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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


with extraneous coverings, and so hindering their natural growth of
hair and soles. For these are the extremities, and of all the parts of
the body, whether they are preserved or not is of the greatest
consequence; the one is the servant of the whole body, and the other
the master, in whom all the ruling senses are by nature set. Let the
young man imagine that he hears in what has preceded the praises of
the military life; the law shall be as follows:-He shall serve in
war who is on the roll or appointed to some special service, and if
any one is absent from cowardice, and without the leave of the
generals; he shall be indicted before the military commanders for
failure of service when the army comes home; and the soldiers shall be
his judges; the heavy armed, and the cavalry, and the other arms of
the service shall form separate courts; and they shall bring the
heavy-armed before the heavy-armed, and the horsemen before the
horsemen, and the others in like manner before their peers; and he who
is found guilty shall never be allowed to compete for any prize of
valour, or indict another for not serving on an expedition, or be an
accuser at all in any military matters. Moreover, the court shall
further determine what punishment he shall suffer, or what penalty
he shall pay. When the suits for failure of service are completed, the
leaders of the several kinds of troops shall again hold an assembly,
and they shall adjudge the prizes of valour; and he who likes shall
give judgment in his own branch of the service, saying nothing about
any former expedition, nor producing any proof or witnesses to confirm
his statement, but speaking only of the present occasion. The crown of
victory shall be an olive wreath which the victor shall offer up the
temple of any war-god whom he likes, adding an inscription for a
testimony to last during life, that such an one has received the
first, the second, or prize. If any one goes on an expedition, and
returns home before the appointed time, when the generals. have not
withdrawn the army, be shall be indicted for desertion before the same
persons who took cognisance of failure of service, and if he be
found guilty, the same punishment shall be inflicted on him.
Now every man who is engaged in any suit ought to be very careful of
bringing false witness against any one, either intentionally or
unintentionally, if he can help; for justice is truly said to be an
honourable maiden, and falsehood is naturally repugnant to honour
and justice. A witness ought to be very careful not to sift against
justice, as for example in what relates to the throwing away of
arms-he must distinguish the throwing them away when necessary, and
not make that a reproach, or bring in action against some innocent
person on that account. To make the distinction maybe difficult; but
still the law must attempt to define the different kinds in some
way. Let me endeavour to explain my meaning by an ancient tale:-If
Patroclus had been brought to the tent still alive but without his
arms (and this has happened to innumerable persons), the original
arms, which the poet says were presented to Peleus by the Gods as a
nuptial gift when he married. Thetis, remaining in the hands of
Hector, then the base spirits of that day might have reproached the
son of Menoetius with having cast away his arms. Again, there is the
case of those who have been thrown down precipices and lost their
arms; and of those who at sea, and in stormy places, have been
suddenly overwhelmed by floods of water; and there are numberless
things of this kind which one might adduce by way of extenuation,
and with the view of justifying a misfortune which is easily
misrepresented. We must, therefore, endeavour to divide to the best of
our power the greater and more serious evil from the lesser. And a
distinction may be drawn in the use of terms of reproach. A man does
not always deserve to be called the thrower away of his shield; he may
be only the loser of his arms. For there is a great or rather absolute
difference between him who is deprived of his arms by a sufficient
force, and him who voluntarily lets his shield go. Let the law then be
as follows:-If a person having arms is overtaken by the enemy and does
not turn round and defend himself, but lets them go voluntarily or

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