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The two kinds of unwritten law are, first the universal law, the precepts of which suggest higher considerations and higher duties than mere legal obligations to pursue virtue and avoid vice (this is what is meant by the ‘excess, or higher degree, of virtue and vice’ above the legal standard, expressed in καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ἀρετῆς καὶ κακίας, quod eximiam virtutem aut vitium inde continet, Victorius), obedience to which law is rewarded by praise and honour and gifts (the two kinds of rewards; the ‘gifts’ in this case being conferred of course not for their value as a pecuniary compensation, but in so far as they are signs of moral approbation) and the breach or violation of it punished by (not fine or imprisonment or any personal penalty, as the violation of a legal enactment, but by) censure, reproach, dishonour (not deprivation of civil rights, which is a legal penalty): of such precepts examples are, gratitude to benefactors, the return or repayment of obligations (differing from the feeling of gratitude), the inclination and readiness to aid and defend one's friends, and such like. It is remarkable that amongst the precepts of the universal law which we are all bound to obey Aristotle should have here omitted the duty of interring and paying honour to the dead, so strikingly exemplified by the appeal of Antigone against Creon's tyrannous proclamation in the play to which he himself had just called our attention (comp. Eur. Suppl. 16—19, 526, 538), and still more so perhaps in the trial of the eight generals after Arginusae.

The second kind of unwritten law is that which belongs to law special, and is what is omitted by (i. e. intended to supply the deficiencies of) the written law.

Some of these universal principles of the popular morality are occasionally mentioned by the poets and other non-scientific writers: they are the most general rules of conduct which every one everywhere is supposed to recognise and obey. A short list of the most fundamental of them is given in the Rhet. ad Alex. c. I (2). 6, 7, which almost coincides with Aristotle's in the Rhetoric, δίκαιον μὲν ουν ἐστὶ τὸ τῶν ἁπάντων τὸ τῶν πλείστων ἔθος ἄγραφον, διορίζον τὰ καλὰ καὶ τὰ αἰσχρά. τοῦτο δ᾽ ἐστὶ τὸ γονέας τιμᾷν καὶ φίλους εὖ ποιεῖν καὶ τοῖς εὐεργέταις χάριν ἀποδιδόναι: ταῦτα γὰρ καὶ τὰ τούτοις ὅμοια οὐ προστάττουσι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οἱ γεγραμμένοι νόμοι ποιεῖν, ἀλλ̓ εὐθὺς ἀγράφῳ καὶ κοινῷ νόμῳ νομίζεται. Eurip. Antiope, Fragm. XXXVIII (Dind.), τρεῖς εἰσιν ἀρεταὶ τὰς χρεών σ᾽ ἀσκεῖν, τέκνον, θεούς τε τιμᾷν, τούς τε φύσαντας γονεῖς, νόμους τε κοινοὺς Ἑλλάδος. Comp. Xen. Memor. IV 4. 19—24, where the same are mentioned with one or two additions. On the unwritten law in general, see Plato, Legg. VII 793 A, B, C; he says inter alia, οὓς πατρίους νόμους ἐπονομάζουσιν, δεσμοὶ οὗτοι πάσης εἰσὶ πολιτείας μεταξὺ πάντων ὄντες τῶν ἐν γράμμασι τεθέντων τε καὶ κειμένων καὶ τῶν ἔτι τεθησομένων, ἀτεχνῶς οἷον πάτρια καὶ παντάπασιν ἀρχαῖα νόμιμα, καλῶς μὲν τεθέντα καὶ ἐθισθέντα πάσῃ σωτηρίᾳ περικαλύψαντα ἔχει πρὸς τοὺς γραφέντας νόμους, and he finally classes with the unwritten law the ἔθη καὶ ἐπιδεύματα, Aristotle's second class of ἄγραφοι νόμοι, as I have mentioned in p. 243 of the Introduction.

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