Plutarch, On Divine Vengeance (Moralia 549c-e)
“Just as a lash or a prod that immediately follows a stumble or a misdirection straightens out a horse and compels it to the right path, but if you annoy the creature and pull on the reins or flick the whip later on and at length, such an action seems more like torture than teaching because it seems to have some other purpose than instruction, so too a cruelty that is doled out at each stumble and dip and hammered home by punishment might barely render you humble and thoughtful and mindful of god because he makes no delay in the dispensation of justice in his governing of human affairs and passions.
But justice that comes upon evil people with a gentle step, slowly, and in her own time–as Euripides explains–seems more like luck than fate because of any lack of clear correlation, of timeliness, and good order. For this reason I can’t see anything good in those repeated words about the slow grinding of divine mills: it renders punishment imposed unclear and lightens the fears of the wicked.”
καθάπερ γὰρ ἵππον ἡ παραχρῆμα τὸ πταῖσμα καὶ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν διώκουσα πληγὴ καὶ νύξις ἐπανορθοῖ καὶ μετάγει πρὸς τὸ δέον, οἱ δὲ ὕστερον καὶ μετὰ χρόνον σπαραγμοὶ καὶ ἀνακρούσεις καὶ περιψοφήσεις ἑτέρου τινὸς ἕνεκα μᾶλλον γίνεσθαι δοκοῦσιν ἢ διδασκαλίας, δι᾿ ὃ τὸ λυποῦν ἄνευ τοῦ παιδεύειν ἔχουσιν, οὕτως ἡ καθ᾿ ἕκαστον ὧν πταίει καὶ προπίπτει ῥαπιζομένη καὶ ἀνακρουομένη τῷ κολάζεσθαι κακία μόλις ἂν γένοιτο σύννους καὶ ταπεινὴ καὶ κατάφοβος πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ὡς ἐφεστῶτα τοῖς ἀνθρωπίνοις πράγμασι καὶ πάθεσιν οὐχ ὑπερήμερον δικαιωτήν· ἡ δὲ ἀτρέμα καὶ βραδεῖ ποδὶ κατ᾿ Εὐριπίδην καὶ ὡς ἔτυχεν ἐπιπίπτουσα Δίκη τοῖς πονηροῖς τῷ αὐτομάτῳ μᾶλλον ἢ τῷ κατὰ πρόνοιαν ὅμοιον ἔχει τὸ πεπλανημένον καὶ ὑπερήμερον καὶ ἄτακτον. ὥστε οὐχ ὁρῶ τί χρήσιμον ἔνεστιν τοῖς ὀψὲ δὴ τούτοις ἀλεῖν λεγομένοις μύλοις τῶν θεῶν καὶ ποιοῦσι τὴν δίκην ἀμαυρὰν καὶ τὸν φόβον ἐξίτηλον τῆς κακίας.”