At the outset I will prove to you that
there exists no king whose might is greater than ours. Is there
a pleasure, a blessing comparable with that of a juryman? Is
there a being who lives more in the midst of delights, who is
more feared, aged though he be? From the moment I leave my bed,
men of power, the most illustrious in the city, await me at the
bar of the tribunal; the moment I am seen from the greatest distance,
they come forward to offer me a gentle hand--that has pilfered
the public funds; they entreat me, bowing right low and with
a piteous voice, "Oh, father," they say, "pity
me, I beseech you!" Why, the man who thus speaks would not
know of my existence, had I not let him off on some former occasion.
These entreaties have appeased my wrath, and I enter the courts--firmly
resolved to do nothing that I have promised. Nevertheless I listen
to the accused. Oh! what tricks to secure acquittal! Ah! there
is no form of flattery that is not addressed to the court! Some
groan over their property and they exaggerate the truth in order
to make their troubles equal to my own. Others tell us anecdotes
or some comic story from ¦sop. Others, again, cut jokes;
they fancy I shall be appeased if I laugh. If we are not even
then won over, why, then they drag forward their young children
by the hand, both boys and girls, who prostrate themselves and
whine with one accord, and then the father, trembling as if before
a god, begs me not to condemn him out of pity for them, "If
you love the voice of the lamb, have pity on my son," and
because I am fond of little sows, I must yield to his daughter's
prayers. Then we relax the heat of our wrath a little for him.
Is not this great power indeed? A father on his death-bed names
some husband for his daughter, who is his sole heir; but we care
little for his will or for the shell so solemnly placed over
the seal; we give the young maiden to him who has best known
how to secure our favour. Name me another duty that is so important?
But I am forgetting the most pleasing thing of all. When I return
home with my pay, everyone runs to greet me because of my money.
First my daughter bathes me, anoints my feet, stoops to kiss
me and, while she is calling me "her dearest father,"
fishes out my triobolus with her tongue. Then my little wife
comes to wheedle me and brings a nice little cake; she sits beside
me and entreats me in a thousand ways, "Do take this now;
do have some more." All this delights me hugely. Am I not
equal to the king of the gods? If our assembly is noisy, all
say as they pass, "Great gods! the tribunal is rolling out
its thunder!" If I let loose the lightning, the richest,
aye, the noblest are half dead with fright and crap themselves
with terror. You yourself are afraid of me, yea, by Demeter!
you are afraid.
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