Boethius Says We Should Pity the Cruel

Boethius, Consolation 3.140-150

“Evil people themselves, too, if they were allowed to catch some sight of the virtue they left through a small imperfection, and they could note that they would put down the filth of their vices thanks to the tortures of their punishments, once they weighed them against the value of acquiring goodness, they would not consider them torturous at all, but they would refuse the aid of defense attorneys and surrender themselves fully to their accusers and judges.

If this happened, there would be no place among wise men any longer for hatred. For who hates good people except for complete fools? But hating the wicked lacks reason too. For if, just as feeling faint is a sickness of the body, in the same way vice is a kind of sickness of minds. And since we should think those sick in body worthy less of hatred than of pity, so much more should those who are sick in mind not be attacked but be pitied, those whose minds are afflicted by a wickedness more cruel than any frailty.”

Ipsi quoque improbi, si eis aliqua rimula virtutem relictam fas esset aspicere vitiorumque sordes poenarum cruciatibus se deposituros viderent, compensatione adipiscendae probitatis nec hos cruciatus esse ducerent defensorumque operam repudiarent ac se totos accusatoribus iudicibusque permitterent. Quo fit ut apud sapientes nullus prorsus odio locus relinquatur. Nam bonos quis nisi stultissimus oderit? Malos vero odisse ratione caret. Nam si, uti corporum languor, ita vitiositas quidam est quasi morbus animorum, cum aegros corpore minime dignos odio sed potius miseratione iudicemus, multo magis non insequendi sed miserandi sunt quorum mentes omni languore atrocior urget improbitas.

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Justice and Taxes: Aristotle and Plato Say Just Enough

Aristotle, Magna Moralia 1194a

“For example, it is fair that one who possesses much should pay a lot in taxes while one who has little should pay little”

οἷον ἀνάλογόν ἐστιν τὸν τὰ πολλὰ κεκτημένον πολλὰ εἰσφέρειν, τὸν δὲ τὰ ὀλίγα κεκτημένον ὀλίγα·

Plato, Republic 8 (568e)

“But, I was saying, we have wandered off topic. Let’s talk again about the tyrant’s camp, how he is going to pay for such a large and strange crew that’s never in the same place.

He said, “it is clear that if there is any money sacred to the state, he will spend it as long as what is left over remains, so that he can demand fewer taxes from the population.”

Ἀλλὰ δή, εἶπον, ἐνταῦθα μὲν ἐξέβημεν· λέγωμεν δὲ πάλιν ἐκεῖνο τὸ τοῦ τυράννου στρατόπεδον, τὸ καλόν τε καὶ πολὺ καὶ | ποικίλον καὶ οὐδέποτε ταὐτόν, πόθεν θρέψεται.

Δῆλον, ἔφη, ὅτι, ἐάν τε ἱερὰ χρήματα ᾖ ἐν τῇ πόλει, ταῦτα ἀναλώσει, ὅποι ποτὲ ἂν ἀεὶ ἐξαρκῇ τὰ τῶν ἀποδομένων, ἐλάττους εἰσφορὰς ἀναγκάζων τὸν δῆμον εἰσφέρειν.

Plato, Republic 1 (343e)

“As matters of state go, whenever there are taxes, the just person pays in more from the same amount on which the unjust man pays less. And when there are refunds, the former takes nothing while the lesser profits a lot.”

ἔπειτα ἐν τοῖς πρὸς τὴν πόλιν, ὅταν τέ τινες εἰσφοραὶ ὦσιν, ὁ μὲν δίκαιος ἀπὸ τῶν ἴσων πλέον εἰσφέρει, ὁ δ’ ἔλαττον, ὅταν τε λήψεις, ὁ μὲν οὐδέν, ὁ δὲ πολλὰ κερδαίνει.

 

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