Four Years of Presidential Memories: Truth, Lies and Corrupt Judges

Latin Inscriptions, Sortes 3-19.iv

“Don’t allow lies to arise from the truth thanks to a false judge.”

De vero falsa ne fiant | iudice falso.

Hesiod, Works and Days 217-229

“Oath runs right alongside crooked judgments.
But a roar comes from Justice as she is dragged where
bribe-devouring men lead when they apply laws with crooked judgments.
She attends the city and the haunts of the hosts
weeping and cloaked in mist, bringing evil to men
who drive her out and do not practice righteous law.
For those who give fair judgments to foreigners and citizens
and who do not transgress the law in any way,
cities grow strong, and the people flourish within them;
A child-nourishing peace settles on the land, and never
Does wide-browed Zeus sound the sign of harsh war.”

αὐτίκα γὰρ τρέχει ῞Ορκος ἅμα σκολιῇσι δίκῃσιν·
τῆς δὲ Δίκης ῥόθος ἑλκομένης ᾗ κ’ ἄνδρες ἄγωσι
δωροφάγοι, σκολιῇς δὲ δίκῃς κρίνωσι θέμιστας·
ἣ δ’ ἕπεται κλαίουσα πόλιν καὶ ἤθεα λαῶν,
ἠέρα ἑσσαμένη, κακὸν ἀνθρώποισι φέρουσα,
οἵ τέ μιν ἐξελάσωσι καὶ οὐκ ἰθεῖαν ἔνειμαν.
οἳ δὲ δίκας ξείνοισι καὶ ἐνδήμοισι διδοῦσιν
ἰθείας καὶ μή τι παρεκβαίνουσι δικαίου,
τοῖσι τέθηλε πόλις, λαοὶ δ’ ἀνθεῦσιν ἐν αὐτῇ·
εἰρήνη δ’ ἀνὰ γῆν κουροτρόφος, οὐδέ ποτ’ αὐτοῖς
ἀργαλέον πόλεμον τεκμαίρεται εὐρύοπα Ζεύς·

Publilius Syrus, Sententiae 697

“A Judge judges himself as much as the defendant”

Tam de se iudex iudicat quam de reo

Hesiod, Works and Days 256-273

Justice is a maiden who was born from Zeus.
The gods who live on Olympus honor her
and whenever someone wrongs her by bearing false witness
she sits straightaway at the feet of Zeus, Kronos’ son
and tells him the plans of unjust men so that the people
will pay the price of the wickedness of kings who make murderous plans
and twist her truth by proclaiming false judgments.
Keep these things in mind, bribe-swallowing kings:
whoever wrongs another also wrongs himself;
an evil plan is most evil for the one who makes it.
The eye of Zeus sees everything and knows everything
and even now, if he wishes, will look on us and not miss
what kind of justice the walls of our city protects.
Today, I wouldn’t wish myself to be a just man among men
nor my son, since it bad to be a just man
If anyone who is more unjust has greater rights.
But I hope that Zeus, the counselor, will not let this happen.”

ἡ δέ τε παρθένος ἐστὶ Δίκη, Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα,
κυδρή τ’ αἰδοίη τε θεοῖς οἳ ῎Ολυμπον ἔχουσιν,
καί ῥ’ ὁπότ’ ἄν τίς μιν βλάπτῃ σκολιῶς ὀνοτάζων,
αὐτίκα πὰρ Διὶ πατρὶ καθεζομένη Κρονίωνι
γηρύετ’ ἀνθρώπων ἀδίκων νόον, ὄφρ’ ἀποτείσῃ
δῆμος ἀτασθαλίας βασιλέων οἳ λυγρὰ νοεῦντες
ἄλλῃ παρκλίνωσι δίκας σκολιῶς ἐνέποντες.
ταῦτα φυλασσόμενοι, βασιλῆς, ἰθύνετε μύθους,
δωροφάγοι, σκολιέων δὲ δικέων ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθεσθε.
οἷ αὐτῷ κακὰ τεύχει ἀνὴρ ἄλλῳ κακὰ τεύχων,
ἡ δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη.
πάντα ἰδὼν Διὸς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ πάντα νοήσας
καί νυ τάδ’, αἴ κ’ ἐθέλῃσ’, ἐπιδέρκεται, οὐδέ ἑ λήθει
οἵην δὴ καὶ τήνδε δίκην πόλις ἐντὸς ἐέργει.
νῦν δὴ ἐγὼ μήτ’ αὐτὸς ἐν ἀνθρώποισι δίκαιος
εἴην μήτ’ ἐμὸς υἱός, ἐπεὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον
ἔμμεναι, εἰ μείζω γε δίκην ἀδικώτερος ἕξει.
ἀλλὰ τά γ’ οὔπω ἔολπα τελεῖν Δία μητιόεντα.

