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If anyone, while acting as ambassador or herald, conveys false messages from his State to another State, or fails to deliver the actual message he was sent to deliver, or is proved to have brought back, as ambassador or herald, either from a friendly or hostile nation, their reply in a false form,—against all such there shall be laid an indictment for breaking the law by sinning against the sacred messages and injunctions of Hermes1 and Zeus, and an assessment shall be made of the penalty they shall suffer or pay, [941b] if convicted. Theft of property is uncivilized, open robbery is shameless: neither of these has any of the sons of Zeus practiced, through delight in fraud or force. Let no man, therefore, be deluded concerning this or persuaded either by poets or by any perverse myth-mongers into the belief that, when he thieves or forcibly robs, he is doing nothing shameful, but just what the gods themselves do.2 That is both unlikely and untrue; and whoever acts thus unlawfully is neither a god at all nor a child of gods; [941c] and this the lawgiver, as it behoves him, knows better than the whole tribe of poets. He, therefore, that hearkens to our speech is blessed, and deserves blessing for all time; but he that hearkens not shall, in the next place, be holden by this law:—If anyone steals any piece of public property, he shall receive the same punishment, be it great or small. For he that steals a small thing steals with equal greed, though with less power, while he that takes a large thing which he has not deposited does wrong to the full; [941d] wherefore the law deems it right not to inflict a less penalty on the one offender than on the other on the ground that his theft is smaller, but rather because the one is possibly still curable, the other incurable. So if anyone convict in a court of law either a resident alien or a slave of stealing any piece of public property, in his case, since he is probably curable, the court shall decide what punishment he shall suffer
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