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Now to come to another part of our discourse, do you not believe that some of the Greeks did very prudently to register that law in Egypt among their own, whereby it is enacted that, if a woman with child be sentenced to die, she shall be reprieved till she be delivered? All the reason in the world, you will say. Then, say I, though a man cannot bring forth children, yet if he be able, by the assistance of Time, to reveal any hidden action or conspiracy, or to discover some concealed mischief, or to be author of some wholesome piece of advice,—or suppose that in time he may produce some necessary and useful invention,—is [p. 151] it not better to delay the punishment and expect the benefit, than hastily to rid him out of the world? It seems so to me, said I. And truly you are in the right, replied Patrocleas; for let us consider, had Dionysius at the beginning of his tyranny suffered according to his merits, never would any of the Greeks have re-inhabited Sicily, laid waste by the Carthaginians. Nor would the Greeks have repossessed Apollonia, nor Anactorium, nor the peninsula of the Leucadians, had not Periander's execution been delayed for a long time. And if I mistake not, it was to the delay of Cassander's punishment that the city of Thebes was beholden for her recovery from desolation. But the most of those barbarians who assisted at the sacrilegious plunder of this temple,1 following Timoleon into Sicily, after they had vanquished the Carthaginians and dissolved the tyrannical government of that island, wicked as they were, came all to a wicked end. So the Deity makes use of some wicked persons as common executioners to punish the wickedness of others, and then destroys those instruments of his wrath,—which I believe to be true of most tyrants. For as the gall of a hyena and the rennet of a sea-calf—both filthy monsters—contain something in them for the cure of diseases; so when some people deserve a sharp and biting punishment, God, subjecting them to the implacable severity of some certain tyrant or the cruel oppression of some ruler, does not remove either the torment or the trouble, till he has cured and purified the distempered nation. Such a sort of physic was Phalaris to the Agrigentines, and Marius to the Romans. And God expressly foretold the Sicyonians how much their city stood in need of most severe chastisement, when, after they had violently ravished out of the hands of the Cleonaeans Teletias, a young lad who had been crowned at the Pythian games, they tore him limb from limb, as their own [p. 152] fellow-citizen. Therefore Orthagoras the tyrant, and after him Myro and Clisthenes, put an end to the luxury and lasciviousness of the Sicyonians; but the Cleonaeans, not having the good fortune to meet with the same cure, went all to wreck. To this purpose, hear what Homer says:
From parent vile by far the better son
Did spring, whom various virtues did renown

And yet we do not find that ever the son of Copreus performed any famous or memorable achievement; but the offspring of Sisyphus, Autolycus, and Phlegyas flourished among the number of the most famous and virtuous princes. Pericles at Athens descended from an accursed family; and Pompey the Great at Rome was the son of Strabo, whose dead body the Roman people, in the height of their hatred conceived against him when alive, cast forth into the street and trampled in the dirt. Where is the absurdity then,— as the husbandman never cuts away the thorn till it injures the asparagus, or as the Libyans never burn the stalks till they have gathered all the ladanum,—if God never extirpates the evil and thorny root of a renowned and royal race before he has gathered from it the mature and proper fruit? For it would have been far better for the Phocians to have lost ten thousand of Iphitus's horses and oxen, or a far greater sum in gold and silver from the temple of Delphi, than that Ulysses and Aesculapius should not have been born, and those many others who, of wicked and vicious men, became highly virtuous and beneficial to their country.

1 That is, in the Sacred or Phocian war, 357-346 B.C. (G.)

2 Il. XV. 641.

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