Quintilian, Declamation 388

“If there was a bad judgment, then there was something the judge was afraid of”

Si male iudicatum est, fuit aliquid quod iudex timeret.

Justices in Eyre -- Luminarium Encyclopedia

Doubled Ignorance: Plato on the Dunning-Kruger Effect and Lawmaking

Plato, Laws, 863 c (Full text on the Scaife viewer)

“Someone wouldn’t be wrong in saying that ignorance is a third cause of f*ck-ups.  But a law-maker would be better in splitting this cause into two, understanding the simple one as a cause of minor mistakes. The doubled ignorance—when someone who is screwing up is held not only by ignorance but by the belief of wisdom too as if they perfectly understand all the things they know nothing about—is the cause of serious and harmful mistakes when it has power and strength.

But when present in people who are weak, doubled ignorance produces the errors of children and old people. A law-maker will consider these mere mistakes and will make laws accordingly, which will be the most lenient and full of pardon of all.”

ΑΘ. Τρίτον μὴν ἄγνοιαν λέγων ἄν τις τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων αἰτίαν οὐκ ἂν ψεύδοιτο· διχῇ μὴν διελόμενος αὐτὸ ὁ νομοθέτης ἂν βελτίων εἴη, τὸ μὲν ἁπλοῦν αὐτοῦ κούφων ἁμαρτημάτων αἴτιον ἡγούμενος, τὸ δὲ διπλοῦν, ὅταν ἀμαθαίνῃ τις μὴ μόνον ἀγνοίᾳ συνεχόμενος ἀλλὰ καὶ δόξῃ σοφίας, ὡς εἰδὼς παντελῶς περὶ ἃ μηδαμῶς οἶδεν, μετὰ μὲν ἰσχύος καὶ ῥώμης ἑπομένης μεγάλων καὶ ἀμούσων ἁμαρτημάτων τιθεὶς αἴτια τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἀσθενείας δὲ ἑπομένης, παίδειά τε ἁμαρτήματα καὶ πρεσβυτέρων γιγνόμενα θήσει μὲν ἁμαρτήματα καὶ ὡς ἁμαρτάνουσιν νόμους τάξει, πρᾳοτάτους γε μὴν πάντων καὶ συγγνώμης πλείστης ἐχομένους.

Medieval Floor Tile with fool

Doubled Ignorance: Plato on the Dunning-Kruger Effect and Lawmaking

Plato, Laws, 863 c (Full text on the Scaife viewer)

“Someone wouldn’t be wrong in saying that ignorance is a third cause of f*ck-ups.  But a law-maker would be better in splitting this cause into two, understanding the simple one as a cause of minor mistakes. The doubled ignorance—when someone who is screwing up is held not only by ignorance but by the belief of wisdom too as if they perfectly understand all the things they know nothing about—is the cause of serious and harmful mistakes when it has power and strength.

But when present in people who are weak, doubled ignorance produces the errors of children and old people. A law-maker will consider these mere mistakes and will make laws accordingly, which will be the most lenient and full of pardon of all.”

