ἦν χρόνος ὅτ᾿ ἦν ἄτακτος ἀνθρώπων βίος καὶ θηριώδης ἰσχύος θ᾿ ὑπηρέτης, ὅτ᾿ οὐδὲν ἆθλον οὔτε τοῖς ἐσθλοῖσιν ἦν οὔτ᾿ αὖ κόλασμα τοῖς κακοῖς ἐγίγνετο. 5κἄπειτά μοι δοκοῦσιν ἅνθρωποι νόμους θέσθαι κολαστάς, ἵνα δίκη τύραννος ᾖ < > τήν θ᾿ ὕβριν δούλην ἔχῃ· ἐζημιοῦτο δ᾿ εἴ τις ἐξαμαρτάνοι. ἔπειτ᾿ ἐπειδὴ τἀμφανῆ μὲν οἱ νόμοι 10ἀπεῖργον αὐτοὺς ἔργα μὴ πράσσειν βίᾳ,Sextus Empiricus, 9.54, attributed to Critias (no play is named); vv. 1–2, 17–18 (and 9–16 in paraphrase): Aetius, 1.7.2, attributed to Sisyphus in Euripides; vv. 33–4: Chrysippus fr. phys. 1009 von Arnim, attributed to Euripides; v. 34: Philo, 1, unattributed; v. 35: see below7 <γένους βροτείου> Grotius10 ἀπεῖργον Normann: ἀπῆγον Sext.
Sisyphus(?)19 (= Critias fr. 1 N)
There was a time when human life was disordered and bestial, and subservient to might;1 when there was neither reward for good men, nor on the other hand punishment for bad. And then, I think, men established laws which were5 punitive, so that justice might be sovereign . . . (a phrase missing)2 . . . and keep aggression in servitude; and if any man did wrong, he was punished.3
Then, when the laws were preventing men from doing violence openly, but they did it in secret, that was the moment,10
- 1For 5th c. ideas of man’s progress from chaos to order, gradually moving away from thinking it the gift of gods towards rationalizing it as man’s own achievement, see e.g. W. K. C. Guthrie, History of Greek Philosophy III (Cambridge, 1969), 60–3 or A. J. Podlecki, Aeschylus: Prometheus Bound (Oxford, 2005), 16–27.
- 2Perhaps ‘be sovereign (over the human race)’ (Grotius).
- 3For law, founded upon custom and eventually codified, see e.g. Guthrie 117–31 or M. Gagarin, Early Greek Law (Berkeley, 1986), 51–2.