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laws (books 7 - 12)   


other; and he who gives credit must be satisfied, whether he obtain
his money not, for in such exchanges he will not be protected by
law. But whenever property has been bought or sold, greater in
quantity or value than is allowed by the law, which has determined
within what limited a man may increase and diminish his possessions,
let the excess be registered in the books of the guardians of the law;
in case of diminution, let there be an erasure made. And let the
same rule be observed about the registration of the property of the
metics. Any one who likes may come and be a metic on certain
conditions; a foreigner, if he likes, and is able to settle, may dwell
in the land, but he must practise an art, and not abide more than
twenty years from the time at which he has registered himself; and
he shall pay no sojourner's tax, however small, except good conduct,
nor any other tax for buying and selling. But when the twenty years
have expired, he shall take his property with him and depart. And if
in the course of these years he should chance to distinguish himself
by any considerable benefit which he confers on the state, and he
thinks that he can persuade the council and assembly, either to
grant him delay in leaving the country, or to allow him to remain
for the whole of his life, let him go and persuade the city, and
whatever they assent to at his instance shall take effect. For the
children of the metics, being artisans, and of fifteen years of age,
let the time of their sojourn commence after their fifteenth year; and
let them remain for twenty years, and then go where they like; but any
of them who wishes to remain, may do so, if he can persuade the
council and assembly. And if he depart, let him erase all the
entries which have been made by him in the register kept by the
magistrates.

BOOK IX

Next to all the matters which have preceded in the natural order
of legislation will come suits of law. Of suits those which relate
to agriculture have been already described, but the more important
have not been described. Having mentioned them severally under their
usual names, we will proceed to say what punishments are to be
inflicted for each offence, and who are to be the judges of them.
Cleinias. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. There is a sense of disgrace in legislating, as
we are about to do, for all the details of crime in a state which,
as we say, is to be well regulated and will be perfectly adapted to
the practice of virtue. To assume that in such a state there will
arise some one who will be guilty of crimes as heinous as any which
are ever perpetrated in other states, and that we must legislate for
him by anticipation, and threaten and make laws against him if he
should arise, in order to deter him, and punish his acts, under the
idea that he will arise-this, as I was saying, is in a manner
disgraceful. Yet seeing that we are not like the ancient
legislators, who gave laws to heroes and sons of gods, being,
according to the popular belief, themselves the offspring of the gods,
and legislating for others, who were also the children of divine
parents, but that we are only men who are legislating for the sons
of men, there is no uncharitableness in apprehending that some one
of our citizens may be like a seed which has touched the ox's horn,
having a heart so hard that it cannot be softened any more than
those seeds can be softened by fire. Among our citizens there may be
those who cannot be subdued by all the strength of the laws; and for
their sake, though an ungracious task, I will proclaim my first law
about the robbing of temples, in case any one should dare to commit
such a crime. I do not expect or imagine that any well-brought-up
citizen will ever take the infection, but their servants, and
strangers, and strangers' servants may be guilty of many impieties.
And with a view to them especially, and yet not without a provident
eye to the weakness of human nature generally, I will proclaim the law

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