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Read the next statute.StatuteIf any man outside the frontier pursue or violently seize the person of any homicide who has quitted the country, and whose goods are not confiscate, he shall incur the same penalty as if he so acted within our own territory.Here is another law, men of Athens, humanely and excellently enacted; and this law the defendant shall in like manner be proved to have transgressed.
Read the statute that comes next.LawNo man shall be liable to proceedings for murder because he lays information against exiles, if any such exile return to a prohibited place.This statute, men of Athens, like all the other excerpts from the law of homicide which I have cited for comparison, is a statute of Draco; and you must pay attention to his meaning. “No man is to be liable to prosecution for murder for laying information against manslayers who return from exile illegally.” Herein he exhibits two principles of justice, both of which have been transgressed by the defendant in his decree. In the first place, though he allows information to be laid against the homicide, he does not allow him to be seized and carried off; and secondly, he allows it only if an
Read another statute.LawIf a man kill another unintentionally in an athletic contest, or overcoming him in a fight on the highway, or unwittingly in battle, or in intercourse with his wife, or mother, or sister, or daughter, or concubine kept for procreation of legitimate children, he shall not go into exile as a manslayer on that account.Many statutes have been violated, men of Athens, in the drafting of this decree, but none more gravely than that which has just been read. Though the law so clearly gives permission to slay, and states under what conditions, the defendant ignores all those conditions, and has drawn his penal clause without any suggestion as to the manner of the slaying.
Again, “if in battle unwittingly”—the man who so slays is free of bloodguiltiness. Good: If I have destroyed a man supposing him to be one of the enemy, I deserve, not to stand trial, but to be forgiven. “Or in intercourse with his wife, or mother, or sister, or daughter, or concubine kept for the procreation of legitimate children.” He lets the man who slays one so treating any of these women go scot-free; and that acquittal, men of Athens, is the most righteous of
Read the next statute.LawWhosoever, whether magistrate or private citizen, shall cause this ordinance to be frustrated, or shall alter the same, shall be disfranchised with his children and his property.You have heard the statute, men of Athens, declaring in plain terms that “whosoever, whether magistrate or private citizen, shall cause this ordinance to be frustrated or shall alter the same, shall be disfranchised with his children and his property.” Do you then count this a trifling or worthless precaution taken by the author of the statute to secure its validity, and to save it from being either frustrated or altered? Yet the defendant Aristocrates, with very little regard for the lawgiver, is trying both to alter it and to frustrate it. For surely, to pe
It was we, men of Athens, who made Charidemus a citizen, and by that gift bestowed upon him a share in our civil and religious observances, in our legal rights, and in everything in which we ourselves participate. There are many institutions of ours the like of which are not to be found elsewhere, but among them one especially peculiar to ourselves and venerable,—I mean the Court of Areopagus. Concerning that Court I could relate a greater number of noble stories, in part traditional and legendary, in part certified by our own personal testimony, than could be told of any other tribunal. It is worth your while to listen to one or two of them by way of illustration
Now why is that so, men of Athens? Because they who originally ordained these customs, whoever they were, heroes or gods, did not treat evil fortune with severity, but humanely alleviated its calamities, so far as they honestly could. All those regulations, so nobly and equitably conceived, the author of the decree now in question has manifestly infringed, for not a single shred of them is to be found in his decree.—That is my first point: here is one tribunal whose written laws and unwritten usages he has contravened in drafting his decree
That the man who is convicted of involuntary homicide shall, on certain appointed days, leave the country by a prescribed route, and remain in exile until he is reconciled to one of the relatives of the deceased. Then the law permits him to return, not casually, but in a certain manner; it instructs him to make sacrifice and to purify himself, and gives other directions for his conduct. In all these provisions, men of Athens, the law is right.
Then there is a fifth tribunal which he has overruled,—and I beg you to take note of its character; I mean the court held in the precinct of Phreatto. In that court, men of Athens, the law orders every man stand his trial who, having gone into exile on a charge of unintentional homicide, and being still unreconciled to the persons who procured his banishment, incurs a further c homicide, and being still unreconciled to the persons who procured his banishment, incurs a further charge of willful murder. The author of the several rules of court did not let such a man alone, on the ground that he was unable to return to Athens, nor did he, because the man had already committed a like offence, treat the similarity of the accusation as proof positive against him