25. Therefore, it may be understood by many circumstances that our ancestors surpassed other nations not only in arms, but also in wisdom and prudence; and also most especially by this, that they devise a singular punishment for the impious. And in this matter consider how far they surpassed in prudence those who are said to have been the wisest of all nations.  The state of the Athenians is said to have been the wisest while it enjoyed the supremacy. Moreover of that state they say that Solon was the wisest man, he who made the laws which they use even to this day. When he was asked why he had appointed no punishment for him who killed his father, he answered that he had not supposed that any one would do so. He is said to have done wisely in establishing nothing about a crime which had up to that time never been committed, lest he should seem not so much to forbid it as to put people in mind of it. How much more wisely did our ancestors act! for as they understood that there was nothing so holy that audacity did not sometimes violate it, they devised a singular punishment for parricides in order that they whom nature herself had not been able to retain in their duty, might be kept from crime by the enormity of the punishment. They ordered them to be sown alive in a sack, and in that condition to be thrown into the river.
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THE ORATION FOR SEXTUS ROSCIUS OF AMERIA.
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