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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


them in the first place, that he who attempts to poison or enchant
others knows not what he is doing, either as regards the body
(unless he has a knowledge of medicine), or as regards his
enchantments (unless he happens to be a prophet or diviner). Let the
law, then, run as follows about poisoning or witchcraft:-He who
employs poison to do any injury, not fatal, to a man himself, or to
his servants, or any injury, whether fatal or not, to his cattle or
his bees, if he be a physician, and be convicted of poisoning, shall
be punished with death; or if he be a private person, the court
shall determine what he is to pay or suffer. But he who seems to be
the sort of man injures others by magic knots, or enchantments, or
incantations, or any of the like practices, if he be a prophet or
diviner, let him die; and if, not being a prophet, he be convicted
of witchcraft, as in the previous case, let the court fix what he
ought to pay or suffer.
When a man does another any injury by theft or violence, for the
greater injury let him pay greater damages to the injured man, and
less for the smaller injury; but in all cases, whatever the injury may
have been, as much as will compensate the loss. And besides the
compensation of the wrong, let a man pay a further penalty for the
chastisement of his offence: he who has done the wrong instigated by
the folly of another, through the lightheartedness of youth or the
like, shall pay a lighter penalty; but he who has injured another
through his own folly, when overcome by pleasure or pain, in
cowardly fear, or lust, or envy, or implacable anger, shall endure a
heavier punishment. Not that he is punished because he did wrong,
for that which is done can never be undone, but in order that in
future times, he, and those who see him corrected, may utterly hate
injustice, or at any rate abate much of their evil-doing. Having an
eye to all these things, the law, like a good archer, should aim at
the right measure of punishment, and in all cases at the deserved
punishment. In the attainment of this the judge shall be a
fellow-worker with the legislator, whenever the law leaves to him to
determine what the offender shall suffer or pay; and the legislator,
like a painter, shall give a rough sketch of the cases in which the
law is to be applied. This is what we must do, Megillus and
Cleinias, in the best and fairest manner that we can, saying what
the punishments are to be of all actions of theft and violence, and
giving laws of such a kind as the Gods and sons of Gods would have
us give.
If a man is mad he shall not be at large in the city, but his
relations shall keep him at home in any way which they can; or if not,
let them pay a penalty-he who is of the highest class shall pay a
penalty of one hundred drachmae, whether he be a slave or a freeman
whom he neglects; and he of the second class shall pay four-fifths
of a mina; and he of the third class three-fifths; and he of the
fourth class two-fifths. Now there are many sorts of madness, some
arising out of disease, which we have already mentioned; and there are
other kinds, which originate in an evil and passionate temperament,
and are increased by bad education; out of a slight quarrel this class
of madmen will often raise a storm of abuse against one another, and
nothing of that sort ought to be allowed to occur in a well-ordered
state. Let this, then, be the law about abuse, which shall relate to
all cases:-No one shall speak evil of another; and when a man disputes
with another he shall teach and learn of the disputant and the
company, but he shall abstain from evilspeaking; for out of the
imprecations which men utter against one another, and the feminine
habit of casting aspersions on one another, and using foul names,
out of words light as air, in very deed the greatest enmities and
hatreds spring up. For the speaker gratifies his anger, which is an
ungracious element of his nature; and nursing up his wrath by the
entertainment of evil thoughts, and exacerbating that part of his soul
which was formerly civilized by education, he lives in a state of
savageness and moroseness, and pays a bitter penalty for his anger.

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