Laws Book 9 - Plato

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Next to all the matters which have preceded in the natural order 
of legislation will come suits of law. Of suits those which relate 
to agriculture have been already described, but the more important 
have not been described. Having mentioned them severally under their 
usual names, we will proceed to say what punishments are to be 
inflicted for each offence, and who are to be the judges of them. 
Cleinias. Very good. 
Athenian Stranger. There is a sense of disgrace in legislating, as 
we are about to do, for all the details of crime in a state which, 
as we say, is to be well regulated and will be perfectly adapted to 
the practice of virtue. To assume that in such a state there will 
arise some one who will be guilty of crimes as heinous as any which 
are ever perpetrated in other states, and that we must legislate for 
him by anticipation, and threaten and make laws against him if he 
should arise, in order to deter him, and punish his acts, under the 
idea that he will arise-this, as I was saying, is in a manner 
disgraceful. Yet seeing that we are not like the ancient 
legislators, who gave laws to heroes and sons of gods, being, 
according to the popular belief, themselves the offspring of the gods, 
and legislating for others, who were also the children of divine 
parents, but that we are only men who are legislating for the sons 
of men, there is no uncharitableness in apprehending that some one 
of our citizens may be like a seed which has touched the ox's horn, 
having a heart so hard that it cannot be softened any more than 
those seeds can be softened by fire. Among our citizens there may be 
those who cannot be subdued by all the strength of the laws; and for 
their sake, though an ungracious task, I will proclaim my first law 
about the robbing of temples, in case any one should dare to commit 
such a crime. I do not expect or imagine that any well-brought-up 
citizen will ever take the infection, but their servants, and 
strangers, and strangers' servants may be guilty of many impieties. 
And with a view to them especially, and yet not without a provident 
eye to the weakness of human nature generally, I will proclaim the law 
about robbers of temples and similar incurable, or almost incurable, 
criminals. Having already agreed that such enactments ought always 
to have a short prelude, we may speak to the criminal, whom some 
tormenting desire by night and by day tempts to go and rob a temple, 
the fewest possible words of admonition and exhortation:-O sir, we 
will say to him, the impulse which moves you to rob temples is not 
an ordinary human malady, nor yet a visitation of heaven, but a 
madness which is begotten in a man from ancient and unexpiated 
crimes of his race, an ever-recurring curse;-against this you must 
guard with all your might, and how you are to guard we will explain to 
you. When any such thought comes into your mind, go and perform 
expiations, go as a suppliant to the temples of the Gods who avert 
evils, go to the society of those who are called good men among you; 
hear them tell and yourself try to repeat after them, that every man 
should honour the noble and the just. Fly from the company of the 
wicked-fly and turn not back; and if your disorder is lightened by 
these remedies, well and good, but if not, then acknowledge death to 
be nobler than life, and depart hence. 
Such are the preludes which we sing to all who have thoughts of 
unholy and treasonable actions, and to him who hearkens to them the 
law has nothing to say. But to him who is disobedient when the prelude 
is over, cry with a loud voice,-He who is taken in the act of 
robbing temples, if he be a slave or stranger, shall have his evil 
deed engraven on his face and hands, and shall be beaten with as 
many stripes as may seem good to the judges, and be cast naked 
beyond the borders of the land. And if he suffers this punishment he 
will probably return to his right mind and be improved; for no penalty 
which the law inflicts is designed for evil, but always makes him 
who suffers either better or not so much worse as he would have 
been. But if any citizen be found guilty of any great or unmentionable 
wrong, either in relation to the gods, or his parents, or the state, 
let the judge deem him to be incurable, remembering that after 
receiving such an excellent education and training from youth 
upward, he has not abstained from the greatest of crimes. His 
punishment shall be death, which to him will be the least of evils; 
and his example will benefit others, if he perish ingloriously, and be 
cast beyond the borders of the land. But let his children and 
family, if they avoid the ways of their father, have glory, and let 
honourable mention be made of them, as having nobly and manfully 
escaped out of evil into good. None of them should have their goods 
confiscated to the state, for the lots of the citizens ought always to 
continue the same and equal. 
Touching the exaction of penalties, when a man appears to have 
done anything which deserves a fine, he shall pay the fine, if he have 
anything in excess of the lot which is assigned to him; but more 
than that he shall not pay. And to secure exactness, let the guardians 
of the law refer to the registers, and inform the judges of the 
precise truth, in order that none of the lots may go uncultivated 
for want of money. But if any one seems to deserve a greater 
penalty, let him undergo a long and public imprisonment and be 
dishonoured, unless some of his friends are willing to be surety for 
him, and liberate him by assisting him to pay the fine. No criminal 
shall go unpunished, not even for a single offence, nor if he have 
fled the country; but let the penalty be according to his 
deserts-death, or bonds, or blows, or degrading places of sitting or 
standing, or removal to some temple on the borders of the land; or let 
him pay fines, as we said before. In cases of death, let the judges be 
the guardians of the law, and a court selected by merit from the 
last year's magistrates. But how the causes are to be brought into 
to court, how the summonses are to be served, the like, these things 
may be left to the younger generation of legislators to determine; the 
manner of voting we must determine ourselves. 
Let the vote be given openly; but before they come to the vote let 
the judges sit in order of seniority over against plaintiff and 
defendant, and let all the citizens who can spare time hear and take a 
serious interest in listening to such causes. First of all the 
plaintiff shall make one speech, and then the defendant shall make 
another; and after the speeches have been made the eldest judge 
shall begin to examine the parties, and proceed to make an adequate 
enquiry into what has been said; and after the oldest has spoken, 
the rest shall proceed in order to examine either party as to what 
he finds defective in the evidence, whether of statement or 
omission; and he who has nothing to ask shall hand over the 
examination to another. And on so much of what has been said as is 
to the purpose all the judges shall set their seals, and place the 
writings on the altar of Hestia. On the next day they shall meet 
again, and in like manner put their questions and go through the 
cause, and again set their seals upon the evidence; and when they have 
three times done this, and have had witnesses and evidence enough, 
they shall each of them give a holy vote, after promising by Hestia 
that they will decide justly and truly to the utmost of their power; 
and so they shall put an end to the suit. 
Next, after what relates to the Gods, follows what relates to the 
dissolution of the state:-Whoever by promoting a man to power enslaves 
the laws, and subjects the city to factions, using violence and 
stirring up sedition contrary to law, him we will deem the greatest 
enemy of the whole state. But he who takes no part in such 
proceedings, and, being one of the chief magistrates of the state, has 
no knowledge of the treason, or, having knowledge of it, by reason 
of cowardice does not interfere on behalf of his country, such an 
one we must consider nearly as bad. Every man who is worth anything 
will inform the magistrates, and bring the conspirator to trial for 
making a violent and illegal attempt to change the government. The 
judges of such cases shall be the same as of the robbers of temples; 
and let the whole proceeding be carried on in the same way, and the 
vote of the majority condemn to death. But let there be a general 
rule, that the disgrace and punishment of the father is not to be 
visited on the children, except in the case of some one whose 
father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have successively undergone 
the penalty of death. Such persons the city shall send away with all 
their possessions to the city and country of their ancestors, 
retaining only and wholly their appointed lot. And out of the citizens 
who have more than one son of not less than ten years of age, they 
shall select ten whom their father or grandfather by the mother's or 
father's side shall appoint, and let them send to Delphi the names 
of those who are selected, and him whom the God chooses they shall 
establish as heir of the house which has failed; and may he have 
better fortune than his predecessors! 
Cle. Very good. 
