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In the second place, therefore, let us consider this, that human punishments of injuries regard no more than that the party suffer in his turn, and are satisfied when the offender has suffered according to his merit; and farther they never proceed. Which is the reason that they run after provocations, like dogs that bark in their fury, and immediately pursue the injury as soon as committed. But probable it is that God, whatever distempered soul it be which he prosecutes with his divine justice, observes the motions and inclinations of it, whether they be such as tend to repentance, and allows time for the reformation of those whose wickedness is neither invincible nor incorrigible. For, since he well knows what a proportion of virtue souls carry along with them from himself when they come into the world, and how strong and vigorous their innate and primitive good yet continues,—while wickedness buds forth only preternaturally upon the corruption of bad diet and evil conversation, and even then some souls recover again to perfect cure or an indifferent habitude,—therefore he doth not make haste to inflict his punishments alike upon all. But those that are incurable he presently lops off and deprives of life, deeming it altogether hurtful to others, but most baneful to themselves, to be always wallowing in wickedness. But as for those who may probably be thought to transgress rather out of ignorance of what is virtuous and good, than through choice of what is foul and vicious, he grants them time to turn; but if they remain obdurate, then likewise he inflicts his punishments upon them; for he has no fear lest they should escape.

Now let us consider how oft the characters and lives of men are changed; for which reason, the character is called τρόπος, as being the changeable part, and also ἦθος, since cus- [p. 149] tom (ἔθος) chiefly prevails in it and rules with the greatest power when it has seized upon it. Therefore I am of opinion, that the ancients reported Cecrops to have had two bodies, not, as some believe, because of a good king he became a merciless and dragon-like tyrant, but rather, on the contrary, for that being at first both cruel and formidable, afterwards he became a most mild and gentle prince. However, if this be uncertain, yet we know both Gelo and Hiero the Sicilians, and Pisistratus the son of Hippocrates, who, having obtained the sovereignty by violence and wickedness, made a virtuous use of their power, and coming unjustly to the throne, became moderate rulers and beneficial to the public. For, by recommending wholesome laws and the exercise of useful tillage to their subjects, they reduced them from idle scoffers and talkative romancers to be modest citizens and industrious good husbands. And as for Gelo, after he had been successful in his war and vanquished the Carthaginians, he refused to grant them the peace which they sued for, unless they would consent to have it inserted in their articles that they would surcease from sacrificing their children to Saturn.

Over Megalopolis Lydiadas was tyrant; but then, even in the time of his tyranny, changing his manners and maxims of government and growing into a hatred of injustice, he restored to the citizens their laws, and fighting for his country against his own and his subjects' enemies, fell an illustrious victim for his country's welfare. Now if any one, bearing an antipathy to Miltiades or Cimon, had slain the one tyrannizing in the Chersonese or the other committing incest with his own sister, or had expelled Themistocles out of Athens at what time he lay rioting and revelling in the market-place and affronting all that came near him, according to the sentence afterwards pronounced against Alcibiades, had we not lost Marathon, the Eurymedon, and lovely Artemisium, [p. 150]

Where the Athenian youth
The famed foundations of their freedom laid?

For great and lofty geniuses produce nothing that is mean and little; the innate smartness of their parts will not endure the vigor and activity of their spirits to grow lazy; but they are tossed to and again, as with the waves, by the rolling motions of their own inordinate desire, till at length they arrive to a stable and settled constitution of manners. Therefore, as a person that is unskilful in husbandry would by no means make choice of a piece of ground quite overrun with brakes and weeds, abounding with wild beasts, running streams, and mud; while, to him who hath learnt to understand the nature of the earth, these are certain symptoms of the softness and fertility of the soil; thus great geniuses many times produce many absurd and vile enormities, of which we not enduring the rugged and uneasy vexation, are presently for pruning and lopping off the lawless transgressors. But the more prudent judge, who discerns the abounding goodness and generosity covertly residing in those transcendent geniuses, waits the co-operating age and season for reason and virtue to exert themselves, and gathers the ripe fruit when Nature has matured it. And thus much as to those particulars.

1 From Pindar.

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