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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


hypocritical sort, whose crime is deserving of death many times
over, while the other needs only bonds and admonition. In like
manner also the notion that the Gods take no thought of men produces
two other sorts of crimes, and the notion that they may be propitiated
produces two more. Assuming these divisions, let those who have been
made what they are only from want of understanding, and not from
malice or an evil nature, be placed by the judge in the House of
Reformation, and ordered to suffer imprisonment during a period of not
less than five years. And in the meantime let them have no intercourse
with the other citizens, except with members of the nocturnal council,
and with them let them converse with a view to the improvement of
their soul's health. And when the time of their imprisonment has
expired, if any of them be of sound mind let him be restored to sane
company, but if not, and if he be condemned a second time, let him
be punished with death. As to that class of monstrous natures who
not only believe that there are no Gods, or that they are negligent,
or to be propitiated, but in contempt of mankind conjure the souls
of the living and say that they can conjure the dead and promise to
charm the Gods with sacrifices and prayers, and will utterly overthrow
individuals and whole houses and states for the sake of money-let
him who is guilty of any of these things be condemned by the court
to be bound according to law in the prison which is in the centre of
the land, and let no freeman ever approach him, but let him receive
the rations of food appointed by the guardians of the law from the
hands of the public slaves; and when he is dead let him be cast beyond
the borders unburied, and if any freeman assist in burying him, let
him pay the penalty of impiety to any one who is willing to bring a
suit against him. But if he leaves behind him children who are fit
to be citizens, let the guardians of orphans take care of them, just
as they would of any other orphans, from the day on which their father
is convicted.
In all these cases there should be one law, which will make men in
general less liable to transgress in word or deed, and less foolish,
because they will not be allowed to practise religious rites
contrary to law. And let this be the simple form of the law:-No man
shall have sacred rites in a private house. When he would sacrifice,
let him go to the temples and hand over his offerings to the priests
and priestesses, who see to the sanctity of such things, and let him
pray himself, and let any one who pleases join with him in prayer. The
reason of this is as follows:-Gods and temples are not easily
instituted, and to establish them rightly is the work of a mighty
intellect. And women especially, and men too, when they are sick or in
danger, or in any sort of difficulty, or again on their receiving
any good fortune, have a way of consecrating the occasion, vowing
sacrifices, and promising shrines to Gods, demigods, and sons of Gods;
and when they are awakened by terrible apparitions and dreams or
remember visions, they find in altars and temples the remedies of
them, and will fill every house and village with them, placing them in
the open air, or wherever they may have had such visions; and with a
view to all these cases we should obey the law. The law has also
regard to the impious, and would not have them fancy that by the
secret performance of these actions-by raising temples and by building
altars in private houses, they can propitiate the God secretly with
sacrifices and prayers, while they are really multiplying their crimes
infinitely, bringing guilt from heaven upon themselves, and also
upon those who permit them, and who are better men than they are;
and the consequence is that the whole state reaps the fruit of their
impiety, which, in a certain sense, is deserved. Assuredly God will
not blame the legislator, who will enact the following law:-No one
shall possess shrines of the Gods in private houses, and he who is
found to possess them, and perform any sacred rites not publicly
authorized-supposing the offender to be some man or woman who is not
guilty of any other great and impious crime-shall be informed
against by him who is acquainted with the fact, which shall be

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