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Full text of Against Timarchus here.
When Aeschines, one of the ten Attic orators and member of the peace embassy dispatched to Philip of Macedon, was accused by Demosthenes and Timarchus of intriguing against Athens on behalf of the same, his defense before the Assembly was swift and straightforward: “Timarchus can’t accuse anyone of betraying Athens, because I heard he’s a fucking skank.”
It worked. Timarchus was stripped of citizenship and vanished from public life, while Aeschines went on to commission the Fourth Sacred War under Philip’s aegis, found a school of rhetoric, and eventually retire to the winemaking island of Samos, where he died well into his seventies. Being a dizzy little bitch who hates fun pays off sometimes.
Gentlemen and themtlemen! You know I never have a bad word to say about anyone. It’s probably the second-best-known thing about me, my quiet and peaceful approach to conflict. If I were to guess what the first-best-known thing about me is, I honestly couldn’t even begin to guess, because I just don’t think about human relationships in that way, you know? But this isn’t about me, which is such a relief, because I’m so uncomfortable when things are about me, so I’m really glad to be able to say that this has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Athens. It’s the city I’m here to talk about, not me. Honestly, if I could talk about the city without being here at all, like if there was some way I could talk without talking, or being myself, or being in any way perceived by all of you, I would do that. But as I already said, this isn’t about me, so even though it makes me really uncomfortable to address you all publicly like this, I don’t even care, my discomfort at being the center of attention is just not as important as the dignity and safety of Athens, which always comes first, at least for me, and I hope for you guys, haha!
God!! Athens! Athens, you know? It’s just like — Athens! Okay? Like, what does that even mean, but also, it kind of means everything, right? It says it all. Athens!! I just think, for me personally, that Athens is so important, especially for all of us as Athenians, which I truly believe that we are, every one of us in our own very special way, that it would be such a shame if Athens ever came to harm because someone among us was representing themselves as a friend to Athens when in actual fact, like in honest-to-God real life, in a very tangible way, they were not a friend to Athens, and were actually making her look bad to other people, Macedonians for example.
And I’m just going to come out and say it, which is that this so-called “friend,” this person who has actually really done a lot of damage to Athens, is, I’m sorry to say, but it’s Timarchus. I don’t even care that he’s trying to hurt me, because I’m just whatever, but insofar as I am a representative of Athens, a legitimate member of her assemblies and jury pools, a member of the greater Athenian body, that’s the issue here, not me, personally, Aeschines. You know me, you know I absolutely do not hold grudges or even care what happens to this bag of meat that I call my “body.” But I do care, like really care, about my friends, and I honestly do consider Athens a friend. I really do. And when someone hurts her? Okay, then it’s like, let’s go. So let’s go.
I know this is probably not the first time some of you have heard about Timarchus. If I were to guess, I’d say you probably have been hearing a lot of really troubling shit about him over the years, because I’ve been hearing it too, even though I never passed it along or said anything about him myself. But like, you guys, you guys, we live in a democracy, right? Like we live in a society, yes, but more importantly a democratic society, so we have laws and rules and so on, and we do ask of our citizens a certain commitment to excellence that not just anybody can abide by. And I don’t think we should have to apologize for having high standards. Do you? Okay, good, I’m really glad to hear that. Honestly, I’m really relieved to hear that, because I was worried it was going to be just me, but I’m so glad that we can all agree that if someone violates those laws, or doesn’t live up to our admittedly very high standards (but that’s why Athens is so great, you guys, and just to throw this in for detail, I don’t want to get too far off topic but I do think it’s important, I also think this is why it’s actually completely fair to consider Macedonia like fully Greek, like absolutely there’s a shared commitment to Athenian values, which is why I sometimes call Macedonia Athens II, just for short), but our very high standards, then they should just like….they should just go! Away, and have to live somewhere else, and I don’t even care where, like be well, okay, be safe and healthy, good fortune go with you, I absolutely wish you the best wherever your journey takes you, but you just cannot stay here, because everyone here is already pulling their weight and frankly doing more than their fair share to begin with.
