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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


iron, again, are instruments of war; but of wood let a man bring
what offerings he likes, provided it be a single block, and in like
manner of stone, to the public temples; of woven work let him not
offer more than one woman can execute in a month. White is a colour
suitable to the Gods, especially in woven works, but dyes should
only be used for the adornments of war. The most divine of gifts are
birds and images, and they should be such as one painter can execute
in a single day. And let all other offerings follow a similar rule.
Now that the whole city has been divided into parts of which the
nature and number have been described, and laws have been given
about all the most important contracts as far as this was possible,
the next thing will be to have justice done. The first of the courts
shall consist of elected judges, who shall be chosen by the
plaintiff and the defendant in common: these shall be called
arbiters rather than judges. And in the second court there shall be
judges of the villages and tribes corresponding to the twelvefold
division of the land, and before these the litigants shall go to
contend for greater damages, if the suit be not decided before the
first judges; the defendant, if he be defeated the second time,
shall pay a fifth more than the damages mentioned in the indictment;
and if he find fault with his judges and would try a third time, let
him carry the suit before the select judges, and if he be again
defeated, let him pay the whole of the damages and half as much again.
And the plaintiff, if when defeated before the first judges he persist
in going on to the second, shall if he wins receive in addition to the
damages a fifth part more, and if defeated he shall pay a like sum;
but if he is not satisfied with the previous decision, and will insist
on proceeding to a third court, then if he win he shall receive from
the defendant the amount of the damages and, as I said before, half as
much again, and the plaintiff, if he lose, shall pay half of the
damages claimed, Now the assignment by lot of judges to courts and the
completion of the number of them, and the appointment of servants to
the different magistrates, and the times at which the several causes
should be heard, and the votings and delays, and all the things that
necessarily concern suits, and the order of causes, and the time in
which answers have to be put in and parties are to appear-of these and
other things akin to these we have indeed already spoken, but there is
no harm in repeating what is right twice or thrice:-All lesser and
easier matters which the elder legislator has omitted may be
supplied by the younger one. Private courts will be sufficiently
regulated in this way, and the public and state courts, and those
which the magistrates must use in the administration of their
several offices, exist in many other states. Many very respectable
institutions of this sort have been framed by good men, and from
them the guardians of the law may by reflection derive what is
necessary, for the order of our new state, considering and
correcting them, and bringing them to the test of experience, until
every detail appears to be satisfactorily determined; and then putting
the final seal upon them, and making them irreversible, they shall use
them for ever afterwards. As to what relates to the silence of
judges and the abstinence from words of evil omen and the reverse, and
the different notions of the just and good and honourable which
exist in our: own as compared with other states, they have been partly
mentioned already, and another part of them will be mentioned
hereafter as we draw near the end. To all these matters he who would
be an equal judge, shall justly look, and he shall possess writings
about them that he may learn them. For of all kinds of knowledge the
knowledge of good laws has the greatest power of improving the
learner; otherwise there would be no meaning the divine and
admirable law possessing a name akin to mind (nous, nomos). And of all
other words, such as the praises and censures of individuals which
occur in poetry and also in prose, whether written down or uttered
in daily conversation, whether men dispute about them in the spirit of
contention or weakly assent to them, as is often the case-of all these

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