Ath. Once more let there be a third general law respecting the 
judges who are to give judgment, and the manner of conducting suits 
against those who are tried on an accusation of treason; and as 
concerning the remaining or departure of their descendants-there shall 
be one law for all three, for the traitor, and the robber of 
temples, and the subverter by violence of the laws of the state. For a 
thief, whether he steal much or little, let there be one law, and 
one punishment for all alike: in the first place, let him pay double 
the amount of the theft if he be convicted, and if he have so much 
over and above the allotment;-if he have not, he shall be bound 
until he pay the penalty, or persuade him has obtained the sentence 
against him to forgive him. But if a person be convicted of a theft 
against the state, then if he can persuade the city, or if he will pay 
back twice the amount of the theft, he shall be set free from his 
Cle. What makes you say, Stranger, that a theft is all one, 
whether the thief may have taken much or little, and either from 
sacred or secular places-and these are not the only differences in 
thefts:-seeing, then, that they are of many kinds, ought not the 
legislator to adapt himself to them, and impose upon them entirely 
different penalties? 
Ath. Excellent. I was running on too fast, Cleinias, and you 
impinged upon me, and brought me to my senses, reminding me of what, 
indeed, had occurred to mind already, that legislation was never yet 
rightly worked out, as I may say in passing.-Do you remember the image 
in which I likened the men for whom laws are now made to slaves who 
are doctored by slaves? For of this you may be very sure, that if 
one of those empirical physicians, who practise medicine without 
science, were to come upon the gentleman physician talking to his 
gentleman patient, and using the language almost of philosophy, 
beginning at the beginning of the disease and discoursing about the 
whole nature of the body, he would burst into a hearty laugh-he 
would say what most of those who are called doctors always have at 
their tongue's end:-Foolish fellow, he would say, you are not 
healing the sick man, but you are educating him; and he does not 
want to be made a doctor, but to get well. 
Cle. And would he not be right? 
Ath. Perhaps he would; and he might remark upon us that he who 
discourses about laws, as we are now doing, is giving the citizens 
education and not laws; that would be rather a telling observation. 
Cle. Very true. 
Ath. But we are fortunate. 
Cle. In what way? 
Ath. Inasmuch as we are not compelled to give laws, but we may 
take into consideration every form of government, and ascertain what 
is best and what is most needful, and how they may both be carried 
into execution; and we may also, if we please, at this very moment 
choose what is best, or, if we prefer, what is most necessary-which 
shall we do? 
Cle. There is something ridiculous, Stranger, in our proposing such 
an alternative as if we were legislators, simply bound under some 
great necessity which cannot be deferred to the morrow. But we, as I 
may by grace of Heaven affirm, like, gatherers of stones or 
beginners of some composite work, may gather a heap of materials, 
and out of this, at our leisure, select what is suitable for our 
projected construction. Let us then suppose ourselves to be at 
leisure, not of necessity building, but rather like men who are partly 
providing materials, and partly putting them together. And we may 
truly say that some of our laws, like stones, are already fixed in 
their places, and others lie at hand. 
Ath. Certainly, in that case, Cleinias, our view of law will be more 
in accordance with nature. For there is another matter affecting 
legislators, which I must earnestly entreat you to consider. 
Cle. What is it? 
Ath. There are many writings to be found in cities, and among them 
there, are composed by legislators as well as by other persons. 
Cle. To be sure. 
Ath. Shall we give heed rather to the writings of those others-poets 
and the like, who either in metre or out of metre have recorded 
their advice about the conduct of life, and not to the writings of 
legislators? or shall we give heed to them above all? 
Cle. Yes; to them far above all others. 
Ath. And ought the legislator alone among writers to withhold his 
opinion about the beautiful, the good, and the just, and not to 
teach what they are, and how they are to be pursued by those who 
intend to be happy? 
Cle. Certainly not. 
Ath. And is it disgraceful for Homer and Tyrtaeus and other poets to 
lay down evil precepts in their writings respecting life and the 
pursuits of men, but not so disgraceful for Lycurgus and Solon and 
others who were legislators as well as writers? Is it not true that of 
all the writings to be found in cities, those which relate to laws, 
when you unfold and read them, ought to be by far the noblest and 
the best? and should not other writings either agree with them, or 
if they disagree, be deemed ridiculous? We should consider whether the 
laws of states ought not to have the character of loving and wise 
parents, rather than of tyrants and masters, who command and threaten, 
and, after writing their decrees on walls, go their ways; and whether, 
in discoursing of laws, we should not take the gentler view of them 
which may or may not be attainable-at any rate, we will show our 
readiness to entertain such a view, and be prepared to undergo 
whatever may be the result. And may the result be good, and if God 
be gracious, it will be good! 
Cle. Excellent; let us do as you say. 
Ath. Then we will now consider accurately, as we proposed, what 
relates to robbers of temples, and all kinds of thefts, and offences 
in general; and we must not be annoyed if, in the course of 
legislation, we have enacted some things, and have not made up our 
minds about some others; for as yet we are not legislators, but we may 
soon be. Let us, if you please, consider these matters. 
Cle. By all means. 
Ath. Concerning all things honourable and just, let us then 
endeavour to ascertain how far we are consistent with ourselves, and 
how far we are inconsistent, and how far the many, from whom at any 
rate we should profess a desire to differ, agree and disagree among 
Cle. What are the inconsistencies which you observe in us? 
Ath. I will endeavour to explain. If I am not mistaken, we are all 
agreed that justice, and just men and things and actions, are all 
fair, and, if a person were to maintain that just men, even when 
they are deformed in body, are still perfectly beautiful in respect of 
the excellent justice of their minds, no one would say that there 
was any inconsistency in this. 
Cle. They would be quite right. 
Ath. Perhaps; but let us consider further, that if all things 
which are just are fair and honourable, in the term "all" we must 
include just sufferings which are the correlatives of just actions. 
Cle. And what is the inference? 
Ath. The inference is, that a just action in partaking of the just 
partakes also in the same degree of the fair and honourable. 
Cle. Certainly. 
Ath. And must not a suffering which partakes of the just principle 
be admitted to be in the same degree fair and honourable, if the 
argument is consistently carried out? 
Cle. True. 
Ath. But then if we admit suffering to be just and yet 
dishonourable, and the term "dishonourable" is applied to justice, 
will not the just and the honourable disagree? 
Cle. What do you mean? 
Ath. A thing not difficult to understand; the laws which have been 
already enacted would seem to announce principles directly opposed 
to what we are saying. 
Cle. To what? 
Ath. We had enacted, if I am not mistaken, that the robber of 
temples, and he who was the enemy of law and order, might justly be 
put to death, and we were proceeding to make divers other enactments 
of a similar nature. But we stopped short, because we saw that these 
sufferings are infinite in number and degree, and that they are, at 
once, the most just and also the most dishonourable of all sufferings. 
And if this be true, are not the just and the honourable at one time 
all the same, and at another time in the most diametrical opposition? 
Cle. Such appears to be the case. 
Ath. In this discordant and inconsistent fashion does the language 
of the many rend asunder the honourable and just. 
Cle. Very true, Stranger. 
Ath. Then now, Cleinias, let us see how far we ourselves are 
consistent about these matters. 
Cle. Consistent in what? 
Ath. I think that I have clearly stated in the former part of the 
discussion, but if I did not, let me now state- 
Cle. What? 
Ath. That all bad men are always involuntarily bad; and from this 
must proceed to draw a further inference. 
Cle. What is it? 