ΑΘ. Τρίτον μὴν ἄγνοιαν λέγων ἄν τις τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων αἰτίαν οὐκ ἂν ψεύδοιτο· διχῇ μὴν διελόμενος αὐτὸ ὁ νομοθέτης ἂν βελτίων εἴη, τὸ μὲν ἁπλοῦν αὐτοῦ κούφων ἁμαρτημάτων αἴτιον ἡγούμενος, τὸ δὲ διπλοῦν, ὅταν ἀμαθαίνῃ τις μὴ μόνον ἀγνοίᾳ συνεχόμενος ἀλλὰ καὶ δόξῃ σοφίας, ὡς εἰδὼς παντελῶς περὶ ἃ μηδαμῶς οἶδεν, μετὰ μὲν ἰσχύος καὶ ῥώμης ἑπομένης μεγάλων καὶ ἀμούσων ἁμαρτημάτων τιθεὶς αἴτια τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἀσθενείας δὲ ἑπομένης, παίδειά τε ἁμαρτήματα καὶ πρεσβυτέρων γιγνόμενα θήσει μὲν ἁμαρτήματα καὶ ὡς ἁμαρτάνουσιν νόμους τάξει, πρᾳοτάτους γε μὴν πάντων καὶ συγγνώμης πλείστης ἐχομένους.

Medieval Floor Tile with fool

A Good Law?

Herodotus, 2.177 (Full text on the Scaife viewer)

“Amasis made this law for the Egyptians, that each one should reveal how he makes his living to the leader of his state each year and if he does not prove in some way that he lives justly to be punished by death. Solon took this law from Egypt and made it the rule among his people. May they keep this law forever because it is perfect.”

νόμον τε Αἰγυπτίοισι τόνδε Ἄμασις ἐστὶ ὁ καταστήσας, ἀποδεικνύναι ἔτεος ἑκάστου τῷ νομάρχῃ πάντα τινὰ Αἰγυπτίων ὅθεν βιοῦται· μὴ δὲ ποιεῦντα ταῦτα μηδε ἀποφαίνοντα δικαίην ζόην ἰθύνεσθαι θανάτῳ. Σόλων δὲ ὁ Ἀθηναῖος λαβὼν ἐξ Αἰγύπτου τοῦτον τὸν νόμον Ἀθηναίοισι ἔθετο· τῷ ἐκεῖνοι ἐς αἰεὶ χρέωνται ἐόντι ἀμώμῳ νόμῳ.

Solon - Wikipedia
Do I look just to you?

Divine Dependence: Laws Allegedly Made By Human Beings

Aelius Aristedes, A Reply to Plato 2. 38-39

“What of your righteous art of lawmaking which has uncovered great things for human beings? I think this yields, or already has yielded for along time, to the women at the tripod. People travel to Delphi and inquire about the laws of their state. And then they make their laws in accordance with the utterance that comes from the Pythia (as they have since the time of Lykourgos, one whom it is necessary to bring up before many for the sake of argument).

They say, in fact, that he did not make any law for the Spartans without divine assent. But, it was not since Lykourgos the best of the Greeks did not make the laws that the god acquired the belief of making the laws, but because Lykourgos who was the best of the Greeks gave testimony that the words of the Pythia who knew nothing on her own prevailed. She provided answers as seemed best to the god and the god received the reputation for the laws from the Pythia in turn.”

