Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plato
Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



Previous | Next
                  

laws (books 1 - 6)   


matter. In the first place, he who would be rightly provident about
them, should begin by taking care that he is elected, who of all the
citizens is in every way best; him the legislator shall do his
utmost to appoint guardian and superintendent. To this end all the
magistrates, with the exception of the council and prytanes, shall
go to the temple of Apollo, and elect by ballot him of the guardians
of the law whom they severally think will be the best superintendent
of education. And he who has the greatest number of votes, after he
has undergone a scrutiny at the hands of all the magistrates who
have been his electors, with the exception of the guardians of the
law-shall hold office for five years; and in the sixth year let
another be chosen in like manner to fill his office.
If any one dies while he is holding a public office, and more than
thirty days before his term of office expires, let those whose
business it is elect another to the office in the same manner as
before. And if any one who is entrusted with orphans dies, let the
relations both on the father's and mother's side, who are residing
at home, including cousins, appoint another guardian within ten
days, or be fined a drachma a day for neglect to do so.
A city which has no regular courts of law ceases to be a city; and
again, if a judge is silent and says no more in preliminary
proceedings than the litigants, as is the case in arbitrations, he
will never be able to decide justly; wherefore a multitude of judges
will not easily judge well, nor a few if they are bad. The point in
dispute between the parties should be made clear; and time, and
deliberation, and repeated examination, greatly tend to clear up
doubts. For this reason, he who goes to law with another should go
first of all to his neighbours and friends who know best the questions
at issue. And if he be unable to obtain from them a satisfactory
decision, let him have recourse to another court; and if the two
courts cannot settle the matter, let a third put an end to the suit.
Now the establishment of courts of justice may be regarded as a
choice of magistrates, for every magistrate must also be a judge of
some things; and the judge, though he be not a magistrate, yet in
certain respects is a very important magistrate on the day on which he
is determining a suit. Regarding then the judges also as
magistrates, let us say who are fit to be judges, and of what they are
to be judges, and how many of them are to judge in each suit. Let that
be the supreme tribunal which the litigants appoint in common for
themselves, choosing certain persons by agreement. And let there be
two other tribunals: one for private causes, when a citizen accuses
another of wronging him and wishes to get a decision; the other for
public causes, in which some citizen is of opinion that the public has
been wronged by an individual, and is willing to vindicate the
common interests. And we must not forget to mention how the judges are
to be qualified, and who they are to be. In the first place, let there
be a tribunal open to all private persons who are trying causes one
against another for the third time, and let this be composed as
follows:-All the officers of state, as well annual as those holding
office for a longer period, when the new year is about to commence, in
the month following after the summer solstice, on the last day but one
of the year, shall meet in some temple, and calling God to witness,
shall dedicate one judge from every magistracy to be their
first-fruits, choosing in each office him who seems to them to be
the best, and whom they deem likely to decide the causes of his
fellow-citizens during the ensuing year in the best and holiest
manner. And when the election is completed, a scrutiny shall be held
in the presence of the electors themselves, and if any one be rejected
another shall be chosen in the same manner. Those who have undergone
the scrutiny shall judge the causes of those who have declined the
inferior courts, and shall give their vote openly. The councillors and
other magistrates who have elected them shall be required to be
hearers and spectators of the causes; and any one else may be
present who pleases. If one man charges another with having

Previous | Next
Site Search