Ath. That the unjust man may be bad, but that he is bad against 
his will. Now that an action which is voluntary should be done 
involuntarily is a contradiction; wherefore he who maintains that 
injustice is involuntary will deem that the unjust does injustice 
involuntarily. I too admit that all men do injustice involuntarily, 
and if any contentious or disputatious person says that men are unjust 
against their will, and yet that many do injustice willingly, I do not 
agree with him. But, then, how can I avoid being inconsistent with 
myself, if you, Cleinias, and you, Megillus, say to me-Well, Stranger, 
if all this be as you say, how about legislating for the city of the 
Magnetes-shall we legislate or not-what do you advise? Certainly we 
will, I should reply. Then will you determine for them what are 
voluntary and what are involuntary crimes, and shall we make the 
punishments greater of voluntary errors and crimes and less for the 
involuntary? or shall we make the punishment of all to be alike, under 
the idea that there is no such thing as voluntary crime? 
Cle. Very good, Stranger; and what shall we say in answer to these 
Ath. That is a very fair question. In the first place, let us- 
Cle. Do what? 
Ath. Let us remember what has been well said by us already, that our 
ideas of justice are in the highest degree confused and contradictory. 
Bearing this in mind, let us proceed to ask ourselves once more 
whether we have discovered a way out of the difficulty. Have we ever 
determined in what respect these two classes of actions differ from 
one another? For in all states and by all legislators whatsoever, 
two kinds of actions have been distinguished-the one, voluntary, the 
other, involuntary; and they have legislated about them accordingly. 
But shall this new word of ours, like an oracle of God, be only 
spoken, and get away without giving any explanation or verification of 
itself? How can a word not understood be the basis of legislation? 
Impossible. Before proceeding to legislate, then, we must prove that 
they are two, and what is the difference between them, that when we 
impose the penalty upon either, every one may understand our proposal, 
and be able in some way to judge whether the penalty is fitly or 
unfitly inflicted. 
Cle. I agree with you, Stranger; for one of two things is certain: 
either we must not say that all unjust acts are involuntary, or we 
must show the meaning and truth of this statement. 
Ath. Of these two alternatives, the one is quite intolerable-not 
to speak what I believe to be the truth would be to me unlawful and 
unholy. But if acts of injustice cannot be divided into voluntary 
and involuntary, I must endeavour to find some other distinction 
between them. 
Cle. Very true, Stranger; there cannot be two opinions among us upon 
that point. 
Ath. Reflect, then; there are hurts of various kinds done by the 
citizens to one another in the intercourse of life, affording 
plentiful examples both of the voluntary and involuntary. 
Cle. Certainly. 
Ath. I would not have any one suppose that all these hurts are 
injuries, and that these injuries are of two kinds-one, voluntary, and 
the other, involuntary; for the involuntary hurts of all men are quite 
as many and as great as the voluntary? And please to consider 
whether I am right or quite wrong in what I am going to say; for I 
deny, Cleinias and Megillus, that he who harms another involuntarily 
does him an injury involuntarily, nor should I legislate about such an 
act under the idea that I am legislating for an involuntary injury. 
But I should rather say that such a hurt, whether great or small, is 
not an injury at all; and, on the other hand, if I am right, when a 
benefit is wrongly conferred, the author of the benefit may often be 
said to injure. For I maintain, O my friends, that the mere giving 
or taking away of anything is not to be described either as just or 
unjust; but the legislator has to consider whether mankind do good 
or harm to one another out of a just principle and intention. On the 
distinction between injustice and hurt he must fix his eye; and when 
there is hurt, he must, as far as he can, make the hurt good by law, 
and save that which is ruined, and raise up that which is fallen, 
and make that which is dead or wounded whole. And when compensation 
has been given for injustice, the law must always seek to win over the 
doers and sufferers of the several hurts from feelings of enmity to 
those of friendship. 
Cle. Very good. 
Ath. Then as to unjust hurts (and gains also, supposing the 
injustice to bring gain), of these we may heal as many as are 
capable of being healed, regarding them as diseases of the soul; and 
the cure of injustice will take the following direction. 
Cle. What direction? 
Ath. When any one commits any injustice, small or great, the law 
will admonish and compel him either never at all to do the like again, 
or never voluntarily, or at any rate in a far less degree; and he must 
in addition pay for the hurt. Whether the end is to be attained by 
word or action, with pleasure or pain, by giving or taking away 
privileges, by means of fines or gifts, or in whatsoever way the law 
shall proceed to make a man hate injustice, and love or not hate the 
nature of the just-this is quite the noblest work of law. But if the 
legislator sees any one who is incurable, for him he will appoint a 
law and a penalty. He knows quite well that to such men themselves 
there is no profit in the continuance of their lives, and that they 
would do a double good to the rest of mankind if they would take their 
departure, inasmuch as they would be an example to other men not to 
offend, and they would relieve the city of bad citizens. In such 
cases, and in such cases only, the legislator ought to inflict death 
as the punishment of offences. 
Cle. What you have said appears to me to be very reasonable, but 
will you favour me by stating a little more clearly the difference 
between hurt and injustice, and the various complications of the 
voluntary and involuntary which enter into them? 
Ath. I will endeavour to do as you wish:-Concerning the soul, 
thus much would be generally said and allowed, that one element in her 
nature is passion, which may be described either as a state or a 
part of her, and is hard to be striven against and contended with, and 
by irrational force overturns many things. 
Cle. Very true. 
Ath. And pleasure is not the same with passion, but has an 
opposite power, working her will by persuasion and by the force of 
deceit in all things. 
Cle. Quite true. 
Ath. A man may truly say that ignorance is a third cause of 
crimes. Ignorance, however, may be conveniently divided by the 
legislator into two sorts: there is simple ignorance, which is the 
source of lighter offences, and double ignorance, which is accompanied 
by a conceit of wisdom; and he who is under the influence of the 
latter fancies that he knows all about matters of which he knows 
nothing. This second kind of ignorance, when possessed of power and 
strength, will be held by the legislator to be the source of great and 
monstrous times, but when attended with weakness, will only result 
in the errors of children and old men; and these he will treat as 
errors, and will make laws accordingly for those who commit them, 
which will be the mildest and most merciful of all laws. 
Cle. You are perfectly right. 
Ath. We all of us remark of one man that he is superior to 
pleasure and passion, and of another that he is inferior to them; 
and this is true. 
Cle. Certainly. 
Ath. But no one was ever yet heard to say that one of us is superior 
and another inferior to ignorance. 
Cle. Very true. 
Ath. We are speaking of motives which incite men to the fulfilment 
of their will; although an individual may be often drawn by them in 
opposite directions at the same time. 
Cle. Yes, often. 
Ath. And now I can define to you clearly, and without ambiguity, 
what I mean by the just and unjust, according to my notion of 
them:-When anger and fear, and pleasure and pain, and jealousies and 
desires, tyrannize over the soul, whether they do any harm or not-I 
call all this injustice. But when the opinion of the best, in whatever 
part of human nature states or individuals may suppose that to 
dwell, has dominion in the soul and orders the life of every man, even 
if it be sometimes mistaken, yet what is done in accordance therewith, 
the principle in individuals which obeys this rule, and is best for 
the whole life of man, is to be called just; although the hurt done by 
mistake is thought by many to be involuntary injustice. Leaving the 
question of names, about which we are not going to quarrel, and having 
already delineated three sources of error, we may begin by recalling 
them somewhat more vividly to our memory:-One of them was of the 
painful sort, which we denominate anger and fear. 
Cle. Quite right. 
Ath. There was a second consisting of pleasures and desires, and a 
third of hopes, which aimed at true opinion about the best. The latter 
being subdivided into three, we now get five sources of actions; and 
for these five we will make laws of two kinds. 
