previous next
[862a] but consider whether in saying what I am now going to say I am speaking sense or absolute nonsense. For what I assert, Megillus and Clinias, is not that, if one man harms another involuntarily and without wishing it, he acts unjustly though involuntarily, nor shall I legislate in this way, pronouncing this to be an involuntary act of injustice, but I will pronounce that such an injury is not an injustice at all, whether it be a greater injury or a less. And, if my view prevails, we shall often say that the author of a benefit wrongly done commits an injustice; [862b] for as a rule, my friends, neither when a man gives some material object to another, nor when he takes it away, ought one to term such an act absolutely just or unjust, but only when a man of just character and disposition does any benefit or injury to another,—that is what the lawgiver must look at; he must consider these two things, injustice and injury, and the injury inflicted he must make good so far as possible by legal means; he must conserve what is lost, restore what has been broken down, make whole [862c] what is wounded or dead; and when the several injuries have been atoned for by compensation, he must endeavor always by means of the laws to convert the parties who have inflicted them and those who have suffered them from a state of discord to a state of amity.

Clinias
He will be right in doing that.

Athenian
As regards unjust injuries and gains, in case one man causes another to gain by acting unjustly towards him, all such cases as are curable we must cure, regarding them as diseases of the soul. And we should affirm that our cure for injustice lies in this direction—

Clinias
What direction? [862d]

Athenian
In this,—that whenever any man commits any unjust act, great or small, the law shall instruct him and absolutely compel him for the future either never willingly to dare to do such a deed, or else to do it ever so much less often, in addition to paying for the injury. To effect this, whether by action or speech, by means of pleasures and pains, honors and dishonors, money-fines and money-gifts, and in general by whatsoever means one can employ to make men hate injustice and love (or at any rate not hate) justice,—this is precisely the task of laws most noble. [862e] But for all those whom he perceives to be incurable in respect of these matters, what penalty shall the lawgiver enact, and what law? The lawgiver will realize that in all such cases not only is it better for the sinners themselves to live no longer, but also that they will prove of a double benefit to others by quitting life—since they will both serve as a warning to the rest not to act unjustly, and also rid

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: