν ἐννέα ἀρχόντων, καὶ ὑμᾶς ἐμοῦ μὲν ἀφελέσθαι τὸν ὀβολὸν ὡς ὑγιαίνοντος, τούτῳ δὲ ψηφίσασθαι πάντας ὡς ἀναπήρῳ; οὐ γὰρ δήπου τὸν αὐτὸν ὑμεῖς μὲν ὡς δυνάμενον ἀφαιρήσεσθε τὸ διδόμενον, οἱ δὲ θεσμοθέται ὡς ἀδύνατον ὄντα κληροῦσθαι κωλύσουσιν.

ἀναισχυντία –ας, ἡ: shamelessness

ἀδύνατος –ον: disabled, unable

κωλύω, κωλύσω, ἐκώλυσα, κεκώλυκα, κεκώλυμαι, ἐκωλύθην: prevent (acc) from doing (inf)

κληρόω, κληρώσω, ἐκληρώσα, κεκλήρωκα, κεκλήωμαι, ἐκληρώθην: appoint by lot, choose by lot

ἄρχων –οντος, ὁ: archon, chief, leader

ὀβολός –οῦ, ὁ: obol, a coin worth one-sixth of a drachma

ὑγιαίνω, ὑγιανῶ, ὑγίανα: be healthy

ψηφίζω, ψηφιῶ, ἐψήφισα, ἐψήφικα, ἐψήφισμαι, ἐψήφισθην: vote

ἀνάπηρος –ον: maimed, without the ability to walk

δήπου: perhaps, doubtless, I suppose

θεσμοθέτης  –ου, ὁ: lawgiver, legislator

If the challenger persuades the jury that the defendant be classed among the able-bodied citizens and not eligible for the benefit, what prevents him from standing for appointment to the office of Archon?

Outrage, hyperbole, and diversion converge forcefully in the final response to the challenger’s accusation that the defendant is not physically disabled (Carey 1990: 47–48). [read full essay]

τοσοῦτον: “to such a degree,” neuter singular adjective as adverb (LSJ τοσοῦτος III).

διενήνοχεν: > 3rd sing. perf. act. ind. of διαφέρω, “surpass” + a person in the genitive case (LSJ διαφέρω III.4).

ἀναισχυντίᾳ: “in shamelessness,” dative of manner (answering the question “how”).

ὥστε: conjunction introduces a result clause, which is often coordinated with an adverb expressing degree in the main clause, as here with τοσοῦτον.

τοσούτους ὄντας εἷς ὤν: “being of such a great number, while he is a single man.” An asyndetic (i.e. lacking conjunctions) pair of appositional participial phrases. Perhaps intended to inject a sense of informal speech as if the defendant is considering in real time the contrast between the size of the jury and the solitary stance of the challenger: τοσούτους ὄντας in apposition to ὑμᾶς and εἷς ὤν to the challenger who is the implied subject of πειρᾶται. The opposition of τοσούτους and εἷς emphasizes the defendant’s claim that the challenger acts in an exceptionally abnormal manner, while building class solidarity between the defendant and Council. Lysias recalls this argument at the conclusion of the speech (Chapter 22) when he repeats εἷς ὤν in reference to the challenger.

τοῦτο: i.e. that the defendant is not disabled.

κωλύει: “to prevent X (acc.) from doing Y (inf.).”

κληροῦσθαι τῶν ἐννέα ἀρχόντων: “to cast a lot for election to the office of one of the nine Archons.” The nine Archons served as the executive officers of the Athenian democracy, whose responsibilities included overseeing state military, civic, judicial, and religious business.

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Of the nine, three were senior Archons--the Eponymous Archon (after which the year was named), the Archon Basileus, and Polemarchos--and six junior Archons with the titles of Thesmothetai (see below). Archons were elected by lot (after 487/6 BCE according to Ath. Pol. 22.5), as were most offices in the Athenian democracy, and served annual terms. Selection by lot was often conducted by use of bronze tokens (pinakia) that were placed into a sortition device, a stone block with slotted columns for the tokens, called a kleroterion. Archons were selected by lot from each tribe from a pool of five hundred citizen males chosen by the demes (Ath. Pol. 22.5). Archons were required to belong to one of the first three property classes (Ath. Pol. 7.3) and foreign-born naturalized citizens could not hold the office (Dem. Against Neaera 92). The defendant’s sarcastic statement suggests that citizen males receiving disability benefits from the state were also not allowed by law to hold the office of Archon.