Cle. What are the two kinds? 
Ath. There is one kind of actions done by violence and in the 
light of day, and another kind of actions which are done in darkness 
and with secret deceit, or sometimes both with violence and deceit; 
the laws concerning these last ought to have a character of severity. 
Cle. Naturally. 
Ath. And now let us return from this digression and complete the 
work of legislation. Laws have been already enacted by us concerning 
the robbers of the Gods, and concerning traitors, and also 
concerning those who corrupt the laws for the purpose of subverting 
the government. A man may very likely commit some of these crimes, 
either in a state of madness or when affected by disease, or under the 
influence of extreme old age, or in a fit of childish wantonness, 
himself no better than a child. And if this be made evident to the 
judges elected to try the cause, on the appeal of the criminal or 
his advocate, and he be judged to have been in this state when he 
committed the offence, he shall simply pay for the hurt which he may 
have done to another; but he shall be exempt from other penalties, 
unless he have slain some one, and have on his hands the stain of 
blood. And in that case he shall go to another land and country, and 
there dwell for a year; and if he return before the expiration of 
the time which the law appoints, or even set his foot at all on his 
native land, he shall be bound by the guardians of the law in the 
public prison for two years, and then go free. 
Having begun to speak of homicide, let us endeavour to lay down laws 
concerning every different kind of homicides, and, first of all, 
concerning violent and involuntary homicides. If any one in an 
athletic contest, and at the public games, involuntarily kills a 
friend, and he dies either at the time or afterwards of the blows 
which he has received; or if the like misfortune happens to any one in 
war, or military exercises, or mimic contests. of which the 
magistrates enjoin the practice, whether with or without arms, when he 
has been purified according to the law brought from Delphi relating to 
these matters, he shall be innocent. And so in the case of physicians: 
if their patient dies against their will, they shall be held guiltless 
by the law. And if one slay another with his own hand, but 
unintentionally, whether he be unarmed or have some instrument or dart 
in his hand; or if he kill him by administering food or drink or by 
the application of fire or cold, or by suffocating him, whether he 
do the deed by his own hand, or by the agency of others, he shall be 
deemed the agent, and shall suffer one of the following 
penalties:-If he kill the slave of another in the belief that he is 
his own, he shall bear the master of the dead man harmless from 
loss, or shall pay a penalty of twice the value of the dead man, which 
the judges shall assess; but purifications must be used greater and 
more numerous than for those who committed homicide at the games;-what 
they are to be, the interpreters whom the God appoints shall be 
authorized to declare. And if a man kills his own slave, when he has 
been purified according to laws he shall be quit of the homicide. 
And if a man kills a freeman unintentionally, he shall undergo the 
same purification as he did who killed the slave. But let him not 
forget also a tale of olden time, which is to this effect:-He who 
has suffered a violent end, when newly dead, if he has had the soul of 
a freeman in life, is angry with the author of his death; and being 
himself full of fear and panic by reason of his violent end, when he 
sees his murderer walking about in his own accustomed haunts, he is 
stricken with terror and becomes disordered, and this disorder of his, 
aided by the guilty recollection of is communicated by him with 
overwhelming force to the murderer and his deeds. Wherefore also the 
murderer must go out of the way of his victim for the entire period of 
a year, and not himself be found in any spot which was familiar to him 
throughout the country. And if the dead man be a stranger, the 
homicide shall be kept from the country of the stranger during a 
like period. If any one voluntarily obeys this law, the next of kin to 
the deceased, seeing all that has happened, shall take pity on him, 
and make peace with him, and show him all gentleness. But if any one 
is disobedient, either ventures to go to any of the temples and 
sacrifice unpurified, or will not continue in exile during the 
appointed time, the next of kin to the deceased shall proceed 
against him for murder; and if he be convicted, every part of his 
punishment shall be doubled. 
And if the next of kin do not proceed against the perpetrator of the 
crime, then the pollution shall be deemed to fall upon his own 
head;-the murdered man will fix the guilt upon his kinsman, and he who 
has a mind to proceed against him may compel him to be absent from his 
country during five years, according to law. If a stranger 
unintentionally kill a stranger who is dwelling in the city, he who 
likes shall prosecute the cause according to the same rules. If he 
be a metic, let him be absent for a year, or if he be an entire 
stranger, in addition to the purification, whether he have slain a 
stranger, or a metic, or a citizen, he shall be banished for life from 
the country which is in possession of our laws. And if he return 
contrary to law, let the guardians of the law punish him with death; 
and let them hand over his property, if he have any, to him who is 
next of kin to the sufferer. And if he be wrecked, and driven on the 
coast against his will, he shall take up his abode on the seashore, 
wetting his feet in the sea, and watching for an opportunity of 
sailing; but if he be brought by land, and is not his own master, 
let the magistrate whom he first comes across in the city, release him 
and send him unharmed over the border. 
If any one slays a freeman with his own hand and the deed be done in 
passion, in the case of such actions we must begin by making a 
distinction. For a deed is done from passion either when men suddenly, 
and without intention to kill, cause the death of another by blows and 
the like on a momentary impulse, and are sorry for the deed 
immediately afterwards; or again, when after having been insulted in 
deed or word, men pursue revenge, and kill a person intentionally, and 
are not sorry for the act. And, therefore, we must assume that these 
homicides are of two kinds, both of them arising from passion, which 
may be justly said to be in a mean between the voluntary and 
involuntary; at the same time, they are neither of them anything 
more than a likeness or shadow of either. He who treasures up his 
anger, and avenges himself, not immediately and at the moment, but 
with insidious design, and after an interval, is like the voluntary; 
but he who does not treasure up his anger, and takes vengeance on 
the instant, and without malice prepense, approaches to the 
involuntary; and yet even he is not altogether involuntary, but only 
the image or shadow of the involuntary; wherefore about homicides 
committed in hot blood, there is a difficulty in determining whether 
in legislating we shall reckon them as voluntary or as partly 
involuntary. The best and truest view is to regard them respectively 
as likenesses only of the voluntary and involuntary, and to 
distinguish them accordingly as they are done with or without 
premeditation. And we should make the penalties heavier for those 
who commit homicide with angry premeditation, and lighter for those 
who do not premeditate, but smite upon the instant; for that which 
is like a greater evil should be punished more severely, and that 
which is like a less evil should be punished less severely: this shall 
be the rule of our laws. 
Cle. Certainly. 
Ath. Let us proceed:-If any one slays a free man with his own 
hand, and the deed be done in a moment of anger, and without 
premeditation, let the offender suffer in other respects as the 
involuntary homicide would have suffered, and also undergo an exile of 
two years, that he may learn to school his passions. But he who 
slays another from passion, yet with premeditation, shall in other 
respects suffer as the former; and to this shall be added an exile 
of three instead of two years-his punishment is to be longer because 
his passion is greater. The manner of their return shall be on this 
wise: (and here the law has difficulty in determining exactly; for 
in some cases the murderer who is judged by the law to be the worse 
may really be the less cruel, and he who is judged the less cruel 
may be really the worse, and may have executed the murder in a more 
savage manner, whereas the other may have been gentler. But in general 
the degrees of guilt will be such as we have described them. Of all 
these things the guardians of the law must take cognisance):-When a 
homicide of either kind has completed his term of exile, the guardians 
shall send twelve judges to the borders of the land; these during 
the interval shall have informed themselves of the actions of the 
criminals, and they shall judge respecting their pardon and reception; 
and the homicides shall abide by their judgment. But if after they 
have returned home, any one of them in a moment of anger repeats the 
deed, let him be an exile, and return no more; or if he returns, let 
him suffer as the stranger was to suffer in a similar case. He who 
kills his own slave shall undergo a purification, but if he kills 
the slave of another in anger, he shall pay twice the amount of the 
loss to his owner. And if any homicide is disobedient to the law, 
and without purification pollutes the agora, or the games, or the 
temples, he who pleases may bring to trial the next of kin to the dead 
man for permitting him, and the murderer with him, and may compel 
the one to exact and the other to suffer a double amount of fines 
and purifications; and the accuser shall himself receive the fine in 
accordance with the law. If a slave in a fit of passion kills his 
master, the kindred of the deceased man may do with the murderer 
(provided only they do not spare his life) whatever they please, and 
they will be pure; or if he kills a freeman, who is not his master, 
the owner shall give up the slave to the relatives of the deceased, 
and they shall be under an obligation to put him to death, but this 
may be done in any manner which they please. 
