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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


when they are honoured by us, join in our prayers, and when they are
dishonoured, they utter imprecations against us; but lifeless
objects do neither. And therefore, if a man makes a right use of his
father and grandfather and other aged relations, he will have images
which above all others will win him the favour of the Gods.
Cle. Excellent.
Ath. Every man of any understanding fears and respects the prayers
of parents, knowing well that many times and to many persons they have
been accomplished. Now these things being thus ordered by nature, good
men think it a blessing from heaven if their parents live to old age
and reach the utmost limit of human life, or if taken away before
their time they are deeply regretted by them; but to bad men parents
are always a cause of terror. Wherefore let every man honour with
every sort of lawful honour his own parents, agreeably to what has now
been said. But if this prelude be an unmeaning sound in the cars of
any one, let the law follow, which may be rightly imposed in these
terms:-If any one in this city be not sufficiently careful of his
parents, and do not regard and gratify in every respect their wishes
more than those of his sons and of his other offspring or of
himself-let him who experiences this sort of treatment either come
himself, or send some one to inform the three eldest guardians of
the law, and three of the women who have the care of marriages; and
let them look to the matter and punish youthful evil-doers with
stripes and bonds if they are under thirty years of age, that is to
say, if they be men, or if they be women, let them undergo the same
punishment up to forty years of age. But if, when they are still
more advanced in years, they continue the same neglect of their
parents, and do any hurt to any of them, let them be brought before
a court in which every single one of the eldest citizens shall be
the judges, and if the offender be convicted, let the court
determine what he ought to pay or suffer, and any penalty may be
imposed on him which a man can pay or suffer. If the person who has
been wronged be unable to inform the magistrates, let any freeman
who hears of his case inform, and if he do not, he shall be deemed
base, and shall be liable to have a suit for damage brought against
him by any one who likes. And if a slave inform, he shall receive
freedom; and if he be the slave of the injurer or injured party, he
shall be set free by the magistrates, or if he belong to any other
citizen, the public shall pay a price on his behalf to the owner;
and let the magistrates take heed that no one wrongs him out of
revenge, because he has given information.
Cases in which one man injures another by poisons, and which prove
fatal, have been already discussed; but about other cases in which a
person intentionally and of malice harms another with meats, or
drinks, or ointments, nothing has as yet been determined. For there
are two kinds of poisons used among men, which cannot clearly be
distinguished. There is the kind just now explicitly mentioned,
which injures bodies by the use of other bodies according to a natural
law; there is also another kind which persuades the more daring
class that they can do injury by sorceries, and incantations, and
magic knots, as they are termed, and makes others believe that they
above all persons are injured by the powers of the magician. Now it is
not easy to know the nature of all these things; nor if a man do
know can he readily persuade others to believe him. And when men are
disturbed in their minds at the sight of waxen images fixed either
at their doors, or in a place where three ways meet, or on the
sepulchres of parents, there is no use in trying to persuade them that
they should despise all such things because they have no certain
knowledge about them. But we must have a law in two parts,
concerning poisoning, in whichever of the two ways the attempt is
made, and we must entreat, and exhort, and advise men not to have
recourse to such practices, by which they scare the multitude out of
their wits, as if they were children, compelling the legislator and
the judge to heal the fears which the sorcerer arouses, and to tell

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