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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


throws them away, choosing a base life and a swift escape rather
than a courageous and noble and blessed death-in such a case of the
throwing away of arms let justice be done, but the judge need take
no note of the case just now mentioned; for the bad man ought always
to be punished, in the hope that he may be improved, but not the
unfortunate, for there is no advantage in that. And what shall be
the punishment suited to him who has thrown away his weapons of
defence? Tradition says that Caeneus, the Thessalian, was changed by a
God from a woman into a man; but the converse miracle cannot now be
wrought, or no punishment would be more proper than that the man who
throws away his shield should be changed into a woman. This however is
impossible, and therefore let us make a law as nearly like this as
we can-that he who loves his life too well shall be in no danger for
the remainder of his days, but shall live for ever under the stigma of
cowardice. And let the law be in the following terms:-When a man is
found guilty of disgracefully throwing away his arms in war, no
general or military officer shall allow him to serve as a soldier,
or give him any place at all in the ranks of soldiers; and the officer
who gives the coward any place, shall suffer a penalty which the
public examiner shall exact of him; and if he be of the highest
dass, he shall pay a thousand drachmae; or if he be of the second
class, five minae; or if he be of the third, three minae; or if he
be of the fourth class, one mina. And he who is found guilty of
cowardice, shall not only be dismissed from manly dangers, which is
a disgrace appropriate to his nature, but he shall pay a thousand
drachmae, if he be of the highest class, and five minae if he be of
the second class, and three if he be of the third class, and a mina,
like the preceding, if he be of the fourth class.
What regulations will be proper about examiners, seeing that some of
our magistrates are elected by lot, and for a year, and some for a
longer time and from selected persons? Of such magistrates, who will
be a sufficient censor or examiner, if any of them, weighed down by
the pressure of office or his own inability to support the dignity
of his office, be guilty of any crooked practice? It is by no means
easy to find a magistrate who excels other magistrates in virtue,
but still we must endeavour to discover some censor or examiner who is
more than man. For the truth is, that there are many elements of
dissolution in a state, as there are also in a ship, or in an
animal; they all have their cords, and girders, and sinews-one
nature diffused in many places, and called by many names; and the
office of examiner is a most important element in the preservation and
dissolution of states. For if the examiners are better than the
magistrates, and their duty is fulfilled justly and without blame,
then the whole state and country flourishes and is happy; but if the
examination of the magistrates is carried on in a wrong way, then,
by the relaxation of that justice which is the uniting principle of
all constitutions, every power in the state is rent asunder from every
other; they no longer incline in the same direction, but fill the city
with faction, and make many cities out of one, and soon bring all to
destruction. Wherefore the examiners ought to be admirable in every
sort of virtue. Let us invent a mode of creating them, which shall
be as follows:-Every year, after the summer solstice, the whole city
shall meet in the common precincts of Helios and Apollo, and shall
present to the God three men out of their own number in the manner
following:-Each citizen shall select, not himself, but some other
citizen whom he deems in every way the best, and who is not less
than fifty years of age. And out of the selected persons who have
the greatest number of votes, they shall make a further selection
until they reduce them to one-half, if they are an even number; but if
they are not an even number, they shall subtract the one who has the
smallest number of votes, and make them an even number, and then leave
the half which have the great number of votes. And if two persons have
an equal number of votes, and thus increase the number beyond
one-half, they shall withdraw the younger of the two and do away

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