The Library of History

Page 41

Page 41 the most wicked Act that Men could be guilty of, to take away the Lives of them from whom they had their own.

8. Those that were with Child, were not to be executed till they were delivered, which Law was receiv'd by many of the Grecians, judging it very unjust for the Innocent to suffer with the Offender, and Two to dye for the Offence of one only. Besides, in as much as the Crime was maliciously and advisedly committed, it was unreasonable that the Child that understood not what was done, should undergo the same Punishment. And that which is of the greatest Consideration, is, that it was altogether unjust (being the Mother was only accus'd and condemn'd as guilty) the Child (Common both to Father and Mother) should lose its Life; for that Judge is as unjust that destroys the Innocent, as he that spares him that is guilty of Murther.

9. These are the Capital Laws which are chiefly worthy of Praise and Commendation; as to others, those concerning military Affairs, provided that Souldiers who ran away from their Colours or mutined, though they should not dye, yet should be otherwise punish'd with the utmost Disgrace imaginable; but if they after wipe off their Disgrace by their Valour, they are restor'd to their former Post and Trust. By this inflicting of a Punishment more grievous than Death, the Lawgiver design'd that all should look upon Disgrace and Infamy as the greatest of Evils: Besides it was judg'd, that those who were put to Death, could never be further serviceable to the Commonwealth; but such as were degraded only (through a desire to repair their Reputation) might be very useful, and do much good service in time to come.

10. Such as reveal'd the Secrets of the Army to the Enemy, were to have their Tongues cut out.

11. They that coyn'd false and adulterated Mony, or contriv'd false Weights, or Counterfeited Seals; and Scriveners or Clerks that forg'd Deeds, or raz'd publick Records, or produc'd any forg'd Contracts, were to have both their Hands cut off, that every one might suffer in that part wherewith he had offended in such a manner as not to be repaired during their Life; and that others warn'd by so severe a Punishment, might be deter'd from the Commission of the like Offence.

12. In Relation to Women the Laws were very severe: For he that committed a Rape upon a Free Woman, was to have his Privy Members cut off; for they judg'd that Three most hainous Offences were included in that one vile Act, that is, Wrong, Defilement and Bastardy.

13. In case of Adultery, the Man was to have a Thousand Lashes with Rods, and the Woman her Nose cut off. For it was lookt upon very sit, that the Adulteress that trickt up her self to allure Men to Wantonness, should be punish'd in that part where her Charms chiefly lay.

14. They say that Bocchoris made the Laws concerning Merchandize. As to these, it was a Law, That if a Man borrow'd Mony, and the lender had no Writing to shew for it, and the other deny'd it upon his Oath, he should be quit of the Debt; to that end therefore in the First Place, they were to sacrifice to the Gods, as Men making Conscience, and tender and Scrupulous in taking of an Oath. For it being clear and evident that he that swears often again and again, at last loses his Credit, every Man to prevent that Mischief, will be very cautions of being brought to an Oath. Moreover, the Lawgiver had this Design, that by grounding a Man's Credit and Reputation wholly upon the Integrity of his Life and Conversation, every one would be induc'd to honest and virtuous Actions, lest he should be despis'd as a Man of no Credit or Worth. Besides, it was judg'd a most unjust thing not to believe him upon his Oath in that matter relating to his Contract, to whom Credit was given in the self same thing without an Oath before.

15. For those that lent Mony by Contract in Writing, it was not lawful to take Usury above what would double the Stock; and that Payment should be made only out of the Debtors Goods; but his Body was not to be liable in any wise to Imprisonment: And those were counted the Debtors Goods, which he had either earn'd by his Labour, or had been bestow'd upon him by the just Proprietors. But as for their Bodies, they belong'd to the Cities where they inhabited, who had an Interest in them for the publick Services, both in Times of Peace and War; for that it was an absurd thing for him who was to venture his Life for

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books