And if (which is a rare occurrence, but does sometimes happen) a 
father or a mother in a moment of passion slays a son or daughter by 
blows, or some other violence, the slayer shall undergo the same 
purification as in other cases, and be exiled during three years; 
but when the exile returns the wife shall separate from the husband, 
and the husband from the wife, and they shall never afterwards beget 
children together, or live under the same roof, or partake of the same 
sacred rites with those whom they have deprived of a child or of a 
brother. And he who is impious and disobedient in such a case shall be 
brought to trial for impiety by any one who pleases. If in a fit of 
anger a husband kills his wedded wife, or the wife her husband, the 
slayer shall undergo the same purification, and the term of exile 
shall be three years. And when he who has committed any such crime 
returns, let him have no communication in sacred rites with his 
children, neither let him sit at the same table with them, and the 
father or son who disobeys shall be liable to be brought to trial 
for impiety by any one who pleases. If a brother or a sister in a 
fit of passion kills a brother or a sister, they shall undergo 
purification and exile, as was the case with parents who killed 
their offspring: they shall not come under the same roof, or share 
in the sacred rites of those whom they have deprived of their 
brethren, or of their children. 
And he who is disobedient shall be justly liable to the law 
concerning impiety, which relates to these matters. If any one is so 
violent in his passion against his parents, that in the madness of his 
anger he dares to kill one of them, if the murdered person before 
dying freely forgives the murderer, let him undergo the purification 
which is assigned to those who have been guilty of involuntary 
homicide, and do as they do, and he shall be pure. But if he be not 
acquitted, the perpetrator of such a deed shall be amenable to many 
laws;-he shall be amenable to the extreme punishments for assault, and 
impiety, and robbing of temples, for he has robbed his parent of life; 
and if a man could be slain more than once, most justly would he who 
in a fit of passion has slain father or mother, undergo many deaths. 
How can he, whom, alone of all men, even in defence of his life, and 
when about to suffer death at the hands of his parents, no law will 
allow to kill his father or his mother who are the authors of his 
being, and whom the legislator will command to endure any extremity 
rather than do this-how can he, I say, lawfully receive any other 
punishment? Let death then be the appointed punishment of him who in a 
fit of passion slays his father or his mother. But if brother kills 
brother in a civil broil, or under other like circumstances, if the 
other has begun, and he only defends himself, let him be free from 
guilt, as he would be if he had slain an enemy; and the same rule will 
apply if a citizen kill a citizen, or a stranger a stranger. Or if a 
stranger kill a citizen or a citizen a stranger in self-defence, let 
him be free from guilt in like manner; and so in the case of a slave 
who has killed a slave; but if a slave have killed a freeman in 
self-defence, let him be subject to the same law as he who has 
killed a father; and let the law about the remission of penalties in 
the case of parricide apply equally to every other remission. Whenever 
any sufferer of his own accord remits the guilt of homicide to 
another, under the idea that his act was involuntary, let the 
perpetrator of the deed undergo a purification and remain in exile for 
a year, according to law. 
Enough has been said of murders violent and involuntary and 
committed in passion: we have now to speak of voluntary crimes done 
with injustice of every kind and with premeditation, through the 
influence of pleasures, and desires, and jealousies. 
Cle. Very good. 
Ath. Let us first speak, as far as we are able, of their various 
kinds. The greatest cause of them is lust, which gets the mastery of 
the soul maddened by desire; and this is most commonly found to 
exist where the passion reigns which is strongest and most prevalent 
among mass of mankind: I mean where the power of wealth breeds endless 
desires of never-to-be-satisfied acquisition, originating in natural 
disposition, and a miserable want of education. Of this want of 
education, the false praise of wealth which is bruited about both 
among Hellenes and barbarians is the cause; they deem that to be the 
first of goods which in reality is only the third. And in this way 
they wrong both posterity and themselves, for nothing can be nobler 
and better than that the truth about wealth should be spoken in all 
states-namely, that riches are for the sake of the body, as the body 
is for the sake of the soul. They are good, and wealth is intended 
by nature to be for the sake of them, and is therefore inferior to 
them both, and third in order of excellence. This argument teaches 
us that he who would be happy ought not to seek to be rich, or 
rather he should seek to be rich justly and temperately, and then 
there would be no murders in states requiring to be purged away by 
other murders. But now, as I said at first, avarice is the chiefest 
cause and source of the worst trials for voluntary homicide. A 
second cause is ambition: this creates jealousies, which are 
troublesome companions, above all to the jealous man himself, and in a 
less degree to the chiefs of the state. And a third cause is 
cowardly and unjust fear, which has been the occasion of many murders. 
When a man is doing or has done something which he desires that no one 
should know him to be doing or to have done, he will take the life 
of those who are likely to inform of such things, if he have no 
other means of getting rid of them. Let this be said as a prelude 
concerning crimes of violence in general; and I must not omit to 
mention a tradition which is firmly believed by many, and has been 
received by them from those who are learned in the mysteries: they say 
that such deeds will be punished in the world below, and also that 
when the perpetrators return to this world they will pay the natural 
penalty which is due to the sufferer, and end their lives in like 
manner by the hand of another. If he who is about to commit murder 
believes this, and is made by the mere prelude to dread such a 
penalty, there is no need to proceed with the proclamation of the law. 
But if he will not listen, let the following law be declared and 
registered against him: 
Whoever shall wrongfully and of design slay with his own hand any of 
his kinsmen, shall in the first place be deprived of legal privileges; 
and he shall not pollute the temples, or the agora, or the harbours, 
or any other place of meeting, whether he is forbidden of men or 
not; for the law, which represents the whole state, forbids him, and 
always is and will be in the attitude of forbidding him. And if a 
cousin or nearer relative of the deceased, whether on the male or 
female side, does not prosecute the homicide when he ought, and have 
him proclaimed an outlaw, he shall in the first place be involved in 
the pollution, and incur the hatred of the Gods, even as the curse 
of the law stirs up the voices of men against him; and in the second 
place he shall be liable to be prosecuted by any one who is willing to 
inflict retribution on behalf of the dead. And he who would avenge a 
murder shall observe all the precautionary ceremonies of lavation, and 
any others which the God commands in cases of this kind. Let him 
have proclamation made, and then go forth and compel the perpetrator 
to suffer the execution of justice according to the law. Now the 
legislator may easily show that these things must be accomplished by 
prayers and sacrifices to certain Gods, who are concerned with the 
prevention of murders in states. But who these Gods are, and what 
should be the true manner of instituting such trials with due regard 
to religion, the guardians of the law, aided by the interpreters, 
and the prophets, and the God, shall determine, and when they have 
determined let them carry on the prosecution at law. The cause shall 
have the same judges who are appointed to decide in the case of 
those who plunder temples. Let him who is convicted be punished with 
death, and let him not be buried in the country of the murdered man, 
for this would be shameless as well as impious. But if he fly and will 
not stand his trial, let him fly for ever; or, if he set foot anywhere 
on any part of the murdered man's country, let any relation of the 
deceased, or any other citizen who may first happen to meet with 
him, kill him with impunity, or bind and deliver him to those among 
the judges of the case who are magistrates, that they may put him to 
death. And let the prosecutor demand surety of him whom he prosecutes; 
three sureties sufficient in the opinion of the magistrates who try 
the cause shall be provided by him, and they shall undertake to 
produce him at the trial. But if he be unwilling or unable to 
provide sureties, then the magistrates shall take him and keep him 
in bonds, and produce him at the day of trial. 