ἐννέα ἀρχόντων: another instance of the use of hiatus for emphatic impact at a moment when the defendant advances an absurd hypothetical (see note on ἢ ἀντιδοῦναι ἅπαξ at Chapter 9)

ὑμᾶς...μὲν ἀφελέσθαι: supply τὶ κωλύει, “what prevents you.” ἀφελέσθαι = “to take away something (acc.) from someone (gen.) [LSJ ἀφαιρέω II.1]. For a different construction following ἀφαιρέω see ἀφαιρήσεσθε below in this chapter.

τὸν ὀβολὸν: An obol is ⅙ of a drachma and the daily rate of the state disability benefit at this time (likely the end of the 5th c.), a rather meager stipend (though the benefit was likely paid out in monthly installments to ease administrative burdens). By the time of Aristotle (last quarter of 4th c. BCE), the payment had been raised to 2 obols a day (Ath. Pol. 49.4), perhaps returning the benefit rate to its pre-Peloponnesian war level (Blok 2015), which is part of a larger trend in wage inflation during the century (Loomis 1998).

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For comparison, the average pay for an unskilled day laborer, soldiers and sailors at the end of the 5th century (407 BCE) was 3 obols and and a skilled worker 1 drachma (Erectheum accounts, IG i2 373-74; Loomis 1998: 257). The Athenian state provided stipends for various forms of public service. At the beginning of the 4th century, payments for a day’s service at the Citizen Assembly (Ekklesia) and the Jury Courts (Dikasteria) were also 3 obols. The parallels between the amounts of payment provided to citizens for public service and the amount paid out to recipients of the disability benefit further suggests that these men were disqualified from taking part in all public offices and thus the benefit functioned as a substitute disbursement (Dillon 2016: 176).]

ὡς ὑγιαίνοντος: “on the grounds that I am healthy.” Supply ἐμου to complete this explanatory participial phrase.

τούτῳ: “for this man,” i.e. the challenger.

ὑμᾶς…πάντας: another example of a sizeable and emphatic hiatus.

τούτῳ δὲ ψηφίσασθαι πάντας: “but for this man you all [sc. ὑμᾶς] vote [the obol benefit].” Note the balance of the two infinitives, each a complementary infinitive with κωλύει, using the particles μέν...δέ.

ὡς ἀναπήρῳ: “as a disabled individual,” in apposition to τούτῳ. The parallel phrase to ὡς ὑγιαίνοντος provides a neat closure to the sentence and also underscores the absurdity of the general proposition of the sentence: if the jury can be persuaded that the defendant is not disabled (which is clearly not the case), then what is preventing them for also being persuaded that the challenger is disabled?

οὐ γὰρ δήπου: “for surely.” The string of particles drips with sarcasm and underscores the logical absurdity of both denying a man a disability benefit and preventing him from taking part in the selection of the Archons by lot. Denniston (1950, 268) collects close parallels of this phrase in Plato where they introduce replies “supporting a positive statement by an appeal to the impossibility of its opposite.”

τὸν αὐτὸν ὑμεῖς...ἀφαιρήσεσθε τὸ διδόμενον: “you all will deprive the same man (τὸν αὐτὸν) of his benefit (τὸ διδόμενον)”. The verb ἀφαιρέω in the middle (unlike in the previous sentence) takes a double accusative construction. The difference in construction injects a refreshing variation.

οἱ δὲ θεσμοθέται: the title given to the six junior Archons, who supervised trials by jury including dokimasia trials.

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Suggested Citation

Taylor Coughlin, Lysias: For the Disabled Man (Oration 24). Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2022 ISBN: 978-1-947822-22-1