Laws eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 711 pages of information about Laws.
would not have them fancy that by the secret performance of these actions—­by raising temples and by building altars in private houses, they can propitiate the God secretly with sacrifices and prayers, while they are really multiplying their crimes infinitely, bringing guilt from heaven upon themselves, and also upon those who permit them, and who are better men than they are; and the consequence is that the whole state reaps the fruit of their impiety, which, in a certain sense, is deserved.  Assuredly God will not blame the legislator, who will enact the following law:  No one shall possess shrines of the Gods in private houses, and he who is found to possess them, and perform any sacred rites not publicly authorised—­supposing the offender to be some man or woman who is not guilty of any other great and impious crime—­shall be informed against by him who is acquainted with the fact, which shall be announced by him to the guardians of the law; and let them issue orders that he or she shall carry away their private rites to the public temples, and if they do not persuade them, let them inflict a penalty on them until they comply.  And if a person be proven guilty of impiety, not merely from childish levity, but such as grown-up men may be guilty of, whether he have sacrificed publicly or privately to any Gods, let him be punished with death, for his sacrifice is impure.  Whether the deed has been done in earnest, or only from childish levity, let the guardians of the law determine, before they bring the matter into court and prosecute the offender for impiety.

BOOK XI.

In the next place, dealings between man and man require to be suitably regulated.  The principle of them is very simple:  Thou shalt not, if thou canst help, touch that which is mine, or remove the least thing which belongs to me without my consent; and may I be of a sound mind, and do to others as I would that they should do to me.  First, let us speak of treasure-trove:  May I never pray the Gods to find the hidden treasure, which another has laid up for himself and his family, he not being one of my ancestors, nor lift, if I should find, such a treasure.  And may I never have any dealings with those who are called diviners, and who in any way or manner counsel me to take up the deposit entrusted to the earth, for I should not gain so much in the increase of my possessions, if I take up the prize, as I should grow in justice and virtue of soul, if I abstain; and this will be a better possession to me than the other in a better part of myself; for the possession of justice in the soul is preferable to the possession of wealth.  And of many things it is well said—­’Move not the immovables,’ and this may be regarded as one of them.  And we shall do well to believe the common tradition which says, that such deeds prevent a man from having a family.  Now as to him who is careless about having children and regardless of

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Laws from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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