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



Previous | Next
                  

laws (books 7 - 12)   


let the state appoint another guardian of the law for the city and for
the country in his room.
Greater differences than there ought to be sometimes arise between
fathers and sons, on the part either of fathers who will be of opinion
that the legislator should enact that they may, if they wish, lawfully
renounce their son by the proclamation of a herald in the face of
the world, or of sons who think that they should be allowed to
indict their fathers on the charge of imbecility when they are
disabled by disease or old age. These things only happen, as a
matter of fact, where the natures of men are utterly bad; for where
only half is bad, as, for example, if the father be not bad, but the
son be bad, or conversely, no great calamity is the result of such
an amount of hatred as this. In another state, a son disowned by his
father would not of necessity cease to be a citizen, but in our state,
of which these are to be the laws, the disinherited must necessarily
emigrate into another country, for no addition can be made even of a
single family to the 5040 households; and, therefore, he who
deserves to suffer these things must be renounced not only by his
father, who is a single person, but by the whole family, and what is
done in these cases must be regulated by some such law as the
following:-He who in the sad disorder of his soul has a mind, justly
or unjustly, to expel from his family a son whom he has begotten and
brought up, shall not lightly or at once execute his purpose; but
first of all he shall collect together his own kinsmen extending to
cousins, and in like manner his son's kinsmen by the mother's side,
and in their presence he shall accuse his son, setting forth that he
deserves at the hands of them all to be dismissed from the family; and
the son shall be allowed to address them in a similar manner, and show
that he does not deserve to suffer any of these things. And if the
father persuades them, and obtains the suffrages of more than half
of his kindred, exclusive of the father and mother and the offender
himself-I say, if he obtains more than half the suffrages of all the
other grown-up members of the family, of both sexes, the father
shall be permitted to put away his son, but not otherwise. And if
any other citizen is willing to adopt the son who is put away, no
law shall hinder him; for the characters of young men are subject to
many changes in the course of their lives. And if he has been put
away, and in a period of ten years no one is willing to adopt him, let
those who have the care of the superabundant population which is
sent out into colonies, see to him, in order that he may be suitably
provided for in the colony. And if disease or age or harshness of
temper, or all these together, makes a man to be more out of his
mind than the rest of the world are-but this is not observable, except
to those who live with him-and he, being master of his property, is
the ruin of the house, and his son doubts and hesitates about
indicting his father for insanity, let the law in that case or, that
he shall first of all go to the eldest guardians of the law and tell
them of his father's misfortune, and they shall duly look into the
matter, and take counsel as to whether he shall indict him or not. And
if they advise him to proceed, they shall be both his witnesses and
his advocates; and if the father is cast, he shall henceforth be
incapable of ordering the least particular of his life; let him be
as a child dwelling in the house for the remainder of his days. And if
a man and his wife have an unfortunate incompatibility of temper,
ten of the guardians of the law, who are impartial, and ten of the
women who regulate marriages, shall look to the matter, and if they
are able to reconcile them they shall be formally reconciled; but if
their souls are too much tossed with passion, they shall endeavour
to find other partners. Now they are not likely to have very gentle
tempers; and, therefore, we must endeavour to associate with them
deeper and softer natures. Those who have no children, or only a
few, at the time of their separation, should choose their new partners
with a view to the procreation of children; but those who have a
sufficient number of children should separate and marry again in order

Previous | Next
Site Search