τί δὲ ἡ σεμνή σοι νομοθετικὴ καὶ τὰ μεγάλα ἀνθρώποις εὑρίσκουσα; οἶμαι μὲν παραχωρήσεται, μᾶλλον δὲ πάλαι παρεχώρησεν ταῖς ἀπὸ τοῦ τρίποδος γυναιξί. βαδίζουσί γε εἰς Δελφοὺς καὶ πυνθάνονται περὶ τῶν πολιτειῶν. καὶ τότε τοὺς νόμους τίθενται πρὸς τὴν ἐλθοῦσαν παρὰ τῆς Πυθίας φωνὴν ἀπὸ Λυκούργου πρώτου, τὸν μετὰ πολλοὺς εἰ δεῖ πρῶτον εἰπεῖν χάριν τοῦ λόγου. οὔκουν φασί γ’ ἐκεῖνον οὐδὲν θεῖναι Λακεδαιμονίοις ἄνευ τῆς παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ φωνῆς, ἀλλ’ ὅμως οὐκ ἐπειδὴ Λυκοῦργος ὁ τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἄριστος ἔθηκεν, οὐ διὰ τοῦθ’ ὁ θεὸς δόξαν εἴληφεν τεθεικέναι τοὺς νόμους, ἀλλ’ ὁ μὲν Λυκοῦργος ἄριστος ὢν τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἐμαρτύρει τὰ τῆς οὐδὲν ἰδίᾳ γιγνωσκούσης Πυθίας νικᾶν, ἡ δὲ ἀπεκρίνατο ὡς ἐδόκει τῷ θεῷ, ὁ δὲ τῷ παρὰ τὴν Πυθίαν μέρει τὴν δόξαν εἴληφε τὴν ἐπὶ τοῖς νόμοις.

Image result for medieval manuscript pythian oracle
Picture from Here

Generosity and Charity: Some Seasonal Reminders from Greece and Rome

Cicero, De Legibus 1.18

What about generosity? Is it for free or with a view towards some benefit? If someone is kind without payment, then it is freely done. If it is for payment, it is contractual. There is no doubt that a person who is called generous or kind responds to duty not to benefit. Therefore, equity seeks no reward or purchase price but it is pursued for its own worth. This is the same cause and claim for every virtue.”

quid? liberalitas gratuitane est an mercennaria? si sine praemio benignus est, gratuita, si cum mercede, conducta; nec est dubium, quin is, qui liberalis benignusve dicitur, officium, non fructum sequatur; ergo item iustitia nihil expetit praemii, nihil pretii; per se igitur expetitur. eademque omnium virtutum causa atque sententia est.

Clement, Letter 16.4

“Giving to charity is therefore noble as repentance from sin. Fasting is stronger than prayer, but charity surpasses both. Love overcomes a mass of sins, and prayer from a noble conscience provides rescue from death. Everyone who is discovered to abound in these things is blessed. For charity lightens the weight of sin.”

καλὸν οὖν ἐλεημοσύνη ὡς μετάνοια ἁμαρτίας· κρείσσων νηστεία προσευχῆς, ἐλεημοσύνη δὲ ἀμφοτέρων· ἀγάπη δὲ καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν, προσευχὴ δὲ ἐκ καλῆς συνειδήσεως ἐκ θανάτου ῥύεται. μακάριος πᾶς ὁ εὑρεθεὶς ἐν τούτοις πλήρης· ἐλεημοσύνη γὰρ κούφισμα ἁμαρτίας γίνεται.

gift giving middle ages - Cutting from a choir book, 1470s - Photo courtesy
From medievalists.net

Truth, Lies and Corrupt Judges

Latin Inscriptions, Sortes 3-19.iv

“Don’t allow lies to arise from the truth thanks to a false judge.”

De vero falsa ne fiant | iudice falso.

Hesiod, Works and Days 217-229

“Oath runs right alongside crooked judgments.
But a roar comes from Justice as she is dragged where
bribe-devouring men lead when they apply laws with crooked judgments.
She attends the city and the haunts of the hosts
weeping and cloaked in mist, bringing evil to men
who drive her out and do not practice righteous law.
For those who give fair judgments to foreigners and citizens
and who do not transgress the law in any way,
cities grow strong, and the people flourish within them;
A child-nourishing peace settles on the land, and never
Does wide-browed Zeus sound the sign of harsh war.”

