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 The Locri are believed to have been the first who committed their laws to writing, but after they had enjoyed the advantage of these good laws for a very considerable time, Dionysius [the younger], having been expelled1 from Syracuse, found means to abuse them in a most abominable manner, for he, entering into a private chamber where certain young brides had been adorned for their nuptials, violated them; he also gathered the most beautiful virgins to his revels, and having liberated doves with uncut wings, commanded the young women to chase them round the apartment in a state of perfect nudity, while on some he bound sandals of unequal height, one being high and the other low, in order to make their appearance in the pursuit the more unseemly. However he paid dearly for this, for having returned to Sicily to resume his government, the Locri overpowered the guard he had left in their city, freed themselves, and obtained possession of his wife and children; there were two of his daughters, and his second son who had already attained the age of manhood; the eldest, however, called Apollocrates, accompanied his father in the expedition. And although Dionysius himself entreated them earnestly, as did also the Tarentines, to deliver the prisoners for whatever ransom they should name, they remained inexorable, and endured a siege and the wasting of their country, that they might vent their rage on his daughters. After having exposed them to the most shameful out- rages, they strangled them, burnt their bodies, pounded their bones, and cast them into the sea.2 Ephorus in speaking of the written law of the Locri, which Zaleucus had most judiciously selected from the Cretan, Lacedæmonian, and Areopagite codes, says that Zaleucus was the first to establish this principle, that whereas formerly lawgivers had left it to the judges to award the punishments for the several offences, he established a certain penalty in his laws, thinking that the minds of the judges would not be led to attach the same penalties for the same transgressions, which course he considered expedient. He praises him also for having simplified the law of contracts. [He says also] that the Thurians, being desirous to improve [the code of Zaleucus] more than the Locri had done, became more celebrated, but were less judicious.3 For that state is not regulated by the best government, where they guard against all manner of deceit by their laws, but that wherein they abide by laws simply framed. Plato also has observed that where there are many laws, there there will be law-suits and evil lives, in the same way as, where there are many physicians, there it is likely there is much sickness.
1 This wicked prince, having been expelled from Syracuse, had found refuge among the Locrians from the storm which threatened his existence, but, depraved as he was degraded, he repaid the kindness of the people, who treated him as their kinsman because his mother Doris had been the daughter of one of their principal citizens, with the basest treachery and ingratitude. He introduced into their city a number of miscreants and having overpowered the inhabitants, gave loose to all the vicious propenalties of his nature.
2 Horrid as is the vengeance which the Locri took on these unfortunate victims of a husband's and a father's crimes, it serves to confirm the accounts of the iniquity and barbarity of a prince, whose mean and imbecile conduct at other times sanctions the notion that his intellect was disordered.
3 We could almost wish to read this passage—‘rendered them more plausible, but impaired their utility.’
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