1800 · S.l. [Caen, France]
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE: The satire explores a little-known scene in Demosthenes' lawsuit against Meidias for "slander" (i.e. for slapping the plaintiff in public), for which in the absence of the plaintiff one Straton was appointed arbitrator. Meidias failed to appear in court, and so the judgment went against him. Meidias claimed that the arbitration did not exist, and therefore he did not take the oath. Contrary to law, the presiding judge overturned the ruling in this "deserted" case, and the Straton was expelled and completely disfranchised. "Against Meidias" is regarded as one of the most intriguing forensic speeches to survive. It gives valuable information about Athenian law and festivals, and especially about the Greek concept of hubris (aggravated assault), which was regarded as a crime not only against the citizen or city but against society as a whole.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE: Recorded here for the first time is the fact that the "Miseres des Plaideurs" first appeared in a very rare, and now forgotten 20-page book of "Satires nouvelles. Avec une Ode sur l'heureuse convalescence de Monseigneur le Dauphin. Par le Sieur D***" (Paris: J. Collombat, 1701), of which two copies are known: BnF and Duke University (sic). The "Satires nouvelles," in addition to the Ode, contains two satires, namely the "Miseres des Plaideurs" and "Le Democrite moderne, sur les diverses folies des hommes." The authorship of these three poems is also in doubt: Sieur D*** has been equated with Nicolas Boileux-Despreaux (BnF, Catalogue general des livres imprimes, 1903, Tom XIV, col. 1218, no. 602), but none of the above have ever appeared in Boileau-Despreaux's "Oeuvres completes." Whereas the 1701 "Satires nouvelles" remained unknown to Barbier, Pierre Conlon lists it as being "Anonymous" (Prelude au siecle des Lumieres en France: repertoire chronologique, 1974, Tom. V, Suppl., p. 188, no. 19249). But elsewhere we find that the author has been identified as Jacques Losme de Monchesnay (1666-1740), a shadowy figure who was one of the first editors of Boileau-Despreaux's works. Curiously, BnF attributes a nearly identical work to Losme de Montchesnay: "Satires nouvelles du sieur D***** (Paris: C. Osmont, 1698).
A fascinating pamphlet, illustrated with two charming and completely inappropriate woodcuts on the back wrapper. REFERENCE: René Hélot, 'La bibliothèque bleue en Normandie' (Rouen, 1927) no. 161, recording an entirely different edition. (Inventory #: 1930)