HODOI ELEKTRONIKAI
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DION CHRYSOSTOME, Au peuple d'Alexandrie (discours 32; traduction anglaise)

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Texte grec :

[32,25] σαφέστερον δ´ ὑμῖν, εἰ βούλεσθε, διελεύσομαι περὶ δήμου φύσεως, τοῦτ´ ἔστι περὶ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν. καὶ γὰρ ἕν τι τῶν χρησίμων ἐστὶ καὶ μᾶλλον ἂν ὑμᾶς ὠφελήσειεν ἢ περὶ οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς εἰ λέγοιμι. φημὶ δὴ δῆμον ἐοικέναι μάλιστα ἀνδρὶ δυνάστῃ καὶ σφόδρα ἰσχυρῷ, μεγάλην τινὰ ἐξουσίαν καὶ ῥώμην ἔχοντι, καὶ τοσούτῳ μείζονι δυνάστῃ καὶ ἄρχοντι πλεόνων, ὅσῳπερ ἂν αὐτὸς ᾖ πλείων ὁ δῆμος καὶ πόλεως γενναιοτέρας. ἐκείνων μὲν οὖν εἰσι βασιλεῖς, θεοὶ ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ κοινῇ γεγονότες, κηδεμόνες ὄντως καὶ προστάται χρηστοὶ καὶ δίκαιοι, τῶν μὲν ἀγαθῶν ἑκούσιοι ταμίαι, τῶν δὲ χαλεπῶν σπανίως μεταδιδόντες καὶ κατὰ ἀνάγκην, κόσμῳ πόλεων ἡδόμενοι. οἱ δὲ τοὐναντίον σκληροὶ καὶ ἄγριοι τύραννοι, χαλεποὶ μὲν ἀκοῦσαι, χαλεποὶ δὲ συμβαλεῖν· τούτων ἡ μὲν ὀργὴ πρὸς πάντα ἕτοιμος, ὥσπερ θηρίων ἀνημέρων, τὰ δὲ ὦτα ἐμπέφρακται, καὶ πάροδος οὐκ ἔστιν εἰς αὐτὰ λόγοις ἐπιεικέσιν, ἀλλὰ κολακεία καὶ ἀπάτη κρατεῖ παρ´ αὐτοῖς. ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ δῆμος ὁ μέν τις εὐγνώμων καὶ πρᾷος καὶ γαληνὸς ὄντως, οἷος γεύσασθαι παρρησίας καὶ μὴ πάντα ἐθέλειν τρυφᾶν, ἐπιεικής, μεγαλόφρων, αἰδούμενος τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς καὶ ἄνδρας καὶ λόγους, τοῖς νουθετοῦσι καὶ διδάσκουσι χάριν εἰδώς· ὃν ἐγὼ τίθημι τῆς θείας καὶ βασιλικῆς φύσεως, καὶ προσιέναι φημὶ καὶ διαλέγεσθαι τούτῳ πρέπειν, καθάπερ ἵππον γενναῖον ἐξ ἡνίας εὐτελοῦς πρᾴως ἄγοντα, οὐδὲν δεόμενον ψαλίων. οἱ δὲ πλείους {καὶ οἱ} θρασεῖς καὶ ὑπερήφανοι, δυσάρεστοι πρὸς ἅπαντα, ἁψίκοροι, τυράννοις ὅμοιοι καὶ πολὺ χείρους· οἷα δὴ τῆς κακίας αὐτῶν οὔσης οὐ μιᾶς οὐδὲ ἁπλῆς, ἀλλὰ συμπεφορημένης ἐκ μυρίων· ὥστε πάνυ ποικίλον τε καὶ δεινὸν εἶναι θηρίον, οἷα ποιηταὶ καὶ δημιουργοὶ πλάττουσι Κενταύρους τε καὶ Σφίγγας καὶ Χιμαίρας, ἐκ παντοδαπῶν φύσεων {εἰς} μίαν μορφὴν εἰδώλου ξυντιθέντες. τῷ δὲ τοιούτῳ τέρατι ξυμπλέκεσθαι καὶ ὁμόσε ἰέναι μαινομένου τινὸς ἀληθῶς ἔργον ἢ σφόδρα ἀνδρείου καὶ πτηνοῦ, Περσέως ἢ Βελλεροφόντου. τὸν οὖν τῶν Ἀλεξανδρέων δῆμον τὸν ἄπειρον, ὥς φασι, τῆς ποίας μερίδος θῶμεν; ἐγὼ μὲν γὰρ ὡς τῆς βελτίονος οὖσιν ὑμῖν παρέσχηκα ἐμαυτόν· ἴσως δὲ καὶ ἄλλος προαιρήσεται τῶν ἐμοῦ κρειττόνων. καὶ μὴν οὐδὲν 〈ἂν〉 ἔχοιτε θέαμα κάλλιον καὶ παραδοξότερον αὑτῶν σωφρονούντων καὶ προσεχόντων. θεῖον γὰρ δὴ καὶ σεμνὸν ἀληθῶς καὶ μεγαλοπρεπὲς δήμου πρόσωπον πρᾷον καὶ καθεστηκὸς καὶ μήτε γέλωτι σφοδρῷ καὶ ἀκολάστῳ βρασσόμενον μήτε θορύβῳ συνεχεῖ καὶ ἀτάκτῳ τεταραγμένον, ἀλλ´ ἀκοὴ μία τοσοῦδε πλήθους.

