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14. Wrong acts are greater in proportion to the injustice from which they spring. For this reason the most trifling are sometimes the greatest, as in the charge brought by Callistratus1 against Melanopus that he had fraudulently kept back three consecrated half-obols from the temple-builders2; whereas, in the case of just actions, it is quite the contrary. The reason is that the greater potentially inheres in the less; for he who has stolen three consecrated half-obols will commit any wrong whatever. Wrong acts are judged greater sometimes in this way, sometimes by the extent of the injury done. [2] A wrong act is greater when there is no adequate punishment for it, but all are insufficient; when there is no remedy, because it is difficult if not impossible to repair it;3 and when the person injured cannot obtain legal satisfaction, since it is irremediable; for justice and punishment are kinds of remedies. [3] And if the sufferer, having been wronged, has inflicted some terrible injury upon himself, the guilty person deserves greater punishment; wherefore Sophocles,4 when pleading on behalf of Euctemon, who had committed suicide after the outrage he had suffered,
declared that he would not assess the punishment at less than the victim had assessed it for himself. [4] A wrong act is also greater when it is unprecedented, or the first of its kind, or when committed with the aid of few accomplices5; and when it has been frequently committed; or when because of it new prohibitions and penalties have been sought and found: thus, at Argos the citizen owing to whom a new law has been passed, is punished, as well as those on whose account a new prison had to be built. [5] The crime is greater, the more brutal it is; or when it has been for a long time premeditated; when the recital of it inspires terror rather than pity. Rhetorical tricks of the following kind may be used:—the statement that the accused person has swept away or violated several principles of justice, for example, oaths, pledges of friendship, plighted word, the sanctity of marriage; for this amounts to heaping crime upon crime. [6] Wrong acts are greater when committed in the very place where wrongdoers themselves are sentenced, as is done by false witnesses; for where would a man not commit wrong, if he does so in a court of justice? They are also greater when accompanied by the greatest disgrace; when committed against one who has been the guilty person's benefactor, for in that case, the wrongdoer is guilty of wrong twice over, in that he not only does wrong, but does not return good for good. [7] So too, again, when a man offends against the unwritten laws of right, for there is greater merit in doing right without being compelled6; now the written laws involve compulsion, the unwritten do not. Looked at in another way, wrongdoing is greater, if it violates the written laws; for a man who commits wrongs that alarm him7 and involve punishment, will be ready to commit wrong
for which he will not be punished. Let this suffice for the treatment of the greater or less degree of wrongdoing.

1 1.7.13. Callistratus and Melanopus were rival orators. Nothing is known of this particular charge.

2 The magistrates who superintended the building and repairing operations.

3 Understanding ἰᾶσθαι. Or “to punish adequately,” supplying οὗ μὴ ἴση τιμωρία.

4 An orator, not the tragic poet.

5 “Or has been seldom paralleled” (Cope, but cp. 1.9.38).

6 And therefore the violation of them is more discreditable.

7 When he thinks of the punishment they may entail.

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