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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)

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laws (books 7 - 12)   

examination are found blameless; but if any of them, trusting to the
scrutiny being over, should, after the judgment has been given,
manifest the wickedness of human nature, let the law ordain that he
who pleases shall indict him, and let the cause be tried in the
following manner. In the first place, the court shall be composed of
the guardians of the law, and to them the surviving examiners shall be
added, as well as the court of select judges; and let the pursuer
lay his indictment in this form-he shall say that so-and-so is
unworthy of the prize of virtue and of his office; and if the
defendant be convicted let him be deprived of his office, and of the
burial, and of the other honours given him. But if the prosecutor do
not obtain the fifth part of the votes, let him, if he be of the first
dass, pay twelve minae, and eight if he be of the second class, and
six if he be of the third dass, and two minae if he be of the fourth
The so-called decision of Rhadamanthus is worthy of all
admiration. He knew that the men of his own time believed and had no
doubt that there were Gods, which was a reasonable belief in those
days, because most men were the sons of Gods, and according to
tradition he was one himself. He appears to have thought that he ought
to commit judgment to no man, but to the Gods only, and in this way
suits were simply and speedily decided by him. For he made the two
parties take an oath respecting the points in dispute, and so got
rid of the matter speedily and safely. But now that a certain
portion of mankind do not believe at all in the existence of the Gods,
and others imagine that they have no care of us, and the opinion of
most men, and of the men, is that in return for small sacrifice and
a few flattering words they will be their accomplices in purloining
large sums and save them from many terrible punishments, the way of
Rhadamanthus is no longer suited to the needs of justice; for as the
needs of men about the Gods are changed, the laws should also be
changed;-in the granting of suits a rational legislation ought to do
away with the oaths of the parties on either side-he who obtains leave
to bring an action should write, down the charges, but should not
add an oath; and the defendant in like manner should give his denial
to the magistrates in writing, and not swear; for it is a dreadful
thing to know, when many lawsuits are going on in a state that
almost half the people who meet one another quite unconcernedly at the
public meals and in other companies and relations of private life
are perjured. Let the law, then, be as follows:-A judge who is about
to give judgment shall take an oath, and he who is choosing
magistrates for the state shall either vote on oath or with a voting
tablet which he brings from a temple; so too the judge of dances and
of all music, and the superintendents and umpires of gymnastic and
equestrian contests, and any matters in which, as far as men can
judge, there is nothing to be gained by a false oath; but all cases in
which a denial confirmed by an oath clearly results in a great
advantage to the taker of the oath, shall be decided without the
oath of the parties to the suit, and the presiding judges shall not
permit either of them. to use an oath for the sake of persuading,
nor to call down curses on himself and his race, nor to use unseemly
supplications or womanish laments. But they shall ever be teaching and
learning what is just in auspicious words; and he who does otherwise
shall be supposed to speak beside the point, and the judges shall
again bring him back to the question at issue. On the other hand,
strangers in their dealings with strangers shall as at present have
power to give and receive oaths, for they will not often grow old in
the city or leave a fry of young ones like themselves to be the sons
and heirs of the land.
As to the initiation of private suits, let the manner of deciding
causes between all citizens be the same as in cases in which any
freeman is disobedient to the state in minor matters, of which the
penalty is not stripes, imprisonment, or death. But as regards
attendance at choruses or processions or other shows, and as regards

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