You are all probably aware that prostitution — sorry, “sex work,” I mean I want to be as nice about this as I can, and it’s perfectly fine to do sex work, that’s a totally legitimate option if that’s all you want out of life, I’ve known some really great prostitutes who I would absolutely invite to a dinner party if the vibe was right, but it’s not like being a judge, or a general, I think we can all admit that — is not a compatible side gig for an Athenian citizen, right? We actually have a full, actually-written-down law about that. If you’re, like….I don’t know, a really friendly Thracian of uncertain parentage and you want to be like a fun courtesan, you should go for it and really with my blessing, but it’s just not appropriate for a freeborn man of Athens tasked with safeguarding our citizenry. Right? You have to pick one. You can be a sex worker all you want, God bless, but then you have to stick with that, and you can’t try to become one of the nine archons, or apply to the priesthood, or hold office.
So don’t you think it’s kind of fucked up that Timarchus had the gall to address this assembly as a citizen of Athens even though he absolutely fucked for cash when he was in medical school? Like don’t you think the fact that he lied to us all about it is also a problem? We probably could have made an exception for him if he just asked. But he didn’t ask. It’s honestly not even the sex work, for me personally that causes the problem, but that he lied about it, because it like begs the question — ahaha sorry, that was just a little joke for some of you rhetoricians — it like raises the question of what else has he lied about? Also I know a lot of you were really uncomfortable last week when he took his cloak off during his address, like we were all just in the gymnasium or something, like it was no big deal, and we shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable when we’re just trying to assemble.
To be clear, I’m not trying to shame Timarchus by bringing all of this old shit up, even though a lot of it isn’t even that old. Partly because I’m honestly not even sure he can feel shame? Like I just don’t think he registers emotions on that scale, at all. So it’s not even worth it. But also I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. I just want us all to agree to abide by the rules we already agreed on!
I’m not going to name any other names, by the way, because I don’t think it’s necessary and I really don’t want to upset any of you by overloading you with details, but the whole time Timarchus was allegedly down in Peiraeus “attending medical school” he was just slutting it up for cash, fully on purpose. And actually I will name one name, come to think of it, just for the purposes of illustration, which is that Misgolas — you know, Naucrates’ son? I could swear I saw him in the back a minute ago, but maybe he’s not here — absolutely picked him up. He even gave Timarchus extra to move in with him, like, I guess to save time because he was paying him for sex so much.
I knoooow! Ahahhaa! Anyways I only mention Misgolas’ name because other than this one thing Misgolas is normally a totally honorable and upright guy, truly almost beyond reproach except for being a john who can’t get a grip on his compulsive sexual behavior, so if Timarchus can bring that out in him, who knows what else he’s been up to!
I can’t really get into why I know this, but I do happen to know for a fact that Timarchus already had enough money to finish medical school at this point, so he just was like…again, being a total slut for cash but he didn’t even need the cash, which is so fucked up. Right? Sorry, am I an asshole for saying that, or like…is what I’m saying kind of true? I think it’s kind of true! He just like, loved it, I guess, being a full-time skank, way more than he loves, like, studying, or medicine, or self-respect, or his family, or his reputation, or behaving like an Athenian. Which, good for you, that you found what you love I guess, more power to you, but please don’t pretend to also want to be an Athenian when you really love something else more, because that’s actually offensive to those of us who really do love Athens and would never fuck old guys for cash. Oh, and have lunch with straight-up foreign people in lodging-houses, like just eating whatever with whomever at any time, for any reason, no rules. During a procession!!!