If a man do not commit a murder with his own hand, but contrives the 
death of another, and is the author of the deed in intention and 
design, and he continues to dwell in the city, having his soul not 
pure of the guilt of murder, let him be tried in the same way, 
except in what relates to the sureties; and also, if he be found 
guilty, his body after execution may have burial in his native land, 
but in all other respects his case shall be as the former; and whether 
a stranger shall kill a citizen, or a citizen a stranger, or a slave a 
slave, there shall be no difference as touching murder by one's own 
hand or by contrivance, except in the matter of sureties; and these, 
as has been said, shall be required of the actual murderer only, and 
he who brings the accusation shall bind them over at the time. If a 
slave be convicted of slaying a freeman voluntarily, either by his own 
hand or by contrivance, let the public executioner take him in the 
direction of the sepulchre, to a place whence he can see the tomb of 
the dead man, and inflict upon him as many stripes as the person who 
caught him orders, and if he survive, let him put him to death. And if 
any one kills a slave who has done no wrong, because he is afraid that 
he may inform of some base and evil deeds of his own, or for any 
similar reason, in such a case let him pay the penalty of murder, as 
he would have done if he had slain a citizen. There are things about 
which it is terrible and unpleasant to legislate, but impossible not 
to legislate. If, for example, there should be murders of kinsmen, 
either perpetrated by the hands of kinsmen, or by their contrivance, 
voluntary and purely malicious, which most often happen in 
ill-regulated and ill-educated states, and may perhaps occur even in a 
country where a man would not expect to find them, we must repeat once 
more the tale which we narrated a little while ago, in the hope that 
he who hears us will be the more disposed to abstain voluntarily on 
these grounds from murders which are utterly abominable. For the myth, 
or saying, or whatever we ought to call it, has been plainly set forth 
by priests of old; they have pronounced that the justice which 
guards and avenges the blood of kindred, follows the law of 
retaliation, and ordains that he who has done any murderous act should 
of necessity suffer that which he has done. He who has slain a 
father shall himself be slain at some time or other by his children-if 
a mother, he shall of necessity take a woman's nature, and lose his 
life at the hands of his offspring in after ages; for where the 
blood of a family has been polluted there is no other purification, 
nor can the pollution be washed out until the homicidal soul which the 
deed has given life for life, and has propitiated and laid to sleep 
the wrath of the whole family. These are the retributions of Heaven, 
and by such punishments men should be deterred. But if they are not 
deterred, and any one should be incited by some fatality to deprive 
his father or mother, or brethren, or children, of life voluntarily 
and of purpose, for him the earthly lawgiver legislates as 
follows:-There shall be the same proclamations about outlawry, and 
there shall be the same sureties which have been enacted in the former 
cases. But in his case, if he be convicted, the servants of the judges 
and the magistrates shall slay him at an appointed place without the 
city where three ways meet, and there expose his body naked, and 
each of the magistrates on behalf of the whole city shall take a stone 
and cast it upon the head of the dead man, and so deliver the city 
from pollution; after that, they shall bear him to the borders of 
the land, and cast him forth unburied, according to law. And what 
shall he suffer who slays him who of all men, as they say, is his 
own best friend? I mean the suicide, who deprives himself by 
violence of his appointed share of life, not because the law of the 
state requires him, nor yet under the compulsion of some painful and 
inevitable misfortune which has come upon him, nor because he has 
had to suffer from irremediable and intolerable shame, but who from 
sloth or want of manliness imposes upon himself an unjust penalty. For 
him, what ceremonies there are to be of purification and burial God 
knows, and about these the next of kin should enquire of the 
interpreters and of the laws thereto relating, and do according to 
their injunctions. They who meet their death in this way shall be 
buried alone, and none shall be laid by their side; they shall be 
buried ingloriously in the borders of the twelve portions the land, in 
such places as are uncultivated and nameless, and no column or 
inscription shall mark the place of their interment. And if a beast of 
burden or other animal cause the death of any one, except in the 
case of anything of that kind happening to a competitor in the 
public contests, the kinsmen of the deceased shall prosecute the 
slayer for murder, and the wardens of the country, such, and so many 
as the kinsmen appoint, shall try the cause, and let the beast when 
condemned be slain by them, and let them cast it beyond the borders. 
And if any lifeless thing deprive a man of life, except in the case of 
a thunderbolt or other fatal dart sent from the Gods-whether a man 
is killed by lifeless objects, falling upon him, or by his falling 
upon them, the nearest of kin shall appoint the nearest neighbour to 
be a judge, and thereby acquit himself and the whole family of 
guilt. And he shall cast forth the guilty thing beyond the border, 
as has been said about the animals. 
If a man is found dead, and his murderer be unknown, and after a 
diligent search cannot be detected, there shall be the same 
proclamation as in the previous cases, and the same interdict on the 
murderer; and having proceeded against him, they shall proclaim in the 
agora by a herald, that he who has slain such and such a person, and 
has been convicted of murder, shall not set his foot in the temples, 
nor at all in the country of the murdered man, and if he appears and 
is discovered, he shall die, and be cast forth unburied beyond the 
border. Let this one law then be laid down by us about murder; and let 
cases of this sort be so regarded. 
And now let us say in what cases and under what circumstances the 
murderer is rightly free from guilt:-If a man catch a thief coming, 
into his house by night to steal, and he take and kill him, or if he 
slay a footpad in self-defence, he shall be guiltless. And any one who 
does violence to a free woman or a youth, shall be slain with impunity 
by the injured person, or by his or her father or brothers or sons. If 
a man find his wife suffering violence, he may kill the violator, 
and be guiltless in the eye of the law; or if a person kill another in 
warding off death from his father or mother or children or brethren or 
wife who are doing no wrong, he shall assuredly be guiltless. 
Thus much as to the nurture and education of the living soul of man, 
having which, he can, and without which, if he unfortunately be 
without them, he cannot live; and also concerning the 
punishments:-which are to be inflicted for violent deaths, let thus 
much be enacted. Of the nurture and education of the body we have 
spoken before, and next in order we have to speak of deeds of 
violence, voluntary and involuntary, which men do to one another; 
these we will now distinguish, as far as we are able, according to 
their nature and number, and determine what will be the suitable 
penalties of each, and so assign to them their proper place in the 
series of our enactments. The poorest legislator will have no 
difficulty in determining that wounds and mutilations arising out of 
wounds should follow next in order after deaths. Let wounds be divided 
as homicides were divided-into those which are involuntary, and 
which are given in passion or from fear, and those inflicted 
voluntarily and with premeditation. Concerning all this, we must 
make some such proclamation as the following:-Mankind must have 
laws, and conform to them, or their life would be as bad as that of 
the most savage beast. And the reason of this is that no man's 
nature is able to know what is best for human society; or knowing, 
always able and willing to do what is best. In the first place, 
there is a difficulty in apprehending that the true art or politics is 
concerned, not with private but with public good (for public good 
binds together states, but private only distracts them); and that both 
the public and private good as well of individuals as of states is 
greater when the state and not the individual is first considered. 
