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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


the one sure test is the writings of the legislator, which the
righteous judge ought to have in his mind as the antidote of all other
words, and thus make himself and the city stand upright, procuring for
the good the continuance and increase of justice, and for the bad,
on the other hand, a conversion from ignorance and intemperance, and
in general from all unrighteousness, as far as their evil minds can be
healed, but to those whose web of life is in reality finished,
giving death, which is the only remedy for souls in their condition,
as I may say truly again and again. And such judges and chiefs of
judges will be worthy of receiving praise from the whole city.
When the suits of the year are completed the following laws shall
regulate their execution:-In the first place, the judge shall assign
to the party who wins the suit the whole property of him who loses,
with the exception of mere necessaries, and the assignment shall be
made through the herald immediately after each decision in the hearing
of the judges; and when the month arrives following the month in which
the courts are sitting (unless the gainer of the suit has been
previously satisfied), the court shall follow up the case, and hand
over to the winner the goods of the loser; but if they find that he
has not the means of paying, and the sum deficient is not less than
a drachma, the insolvent person shall not have any right of going to
law with any other man until he have satisfied the debt of the winning
party; but other persons shall still have the right of bringing
suits against him. And if any one after he is condemned refuses to
acknowledge the authority which condemned him, let the magistrates who
are thus deprived of their authority bring him before the court of the
guardians of the law, and if he be cast, let him be punished with
death, as a subverter of the whole state and of the laws.
Thus a man is born and brought up, and after this manner he begets
and brings up his own children, and has his share of dealings with
other men, and suffers if he has done wrong to any one, and receives
satisfaction if he has been wronged, and so at length in due time he
grows old under the protection of the laws, and his end comes in the
order of nature. Concerning the dead of either sex, the religious
ceremonies which may fittingly be performed, whether appertaining to
the Gods of the underworld or of this, shall be decided by the
interpreters with absolute authority. Their sepulchres are not to be
in places which are fit for cultivation, and there shall be no
monuments in such spots, either large or small, but they shall
occupy that part of the country which is naturally adapted for
receiving and concealing the bodies of the dead with as little hurt as
possible to the living. No man, living or dead, shall deprive the
living of the sustenance which the earth, their foster-parent, is
naturally inclined to provide for them. And let not the mound be piled
higher than would be the work of five men completed in five days;
nor shall the stone which is placed over the spot be larger than would
be sufficient to receive the praises of the dead included in four
heroic lines. Nor shall the laying out of the dead in the house
continue for a longer time than is sufficient to distinguish between
him who is in a trance only and him who is really dead, and speaking
generally, the third day after death will be a fair time for
carrying out the body to the sepulchre. Now we must believe the
legislator when he tells us that the soul is in all respects
superior to the body, and that even in life what makes each one us
to be what we are is only the soul; and that the body follows us about
in the likeness of each of us, and therefore, when we are dead, the
bodies of the dead are quite rightly said to be our shades or
images; for the true and immortal being of each one of us which is
called the soul goes on her way to other Gods, before them to give
an account-which is an inspiring hope to the good, but very terrible
to the bad, as the laws of our fathers tell us; and they also say
that not much can be done in the way of helping a man after he is
dead. But the living-he should be helped by all his kindred, that
while in life he may be the holiest and justest of men, and after

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