αὐτίκα γὰρ τρέχει ῞Ορκος ἅμα σκολιῇσι δίκῃσιν·
τῆς δὲ Δίκης ῥόθος ἑλκομένης ᾗ κ’ ἄνδρες ἄγωσι
δωροφάγοι, σκολιῇς δὲ δίκῃς κρίνωσι θέμιστας·
ἣ δ’ ἕπεται κλαίουσα πόλιν καὶ ἤθεα λαῶν,
ἠέρα ἑσσαμένη, κακὸν ἀνθρώποισι φέρουσα,
οἵ τέ μιν ἐξελάσωσι καὶ οὐκ ἰθεῖαν ἔνειμαν.
οἳ δὲ δίκας ξείνοισι καὶ ἐνδήμοισι διδοῦσιν
ἰθείας καὶ μή τι παρεκβαίνουσι δικαίου,
τοῖσι τέθηλε πόλις, λαοὶ δ’ ἀνθεῦσιν ἐν αὐτῇ·
εἰρήνη δ’ ἀνὰ γῆν κουροτρόφος, οὐδέ ποτ’ αὐτοῖς
ἀργαλέον πόλεμον τεκμαίρεται εὐρύοπα Ζεύς·

Publilius Syrus, Sententiae 697

“A Judge judges himself as much as the defendant”

Tam de se iudex iudicat quam de reo

Hesiod, Works and Days 256-273

Justice is a maiden who was born from Zeus.
The gods who live on Olympus honor her
and whenever someone wrongs her by bearing false witness
she sits straightaway at the feet of Zeus, Kronos’ son
and tells him the plans of unjust men so that the people
will pay the price of the wickedness of kings who make murderous plans
and twist her truth by proclaiming false judgments.
Keep these things in mind, bribe-swallowing kings:
whoever wrongs another also wrongs himself;
an evil plan is most evil for the one who makes it.
The eye of Zeus sees everything and knows everything
and even now, if he wishes, will look on us and not miss
what kind of justice the walls of our city protects.
Today, I wouldn’t wish myself to be a just man among men
nor my son, since it bad to be a just man
If anyone who is more unjust has greater rights.
But I hope that Zeus, the counselor, will not let this happen.”

ἡ δέ τε παρθένος ἐστὶ Δίκη, Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα,
κυδρή τ’ αἰδοίη τε θεοῖς οἳ ῎Ολυμπον ἔχουσιν,
καί ῥ’ ὁπότ’ ἄν τίς μιν βλάπτῃ σκολιῶς ὀνοτάζων,
αὐτίκα πὰρ Διὶ πατρὶ καθεζομένη Κρονίωνι
γηρύετ’ ἀνθρώπων ἀδίκων νόον, ὄφρ’ ἀποτείσῃ
δῆμος ἀτασθαλίας βασιλέων οἳ λυγρὰ νοεῦντες
ἄλλῃ παρκλίνωσι δίκας σκολιῶς ἐνέποντες.
ταῦτα φυλασσόμενοι, βασιλῆς, ἰθύνετε μύθους,
δωροφάγοι, σκολιέων δὲ δικέων ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθεσθε.
οἷ αὐτῷ κακὰ τεύχει ἀνὴρ ἄλλῳ κακὰ τεύχων,
ἡ δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη.
πάντα ἰδὼν Διὸς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ πάντα νοήσας
καί νυ τάδ’, αἴ κ’ ἐθέλῃσ’, ἐπιδέρκεται, οὐδέ ἑ λήθει
οἵην δὴ καὶ τήνδε δίκην πόλις ἐντὸς ἐέργει.
νῦν δὴ ἐγὼ μήτ’ αὐτὸς ἐν ἀνθρώποισι δίκαιος
εἴην μήτ’ ἐμὸς υἱός, ἐπεὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον
ἔμμεναι, εἰ μείζω γε δίκην ἀδικώτερος ἕξει.
ἀλλὰ τά γ’ οὔπω ἔολπα τελεῖν Δία μητιόεντα.

Quintilian, Declamation 388

“If there was a bad judgment, then there was something the judge was afraid of”

Si male iudicatum est, fuit aliquid quod iudex timeret.