In the second place, although a person knows in the abstract that this 
is true, yet if he be possessed of absolute and irresponsible power, 
he will never remain firm in his principles or persist in regarding 
the public good as primary in the state, and the private good as 
secondary. Human nature will be always drawing him into avarice and 
selfishness, avoiding pain and pursuing Pleasure without any reason, 
and will bring these to the front, obscuring the juster and better; 
and so working darkness in his soul will at last fill with evils 
both him and the whole city. For if a man were born so divinely gifted 
that he could naturally apprehend the truth, he would have no need 
of laws to rule over him; for there is no law or order which is 
above knowledge, nor can mind, without impiety, be deemed the 
subject or slave of any man, but rather the lord of all. I speak of 
mind, true and free, and in harmony with nature. But then there is 
no such mind anywhere, or at least not much; and therefore we must 
choose law and order, which are second best. These look at things as 
they exist for the most part only, and are unable to survey the 
whole of them. And therefore I have spoken as I have. 
And now we will determine what penalty he ought to pay or suffer who 
has hurt or wounded another. Any one may easily imagine the 
questions which have to be asked in all such cases:-What did he wound, 
or whom, or how, or when? for there are innumerable particulars of 
this sort which greatly vary from one another. And to allow courts 
of law to determine all these things, or not to determine any of them, 
is alike impossible. There is one particular which they must determine 
in all cases-the question of fact. And then, again, that the 
legislator should not permit them to determine what punishment is to 
be inflicted in any of these cases, but should himself decide about, 
of them, small or great, is next to impossible. 
Cle. Then what is to be the inference? 
Ath. The inference is, that some things should be left to courts 
of law; others the legislator must decide for himself. 
Cle. And what ought the legislator to decide, and what ought he to 
leave to courts of law? 
Ath. I may reply, that in a state in which the courts are bad and 
mute, because the judges conceal their opinions and decide causes 
clandestinely; or what is worse, when they are disorderly and noisy, 
as in a theatre, clapping or hooting in turn this or that orator-I say 
that then there is a very serious evil, which affects the whole state. 
Unfortunate is the necessity of having to legislate for such courts, 
but where the necessity exists, the legislator should only allow 
them to ordain the penalties for the smallest offences; if the state 
for which he is legislating be of this character, he must take most 
matters into his own hands and speak distinctly. But when a state 
has good courts, and the judges are well trained and scrupulously 
tested, the determination of the penalties or punishments which 
shall be inflicted on the guilty may fairly and with advantage be left 
to them. And we are not to be blamed for not legislating concerning 
all that large class of matters which judges far worse educated than 
ours would be able to determine, assigning to each offence what is due 
both to the perpetrator and to the sufferer. We believe those for whom 
we are legislating to be best able to judge, and therefore to them the 
greater part may be left. At the same time, as I have often said, we 
should exhibit to the judges, as we have done, the outline and form of 
the punishments to be inflicted, and then they will not transgress the 
just rule. That was an excellent practice, which we observed before, 
and which now that we are resuming the work of legislation, may with 
advantage be repeated by us. 
Let the enactment about wounding be in the following terms:-If 
anyone has a purpose and intention to slay another who is not his 
enemy, and whom the law does not permit him to slay, and he wounds 
him, but is unable to kill him, he who had the intent and has 
wounded him is not to be pitied-he deserves no consideration, but 
should be regarded as a murderer and be tried for murder. Still having 
respect to the fortune which has in a manner favoured him, and to 
the providence which in pity to him and to the wounded man saved the 
one from a fatal blow, and the other from an accursed fate and 
calamity-as a thank-offering to this deity, and in order not to oppose 
his will-in such a case the law will remit the punishment of death, 
and only compel the offender to emigrate to a neighbouring city for 
the rest of his life, where he shall remain in the enjoyment of all 
his possessions. But if he have injured the wounded man, he shall make 
such compensation for the injury as the court deciding the cause shall 
assess, and the same judges shall decide who would have decided if the 
man had died of his wounds. And if a child intentionally wound his 
parents, or a servant his master, death shall be the penalty. And if a 
brother ora sister intentionally wound a brother or a sister, and is 
found guilty, death shall be the penalty. And if a husband wound a 
wife, or a wife a husband, with intent to kill, let him or her undergo 
perpetual exile; if they have sons or daughters who are still young, 
the guardians shall take care of their property, and have charge of 
the children as orphans. If their sons are grown up, they shall be 
under no obligation to support the exiled parent, but they shall 
possess the property themselves. And if he who meets with such a 
misfortune has no children, the kindred of the exiled man to the 
degree of sons of cousins, both on the male and female side, shall 
meet together, and after taking counsel with the guardians of the 
and the priests, shall appoint a 5040th citizen to be the heir of 
the house, considering and reasoning that no house of all the 5040 
belongs to the inhabitant or to the whole family, but is the public 
and private property of the state. Now the state should seek to have 
its houses as holy and happy as possible. And if any one of the houses 
be unfortunate, and stained with impiety, and the owner leave no 
posterity, but dies unmarried, or married and childless, having 
suffered death as the penalty of murder or some other crime 
committed against the Gods or against his fellow-citizens, of which 
death is the penalty distinctly laid down in the law; or if any of the 
citizens be in perpetual exile, and also childless, that house shall 
first of all be purified and undergo expiation according to law; and 
then let the kinsmen of the house, as we were just now saying, and the 
guardians of the law, meet and consider what family there is in the 
state which is of the highest repute for virtue and also for good 
fortune, in which there are a number of sons; from that family let 
them take one and introduce him to the father and forefathers of the 
dead man as their son, and, for the sake of the omen, let him be 
called so, that he may be the continuer of their family, the keeper of 
their hearth, and the minister of their sacred rites with better 
fortune than his father had; and when they have made this 
supplication, they shall make him heir according to law, and the 
offending person they shall leave nameless and childless and 
portionless when calamities such as these overtake him. 
Now the boundaries of some things do not touch one another, but 
there is a borderland which comes in between, preventing them from 
touching. And we were saying that actions done from passion are of 
this nature, and come in between the voluntary and involuntary. If a 
person be convicted of having inflicted wounds in a passion, in the 
first place he shall pay twice the amount of the injury, if the 
wound be curable, or, if incurable, four times the amount of the 
injury; or if the wound be curable, and at the same time cause great 
and notable disgrace to the wounded person, he shall pay fourfold. And 
whenever any one in wounding another injures not only the sufferer, 
but also the city, and makes him incapable of defending his country 
against the enemy, he, besides the other penalties, shall pay a 
penalty for the loss which the state has incurred. And the penalty 
shall be, that in addition to his own times of service, he shall serve 
on behalf of the disabled person, and shall take his place in war; or, 
if he refuse, he shall be liable to be convicted by law of refusal 
to serve. The compensation for the injury, whether to be twofold or 
threefold or fourfold, shall be fixed by the judges who convict him. 
