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"There was a time when the life of man was unorganised, bestial and the servant of force, when the good had no reward nor the bad punishment. It was then, I believe, that men set up laws as chastisers, so that justice might rule [lit. be a tyrannos] over all alike and hold violence as a slave and punish anyone who did wrong. Then, since the laws prevented them from committing open violence, men acted in secret. At that point, it seems to me, for the first time some clever and shrewd man invented fear of the gods in mortals, so that the bad should feel some element of terror even if they did or said or thought something in secret. Hence, then, he introduced the divine element, saying that there is a spirit enjoying immortal life, hearing and seeing by its mind, thinking and attending to everything, having a divine nature, which will hear all that is said among mortals, and will be able to see all that is done. If in silence you plot something evil this will not escape the notice of the gods; their understanding is so great. Speaking these words, he introduced a most agreeable doctrine, concealing the truth with a lying argument. He said that the gods live in a place which he might astound men by naming, the source, he knew of mortal fear and advantages [or 'burdens'] also in their wretched life, from the celestial orbit where he saw there were lightnings and terrible crashings of thunder, and the starry shape of heaven, fine embroidery of Time, the wise craftsman, whence the red-hot mass of the star comes and the moist rain falls to earth. With such fears he beset men, because of which in his story he located the spirit in a suitable place and extinguished lawlessness by fear [or 'by establishing laws']

The translator noted that "In this piece there are one or two alternative Greek readings which alter the sense quite considerably; I have put alternatives in square brackets." This extract is copywrited to the Open University, as part of their course Fifth Century Athens: Democracy and City State.



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