Image result for medieval manuscript courtroom
The court of common pleas at work

Obvious Perjury Without a Charge

Plutarch, Sayings of the Romans (Moralia 200e) Scipio the Younger 13

“When [P. Africanus] saw Gaius Licinius approaching, he said ‘I know that this man has committed perjury, but since no one else is accusing him, I can’t be accuser and judge at the same time”

 Γάιον δὲ Λικίνιον ἰδὼν παρερχόμενον, “οἶδα,” ἔφη, “τοῦτον ἐπιωρκηκότα τὸν ἄνδρα· μηδενὸς δὲ κατηγοροῦντος, οὐ δύναμαι κατήγορος αὐτὸς εἶναι καὶ δικαστής.”

Cicero, Pro Cluentio 134

“It seems impossible to me not to mention the example of the great and most famous man P. Africanus who, when he was in the office of censor of knights, oversaw he appearance of G. Licinius Sacerdos.  When he came forward he said in a voice loud enough for the whole assembly to hear that this man had committed perjury intentionally and that if anyone would bring charges against him, he would provide his own testimony.

When no one spoke to do so, he told him to “lead on his horse.” In this way, one whose judgment the Roman people and foreign states were accustomed to trusting was not certain enough with his own knowledge to judge another.”

Non enim mihi exemplum summi et clarissimi viri, P. Africani, praetereundum videtur: qui cum esset censor et in equitum censu C. Licinius Sacerdos prodisset, clara voce, ut omnis contio audire possit, dixit se scire illum verbis conceptis peierasse: si qui contra vellet dicere, usurum esse eum suo testimonio: deinde cum nemo contra diceret, iussit equum traducere. Ita is, cuius arbitrio et populus Romanus et exterae gentes contentae esse consuerant, ipse sua scientia ad ignominiam alterius contentus non fuit.

Cicero seems to take a different lesson from this than others. Where other examples seem to imply Scipio avoiding making a charge based on ethical restraints, Cicero implies that Scipio did not have enough faith in his own knowledge to besmirch a man’s reputation. Valerius Maximus echoes Plutarch.

Val. Max. Memorable Deeds and Words 4. 1.10b

“But then, because no one took up the charge, [Africanus] said “Take your horse across, Sacerdos and be free of the censor’s judgment so that I may not seem to play the part of accuser, witness, and judge against you.”

sed nullo ad id negotium accedente ‘transduc equum’ inquit, ‘Sacerdos, ac lucrifac censoriam notam, ne ego in tua persona et accusatoris et testis et iudicis partes egisse videar.’

Image result for ancient roman law manuscript
From a manuscript of Terence’s Adelphoe

The Laws and the Soul of the State

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

112 “When Antagoras was about to cast a capital vote against someone he cried. Someone asked him “Why do you vote to condemn and cry?” He responded “It is necessary by nature to give our sympathy; the law demands my vote.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς καταδικάζειν τινὸς θανατικὴν ψῆφον μέλλων ἐδάκρυσεν· εἰπόντος δέ τινος· „τί παθὼν αὑτὸς καταδικάζεις καὶ κλαίεις”; εἶπεν· „ὅτι ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστι τῇ μὲν φύσει τὸ συμπαθὲς ἀποδοῦναι, τῷ δὲ νόμῳ τὴν ψῆφον.”

 

211 “Demosthenes used to say that the laws are the sinews of democracy”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφησε τοὺς νόμους δημοκρατίας νεῦρα.

 

229 “Demosthenes used to say that the laws are the soul of the state. “just as the body dies when bereft of the soul, so too the city perishes when there are no laws”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη πόλεως εἶναι ψυχὴν τοὺς νόμους· „ὥσπερ δὲ σῷμα στερηθὲν ψυχῆς πίπτει, οὕτω καὶ πόλις μὴ ὄντων νόμων καταλύεται”.

 

443 “When asked how cities might be best inhabited, Plato said, “If philosophers are kings and kings practice philosophy.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς πῶς ἂν ἄριστα αἱ πόλεις οἰκοῖντο ἔφη· „εἰ φιλόσοφοι βασιλεύοιεν ἢ οἱ βασιλεῖς φιλοσοφοῖεν.”

 

Image result for ancient greek laws