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[3] Another topic is derived from relative terms. For if to have done rightly or justly may be predicated of one, then to have suffered similarly may be predicated of the other; there is the same relation between having ordered and having carried out, as Diomedon the tax-gatherer said about the taxes, “If selling is not disgraceful for you, neither is buying disgraceful for us.”1 And if rightly or justly can be predicated of the sufferer, it can equally be predicated of the one who inflicts suffering; if of the latter, then also of the former. However, in this there is room for a fallacy. For if a man has suffered justly, he has suffered justly, but perhaps not at your hands. Wherefore one must consider separately whether the sufferer deserves to suffer,
and whether he who inflicts suffering is the right person to do so, and then make use of the argument either way; for sometimes there is a difference in such a case, and nothing prevents [its being argued], as in the Alcmaeon of Theodectes2: “ And did no one of mortals loathe thy mother?

” Alcmaeon replied: “We must make a division before we examine the matter.” And when Alphesiboea asked “How?”, he rejoined, “ Their decision was that she should die, but that it was not for me to kill her.

” Another example may be found in the trial of Demosthenes and those who slew Nicanor.3 For since it was decided that they had justly slain him, it was thought that he had been justly put to death. Again, in the case of the man who was murdered at Thebes, when the defendants demanded that the judges should decide whether the murdered man deserved to die, since a man who deserved it could be put to death without injustice.

1 The argument is that if there was no disgrace in selling the right of farming the taxes, there could be none in purchasing this right.

2 Pupil of Plato and Isocrates, great friend of Aristotle, the author of fifty tragedies and also of an “Art” of Rhetoric. Alcmaeon murdered his mother Eriphyle. Alphesiboea, his wife, says to him, Was not your mother hated? To this he replied, Yes, but there is a distinction; they said she deserved to die, but not at my hands.

3 Nothing is known of this trial.

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