And if, in like manner, a brother wounds a brother, the parents and 
kindred of either sex, including the children of cousins, whether on 
the male or female side, shall meet, and when they have judged the 
cause, they shall entrust the assessment of damages to the parents, as 
is natural; and if the estimate be disputed, then the kinsmen on the 
male side shall make the estimate, or if they cannot, they shall 
commit the matter to the guardians of the law. And when similar 
charges of wounding are brought by children against their parents, 
those who are more than sixty years of age, having children of their 
own, not adopted, shall be required to decide; and if any one is 
convicted, they shall determine whether he or she ought to die, or 
suffer some other punishment either greater than death, or, at any 
rate, not much less. A kinsman of the offender shall not be allowed to 
judge the cause, not even if he be of the age which is prescribed by 
the law. If a slave in a fit of anger wound a freeman, the owner of 
the slave shall give him up to the wounded man, who may do as he 
pleases with him, and if be not give him up he shall himself make good 
the injury. And if any one says that the slave and the wounded man are 
conspiring together, let him argue the point, and if he is cast, he 
shall pay for the wrong three times over, but if he gains his case, 
the freeman who conspired with the slave shall reliable to an action 
for kidnapping. And if any one unintentionally wounds another he shall 
simply pay for the harm, for no legislator is able to control 
chance. In such a case the judges shall be the same as those who are 
appointed in the case of children suing their parents; and they 
shall estimate the amount of the injury. 
All the preceding injuries and every kind of assault are deeds of 
violence; and every man, woman, or child ought to consider that the 
elder has the precedence of the younger in honour, both among the Gods 
and also among men who would live in security and happiness. Wherefore 
it is a foul thing and hateful to the Gods to see an elder man 
assaulted by a younger in the city; and it is reasonable that a 
young man when struck by an elder should lightly endure his anger, 
laying up in store for himself a like honour when he is old. Let 
this be the law:-Every one shall reverence his elder in word and deed; 
he shall respect any one who is twenty years older than himself, 
whether male or female, regarding him or her as his father or 
mother; and he shall abstain from laying hands on any one who is of an 
age to have been his father or his mother, out of reverence to the 
Gods who preside over birth; similarly he shall keep his hands from 
a stranger, whether he be an old inhabitant or newly arrived; he shall 
not venture to correct such an one by blows, either as the aggressor 
or in self-defence. If he thinks that some stranger has struck him out 
of wantonness or insolence, and ought to be punished, he shall take 
him to the wardens of the city, but let him not strike him, that the 
stranger may be kept far away from the possibility of lifting up his 
hand against a citizen, and let the wardens of the city take the 
offender and examine him, not forgetting their duty to the God of 
Strangers, and in case the stranger appears to have struck the citizen 
unjustly, let them inflict upon him as many blows with the scourge 
as he has himself inflicted, and quell his presumption. But if he be 
innocent, they shall threaten and rebuke the man who arrested him, and 
let them both go. If a person strikes another of the same age or 
somewhat older than himself, who has no children, whether he be an old 
man who strikes an old man or a young man who strikes a young man, let 
the person struck defend himself in the natural way without a weapon 
and with his hands only. He who, being more than forty years of age, 
dares to fight with another, whether he be the aggressor or in self 
defence, shall be regarded as rude and ill-mannered and 
slavish;-this will be a disgraceful punishment, and therefore suitable 
to him. The obedient nature will readily yield to such exhortations, 
but the disobedient, who heeds not the prelude, shall have the law 
ready for him:-If any man smite another who is older than himself, 
either by twenty or by more years, in the first place, he who is at 
hand, not being younger than the combatants, nor their equal in age, 
shall separate them, or be disgraced according to law; but if he be 
the equal in age of the person who is struck or younger, he shall 
defend the person injured as he would a brother or father or still 
older relative. Further, let him who dares to smite an elder be 
tried for assault, as I have said, and if he be found guilty, let 
him be imprisoned for a period of not less than a year, or if the 
judges approve of a longer period, their decision shall be final. 
But if a stranger or metic smite one who is older by twenty years or 
more, the same law shall hold about the bystanders assisting, and he 
who is found guilty in such a suit, if he be a stranger but not 
resident, shall be imprisoned during a period of two years; and a 
metic who disobeys the laws shall be imprisoned for three years, 
unless the court assign him a longer term. And let him who was present 
in any of these cases and did not assist according to law be punished, 
if he be of the highest dass, by paying a fine of a mina; or if he 
be of the second class, of fifty drachmas; or if of the third class, 
by a fine of thirty drachmas; or if he be of the fourth class, by a 
fine of twenty drachmas; and the generals and taxiarchs and 
phylarchs and hipparchs shall form the court in such cases. 
Laws are partly framed for the sake of good men, in order to 
instruct them how they thay live on friendly terms with one another, 
and partly for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose 
spirit cannot be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging 
into evil. These are the persons who cause the word to be spoken which 
I am about to utter; for them the legislator legislates of 
necessity, and in the hope that there may be no need of his laws. He 
who shall dare to lay violent hands upon his father or mother, or 
any still older relative, having no fear either of the wrath of the 
Gods above, or of the punishments that are spoken of in the world 
below, but transgresses in contempt of ancient and universal 
traditions as though he were too wise to believe in them, requires 
some extreme measure of prevention. Now death is not the worst that 
can happen to men; far worse are the punishments which are said to 
pursue them in the world below. But although they are most true tales, 
they work on such souls no prevention; for if they had any effect 
there would be no slayers of mothers, or impious hands lifted up 
against parents; and therefore the punishments of this world which are 
inflicted during life ought not in such cases to fall short, if 
possible, of the terrors of the world below. Let our enactment then be 
as follows:-If a man dare to strike his father or his mother, or their 
fathers or mothers, he being at the time of sound mind, then let any 
one who is at hand come to the rescue as has been already said, and 
the metic or stranger who comes to the rescue shall be called to the 
first place in the games; but if he do not come he shall suffer the 
punishment of perpetual exile. He who is not a metic, if he comes to 
the rescue, shall have praise, and if he do not come, blame. And if 
a slave come to the rescue, let him be made free, but if he do not 
come the rescue, let him receive 100 strokes of the whip, by order 
of the wardens of the agora, if the occurrence take place in the 
agora; or if somewhere in the city beyond the limits of the agora, any 
warden of the city is in residence shall punish him; or if in the 
country, then the commanders of the wardens of the country. If those 
who are near at the time be inhabitants of the same place, whether 
they be youths, or men, or women, let them come to the rescue and 
denounce him as the impious one; and he who does not come to the 
rescue shall fall under the curse of Zeus, the God of kindred and of 
ancestors, according to law. And if any one is found guilty of 
assaulting a parent, let him in the first place be for ever banished 
from the city into the country, and let him abstain from the 
temples; and if he do not abstain, the wardens of the country shall 
punish him with blows, or in any way which they please, and if he 
return he shall be put to death. And if any freeman eat or drink, or 
have any other sort of intercourse with him, or only meeting him 
have voluntarily touched him, he shall not enter into any temple, 
nor into the agora, nor into the city, until he is purified; for he 
should consider that he has become tainted by a curse. And if he 
disobeys the law, and pollutes the city and the temples contrary to 
law, and one of the magistrates sees him and does not indict him, when 
he gives in his account this omission shall be a most serious charge. 
If a slave strike a freeman, whether a stranger or a citizen, let 
any one who is present come to the rescue, or pay the penalty 
already mentioned; and let the bystanders bind him, and deliver him up 
to the injured person, and he receiving him shall put him in chains, 
and inflict on him as many stripes as he pleases; but having 
punished him he must surrender him to his master according to law, and 
not deprive him of his property. Let the law be as follows:-The 
slave who strikes a freeman, not at the command of the magistrates, 
his owner shall receive bound from the man whom he has stricken, and 
not release him until the slave has persuaded the man whom he has 
stricken that he ought to be released. And let there be the same 
laws about women in relation to women, about men and women in relation 
to one another. 

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