Monday, August 06, 2007


Penalties for Stealing Crops

This continues Plucking Grain on the Sabbath.

Plutarch, Life of Solon 17.1 (tr. Ian Scott-Kilvert):
First of all, then, he repealed all the Draconian laws because of their harshness and the excessively heavy penalties they carried; the only exceptions were the laws relating to homicide. Under the Draconian code almost any kind of offence was liable to the death penalty, so that even those convicted of idleness were executed, and those who stole fruit or vegetables suffered the same punishment as those who committed sacrilege or murder.

πρῶτον μὲν οὖν τοὺς Δράκοντος νόμους ἀνεῖλε πλὴν τῶν φονικῶν ἅπαντας, διὰ τὴν χαλεπότητα καὶ τὸ μέγεθος τῶν ἐπιτιμίων. μία γὰρ ὀλίγου δεῖν ἅπασιν ὥριστο τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσι ζημία θάνατος, ὥστε καὶ τοὺς ἀργίας ἁλόντας ἀποθνήσκειν, καὶ τοὺς λάχανα κλέψαντας ἢ ὀπώραν ὁμοίως κολάζεσθαι τοῖς ἱεροσύλοις καὶ ἀνδροφόνοις.
Alciphron 3.14.3 (sometimes numbered 2.38.3 or 3.40.3):
I blame Solon and Draco, who deemed it lawful to punish with death those stealing bunches of grapes, but those enslaving the understanding of young men they allowed to go unpunished.

μέμφομαι τῷ Σόλωνι καὶ τῷ Δράκοντι, οἳ τοὺς μὲν κλέπτοντας σταφυλὰς θανάτῳ ζημιοῦν ἐδικαίωσαν, τοὺς δὲ ἀνδραποδίζοντας ἀπὸ τοῦ φρονεῖν τοὺς νέους ἀθώους εἶναι τιμωρίας ἀπέλιπον.
Alciphron's account is garbled. As Plutarch makes clear, Solon repealed the death penalty for stealing crops.

Plato, Laws 8.844d-845d (tr. R.G. Bury):
[844d] So let this law be enacted concerning the fruit-harvest:—whosoever shall taste of the coarse crop of grapes or figs before the season of vintage, [844e] which coincides with the rising of Arcturus, whether it be on his own land or on that of others, shall owe fifty sacred drachmae to Dionysus if he has cut them from his own trees, if from his neighbor's trees, a mina, and if from others, two-thirds of a mina. And if any man wishes to harvest "choice" grapes or "choice" figs (as they are now called), he shall gather them how and when he will if they are from his own trees, but if they are from another man's, and without his consent, he shall be fined every time, in pursuance of the law, “thou shalt not shift what thou hast not set.” [845a] And if a slave, without the consent of the master of the plots, touches any of such fruit, he shall be beaten with stripes as many as the grapes in the bunch or the figs on the fig-tree. If a resident alien buys a choice crop, he shall harvest it if he wishes. If a foreigner sojourning in the country desires to eat of the crop as he passes along the road, he, with one attendant, [845b] shall, if he wishes, take some of the choice fruit with-out price, as a gift of hospitality; but the law shall forbid our foreigners to share in the so-called “coarse” fruit, and the like; and should either a master or a slave touch these, in ignorance, the slave shall be punished with stripes, and the free man shall be sent off with a reproof and be instructed to touch only the other crop, which is unfitted for storing to make raisins for wine or dried figs. As to pears, apples, pomegranates, and all such fruits, [845c] it shall be no disgrace to take them privily; but the man that is caught at it, if he be under thirty years of age, shall be beaten and driven off without wounds; and for such blows a free man shall have no right to sue. A foreigner shall be allowed to share in these fruits in the same way as in the grape crop; and if a man above thirty touch them, eating on the spot and not taking any away, he shall have a share in all such fruits, like the foreigner; but if he disobeys the law, he shall be liable to be disqualified [845d] in seeking honors, in case anyone brings these facts to the notice of the judges at the time.

