Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Plato
Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)

Previous | Next

laws (books 7 - 12)   

deceased, or any other citizen who may first happen to meet with
him, kill him with impunity, or bind and deliver him to those among
the judges of the case who are magistrates, that they may put him to
death. And let the prosecutor demand surety of him whom he prosecutes;
three sureties sufficient in the opinion of the magistrates who try
the cause shall be provided by him, and they shall undertake to
produce him at the trial. But if he be unwilling or unable to
provide sureties, then the magistrates shall take him and keep him
in bonds, and produce him at the day of trial.
If a man do not commit a murder with his own hand, but contrives the
death of another, and is the author of the deed in intention and
design, and he continues to dwell in the city, having his soul not
pure of the guilt of murder, let him be tried in the same way,
except in what relates to the sureties; and also, if he be found
guilty, his body after execution may have burial in his native land,
but in all other respects his case shall be as the former; and whether
a stranger shall kill a citizen, or a citizen a stranger, or a slave a
slave, there shall be no difference as touching murder by one's own
hand or by contrivance, except in the matter of sureties; and these,
as has been said, shall be required of the actual murderer only, and
he who brings the accusation shall bind them over at the time. If a
slave be convicted of slaying a freeman voluntarily, either by his own
hand or by contrivance, let the public executioner take him in the
direction of the sepulchre, to a place whence he can see the tomb of
the dead man, and inflict upon him as many stripes as the person who
caught him orders, and if he survive, let him put him to death. And if
any one kills a slave who has done no wrong, because he is afraid that
he may inform of some base and evil deeds of his own, or for any
similar reason, in such a case let him pay the penalty of murder, as
he would have done if he had slain a citizen. There are things about
which it is terrible and unpleasant to legislate, but impossible not
to legislate. If, for example, there should be murders of kinsmen,
either perpetrated by the hands of kinsmen, or by their contrivance,
voluntary and purely malicious, which most often happen in
ill-regulated and ill-educated states, and may perhaps occur even in a
country where a man would not expect to find them, we must repeat once
more the tale which we narrated a little while ago, in the hope that
he who hears us will be the more disposed to abstain voluntarily on
these grounds from murders which are utterly abominable. For the myth,
or saying, or whatever we ought to call it, has been plainly set forth
by priests of old; they have pronounced that the justice which
guards and avenges the blood of kindred, follows the law of
retaliation, and ordains that he who has done any murderous act should
of necessity suffer that which he has done. He who has slain a
father shall himself be slain at some time or other by his children-if
a mother, he shall of necessity take a woman's nature, and lose his
life at the hands of his offspring in after ages; for where the
blood of a family has been polluted there is no other purification,
nor can the pollution be washed out until the homicidal soul which the
deed has given life for life, and has propitiated and laid to sleep
the wrath of the whole family. These are the retributions of Heaven,
and by such punishments men should be deterred. But if they are not
deterred, and any one should be incited by some fatality to deprive
his father or mother, or brethren, or children, of life voluntarily
and of purpose, for him the earthly lawgiver legislates as
follows:-There shall be the same proclamations about outlawry, and
there shall be the same sureties which have been enacted in the former
cases. But in his case, if he be convicted, the servants of the judges
and the magistrates shall slay him at an appointed place without the
city where three ways meet, and there expose his body naked, and
each of the magistrates on behalf of the whole city shall take a stone
and cast it upon the head of the dead man, and so deliver the city
from pollution; after that, they shall bear him to the borders of
the land, and cast him forth unburied, according to law. And what

Previous | Next
Site Search