Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 75. On Law

LCL 385: 240-241

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Dio Chrysostom


1Ἔστι δὲ ὁ νόμος τοῦ βίου μὲν ἡγεμών, τῶν πόλεων δὲ ἐπιστάτης κοινός, τῶν δὲ πραγμάτων κανὼν δίκαιος, πρὸς ὃν ἕκαστον ἀπευθύνειν δεῖ τὸν αὑτοῦ τρόπον· εἰ δὲ μή, σκολιὸς ἔσται καὶ πονηρός. οἱ μὲν οὖν τοῦτον φυλάττοντες ἔχονται τῆς σωτηρίας· οἱ δὲ παραβαίνοντες πρῶτον μὲν αὑτοὺς ἀπολλύουσιν, ἔπειτα καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους, παράδειγμα καὶ ζῆλον αὐτοῖς ἀνομίας καὶ βίας παρέχοντες. ὥσπερ δὲ τῶν πλεόντων οἱ τοῦ πυρσοῦ μὴ διαμαρτάνοντες, οὗτοι μάλιστα σῴζονται καὶ τοὺς λιμένας εὑρίσκουσιν, οὕτως οἱ κατὰ τὸν νόμον ζῶντες ἀσφαλέστατα πορεύονται διὰ τοῦ βίου καὶ τῆς καταγωγῆς τῆς δεούσης 2τυγχάνουσιν. ἀνθρώπῳ μὲν οὖν ἤδη τις συμβούλῳ χρησάμενος μετενόησεν, οὐ μέντοι νόμῳ. τοσούτῳ δὲ τῶν τειχῶν ταῖς πόλεσι χρησιμώτερός ἐστιν, ὥστε ἀτείχιστοι μὲν πολλαὶ τῶν πόλεων διαμένουσι, νόμου δὲ χωρὶς οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμίαν οἰκεῖσθαι πόλιν.

Οὐ μόνον δὲ συμφέρει τοῖς θνητοῖς, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς θεοῖς. ὁ γοῦν κόσμος ἀεὶ τὸν αὐτὸν νόμον ἀκίνητον φυλάττει καὶ τῶν αἰωνίων οὐδὲν ἂν παραβαίη τοῦτον. ὅθεν, οἶμαι, καὶ βασιλεὺς εἰκότως


The Seventy-Fifth Discourse

The Seventy-Fifth Discourse: on Law

The law is for life a guide, for cities an impartial overseer, and for the conduct of affairs a true and just straight-edge by which each must keep straight his own conduct; otherwise he will be crooked and corrupt. Accordingly, those who strictly observe the law have firm hold on safety; while those who transgress it destroy first of all themselves and then their fellows too, providing them with an example and pattern of lawlessness and violence. Yes, just as at sea those who do not miss the beacon are most likely to come through with their lives and to find their havens, so those who live according to the law journey through life with maximum security and reach the right destination. There have been, it is true, instances in which one who has used a human being as counsellor has done so to his sorrow, but not so with the law. So much more serviceable is it for our cities than their walls that many of them still remain unwalled, but without law no city can be administered.

But the law is of advantage not only to mortals, but to the gods as well. At any rate the universe always preserves the same law inviolate, and nothing which is eternal may transgress it. It is for that reason, methinks, that the law has appropriately

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.dio_chrysostom-discourses_75_law.1951