Traduction française :

[32,25] But I will explain to you more clearly, if you wish, the nature of the demos, in other words, the nature of yourselves. In fact such an explanation is a useful thing, and it will do you more good than if I were to speak about heaven and earth. Well then, I claim that the demos most closely resembles a potentate, and a very strong one too, one that has great authority and power, and a more powerful potentate and holding sway over a greater number in proportion as the people itself is more numerous and belongs to a prouder city. Among these over-lords, then, are included kings, who have been deified for the general safety of their realm, real guardians and good and righteous leaders of the people, gladly dispensing the benefits, but dealing out hardships among their subjects rarely and only as necessity demands, rejoicing when their cities observe order and decorum. But others, on the contrary, are harsh and savage tyrants, unpleasant to listen to and unpleasant to meet; their rage is prompt to rise at anything, like the rage of savage beasts, and their ears are stopped, affording no entrance to words of fairness, but with them flattery and deception prevail. In like manner democracy is of two kinds : the one is reasonable and gentle and truly mild, disposed to accept frankness of speech and not to care to be pampered in everything, fair, magnanimous, showing respect for good men and good advice, grateful to those who admonish and instruct ; this is the democracy which I regard as partaking of the divine and royal nature, and I deem it fitting that one should approach and address it, just as one directs with gentleness a noble steed by means of simple reins, since it does not need the curb. But the more prevalent kind of democracy is both bold and arrogant, difficult to please in anything, fastidious, resembling tyrants or much worse than they, seeing that its vice is not that of one individual or of one kind but a jumble of the vices of thousands; and so it is a multifarious and dreadful beast, like those which poets and artists invent, Centaurs and Sphinxes and Chimaeras, combining in a single shape of unreal existence attributes borrowed from manifold natures. And to engage at close quarters with that sort of monster is the act of a man who is truly mad or else exceedingly brave and equipped with wings, a Perseus or a Bellerophon. So, applying our analysis to the populace of Alexandria, the "unnumbered multitude", to use the current phrase, in which class shall we put it ? I for my part offered you my services on the assumption that you were of the better sort; and perhaps someone else, one of my superiors, will decide to do likewise. And assuredly you Alexandrians could present no more beautiful and surprising spectacle than by being yourselves sober and attentive. For indeed it is a supernatural and truly solemn and impressive sight when the countenance of the assembly is gentle and composed, and neither convulsed with violent and unrestrained laughter nor distorted by continuous and disorderly clamour, but, on the contrary, listening as with a single pair of ears, though so vast a multitude.





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Dernière mise à jour : 25/10/2007