This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
IT has been thought that there should be three reasons for punishing crimes. One of these, which [p. 129] the Greeks call either κόλασις or νουθεσία, is the infliction of punishment for the purpose of correction and reformation, in order that one who has done wrong thoughtlessly may become more careful and scrupulous. The second is called τιμωρία by those who have made a more exact differentiation between terms of this kind. That reason for punishment exists when the dignity and the prestige of the one who is sinned against must be maintained, lest the omission of punishment bring him into contempt and diminish the esteem in which he is held; and therefore they think that it was given a name derived from the preservation of honour (τιμή). A third reason for punishment is that which is called by the Greeks παράδειγμα, when punishment is necessary for the sake of example, in order that others through fear of a recognized penalty may be kept from similar sins, which it is to the common interest to prevent. Therefore our forefathers also used the word exempla, or “examples,” for the severest and heaviest penalties. Accordingly, when there is either strong hope that the culprit will voluntarily correct himself without punishment, or on the other hand when there is no hope that he can be reformed and corrected; or when there is no need to fear loss of prestige in the one who has been sinned against; or if the sin is not of such a sort that punishment must be inflicted in order that it may inspire a necessary feeling of fear—then in the case of all such sins the desire to inflict punishment does not seem to be at all fitting. Other philosophers have discussed these three reasons for punishment in various places, and so too had our countryman Taurus in the first book of the [p. 131] Commentaries which he wrote On the Gorgias of Plato. But Plato himself says in plain terms that there are only two reasons for punishment: one being that which I put first—for the sake of correction; the second, that which I gave in the third place—as an example to inspire fear. These are Plato's own words in the Gorgias: 1 “It is fitting that everyone who suffers punishment, when justly punished by another, either be made better and profit thereby, or serve as an example to others, in order that they, seeing his punishment, may be reformed through fear.” In these words you may readily understand that Plato used τιμωρία, not in the sense that 1 said above is given it by some, but with the general meaning of any punishment. But whether he omitted the maintenance of the prestige of an injured person as a reason for inflicting punishment, on the ground that it was altogether insignificant and worthy of contempt, or rather passed over it as something not germane to his subject, since he was writing about punishments to be inflicted after this life and not during life and among men, this question I leave undecided.
1 81, p. 525 A.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.