ἔστω δὴ περὶ ὀπώρας ὅδε νόμος ταχθείς· ὃς ἂν ἀγροίκου ὀπώρας γεύσηται, βοτρύων εἴτε [844e] καὶ σύκων, πρὶν ἐλθεῖν τὴν ὥραν τὴν τοῦ τρυγᾶν ἀρκτούρῳ σύνδρομον, εἴτ' ἐν τοῖς αὑτοῦ χωρίοις εἴτε καὶ ἐν ἄλλων, ἱερὰς μὲν πεντήκοντα ὀφειλέτω τῷ Διονύσῳ δραχμάς, ἐὰν ἐκ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ δρέπῃ, ἐὰν δ' ἐκ τῶν γειτόνων, μνᾶν, ἐὰν δ' ἐξ ἄλλων, δύο μέρη τῆς μνᾶς. ὃς δ' ἂν τὴν γενναίαν νῦν λεγομένην σταφυλὴν ἢ τὰ γενναῖα σῦκα ἐπονομαζόμενα ὀπωρίζειν βούληται, ἐὰν μὲν ἐκ τῶν οἰκείων λαμβάνῃ, ὅπως ἂν ἐθέλῃ καὶ ὁπόταν βούληται καρπούσθω, ἐὰν δ' ἐξ ἄλλων μὴ πείσας, ἑπομένως τῷ νόμῳ, τῷ μὴ κινεῖν ὅτι μὴ κατέθετο, [845a] ἐκείνως ἀεὶ ζημιούσθω· ἐὰν δὲ δὴ δοῦλος μὴ πείσας τὸν δεσπότην τῶν χωρίων ἅπτηταί του τῶν τοιούτων, κατὰ ῥᾶγα βοτρύων καὶ σῦκον συκῆς ἰσαρίθμους πληγὰς τούτοις μαστιγούσθω. μέτοικος δὲ ὠνούμενος τὴν γενναίαν ὀπώραν ὀπωριζέτω, ἐὰν βούληται, ἐὰν δὲ ξένος ἐπιδημήσας ὀπώρας ἐπιθυμῇ φαγεῖν διαπορευόμενος τὰς ὁδούς, τῆς μὲν γενναίας ἁπτέσθω, ἐὰν βούληται, μεθ' ἑνὸς ἀκολούθου χωρὶς τιμῆς, [845b] ξένια δεχόμενος, τῆς δὲ ἀγροίκου λεγομένης καὶ τῶν τοιούτων ὁ νόμος εἰργέτω μὴ κοινωνεῖν ἡμῖν τοὺς ξένους· ἐὰν δέ τις ἀίστωρ ὢν αὐτὸς ἢ δοῦλος ἅψηται, τὸν μὲν δοῦλον πληγαῖς κολάζειν, τὸν δὲ ἐλεύθερον ἀποπέμπειν νουθετήσαντα καὶ διδάξαντα τῆς ἄλλης ὀπώρας ἅπτεσθαι τῆς εἰς ἀπόθεσιν ἀσταφίδος οἴνου τε καὶ ξηρῶν σύκων ἀνεπιτηδείου κεκτῆσθαι. ἀπίων δὲ πέρι καὶ μήλων καὶ ῥοῶν καὶ πάντων [845c] τῶν τοιούτων, αἰσχρὸν μὲν μηδὲν ἔστω λάθρᾳ λαμβάνειν, ὁ δὲ ληφθεὶς ἐντὸς τριάκοντα ἐτῶν γεγονὼς τυπτέσθω καὶ ἀμυνέσθω ἄνευ τραυμάτων, δίκην δ' εἶναι ἐλευθέρῳ τῶν τοιούτων πληγῶν μηδεμίαν. ξένῳ δὲ καθάπερ ὀπώρας ἐξέστω καὶ τῶν τοιούτων μέτοχον εἶναι· ἐὰν δὲ πρεσβύτερος ὢν ἅπτηται τούτων, φαγὼν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀποφέρων μηδέν, καθάπερ ὁ ξένος ταύτῃ κοινωνείτω τῶν τοιούτων ἁπάντων, μὴ πειθόμενος [845d] δὲ τῷ νόμῳ κινδυνευέτω ἀναγώνιστος γίγνεσθαι περὶ ἀρετῆς, ἐὰν εἰς τότε τὰ τοιαῦτα περὶ αὐτοῦ τοὺς τότε κριτάς τις ἀναμιμνῄσκῃ.
The permission for foreigners to glean grapes (Plato, Laws 8.845c) has a parallel in Leviticus (19.9-10):
And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
Victor Davis Hanson, The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (New York: The Free Press, 1995), p. 141, also cites Demosthenes 47.53-56, but this involves the disputed seizure of livestock and furniture in payment of a judgment.

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