BOOK I - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
The first five books

Page 40 how, and the value of his damage sustain'd. On the other side the Defendant or the Party accus'd, after a Copy had of his Adversaries Libel, answered in Writing to every particular, either by denying or justifying, or pleading something in mitigation of Damages. Then the Plaintiff reply'd in Writing, and the Defendant rejoyn'd. After the Litigants had thus twice exhibited their Libels, it was then the part of the Thirty Judges to consider amongst themselves of the Judgment to be pronounc'd, and incumbent upon the President to turn the Essigies of Truth towards one of the Litigants. And this was the usual manner of Proceedings in their Courts of Justice among the Egyptians. For it was judg'd, that by the Harangues of Lawyers, a Cloud was cast upon the Truth and Justice of the Cause; inasmuch as the Arts of Rhetoricians, the jugling Tricks of Dissemblers, and the Fears of them that are like to be overthrown in their Cause, have wrought upon many to wave the strictness of the Law, and to turn aside from the Rule of Justice and Truth: And indeed its often found by experience, that Offenders brought to the Bar of Justice by the help of a cunning Orator, or their own Rhetorical Flourishes (either through a Fallacy put upon the Court, or taking Insinuations, or melting Compassions wrought by the Speaker in the Judge) have escap'd: Therefore the Egyptians concluded, that if all the Accusation was put into Writing, and consideration had barely of what was there set down, the Sentence would be more exact and just. And so by that means crafty and ingenious Fellows would be no more favour'd, than those that were more dull, nor the experienc'd Artist more than those that were ignorant and unskilful, nor the audacious Liar more than those that are modest and sincere; but all would have equal Justice, in regard sufficient time was allow'd by the Law, both for the Parties to answer each other, and for the Judges to consider and give Judgment upon the Allegations of both sides.

And since now we are come to mention the Laws, we conceive it will not be foreign from our History to give an account of such Laws of the Egyptians as are either remarkable for their Antiquity, or strange and different from all other, or that may be any way useful and profitable to the studious Readers.

1. And in the first place, those were to dye who were guilty of Perjury, being such as committed the Two greatest Crimes; that is, Impiety towards the Gods, and Violation of Faith and Truth, the strongest Band of Humane Society.

2. If any upon the Road saw a Man likely to be kill'd, or to be violently assaulted, and did not rescue him if he were able, he was to dye for it. And if in truth he were not able to defend him, yet he was bound to discover the Thieves, and to prosecute them in a due Course of Law. If he neglected this, he was according to the Law to be scourg'd with a certain number of Stripes, and to be kept without Food for Three Days together.

3. False Accusers were to suffer the same Punishment as those whom they falsly accus'd were to have undergone, if they had afterwards been convicted of the Offence.

4. All the Egyptians were injoyn'd to give in their Names in Writing, to the Governors of the Provinces, shewing how and by what means, they got their Livelihood. He that gave a false Account in such case, or if it appear'd he liv'd by Robbery, or any other unjust course, he was to dye; which Law it's said Solon brought over out of Egypt into Athens.

5. He that wilfully kill'd a Freeman; nay, a very Bondslave, was by the Law to dye; thereby designing to restrain Men from wicked Actions, as having no respect to the state and condition of the Person suffering, but to the advis'd act of the Offender; and by this care of Slaves, Men learnt that Freemen were much less to be destroy'd.

6. Parents that kill'd their Children, were not to dye, but were forc'd for Three Days and Nights together to hug them continually in their Arms, and had a Guard all the while over them, to see they did it; for they thought it not fit that they should dye, who gave Life to their Children; but rather that Men should be deterr'd from such Attempts by a Punishment that seem'd attended with Sorrow and Repentance.

7. But for Patricides, they provided a most severe kind of Punishment: For those that were convicted of this Offence, were laid upon Thorns, and burnt alive after that they had, first mangl'd the Members of their Bodies with sharp Canes, Piece-meal about the bigness of a Man's Thumb. For they counted it

Preface         Index
Credits         Tables