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The method of our legislation requires that we should deal next with the judicial proceedings connected with all the transactions hitherto described. The matters which involve such proceedings have been stated1 in part (those, namely, which concern farming and all industries dependent thereon), but we have not stated as yet the most important of such matters; so our next step must be to state them in full, enumerating in detail what penalty must attach to each offence, [853b] and before what court it must be tried.


It is, in a sense, a shameful thing to make all those laws that we are proposing to make in a State like ours, which is, as we say, to be well managed and furnished with all that is right for the practice of virtue. In such a State, the mere supposition that any citizen will grow up to share in the worst forms of depravity practiced in other States, so that one must forestall and denounce by law the appearance of any such character, [853c] and, in order to warn them off or punish them, enact laws against them, as though they were certain to appear,—this, as I have said, is in a sense shameful. But we are not now legislating, like the ancient lawgivers, for heroes and sons of gods,2—when, as the story goes, both the lawgivers themselves and their subjects were men of divine descent: we, on the contrary, are but mortal men legislating for the seed of men, and therefore it is permitted to us to dread lest any of our citizens should prove horny-hearted [853d] and attain to such hardness of temper as to be beyond melting; and just as those “horn-struck”3 beans cannot be softened by boiling on the fire, so these men should be uninfluenced by laws, however powerful. So, for the sake of these gentlemen, no very gentle law shall be stated first concerning temple-robbery, in case anyone dares to commit this crime. That a rightly nurtured citizen should be infected with this disease is a thing that we should neither desire nor expect; but such attempts might often be made by their servants, and by foreigners or foreigners' slaves. Chiefly, then, on their account, and also as a precaution against

1 Plat. Laws 842e.

2 Cp. Plat. Laws 713b.

3 i.e. “hard-shelled”; seeds struck by a beast's horn were vulgarly supposed to become “horny” and unfit for cooking.

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