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[8]

The Locri Epizephyrii are believed to have been the first people to use written laws. After they had lived under good laws for a very long time, Dionysius, on being banished from the country of the Syracusans,1 abused them most lawlessly of all men. For he would sneak into the bed-chambers of the girls after they had been dressed up for their wedding, and lie with them before their marriage; and he would gather together the girls who were ripe for marriage, let loose doves with cropped wings upon them in the midst of the banquets, and then bid the girls waltz around unclad, and also bid some of them, shod with sandals that were not mates (one high and the other low), chase the doves around—all for the sheer indecency of it. However, he paid the penalty after he went back to Sicily again to resume his government; for the Locri broke up his garrison, set themselves free, and thus became masters of his wife and children. These children were his two daughters, and the younger of his two sons (who was already a lad), for the other, Apollocrates, was helping his father to effect his return to Sicily by force of arms. And although Dionysius—both himself and the Tarantini on his behalf—earnestly begged the Locri to release the prisoners on any terms they wished, they would not give them up; instead, they endured a siege and a devastation of their country. But they poured out most of their wrath upon his daughters, for they first made them prostitutes and then strangled them, and then, after burning their bodies, ground up the bones and sank them in the sea. Now Ephorus, in his mention of the written legislation of the Locri which was drawn up by Zaleucus from the Cretan, the Laconian, and the Areopagite usages, says that Zaleucus was among the first to make the following innovation—that whereas before his time it had been left to the judges to determine the penalties for the several crimes, he defined them in the laws, because he held that the opinions of the judges about the same crimes would not be the same, although they ought to be the same. And Ephorus goes on to commend Zaleucus for drawing up the laws on contracts in simpler language. And he says that the Thurii, who later on wished to excel the Locri in precision, became more famous, to be sure, but morally inferior; for, he adds, it is not those who in their laws guard against all the wiles of false accusers that have good laws, but those who abide by laws that are laid down in simple language. And Plato has said as much—that where there are very many laws, there are also very many lawsuits and corrupt practices, just as where there are many physicians, there are also likely to be many diseases.2

1 Dionysius the Younger was banished thence in 357 B.C.

2 This appears to be an exact quotation, but the translator has been unable to find the reference in extant works. Plato utters a somewhat similar sentiment, however, in the Plat. Rep. 404e-405a

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load focus English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
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