Anyhow, it’s fine if not, but if Misgolas is here, and he’s comfortable coming forward right now and signing this affidavit I’ve prepared here, and actually just fill in this blank section here, because I left the section blank that details what, specifically, Misgolas actually used to do to Timarchus physically, because I felt like it wasn’t really appropriate for me to write it down, both because it’s not my story to tell and also because I feel like as someone who would never do that, I shouldn’t have to be the one to describe it. So if you are here, Misgolas, if you could just scoot past everyone and come up to the front and write that down before you sign it real quick, I think we could wrap this up today, which would be ideal, because I’m actually getting a little grossed out just thinking about it. Or if you don’t want to come to the front, that’s fine, and I’ll just deal with my own feelings and describe it out loud for everyone. I don’t want to, but again, today is not about me. And I know a couple of guys who would be really happy to testify, I could grab them real fast.
[Misgolas, son of Nicias, of Piraeus, testifies. “Timarchus, who once used to stay at the house of Euthydicis the physician, became intimate with me, and I hold him today in the same esteem as in all my past acquaintance with him.”]
Just to be clear, if Misgolas was the only guy that Timarchus had slutted it up for, I might not even say anything, because as gross as that is, at least there’d be a kind of fucked-up loyalty to it, and I really do try not to judge other people, even if they do lie about being medical students just so they can get an old man’s rocks off. But you guys. He wasn’t! Ahhhh, I know I said I wasn’t gonna name names, but just real quick, also there was Cedonides, Autocleides, and Thersandrus. You guys!! You can’t encourage this kind of thing, okay? I mean, whatever, it’s fine, I get it, nobody’s perfect and I love you guys to death I really do, all is forgiven, but I’m honestly really worried about Timarchus, it honestly seems compulsive, I don’t even know if he was having a good time or if he was just on some sort of skank autopilot. Also Anticles! I mean, even for a port-city sex worker, that’s like….I’m sorry, but do you really have no standards? Like how do we know he wasn’t also doing this for non-Athenians?
Anyway. There’s like a ton of worse stuff I could absolutely tell you about, but like I said I’m sure you’ve already heard most of it, and also I’m kind of freaking myself out just thinking about what a gross slut and honestly a liar Timarchus is. And it’s not a judgmental thing. It’s just that I think if he really loved Athens, like you and I and anyone normal, anyone regular, loves Athens, he wouldn’t have so much spare time and energy on his hands to go around loving every man with a few coins to rub together. Also I heard a couple of times he reneged on his contract with some really important citizens, men who are absolutely 100% deserving of respect and of getting their dicks sucked if you sign a dick-sucking agreement with them, so he’s also a thief too, I guess.
I don’t know, I guess compared to all of this I really just don’t think whatever I did or didn’t say to Philip of Macedon the last time we got together is very important. I mean, I can tell you one thing I didn’t say to him! I didn’t ask him to fuck me! I have too much respect for Athens’ natural ally and friend, Philip of Macedon, who’s only ever looked out for us, to do that. I don’t know, maybe that’s part of why Timarchus has such a weird grudge against him. Maybe he turned him down, and that’s what some of this is about? God, that would be so fucked up, if Timarchus was so completely lost to a sense of propriety that he asked the king of Macedon if he wanted to pay for a date. Like Philip would ever have to pay for a date!
Anyways, I’ll leave the rest for you all to decide. I’ve already spoken for way too long today, and I really don’t want to be in the spotlight. I just want to say that whatever you decide to do today, I really hope you can feel good about it when you go home and think about who’s allowed to have sex with whom, for example your wives, just for example, and what Athens might be like if all of a sudden we just had no rules about who was allowed to have sex for money and everyone just did whatever they want all the time. And that you’ll feel good about the example you’re setting for your kids, because kids are so much more perceptive than we give them credit for, but they’re also so easily led astray, and maybe they think Timarchus is really cool, you know, and that they want to be like him, so maybe that’s relevant if we’re thinking about whether Timarchus should be allowed to live in Athens anymore, where all of our kids can see him and follow his example. Whatever! You just let me know if you think our laws or important or not, and whatever you think, that’s fine by me.
Sorry to go on for so long!! I love sluts, I have nothing against sluts, I just think they should stay like in a very clearly-demarcated pre-agreed-upon slut area so nobody mixes them up for one of us? I don’t think that’s unreasonable, lmk if you agree!