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

Previous | Next

laws (books 7 - 12)   

somewhat older than himself, who has no children, whether he be an old
man who strikes an old man or a young man who strikes a young man, let
the person struck defend himself in the natural way without a weapon
and with his hands only. He who, being more than forty years of age,
dares to fight with another, whether he be the aggressor or in self
defence, shall be regarded as rude and ill-mannered and
slavish;-this will be a disgraceful punishment, and therefore suitable
to him. The obedient nature will readily yield to such exhortations,
but the disobedient, who heeds not the prelude, shall have the law
ready for him:-If any man smite another who is older than himself,
either by twenty or by more years, in the first place, he who is at
hand, not being younger than the combatants, nor their equal in age,
shall separate them, or be disgraced according to law; but if he be
the equal in age of the person who is struck or younger, he shall
defend the person injured as he would a brother or father or still
older relative. Further, let him who dares to smite an elder be
tried for assault, as I have said, and if he be found guilty, let
him be imprisoned for a period of not less than a year, or if the
judges approve of a longer period, their decision shall be final.
But if a stranger or metic smite one who is older by twenty years or
more, the same law shall hold about the bystanders assisting, and he
who is found guilty in such a suit, if he be a stranger but not
resident, shall be imprisoned during a period of two years; and a
metic who disobeys the laws shall be imprisoned for three years,
unless the court assign him a longer term. And let him who was present
in any of these cases and did not assist according to law be punished,
if he be of the highest dass, by paying a fine of a mina; or if he
be of the second class, of fifty drachmas; or if of the third class,
by a fine of thirty drachmas; or if he be of the fourth class, by a
fine of twenty drachmas; and the generals and taxiarchs and
phylarchs and hipparchs shall form the court in such cases.
Laws are partly framed for the sake of good men, in order to
instruct them how they thay live on friendly terms with one another,
and partly for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose
spirit cannot be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging
into evil. These are the persons who cause the word to be spoken which
I am about to utter; for them the legislator legislates of
necessity, and in the hope that there may be no need of his laws. He
who shall dare to lay violent hands upon his father or mother, or
any still older relative, having no fear either of the wrath of the
Gods above, or of the punishments that are spoken of in the world
below, but transgresses in contempt of ancient and universal
traditions as though he were too wise to believe in them, requires
some extreme measure of prevention. Now death is not the worst that
can happen to men; far worse are the punishments which are said to
pursue them in the world below. But although they are most true tales,
they work on such souls no prevention; for if they had any effect
there would be no slayers of mothers, or impious hands lifted up
against parents; and therefore the punishments of this world which are
inflicted during life ought not in such cases to fall short, if
possible, of the terrors of the world below. Let our enactment then be
as follows:-If a man dare to strike his father or his mother, or their
fathers or mothers, he being at the time of sound mind, then let any
one who is at hand come to the rescue as has been already said, and
the metic or stranger who comes to the rescue shall be called to the
first place in the games; but if he do not come he shall suffer the
punishment of perpetual exile. He who is not a metic, if he comes to
the rescue, shall have praise, and if he do not come, blame. And if
a slave come to the rescue, let him be made free, but if he do not
come the rescue, let him receive 100 strokes of the whip, by order
of the wardens of the agora, if the occurrence take place in the
agora; or if somewhere in the city beyond the limits of the agora, any
warden of the city is in residence shall punish him; or if in the
country, then the commanders of the wardens of the country. If those

Previous | Next
Site Search